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Lights and Texture of London Chelsea Bridge | by
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Lights and Texture of London Chelsea Bridge

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London | Architecture | Night Photography




This image of the London Chelsea bridge dedicated to Irene to thank her for the kind testimonial. You can see her lovely photos at:


Chelsea Bridge (formerly Victoria Bridge) is a Grade II listed self-anchored suspension bridge over the River Thames in West London, connecting Chelsea on the north bank to Battersea on the south bank. It opened in 1937 and replaced an earlier suspension bridge of 1857, itself built on the site of an ancient ford.


The first bridge was proposed in the 1840s as part of a major redevelopment of marshlands on the south bank of the Thames into a large public park, and was intended to provide easy access from Chelsea to the new Battersea Park. Although built and operated by the government, it was built as a toll bridge, with the intention that tolls would be removed once the costs of building the bridge had been recouped. With construction delayed because of works on the nearby Chelsea Embankment, the bridge, initially called Victoria Bridge, did not open until 1857. Although well received architecturally, it was unpopular with the public owing to the tolls, and Parliament felt obliged to make it toll-free on Sundays. The bridge was not commercially as successful as had been planned, due in part to competition from the newly built Albert Bridge nearby. In 1877 it was taken into the ownership of the Metropolitan Board of Works, and the tolls were abolished in 1879.


The bridge was narrow and structurally unsound, leading the authorities to rename it from Victoria Bridge to Chelsea Bridge to avoid the Royal Family being associated with a potential collapse. Unable to handle increased volumes of users caused by population growth in the surrounding area and the introduction of the automobile, in 1926 it was proposed that the bridge be rebuilt or replaced. Between 1934 and 1937 it was demolished and replaced by the current structure. The new bridge was the first self-anchored suspension bridge built in Britain, and built entirely with materials sourced from within the British Empire. From the early 1950s onwards it became a popular area with motorcyclists, who would hold regular races across it. A meeting of motorcyclists erupted into violence in 1970, leading to the death of one man and 20 men being imprisoned.


Chelsea Bridge is now floodlit from below and the towers and cables illuminated with 936 feet (285 m) of light-emitting diodes. In 2004 a smaller bridge opened perpendicular to the main bridge beneath the southern span, carrying the Thames Path underneath the main bridge.


Lights and Texture of London Chelsea Bridge

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Taken on March 23, 2010