This was designed by Joseph Locke and J E Errington and built in 1849 by the London & South Western Railway Company as part of the new branch line of the company’s Waterloo to Richmond service. The bridge was widened and altered in 1891-5. Barnes Bridge used to be a prime viewing point for the Oxford & Cambridge University Boat Race with trains halting to give passengers a better look.
By 1845 horse-drawn buses left Chiswick for London every quarter of an hour, replacing the earlier coaches. Motor buses reached Chiswick in 1911. There was a horse-bus garage in Belmont Road by 1898, converted for motor buses in 1911. It closed in 1980 when the buses transferred to Stamford Brook bus garage. This closed in 1996.
This was opened in 1933 by the then Prince of Wales. It was built to take the new Great Chertsey Road (now the A316) across the Thames. Designed by Herbert Baker it is 700 ft long and faced with Portland stone.
This was constructed in 1959 and opened by Jayne Mansfield. It was the first major two-level highway scheme to be carried out in the Metropolitan area since World War II. In 1964 the A4 was linked to the M4 motorway by a two-mile elevated section, at the time this was said to be the longest viaduct in Europe.
CHISWICK HIGH ROAD
Chiswick’s major thoroughfare was part of the main highway to the west of England before the construction of the A4 in the 1950s. The High Road is on the line of two Roman roads, one from Kensington and Hammersmith is thought to have converged with another, from Oxford Street, Goldhawk Road, somewhere near Turnham Green. The High Road was known as Brentford Road on early maps. In 1717 the High Road became a toll road. Long distance, gaily painted stagecoaches thundered along to Bath, Exeter and all places west. In about 1859 the Hammersmith toll house was re-erected on the corner of Chiswick Lane to prevent travellers evading the toll by cutting down to Chiswick Mall. Tolls were abolished in 1873.
CHISWICK PARK STATION
This was opened in 1879 on the Metropolitan District Railway Company’s new line from Turnham Green to Ealing. It was originally called Acton Green Station but by 1887 was known as Chiswick Park and Acton Green (it dropped `Acton Green’ in 1910). Originally the station had only two tracks but, when the Piccadilly Line service was extended from Hammersmith to Acton Green in 1932, two further tracks were added and a new station building put up. This was designed by Charles Holden who designed 50 stations for London Transport.
The Chiswick Pier, which has public access, was officially opened in 1997, after the housing development at Corney Reach was built. In 1996 the Corney Reach Development Trust (now the Chiswick Pier Trust) was formed to operate the pier and the moorings. The Trust has its headquarters in the Pier House, which is operated as a community building and houses other organisations such as the RNLI. Chiswick Pier Trust (www.chiswickpier.org.uk) aims to protect and improve access to the river, to educate the public in the ecology, history and natural history of the Thames and to provide recreation and leisure facilities on and around the river.
Work on this large roundabout, 400ft in diameter, was begun when the A4 was extended from Kensington through Chiswick. It replaced a smaller roundabout built when the Great West Road from Chiswick to Bedfont was opened in 1925. Chiswick Roundabout was completed in 1959 when the flyover was put up above it and, in 1964, the A4 was linked to the M4.
Chiswick Station in Burlington Lane was built in 1849 for Chiswick’s first railway line. This was a branch line off the London & South Western Railway Company’s line from Richmond to Waterloo. Crossing the Thames at Barnes Bridge, this line ran north-west through Chiswick to Kew Bridge, Brentford and Hounslow. The station house was designed by Sir William Tite along the lines of a small classical villa – appropriately for the nearest station to Chiswick House. Chiswick Station was renamed Chiswick and Grove Park in 1872 but reverted to Chiswick Station in 1920. The station house ceased to have anything to do with the railway in 1989 when it was converted into offices and in 2002 it was given a Grade II listing.
The Metropolitan District Railway Company (later known as just `the District’) began running its own trains from the City to Richmond in 1877, using the tracks of the London and South Western Railway Company between Hammersmith and Richmond. In 1879 the District constructed a new line from Turnham Green to Ealing. The District service was electrified in 1905 and in 1933 passed to the London Passenger Transport Board, becoming part of London Underground.
A ferry to convey foot passengers from Chiswick to Barnes is mentioned in a document of 1659, although it was probably in use long before that date. The ferry normally left from just below St Nicholas Church but at various times during the 19th century appears to have operated from further down Chiswick Mall, opposite Chiswick Lane. It is shown as such on a panorama of the Thames c.1830 and described as going from this spot in Charles Dickens’s Dictionary of the Thames, 1888. It probably moved back near the church when the draw dock became busy in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. The ferry ceased to operate in the 1930s.
