The Twickenham Museum
Exhibitions : Down by the Riverside

Hampton Wick
A community which grew next to Kingston Bridge

Kingston Bridge

Hampton Wick grew up naturally at the western end of the first recorded Kingston Bridge. The earliest known documentary reference to the bridge is in 1193, relating to repair work. Indeed the old wooden bridge seems to have been in a constant state of disrepair. Tolls to pay for repair were collected from the middle of the 14th century until 1565 when lands were conveyed to the Kingston authorities by a benefactor on condition that the bridge should be free of toll for ever.

Kingston, with the road and railway bridges in the background

Old Bridge Street was home to many people: a narrow, tightly packed street of humble dwellings leading to the bridge. There was a wharf beside the bridge, used for unloading goods for Hampton Court Palace.

Before 1800 there are very few references in the records to river-based occupations here although the river must have provided employment. Malting and market gardening were then the two principal activities. Most of the malt houses would have been by the river, giving access to waterborne transport.

A new bridge was opened in 1828 by Queen Adelaide, and designed by Edward Lapidge. He lived here, the son of a gardener at Hampton Court and was the architect of the two local churches. Tolls were reintroduced to pay for the construction, and levied until 1870. The bridge was widened in 1912-14 and again in 1999.

There had been a long island just south of the bridge, on the Hampton Wick side, but this was incorporated into the river bank when the new bridge was constructed.

A boat under construction

The railway bridge crossing the river to make the loop line was completed in 1866. Alfred Burgoine's boatyard was just north of the bridge. Burgoine built many fine craft including a Royal Barge for Queen Victoria. There was another boatyard just north of Kingston bridge, known at one time as Harden's Boat House, and later as the Kingston Bridge Boatyard. Between the two bridges the huge wharf of Messrs Gridley Miskin's timber yard dominated the view, although this has now been replaced by housing.

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