Survey of London: Volume 4, Chelsea, Pt II. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1913.
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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 survey.