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Richmond lock (part two)Richmond Lock was constructed by James More, the Thames Conservancy engineer, at a cost of £61,000. Its total length is 348 feet and it has five steel spans. The three central arches that house the sluices are each 66 feet wide, and the spans at each end are 50 feet. The arch on the Surrey side houses a 250-foot long barge lock, and there are three slipways for smaller boats under the arch on the Middlesex side. The piers are of concrete and they are faced in Cornish granite below water and Staffordshire blue bricks above. The sluice gates were, at the time of construction, the largest ever made, and are 68 feet wide, 12 feet deep and weigh 32 tons. A clever system of counterbalances was used, which allowed the gates to be raised or dropped by two men in about five minutes. An even more ingenious engineering design means that, when the sluice gates are raised, they turn 90 degrees to a horizontal position and sit underneath the bridge, practically out of sight. This answered local concerns about the raised gates looking unsightly in what was, and still is, an area of considerable natural beauty. Building the lock and weir was a considerable feat of engineering, and it was a great achievement that no one died during its construction.
Richmond lock (part one)Richmond lock is one of the most attractive Thames crossings in Greater London, its sympathetic design enhanced by its idyllic setting. It is also clearly much loved by the local inhabitants, though their predecessors had to fight a prolonged and hard-fought battle to get it built.
As predicted by Thomas Telford in 1823, the removal of the old medieval London Bridge in 1832 caused huge changes to the tides on the Thames, even as far upstream as Richmond. The tidal flow was further affected by the replacement of the old bridges at Westminster and Blackfriars in the 1860s. At low tide the Thames between Richmond and Teddington was reduced to such a narrow and shallow stream that it could not be navigated, causing some boats to be grounded for up to ten hours. Even worse, the exposed mud became a foul-smelling slime. For many years the local inhabitants petitioned for something to be done, and in 1860 a proposal was put forward for a lock and weir at Isleworth, but the Thames Conservators turned it down, arguing that it would affect the flow of water further downstream.
Twickenham bridgeA new bridge at Twickenham was first proposed in 1909, but the First World War and the Depression prevented any action being taken. In the 1920s a new Chertsey Arterial Road was formally proposed, which would involve the construction of two new bridges, at Richmond and Chiswick. The new bridge would allow through traffic to avoid Richmond town centre, which was becoming congested, especially around the old bridge, but it would also cut off the town from the Old Deer Park, and this was the cause of much opposition to its construction.
Richmond railway bridgeThe first railway line to Richmond opened in 1846, but the London & South Western Railway soon decided to extend it to Staines and Windsor. This entailed building a bridge over the Thames, and the Richmond, Windsor & Staines Railway Bridge, as it was originally called, was the result. It was designed by the company's engineer, Joseph Locke, and the work was carried out by Thomas Brassey. The bridge opened in August 1848 and consisted of three spans of cast iron, and the piers were cased in stone. On the Surrey side the approach is over a viaduct of seven brick arches through Richmond Deer Park.
Richmond bridge (part two)The foundation stone was laid in 1774.The bridge is of Portland stone and has five elliptical river arches and, because of the steepness of the roadway, it has always had a distinctive hump in the middle. Originally there were small Palladian tollhouses at each end; there are now recesses where they stood, with seating for weary pedestrians, added in 1868. On the Richmond side was an obelisk giving the distances to Blackfriars, Westminster and London Bridges, as well as more local places; it is still there today, though it was removed for safe keeping during the Second World War. The bridge opened to pedestrians in September 1776 and other traffic was able to use it from January 1777. The bridge was not actually finished, but by now the ferry had ceased to operate. In fact, work on the bridge took so long that there was no official opening ceremony. The bridge was much praised for its simple elegance, and many artists, including Rowlandson, Turner and Constable, were inspired to paint it.
Richmond bridge (part one)Richmond has long had royal connections. From the twelfth century the manor of Shene belonged to the Crown and over the centuries a village grew up, with houses for the courtiers and others connected to the royal household. After Henry VII rebuilt the house and renamed it Richmond Palace, the area began to prosper. The earliest mention of a ferry at Richmond is from the fifteenth century, though it was probably operating much earlier. It, too, was owned by the Crown and was used by Henry VIII and his daughters, Mary and Elizabeth, who would often stay at Richmond Palace. Two boats operated the ferry, one for passengers and a larger one for horses and carts, but carriages were too heavy for either and had to cross via Kingston Bridge. Further upstream at Ham there was also the Twickenham Ferry, and later its rival, the Hammerton Ferry, which still operates between Ham House and Marble Hill and is the only traditional passenger ferry still operating in Greater London.
Teddington footbridgeTeddington lock, the largest on the Thames, is now the upper limit of the tidal river. The weir and pound lock were built in 1811, on the recommendation of John Rennie, to improve the navigation on this part of the river. The original pound lock was built of wood, but a new structure was begun by the Corporation of London in 1857, opening on 8 May 1858. It was restored again in 1950. As well as this old lock, there is also the 650-foot barge lock, built in 1904 and used now only at busy times, as well as the narrow skiff lock, sometimes referred to as 'the coffin', which was built at the same time as the pound lock.
Kingston railway bridgeBecause of the local townsfolk's resistance to modern technology, Kingston made a late appearance on the railway map. In 1840 the new line to Southampton bypassed Kingston and went south to Surbiton, which benefited greatly at Kingston's expense. It was more than twenty years before Kingston finally, and reluctantly, gained its railway station. In 1860 an extension to Hampton Wick was approved and for this a railway bridge was built downstream of the road bridge. It was designed by John Edward Errington, who also designed the railway bridge at Richmond, but he died before construction could begin and W. R. Galbraith, his assistant, took over. The contractor was Thomas Brassey, who built a number of bridges for the London & Southwestern Railway. The bridge opened in July 1863. It consists of five cast-iron spans, which are carried by masonry piers.
Kingston bridge (part two)In the late seventeenth century John Aubrey described the bridge in his Perambulation of Surrey. He noted that 'In the middle of the bridge are two fair seats for passengers to avoid carts and to sit and enjoy the delightful prospect'. One of the curiosities of the bridge was a ducking stool at the Kingston end of the bridge, used for punishing nagging wives. It was last recorded as being used in 1738.
As traffic increased and the bridge deteriorated, it was recognised that a new bridge was required, and in 1825 Parliament gave permission to Kingston Corporation to build a new stone bridge 100 feet upstream of the old bridge. It was designed by Edward Lapidge, the Surrey county surveyor, and built by William Herbert. The first stone was laid by the Earl of Liverpool, the High Steward of Kingston, on 7 November 1825 and the work took nearly three years. The bridge is 382 feet long and was originally only 25 feet wide. It consists of five elliptical arches of brick, and the facades and balustrades are of Portland stone. Originally a circular tollhouse stood at each end. The bridge was opened in July 1828 by the Duchess of Clarence, who was later to become Queen Adelaide.
Kingston bridge (part one)Kingston bridge is today a bustling town, proud of its royal connections and a magnet for shoppers. It is an ancient market town and gets its name from the fact that several Saxon kings were crowned here, and the Coronation Stone can still be seen near the Guildhall. The town used to be on an important trading route, and goods were brought to its port from the western counties before being taken downriver. There has been a bridge at Kingston since at least the twelfth century, and the first reference is from 1193, when repairs were made to an existing bridge. For many centuries this was the first bridge upstream of London and, amazingly, the old bridge survived until it was replaced in the nineteenth century.