Whitton – from hamlet to housing estates
The 17th c. hamlet became known for gunpowder and market gardening, and it expanded in the 20th c.
At the time of Domesday the population has been estimated at 20-25 for Whitton. By the 17th century Whitton was still only a hamlet and the maps of Ralph Treswell (1607) and Moses Glover (1635) show the hamlet centered on the crossroads where the present Nelson and Kneller Roads and Whitton Dene meet. The population by 1664 was about 120. The 1635 map also shows what became Whitton Park, then a substantial house with 12 acres of land (subsequently increased to 55 acres). Also, between 1635 and 1646, the first of three houses on the Kneller Hall site was built.
By 1800 much land around Whitton had become common or enclosed market gardens, nurseries and orchards. Gunpowder was manufactured along the banks of the River Crane between today’s Hanworth and Hospital Bridge Road. In 1818 Hounslow Heath was enclosed by Act of Parliament with new roads across the old heath, extending the area of Whitton. The population was only around 500 at this time. Market gardening reached its peak in the 1870s: the waggon shown above is delivering strawberries.
By 1910 the village was much as we see it today. After the First World War there was an acute housing shortage. Full scale development could not begin, though, until the problem of access was resolved. In this, Chase Bridge was the key. Only after its compulsory purchase in 1928 was the first omnibus route introduced, linking Twickenham with Hounslow. The opening of Whitton railway station in 1930 also terminated Whitton’s isolation. Then, in 1933 the Great Chertsey Road was built to Hospital Bridge Road affording ease of access for the developers. That part of Percy Road from the Admiral Nelson to the railway became the new High Street and by 1939 there were 96 businesses in operation. The land south of the new Warren Road was covered in housing. In a few short years in the 1930s virtually the whole of Whitton was covered with three bedroom semi-detached houses, with some bungalows and a few larger houses.