London’s history

THE TREMBLING LADY – ALBERT BRIDGE

THE TREMBLING LADY – ALBERT BRIDGE

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Albert Bridge, which links Chelsea on the north side of the Thames with Battersea on the south side, acquired the nickname ‘the trembling lady’, because it tended to vibrate when troops from the nearby Chelsea barracks marched over it. So much so, that a sign was put up on the bridge asking soldiers to ‘break step’ in order to help reduce the ‘bridge’s tremble’ . The bridge was originally built at the suggestion of Prince Albert, who thought a toll bridge would ease the congestion on the newly built Chelsea bridge (then called Victoria bridge) and the old wooden Battersea bridge which was in bad condition. The new Albert bridge was completed in 1873 by Rowland Ordish but the toll booths (which are the only surviving bridge toll booths in London) were not commercially successful. Albert Bridge, along with all the other bridges between Hammersmith and Waterloo, were purchased by the newly formed Metropolitan Board of Works in 1879. With a road width only 8 meters wide, the bridge was ill suited to the introduction of the motor car and has always had weight restrictions. More than once it was planned to replace the bridge or convert it to a pedestrian bridge, but lack of funds and campaigns by pressure groups meant that the original bridge survived and is the only bridge in London, along with Tower Bridge, not to have been replaced. In addition to the bridge’s weight and width problems, its timbers were also in a bad way due to dog urine from the many dogs on their way to the Battersea Park! Used by approx 19,000 cars a day, it is second only to Southwark Bridge as the least used bridge in London. In 1992 and again in 2010 the bridge was closed for significant maintenance work and now is painted in bright colours to warn boats of its presence and lit by 4000 LED bulbs at night, making it a wonderful sight from miles...

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The Queen. An unlikely birthplace!

The Queen. An unlikely birthplace!

By in London's history

April 21st was the Queens birthday. She is actually very lucky because she has two birthdays. Her actual birthday is on the 21st April but her official birthday is on a Saturday in June. For the reason, you have to go back to the reign  of  Edward VII (1901-1910). It had been the tradition since 1748 that the Monarch’s birthday had been celebrated by a ceremony called Trooping of the Colour, which takes place in Horse Guards Parade, not far from the Palace. However Edward VII was born on 9th November and it was thought that the weather could be too inclement to hold the ceremony then, so the ceremony for the monarchs birthday was moved to the second or third week in June, when it was thought that even the unreliable British weather would be better! But did you know that Elizabeth  was born in a relatively normal street in Mayfair and not in a palace like many of her predecessors?This was because her father (who became George VI) was not originally heir to the crown. That honour was reserved for his elder brother Edward VIII who of course abdicated in 1936 after his relationship with divorcee American Wallis Simpson forced him to give up the throne. So outside the unlikely address of 17 Bruton St  (now an expensive restaurant/night club) our future Queen  was born by ceserean section at 2.40am, 21st April 1926. Check it out on our Secret London...

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St George and the Dragon

St George and the Dragon

By in London's history

Everyone knows that St George is the patron saint of England and that he slew the dragon, but why? What did he have against that dragon? And while we’re on the subject, why is he the patron saint of England? Well you have to go way back to the days of King Richard I or Richard the Lionheart as he’s often called. It was the 12th century and the time of the crusades. English Knights were queuing up for the glory of going to the Holy Land to fight. There was none more keen than the King of England, Richard I. He was a real gung ho kind of King. Nothing he liked better than a good foreign scrap. It was during his time out there that he first heard the legend of  St George. And it went  something like this. St George was a Roman soldier who was travelling through Libya (obviously having a bit of time off). He came across a kingdom where he noticed there were no young women. After enquiring why, he was told there was a terrible dragon in the area, who only spared the people if he was given a young maiden as a sacrifice. Now the people of the kingdom were in a terrible state because all the young women had now been sacrificed and the only girl left, was the Kings daughter, the beautiful Princess, and she was to be sacrificed that very  day. St George decided that he had to save the Princess and galloped off on his trusty steed. Finding her about to taken into the dragons lair he rode in and positioned himself between the dragon and the princess. He attacked  with his spear but the hard scales of the creature broke the spear into thousands of pieces. Our hero was flung from his horse. He only saved himself by hiding under a enchanted orange tree. Handy. He then took his sword and braving the Dragons fiery breath, he killed the beast by finding a place under the wing where the scales did not protect it. Well you can imagine The King and his people  were overjoyed at St Georges bravery. Apparently our own excitable King Richard was so impressed by...

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