GREAT WEST ROAD
Now part of the A4, the Great West Road from Chiswick Roundabout to Bedfont was opened by George V in 1925.
Built in 1869 when the London and South Western Railway Company opened a six-mile line from Richmond to Kensington. The station was originally called Brentford Road but renamed Gunnersbury Station in 1871. The station building was replaced in 1966 when the 18-storey office block in Chiswick High Road (now the headquarters of BSI) was built.
HAMMERSMITH AND CHISWICK STATION
This railway station in Chiswick High Road (with a coal depot next door) stood where the entrance to Ravensmede Way is today. It was the terminus of the North and South Western Junction Railway’s branch line from Chiswick to Acton Gatehouse Junction. The railway started as a goods service in 1857, taking passengers the following year. The station was initially called Hammersmith Station (although it was patently in Chiswick) until 1880 when the name was changed. Converted from a private house, the station was described by a writer in 1904 as ‘abounding with flowers, and resembling rather the terminus of some far distant country branch line than what one might expect to find at a place bearing the dual distinction of the names of two west London suburbs’. Passengers ceased to be carried in 1917 when the station building reverted to private use. The railway continued to carry coal and other goods until axed by the Beeching cuts of 1965.
This narrow one-way flyover over the Hogarth Roundabout was opened in September 1969. According to Hounslow Council it was put up as a temporary measure `to remain in place for about five years when it will be replaced by a permanent structure’.
The present Kew Bridge is the third bridge across the river between Chiswick and Kew. The first bridge was a wooden structure, built by carpenter John Barnard for Robert Tunstall to replace the Kew ferries, also owned by Tunstall. The bridge opened in June 1759 and was exceedingly popular – 3,000 people crossed it on the first day. It was a toll bridge with a coach and four paying 1s 6d (7.5p) and a foot passenger, half a penny.
The second bridge was a stone bridge built by Robert Tunstall’s son, Robert, and two partners to replace the wooden bridge which had been damaged when a boat collided with it. They raised the money by setting up a `tontine’ (a financial scheme which gives subscribers an annuity during their lifetime; the value of the annuity increasing as subscribers die off). This bridge, designed by James Paine, was inaugurated in 1789 by George III and ` a great concourse of carriages’. Robert Tunstall sold the bridge to George Robinson in about 1824. After Robinson’s death in 1852 his trustees sold it in 1873 to a Joint Committee of the Corporation of London and the Metropolitan Board of Works when it was made free of tolls – which caused great rejoicing locally. This bridge had seven arches and was admired for its elegance, but it was very narrow with steep gradients on each of the approaches. In 1892, the engineer Sir John Wolfe Barry (who built Tower Bridge) was asked to report on the feasibility of widening the bridge, but, on inspection, he found that the bridge was not in good condition and recommended its entire reconstruction.
Work started in 1899 with a temporary bridge constructed on timber piles and trestles built upstream. The third bridge, completed in 1903, is constructed mainly from granite which came from Cornwall and Aberdeen. Some of the larger stones weigh as much as eight tons apiece. The engineers were John Wolfe Barry and Cuthbert A. Brereton with W Garney Wales as the resident engineer. The cost of around a quarter of a million pounds was borne equally by the County Councils of Middlesex and Surrey. The bridge was opened on 20 May 1903 by King Edward VII who, with Queen Alexandra and various dignitaries, travelled by open carriage from Buckingham Palace to Chiswick which was gaily decorated for the occasion. The King was presented with many gifts at the opening. They included-archaeological artefacts dredged from the Thames, a trowel and mallet with handles made from one of the piles from the wooden bridge, a silver casket containing a copy of the address made at the ceremony and a chair made from piles of the old wooden bridge. Many of these items have re-surfaced in recent years and several are now in the Museum of London.
LONDON AND SOUTH WESTERN RAILWAY
The LSWR opened Chiswick’s first railway line in 1849. It was a branch line of the company’s line from Richmond to Waterloo. It crossed the Thames at Barnes Bridge and ran north west through Chiswick to Brentford and Hounslow. In 1869 the LSWR opened another six mile line from Richmond to Kensington which crossed the river at Strand-on-the-Green. This line also branched off at Gunnersbury to join an earlier line from Kew to Kensal Green and on to Broad Street. In 1923 the LSWR was absorbed by the Southern Railway.
