Station Avenue, TW9

Place Name

As James Green, Judith Filson, and Margaret Watson in The Streets of Richmond and Kew this is a grand name for a narrow cul-de-sac off Station Parade “that led at first only to Rosebank Nursery”. However it played a big part in industry. David Blomfield in Kew Past takes up the story: “In 1885 two organic chemists, Charles Cross and Edward Bevan, who had worked at Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory and who lived in Kew, became consultants to the paper industry. In 1892 they discovered cellulose xanthate which they named Viscose. At that time there was a business in South Avenue called the Zurich Incandescent Light Works. Its manager, Charles Stearn, met Cross, who suggested that filaments could be made from his Viscose. The initial experiments were disappointing, but Cross and Stearn found that Viscose made good artificial silk, and set up the Viscose Spinning Syndicate in Station Avenue. It was to be one of the major discoveries in the textile industry, but Kew was not to benefit from its development. Courtaulds bought the business in 1904. Consequently Viscose became Rayon, and the whole business was sent to Coventry.” Kew Gardens station itself was opened on January 1, 1869 by the London and South Western Railway (L&SWR).


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