The Twickenham Museum
Exhibitions : Villages on the River

Locks & Bridges
...following much hostility from the watermen, Richmond Bridge was openedů

The first Teddington lock, 1811.

During the 18th Century commercial traffic increased both in number and size of barges. Navigation became increasingly difficult because of shoals, illegal fishery weirs and the inadequacy of towpaths. In 1770 the Corporation of London commissioned a survey from James Brindley and as a canal engineer he proposed a canal from Maidenhead to Isleworth, by-passing the river altogether.

Nothing was done until in 1811 the first lock and weir at Teddington was built and a second lock at Molesey came in 1815.

Floodstone on old ferry house at Hampton

In 1774 the lake at Virginia Water burst its banks causing much flooding along the Thames. This was commemorated on a number of inscribed stones, one at the old ferry house at Hampton, one beside the Banqueting House at Hampton Court Palace, another on a wall in , Twickenham and a fourth on the garden wall of all marking the level reached by the water. Stones were also placed at the bottom of Water Lane, Richmond and on the wall of Isleworth churchyard.

The first bridge at Hampton Court, engraving after a drawing by Canaletto, c1753. (by courtesy of LBRUT Local Studies Library)

Later, there were other problems. As the Thames was progressively embanked it became subject to tidal surges. These increased markedly with the replacement of Old London Bridge in 1831 which, with its numerous piers, had acted as a tidal barrier. The new bridge also released water more quickly. Richmond half-lock was designed to control tidal flow, opening in 1894. It incorporates a footbridge.

Richmond Bridge - opened in 1777

Until 1777 when, following much hostility from the watermen, Richmond Bridge was opened, there were no bridges between London Bridge and where there have been at least three bridges, the first built in about 1219. The present bridge, recently widened, was built in 1828. Upstream the next bridge, at was opened in 1753, replaced in 1779, then in 1865 and yet again in 1933. Downstream below Richmond the railway bridge was opened in 1848 and the road bridge in 1933.

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