Aug. 23, 1873: Albert Bridge opens in London

Teresa Mathew

On this day—Aug. 23, 1873—the Albert Bridge in Chelsea, London, opened. It connects Chelsea on the north bank to Battersea in the south, and is 710 feet long and 41 feet wide. It was originally built as a toll bridge, but this proved to be financially unsuccessful and the bridge was taken into public ownership. Though the tolls were lifted, the tollbooths remain—they are now the only remaining example of bridge tollbooths in London.

The bridge is structurally unsound and has been modified twice. As a result, it is a hybrid of three design styles: cable-styled, beam, and suspension. It was nicknamed the “Trembling Lady,” as it used to vibrate when large numbers of people walked over it. This led to signs being posted at the entrances to warn troops not to march in step across it, as they were afraid it would be too much for the bridge to handle. As its roadway is only 27 feet, the bridge is ill-equipped for cars but has remained open despite many calls for demolition or pedestrianism. The bridge’s condition is continuing to degrade, though strict traffic regulations have been imposed in an attempt to prolong its life.