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Albert Bridge

London, United Kingdom




3 years


£200,000 (£19.5m in today's money)


United Kingdom
Project achievements


One of the oldest bridges in London, turning 150 in 2023

Used engineering skill

A hybrid cable-stayed bridge, using the Ordish-Lefeuvre system

Connected communities

Provides crossing over the river Thames between Chelsea and Battersea

A vision in pastel across the Thames

If you’ve wandered along the river Thames, you may have been surprised by the pastel colour scheme on the ornate Albert Bridge.

In fact, the road bridge’s seen several versions of these bright hues.

The bridge was pastel green between 1905 and 1981, before being repainted yellow.

The current pastel pink, blue and green colour scheme was adopted in 1992 to make the bridge more visible during foggy weather. Over 4000 LED lights were installed at the same time to illuminate the bridge at night.

These colour changes meant that refurbishment works in 2010-11 had to include removing 12 layers of paint before a new layer of paint could be laid on.

Image credit: ICE Library

The original drawings

Drawn design of the ironwork on the bridge

Image credit: ICE Library

The original drawings

Drawing showing the cross section through one of the towers

Image credit: ICE Library

The original drawings

Diagram showing one of the clips.

Image credit: ICE Library

The original drawings

Illustrations of the bridge's details

Did you know …

  1. Soon after it opened, the bridge earned the nickname the ‘Trembling Lady’ as it tended to vibrate when large number of people were crossing.

  2. As the bridge was close to the Chelsea barracks, signs were put up reminding troops of the order to ‘break step’ rather than march across.

    This army order had been implemented after the collapse of the Broughton suspension bridge in Salford in 1831.

  3. The current ‘break step’ signs date from after 1965, when the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was formed.

How was Albert Bridge built?

Albert Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed bridge designed by Rowland Mason Ordish using his patented Ordish-Lefeuvre system.

It was similar to James Dredge’s earlier bridges with diagonal bars tied to a supporting suspension cable to prevent the bars sagging.

However, unlike suspension bridges, Ordish didn't wrap the cable strands but rather clipped them at intervals.

Despite sealing the clips, moisture was able to seep in and the cables began to rust.

Joseph Bazalgette, of London Main drainage fame, replaced the wire cable with steel links in 1884.

The ornate towers are formed of a central column surrounded by eight octagonal ones.

The towers stand on foundations formed of cast iron cylinders sunk into the clay beneath the riverbed and filled with concrete.

Originally a toll bridge, the tolls were abolished when the bridge was taken over by the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1879.

However the toll booths were left and are the only remaining booths on a Thames bridge in London.

The great survivor

The bridge has survived several plans to demolish and replace it over the years.

First in 1926, when it was saved by lack of funds due to the Great Depression and again in 1957 when it was saved by a protest led by Sir John Betjeman.

The bridge was strengthened in 1972 when two concrete piers were added to support the middle span. A new lighter deck was also installed.

Further refurbishment work was carried out in 2010-11 when among other works, the wooden deck was replaced.

In 1973, there was an ambitious plan to close the bridge to traffic and convert it into a landscaped public park, perhaps similar to the more recently proposed Garden Bridge.

These plans fell through and today the bridge remains one of the oldest bridges across the Thames in London.

People who made it happen

  • Rowland Mason Ordish – engineer who specialised in iron structures
  • Andrew Handyside & Co – contractors for the ironwork
  • Sir Joseph Bazalgette – strengthened bridge in 1884