|Albert Embankment and Albert Embankment Gardens||Lambeth|
The Albert Embankment forms part of the riverside opposite the Victoria Embankment, constructed in the 1860s to alleviate London's sewage problems. The Albert Embankment promenade opened in 1868, a paved walkway with stone balustrade, benches giving views over the river and lamp standards, replicas of those on the opposite Embankment. There are three areas of public gardens south of Lambeth Bridge, to the north of which is a raised area of planting with grass and trees, including a Holm oak planted for the Millennium. A memorial for members of the Special Operations Executive has been erected here in the C21st.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/10/2011
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There has been settlement along this stretch of the Thames from early times, with Vauxhall Plate Glass Works established here by 1670 and from the C18th wharves and warehouses were built for the various industrial activities that were developing, including soap works and potteries such as Doulton's, which produced fine majolica and stoneware. At that time the riverside had a sloping sandy beach and boat building and related industries became established. However, by the mid C19th the river was increasingly polluted with industrial substances and sewage outfall and in order to remove this problem the Victoria Embankment (q.v.) was constructed, creating a new sewage drainage system to carry waste away from the metropolis. The Embankment was planned by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, Chief Engineer for the Metropolitan Board of Works, which had been set up in 1855 and authorised this, its first major project, in 1863.
The Albert Embankment was constructed between 1866-69 as part of the project in order to prevent flooding in times of high tide while the new drainage scheme was laid out on the opposite bank. Named after Prince Albert, who had died in 1861, the reclamation of land from the river to create the embankment cost £1m and resulted in the loss of much of the old riverside village of Lambeth and its industries. Nos. 36 and 37 Albert Embankment, Vintage House, is the last warehouse to remain, recalling the earlier history of the area. The cast iron lamp standards and ornate benches along the Albert Embankment riverside promenade replicate those on the Victoria Embankment. The lamp standards have pairs of dolphins or sturgeon around a fluted column topped with a lamp holder and crown, the bases showing the MBW's coat of arms and monogram and the date '1870'. The name of the foundry Masfield & Co and the architect George Vulliamy are also recorded, and many of the pedestals have a bronze lion's head with a ring in its mouth. The C19th cast iron benches, which have ornamental panels and arms shaped like swans, have now been raised on modern plinths to afford better riverside views.
Trees within the boundary of St Thomas's Hospital, which was built in 1871 on the land reclaimed from the river, line the walk to the north. South of Lambeth Bridge, the Albert Embankment's granite retaining wall continues for 0.5km towards Vauxhall Bridge. North of Lambeth Bridge opposite Lambeth Palace (q.v.) is an area of landscaping set within long raised beds planted with grass, roses and trees, including an evergreen holm oak planted for the Millennium by the Mayor of Lambeth in December 1999. A monument commemorating members of the Special Operations Executive has been erected here, with a portrait bust of Violette Szabo, a former Lambeth resident, who joined the SOE and became a French resistance heroine. She was eventually caught by German troops in 1945, and was the first woman to be awarded the George Cross posthumously on 7 December 1946. North of this area of landscaping a drinking fountain is set into the wall of a small red brick shelter. There is a further area of rose bushes by Lambeth Bridge.
Between Lambeth Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge are a series of linear public gardens, known as Albert Embankment Gardens. These comprise one garden between the river and Tintagel House, the largest garden area by Peninsular Heights, which has a number of mature trees, and a smaller garden by Queensborough House (Nos. 12-18 Albert Embankment).
To the north and continuous with the promenade is The Queen's Walk (q.v.), which covers the section of riverside from Westminster Bridge and County Hall (q.v.) to the Royal Festival Hall and which was opened in 1952, with the Jubilee Gardens (q.v.) created in 1976.
Marie Draper 'Lambeth's Open Spaces, An historical account', LB Lambeth 1979; Ian Yarham, Michael Waite, Andrew Simpson, Niall Machin, 'Nature Conservation in Lambeth', Ecology Handbook 26 (London Ecology Unit), 1994; LB Lambeth, Albert Embankment Conservation Area Designation Report; South Bank Conservation Area Statement 2007.