Victorian London - Thames - Bridges - Chelsea Suspension Bridge

Chelsea Bridge, 1858 [ILN Picture Library]

    The new and graceful iron bridge which crosses the Thames near Chelsea Hospital, and affords the inhabitants of Pimlico a ready access to Battersea Park, is sometimes called New Battersea Bridge, and sometimes Chelsea or Pimlico Bridge. It was erected in 1857-8, from the designs of Mr. T. Page, at a cost of 85,319l., and has received much commendation on account of its graceful proportions and elegant decorations. Length, outside the abutments, 951 ft.; within the abutments, 915 ft. Span between the two towers, 347 ft., and height of the headway in the centre, 21 ft. above Trinity high water mark. Toll, d.

Cruchley's London in 1865 : A Handbook for Strangers, 1865

CHELSEA SUSPENSION-BRIDGE, opened in 1858, forms a communication between Pimlico, Belgravia, and Chelsea, on one side of the Thames, and Battersea Park, and the neighbourhood, on the other (the Middlesex roadway crossing the site of Ranelagh), and was built with funds granted by Parliament in 1846; Geo. Gordon Page, engineer. The length of the Bridge is 704 feet: it consists of a centre opening of 383 feet, with two side openings 166 feet 6 inches each. The piers terminate in curved cutwaters: the width of the Bridge is 47 feet; the roadway at the centre of the Bridge is 24 feet 6 inches above high-water, and has a curve of 18 inches rise, commencing at the abutments. The towers and ornamental portions are of cast-iron. The girders and flooring of the platform are of wrought iron: ironwork by Howard, Ravenhill, & Co. The piers are built upon caissons, below which the ironwork spreads out at the bottom, on bed-plates that rest upon York stone landings, laid on piles, and concrete supports; externally, the piers are cased with ornamental ironwork. The abutments and piers rest upon piles driven 20 feet beyond low-water mark. On each side of the carriage way is a tram for heavy traffic. A very large amount of additional strength is obtained over the ordinary suspension construction by two longitudinal lattice girders, of wrought iron, which separate the roadway from the footpaths. At each end of the bridge are rectangular lodges, with terra-cotta terminations. The four iron towers that rise from the caissons and piers have their upper portions of moulded copper, gilded and painted to resemble bronze, and crowned with globular lamps. The towers bear the royal arms and V. A. Yet, this public way across the Thames-although built ostensibly with the public money to afford the inhabitants of Middlesex access to Battersea free park-had a horse, carriage, and foot toll, an anomaly which was loudly reprehended.
    At a short distance eastward is the Bridge for the Victoria Station and Pimlico Railway; the iron-work by Bray and Waddington, of Leeds; Fowler, engineer; opened in 1860. The stone piers, and the framework of the spandrels of the four flat and segmental iron arches, each 175 feet span, and the iron cornice, render this one of the handsomest railway bridges over the Thames.

John Timbs, Curiosities of London, 1867

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Chelsea Suspension Bridge is another work by the designer of Westminster Bridge, and has something of the same appearance. It was made in Edinburgh, and set up in its present position in 1858 at a cost of 80,000.

Charles Dickens (Jr.), Dickens's Dictionary of London, 1879