Hampton - Then and Now
Slow development until the 19th century.
Over the centuries Hampton changed very slowly and by 1801 was still mainly a triangle of streets clustered around St Mary's Church: Thames Street, Church Street and High Street, with some properties in what later became Station Road. The Enclosure Act of 1811 led to the parcelling-up and enclosure of the old common land and to the improvement and widening of a number of roads which are reflected on the 1826 Enclosure map.
Before 1800 there were stage coach services between London and Hampton and by 1840 a horse-drawn omnibus service ran from the Bell in Thames Street six times a day in each direction. Hampton Court Palace was opened to the public by Queen Victoria in 1838. Visitor numbers shot to 116,000 in 1839 and exceeded 200,000 by 1850. This in turn led to greater demand for meals and refreshments and a number of tea rooms and dining halls sprang up, particularly around Hampton Court. The railway arrived at Hampton Court in 1849 and at Hampton in 1864. While this improved communications with London it did not lead to an immediate increase in population.
By the late 1820s, as the population steadily increased, the old church became too small and was rebuilt. The new church opened on the same site in 1831.
There was more activity by the riverside from the 1850s. This was partly as a result of the Metropolis Water Act of 1852 which prohibited the taking of water from the tidal Thames. This led to the establishment of Waterworks at Hampton by the Southwark & Vauxhall, the Grand Junction and the West Middlesex Water Companies by 1855.
On the river itself the demand for boats for fishing and leisure was growing and Tom Tagg established a boatyard on what became known as Tagg’s Island. Later, boats from this yard were built and exported worldwide. In the late 1880s the first electric launches were built by Immisch on Platt’s Eyot in a yard that was later taken over by Thornycrofts. The river was increasingly being used for weekend and summer recreation.
Tom Tagg built the Island Hotel on Tagg’s Island in 1872 and, particularly from the 1880s, houseboats were very popular with the leisured classes. These were clustered round the island with more just below Hampton Court Bridge, on the Surrey riverbank. By around 1890 “annual” day trip excursions for workers are mentioned in the local press and these were often up-river by boat. Later, in 1913, the Island Hotel was rebuilt as the Karsino entertainment complex by Fred Karno.
Away from the river the land use was changing. Until the 1880s much land was still used for grazing and farming but then market gardening began to flourish. In 1884 there was only one nursery in Hampton, but there were 12 by 1888 and 32 by 1900, with about 600 glass houses. Indeed there were still 45 nurseries in business in 1939. Also, from 1897, the Earl of Carlisle decided to break up the Manor House Estate. Although the parcels of land sold slowly, the action released a huge area for housing. Much of this land would become nurseries until being finally built over.
As far as local government was concerned Hampton, after years of wrangling, elected a Local Board in 1890. This enabled the raising of funds to improve the infrastructure. Shortly afterwards, in 1895, the Local Board was converted to an Urban District Council. As a result of these changes a sewage disposal works opened in 1899 together with re-surfacing of some roads by the end of the century. The arrival of the trams in 1903 also had a profound effect and almost overnight village lanes became main roads, widened and improved in order to accommodate tram routes. Council houses were also built in Hampton from 1903, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s, improving the lot of the working man.
From the mid-1930s the remaining part of the Manor House Estate, east of the railway line, was developed. The District Council functioned until 1937 when Hampton and other Councils became part of the Borough of Twickenham. By the 1970s most of the nurseries were derelict and the Nurserylands housing development took place in the late 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, finally building on land where development had started a century earlier.