“ “Chelsea Bridge” (1941) is an impressionistic jazz standard composed by Billy Strayhorn. According to Ellington biographer James Lincoln Collier, during a trip to Europe, Strayhorn was inspired by a J. M. W. Turner or James McNeill Whistler painting of Battersea Bridge and perhaps mistakenly named the song after Chelsea Bridge.”
From: Historic England entry:
“The first bridge on the site was authorised by an Act of Parliament in 1846 and built in 1851-8 to complement the new Battersea Park, laid out just before the bridge’s construction. The suspension bridge, by architect Thomas Page, was described at the time ‘as the most beautiful of the bridges that crossed the Thames’. Tolls were initially payable but this led to public complaints that the ‘government gave a park to the people but placed a toll-bar at the gate to keep them out’. The tolls were removed in 1879, when the Metropolitan Board of Works acquired ownership of the structure. The bridge was never formally named and was known as ‘the Victoria’ after its official opening in March 1858 by the Prince Consort and the Prince of Wales. The change of name to Chelsea Bridge coincided with further strengthening in 1880, following an earlier episode of strengthening works in 1863-4. By the 1920s its replacement was being seriously considered, but the financial crises of the period delayed action until 1935, when the bridge was demolished following the Royal Commission on Cross River Traffic recommendations of 1926.
REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: * Chelsea Bridge is architecturally impressive: its slender suspension towers create an elegant profile which echoes that of Albert Bridge upstream; the embellishment is similarly unpretentious, and the lampposts are of particular note. * The bridge is of constructional interest as a self-stabilising suspension bridge, an unusual type, which represented a major step forward in British bridge practice building on the work of American and Continental engineers. * Its extensive use of high tensile steel, predating the first British standard, gives it added technological importance. * Chelsea Bridge also has significant group value as a component in an ensemble of C19 architecture including Albert Bridge of 1873 (listed Grade II), Battersea Park of 1846 (registered Grade II) and Chelsea Hospital Garden of 1687, remodelled comprehensively in 1849, (registered Grade II) to the north. * Replacing a suspension bridge of 1851, the new bridge did not deviate from the original form and it makes an equally significant contribution to the Victorian character of the immediate context.”