NORTH AND SOUTH WESTERN JUNCTION RAILWAY
From 1857 until axed by the Beeching cuts of 1965, a railway line ran along the north and east of Chiswick. It was a branch line of the NSWJR, connecting with the main line at Acton Gatehouse Junction. The railway ran from Hammersmith and Chiswick Station in Chiswick High Road (where Ravensmede Way is today) through what is now Welstead Way, over the Bath Road and northwards between Abinger and Emlyn Roads to South Acton. It was initially a goods service, mainly carrying coal (there was a coal depot by the station) but from 1858 until 1917 the railway also carried passengers. This enabled business people from Hammersmith and Chiswick to travel to the City, more speedily than using the slow horse buses. In an attempt to attract more passengers, halts were established at Bath Road, Woodstock Road and Rugby Road but the passenger service was never very economic and the railway reverted to carrying goods after 1917.
There were level crossings on the Bath Road and on Woodstock Road. The latter had no gate and in December 1895 the exiled Russian revolutionary, Stepniak, was struck by a train and killed on this crossing. Shortly afterwards a footbridge was put up.
A little steam train known as the ‘Puffing Jinney’, the service’s locomotive, was immortalised by Camille Pissarro in his 1897 oil painting entitled The Train, Bedford Park.
The elaborate building behind 72 Chiswick High Road was put up between 1899-1901 to generate electricity for the London United Tramways Company. It was from this building that the first electric tram service for the whole of London was inaugurated in 1901. The Power House was designed by William Curtis Green and J Clifton Robinson. Now a listed building, the two large female figures that grace its façade represent ‘electricity’ and ‘locomotion’. The Lots Road power station largely superseded the Chiswick station in 1917 but the Power House continued to function as a sub-station until the closure of the trolley bus service in 1962. Its 260ft-high smoke stack was demolished in 1966. The Power House has been converted into offices, flats and recording studios.
Two Roman roads are thought to run through Chiswick. The more important was the main Roman road to the West of England. This probably started at Newgate Street in the City and followed the line of Holborn Viaduct, Oxford Street, Bayswater Road, Goldhawk Road and Bath Road. It then crossed Acton Green and possibly ran down Chiswick Road to Chiswick High Road and on to Kew Bridge Road and Brentford High Street (where it has been excavated). Somewhere around Turnham Green the main road to the west appears to have converged with another, less important, Roman road known as Akeman Street in Saxon times. This road is thought to run from Ludgate Circus along Fleet Street, Kensington High Street, Hammersmith Road, King Street and Chiswick High Road.
Traces of these two roads have never been excavated in Chiswick so their exact course is uncertain. However, the main road to the West almost certainly marked the Acton/Chiswick boundary until 1894 when the boundary was adjusted slightly south to follow the railway line. This suggests that the Roman road and its ditches were visible when the boundary was defined somewhere around the 9th or 10th centuries AD. There were still remnants of it in 1722 when antiquary William Stukeley attempted to follow its line: ‘I rode the broken part of it between Acton Road and Turnham Green. It is still a narrow, straight way, keeping its original direction but full of dangerous sloughs, being a clayey soil and never repaired’. A few sherds of Roman pottery (now in Gunnersbury Park Museum) have been found in the garden of Bedford House on South Parade which could well lie along the line of the road and an urn of silver Roman coins (now lost) was found at Turnham Green in 1781.
STAMFORD BROOK STATION
This was opened in 1912 on the District Line after the track from Turnham Green had been widened.
STRAND-ON-THE-GREEN RAILWAY BRIDGE
This was opened in 1869 on the London and South Western Railway Company’s new line from Kensington through Turnham Green to Kew Gardens and Richmond.
Horse drawn trams were operating to Youngs Corner from Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith and Kew Bridge by 1882. The first electric tram service in London was inaugurated in Chiswick from the Power House in Chiswick High Road in 1901. Trams were superseded by trolley buses in 1935
TURNHAM GREEN STATION
The station was opened in 1869 on the London and South Western Railway Company’s new line from Richmond to the City. The Metropolitan District Railway began running its own trains on this line in 1877, and in 1879 the District constructed a new line from Turnham Green to Ealing. The station only had two platforms originally but it was reconstructed in 1911 with two island platforms and tracks running either side.