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Battersea railway bridge
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Battersea railway bridge is often referred to as the Cremorne Bridge, after the popular nineteenth-century pleasure gardens in nearby Chelsea. It is one of London s lesser-known crossings, because of its long distance from a major road, and it is little known to rail travellers too, because the rail services using it are infrequent. The bridge was built as part of the West London Extension Railway, a co-operative scheme created to connect rail routes south of the Thames with those on the north side. The West London Railway already ran from Willesden to Addison Road, Kensington, and the new line would continue south, over the river and on to Clapham. Authorisation was granted in 1859 and the bridge opened on 2 March 1863, the same day as Clapham Junction station.

The line was jointly owned by the London & North Western Railway and the Great Western Railway (which each owned a one-third share), as well as the London & Southwestern Railway and the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway (each with a one-sixth share).The bridge was designed by the engineers of the two major shareholders,William Baker andT. H. Bertram, and it was built by Brassey & Ogilvie. Unusually, it originally carried both standard-gauge tracks and the GWR’s broad gauge.The bridge has five river spans of wrought iron, supported by granite piers, and there are six brick arches on each bank.


Battersea railway bridge

An early view of Battersea Railway Bridge, painted by an unknown artist in about 1870. The naive style and unusual subject suggests it may be the work of a local artist, possibly one of the Greaves brothers.



The line was never a great success, despite its potential. Although much used for freight services, the public preferred to travel through, rather than round, the centre of London. Troop trains made great use of the line during both world wars, especially after the retreat from Dunkirk, when many thousands of soldiers returning from the Channel ports were carried north by this route. The line was bombed on several occasions, so that passenger services were discontinued in 1940 and did not resume when the war was over. Long-distance services from Manchester to Brighton resumed in 1979, but it was not until the 1990s that local services started up again. Today there are half-hourly services from Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction, where passengers can connect with services to the north, but the through services from Brighton to Watford Junction are under threat. The line was also used by Eurostar trains running between their depot at North Pole Junction and Waterloo International, until services transferred from Waterloo to St Pancras in 2007.


Battersea railway bridge

Battersea Railway Bridge is probably London’s least-used railway bridge, which no doubt suits the occupants of the colourful houseboats.



In recent years there have been a number of residential developments along this part of the river, including, on the north side, Chelsea Harbour, with its pyramid- topped tower. Next to it are the chimneys of Lots Road power station, which until 2000 provided the power for the Underground system but it is now earmarked for development. On the south side of the river alongside the bridge is a cluster of colourful houseboats, adding to the area’s attractiveness.



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