|Battersea Bridge Gardens||Kensington & Chelsea|
Battersea Bridge Gardens is a small riverside garden at the foot of Battersea Bridge created when the Thames was embanked to designs of Sir Joseph Bazalgette from 1869 The Embankment was completed as far as Battersea Bridge by 1874. Despite an Enabling Bill introduced by the LCC in 1896, due to local objections, the riverside west of the bridge was not embanked at that time. The garden has raised beds, seating, curved path, areas of grass and a number of trees including a mulberry tree. In 2005 a statue of James McNeill Whistler by Nicholas Dimbleby was erected in the garden, commissioned by the Chelsea Arts Club.
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These small gardens at the foot of Battersea Bridge were among a number of riverside gardens created after the Thames was embanked by Sir Joseph Bazalgette in 1874. Embankment of the river was first proposed in 1839 by the Commissioners of Woods and Forests to provide a much-needed new road as well as extra sewerage, but work did not begin until the 1850s along the Pimlico frontage. Lack of funding halted the scheme until 1871 when William Webster was appointed as contractor under the supervision of Bazalgette, Chief Engineer to the Metropolitan Board of Works, which had been set up in 1855. The work was completed as far as Battersea Bridge by 1874. Chelsea Embankment was officially opened in May 1874 by Lieutenant Col Sir James MacNaughton Hogg, Chairman of the Metropolitan Board of Works. The embankment west of Battersea Bridge was not embanked despite an Enabling Bill introduced by the London County Council in 1896 due to strong objections locally and the Chelsea Vestry carried out minor improvements at the time; in the 1950s the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea undertook further improvements.
The gardens alongside the bridge add a splash of colour with raised beds and bedding to the road, seating and a curved path with crazy paving, areas of grass with a number of trees and a railed area to the west, which has a mulberry tree. A statue of James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) was commissioned from sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby following a competition by the Chelsea Arts Club and unveiled in September 2005. This bronze statue on a granite plinth overlooks that part of the river Thames known as 'Whistler’s Reach' on the north side of Battersea Bridge. He was one of a number of artists including J M W Turner and John Sell Cotman who famously painted the old Battersea Bridge, London's last surviving wooden bridge on the Thames. Whistler's controversial and influential painting 'Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge' was painted in 1872-5. In 1879 the old bridge was taken into public ownership, and was demolished in 1885 and replaced with the existing bridge.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); Thames Conservation Area Proposals Statement