Shopping in Hampton Wick
A group of shops at the end of Kingston Bridge
Hampton Wick owes its origin to its strategic position at the end of Kingston Bridge. All the early roads radiated from the end of the bridge, acting as through roads to other places. The main cluster of buildings was in and around the High Street. Most shops and businesses were here and in Old Bridge Street. Old Bridge Street was a narrow street of tightly packed properties and was the main road from Kingston to Hampton Wick before the new bridge was opened in 1828 on a different alignment.
In 1844 land was acquired for schools for boys and girls, in High Street and these were built in 1845. The schools were later extended and an adjacent library with council offices above was built. In 1900 the main stretch of the High Street – on the west between Park Road and The White Hart and on the east between The Swan and the new Kingston Bridge were probably little changed over the previous decades. Most of the retail businesses were in this part of the village and included 5 greengrocers, 4 bakers, 3 butchers (2 with slaughter houses attached), 2 grocers, a dairyman, a fishmonger and a poulterer. “Service” industries included a coachsmith, a farrier and shoeing smith, a leather seller, 2 harness manufacturers and a wheelwright. The Swan and The White Hart are still there today, but both have since been re-built.
In 1902, much of the west side (nos 5-25) of the High Street was demolished to widen the road to accommodate trams. New buildings were erected, set back some twenty feet (six metres). Since then, apart from the replacement of the old school buildings by an office block and the building of new flats on the corner of Old Bridge Street, the High Street has changed physically very little; the volume of traffic is an entirely different story.