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The Trembling Lady

The Albert Bridge crosses the River Thames from Battersea on the south bank to Chelsea on its north side.

The Albert Bridge

It was designed by Rowland Mason Ordish and Joseph Bazalgette. Construction started in 1870 and the bridge was opened on the 23 August 1873.

The bridge acquired the nickname of “The Trembling Lady” because of its tendency to vibrate. This vibration became even more pronounced when used by troops marching to and from the nearby Chelsea Barracks. Concerns about the risks of these vibrations known as “Mechanical Resonance” were well founded following the collapse of two suspension bridges, both attributed to the marching of troops. In 1831 the Broughton Suspension Bridge in Salford, Greater Manchester collapsed injuring twenty men of the 60th Rifle Corps and the more serious 1850 collapse of Angers Bridge in France, which killed 226 soldiers.

Reports of the Albert Bridge vibrations kick started the authorities into a typically understated British response. Notices were placed at the entrances warning troops to break step (i.e. not to march in rhythm) when crossing the bridge. Although the barracks closed in 2008, the warning signs are still in place and thankfully so is the bridge.

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