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Battersea bridge (part three)
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Like its predecessor, the new bridge has caused problems for boats navigating its much wider arches. It has been hit by passing barges on a number of occasions, often necessitating the bridge’s closure for several months while structural repairs were carried out. One such incident occurred in September 2005, when a barge crashed into the northern arch, causing serious structural damage. While the bridge was closed for repairs, severe congestion was caused as traffic was diverted across other bridges.

In January 2006 the bridge was an excellent vantage point for crowds of spectators who came to see the attempted rescue of a stranded northern bottlenose whale, which had, amazingly, lost its way in the North Sea and swum up the Thames. The whale was transferred to a barge and carried downriver so she could be released into the open sea, but she died on the way. Her skeleton has been preserved at the Natural History Museum, though it is not on display.

The northern approach to the bridge is Beaufort Street, named after Beaufort House, the mansion built here in the sixteenth century by Sir Thomas More. Of that house and its extensive gardens almost nothing remains, but on part of the site, overlooking the bridge, is a splendid recreation of a Tudor palace, built for the multi¬millionaire Christopher Moran. At its heart is the great hall of the fifteenth-century Crosby Hall, which used to stand in Bishopsgate in the City until it was moved here in the 1920s. Unfortunately it cannot now be visited. Crosby Hall had once belonged to More, who had his own private chapel in Chelsea Old Church, a short walk eastwards along the Chelsea Embankment.

Battersea bridge (part three)

Battersea Bridge. The photograph was taken in October 2005, shortly after the bridge was hit by a barge and closed to traffic for several weeks.

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