Bridge Street, TW9

Place Name

Directional, this street leads to Richmond Bridge, which was built between 1774 and 1777, during which time the houses on the north side were knocked down for road widening. This street originally didn’t have a name, it was only adopted by the Vestry (a prototype parish council) in 1853, and it took until 1878 for it to be named in some directories. For a long time it was known as “By the Bridge” and even “Road to the Bridge”, these replacing the road’s original name, first recorded in 1544, as Ferry Hill, after the original method of crossing the River Thames here. A wooden bridge was originally proposed by the ferry owner William Windham in 1760 but the idea was initially rejected. John Cloake in The Growth of Richmond explains: “A wooden bridge had been built in Kew in 1758, and there was much interest subsequently in plans to build a bridge at Richmond to replace the old ferry. A great controversy arose over the siting. The main entrepreneur was the proprietor of the ferry and he wanted to build the bridge at the foot of Ferry Hill, where it would link up with the existing road through Twickenham Meadows. The inhabitants, who had suffered since time immemorial from the awkward access to the ferry due to the steepness of Ferry Hill, wanted a bridge but a change of site. They wanted the old Water Lane widened as a continuation of George Street and a bridge built there. But the owner of the estates on the Twickenham side flatly refused to have a new main road driven through her property, and so the Ferry Hill site prevailed and work started in 1774.” However, there were several major changes to the original proposals. Access to the bridge was much improved before work went ahead, it was to be made entirely of stone and, given the rise in costs it would be financed by the issue of tontine shares – a system by which the total interest payable was divided between the surviving holders of non-transferable shares, until the last one died. Designed by James Paine and Kenton Couse, the bridge was opened in 1777. In fact it had been opened to pedestrians in September the previous year and to vehicles the following January. Windham and Henry Holland, the man who he had sublet his ferry business to shortly before making the bridge proposal, were bought out.  People crossing the bridge paid a toll equivalent to the ferry price.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *