28 April 2009

Thames Crossings 13: Albert Bridge

Downriver from Battersea Bridge is the festive metalwork confection of Albert Bridge. Opened in 1872-73, it was named after Prince Albert (the deceased husband of Queen Victoria, that is, not any other sort of festive metalwork confection – though come to think of it, it is particularly effective at night).

At the moment it's decorated with red and white traffic bollards, making its narrow lanes look like something from Jeux sans frontières, but is one of London's quirkiest and most enjoyable bridges to cycle across. (Unless it's bucketing down like it was when I was there.) In fact, it resembles the entrance to a pleasure pier more than a major estuary crossing. You half-expect it to have a 'What the Butler Saw' machine.

For maximum English eccentricity it has a statue of a naked lady and a red phone box at its south end. There is also a sign warning soldiers to break step when crossing, in a jokey typeface more suited to say 'You don't have to be mad to work here but it helps!!'.

From here it's a trundle along the embankment promenade shared cycle path on the north side, or through Battersea Park along the riverside path on the south side, about half a mile to Chelsea Bridge.

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