Address: Chelsea, London

700m from Battersea Park

900m from Sloane Square

Chelsea Bridge was first opened in 1858, in a ceremony by Queen Victoria. It was named Victoria Bridge in her honour.

It connected the wealthy area of Chelsea with the rough district of Battersea and was part of a regeneration of the area south of the river by the government. This also included the development of Battersea Park which was in an area that had a notorious pub called the Red House. It was a place of illegal cock fighting, bare knuckle fighting and gambling and bizarrely in 1829 the park area hosted the duel between Prime Minister the Duke of Wellington and the Earl of Winchelsea. As it happened both men agreed to shoot wide and Winchelsea apologised.

It was originally a toll bridge, and despite huge protest continued to be, only becoming free of tolls on Sundays and public holidays for a few years before all bridge tolls were removed in 1879. By 1861, although only three years old, the suspension bridge was in need of strengthening and an extra chain was fitted and a vehicle weight limit was applied. It was thought to be dangerous and to distance the royal family in the event of collapse its name was changed to Chelsea Bridge. It was also a dark bridge at night with the only lighting being on top of the four piers, and these only when the Queen was in London.

Safety concerns continued into the 20th century and by the 1920’s the traffic volume had increased to such an extent that a new bridge had to be built. This is the one we see today and it was opened in 1937 by Mackenzie King, the Canadian Prime Minister, this because timber used on the bridge came from Canada.

It was the first self-anchored suspension bridge in Britain, not being anchored on land like most others. The south bank has a small footbridge for pedestrians under the main bridge. This built in 2004 at a cost of £600,000.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.