Albert Bridge in south west London, is one of the most attractive bridges crossing the River Thames. It may not be as iconic as Tower Bridge downstream, but it’s actually older.
Named in memory of Prince Albert, it provides access to Battersea Park which, disconcertingly for south Londoners today, was originally built for the wealthy on the north side of the river.
Completed in 1873 by Rowland Mason (and later, Joseph Bazalgette) it is listed English Heritage Grade II*. The tollbooths, at each end, are the only surviving examples of bridge tollbooths in London. Bollards restrict the traffic, resulting in it being relatively quiet. And adding to its landmark status are four thousand lights that come on at dusk every day. They were added to increase its visibility at night, owing to its two central concrete piers, added in 1973.
Unbelievably, there were plans to demolish the bridge in the 1950’s. John Betjeman (the future poet Laureate) campaigned to save it, describing how; ‘Shining with electric lights, grey and airy against the London sky, it is one of the beauties of the London river’.