LX.—OLD BATTERSEA BRIDGE. (Destroyed 1885).
Although Old Battersea Bridge was removed seven years before the
commencement of our Survey of London, yet no volume on Chelsea would
be complete without some reference to its picturesque form, which for 115
years vied with the old Church for first place in the affections of those who
loved the riverside village.
In 1766 Earl Spencer was empowered by Act of Parliament (fn. 1) to build
a bridge at this spot in place of the old ferry. The bridge was commenced in
1771 and completed in 1772. It was a delightful structure of timber, built
in nineteen spans (fn. 2) of varying widths, between piers composed of massive
beams. Beaver (fn. 3) gives the length as 726 feet and width 24 feet, and it had
a "slight curvature to the west." It was repaired in 1873, but in the
autumn of 1885 it was pulled down, a bridge for foot passengers being
erected until ultimately replaced by the existing iron bridge, begun in 1886.
So charming an old world-feature was naturally the subject of many
an artist's brush, and it has been represented numberless times in every
kind of medium. Turner, Girtin, De Wint, Varley, Whistler, De Cort,
Cecil Lawson, C. J. Lewis, W. W. Burgess, Charles J. Watson and C. W.
Sherborn, are among the many names associated with drawings of crowded
timber and reflected shadows.
Note—There are several houses along the Embankment, West of Lindsey House, which
are on the border line of the 18th and 19th centuries, but they have been for the most part
much altered, and have not been thought of sufficient importance to be included in this
||6 Geo. III. clxvi.
||Subsequently four of these spans were thrown into two.
Memorials of Old Chelsea, p. 225.