Chelsea Bridge is one of the most important crossings of the Thames in West London. The first bridge on the site was proposed in 1846 as an Act of Parliament, and was built by 1858 to go alongside the new Battersea Park. However, what else is there to this bridge? Here are some of our favourite facts about this crossing point.
Julius Caesar crossed at the same place
When the bridge was originally being constructed, the excavators found a vast number of Roman and Celtic artefacts on the riverbed. After investigating, Historians believe that they had found where Julius Caesar had crossed the Thames during his invasion of Britain in 54 BC.
The most significant find was a bronze and enamel shield, known as the Battersea Shield, which is one of the most important pieces of Celtic military history to be found in the UK.
It’s made of pieces from all around the world
The Chelsea Bridge has a little bit of an international flair. The materials used to build the bridge came from the former British Empire, as agreed by the Ministry of Transport. In essence, the steel came from Scotland and Yorkshire; the timbers from Douglas Fir Trees in Canada; the granite from Aberdeen and Cornwall; and the asphalt was originally from Trinidad.
Red White and Blue Colours
The bridge was repainted in the 1970s with a red and white colour scheme. However, this caused some controversy from the Chelsea Football Club fans who believed their local landmark had been painted in the colours of their rivals, Arsenal Football Club.
To accommodate, the bridge was repainted in 2007 white with a red trime, and the balustrades a greyish blue.
It was a Biker’s Paradise
Chelsea Bridge was very popular during the early 50s as a motorcyclists racing and stunt location. It was used as a Friday Night meeting point for decades for bikers, until the turn of the 21st Century.
Many of the meetings were very noisy but generally peaceful, apart from one meeting in October 1970. There was a big fight between the Essex and Chelsea Nomads and the Road Rats, Nightingales, Windsors and Jokers (rival bike gangs). 20 people were arrested and spent time in prison for various offences.