Hampton Wick – at the end of Kingston Bridge
In a strategic position opposite Kingston, the population grew in the 19th c. and declined in the 20th c.
Hampton Wick owes its foundation to its strategic position opposite Kingston, where there has been a bridge since at least the late 12th century and a ford before then. Although part of Hampton until 1831, Hampton Wick was semi-autonomous long before that. It has an area of just over 1300 acres, but much of this land is within the parks attached to Hampton Court Palace and Bushy Park and so not available for housing. In 1664 the population was about 300. All the early roads were through roads radiating from Kingston Bridge and leading to Teddington, Hampton Court and Hounslow Heath. The early buildings were almost all in a cluster close to Kingston Bridge, with the greater number in High Street and some stretching along the Lower Teddington Road.
The population in 1801 was 793 and due to the physical constraints of the parks and the river was to have the lowest growth of any of the local areas. In 1831 the Church of St John the Baptist was built and Hampton Wick became a separate parish. By 1861 the population was around 2000 and by 1891 around 2400. The population peaked in 1951 at 3400 and by 1991 had declined to 2400; the same figure as a hundred years earlier. This was due to the decreasing size of households.
Hampton Wick was the first of the local areas to form a Local Board, in 1863. The move may have been provoked by a wish to escape from the control exercised by Hampton.
In 1902 tramlines were laid through the village, causing massive disruption and the demolition of 21 buildings – some opposite The Swan public house and the rest opposite the old library in the High Street – in order to widen the road. A major change in the 20th century has also been the volume of traffic. In 1914, 4500 vehicles including cycles crossed Kingston Bridge daily and by the 1970’s traffic volumes were twelve times as many. The combination of very heavy traffic and the proximity of a large variety of shops in nearby Kingston have also led to a decline in retail shops in Hampton Wick.