We’ve had various photos of Richmond Bridge on the home page of our site ever since we launched. Although it’s highly recognisable, I think very few of us really know much about it.
So, like many of my previous posts, I’m learning as I write… and hopefully you might pick up a few new snippets of info if you read on.The bridge is a Grade I listed building and the oldest standing bridge on the River Thames in London. It was constructed of stone between 1774 and 1777 by James Paine who was later responsible for bridges in Kew, Chertsey and Walton.
It was built after an Act of Parliament to replace the old Richmond Ferry (see map) and just like construction in Richmond today, caused mass controversy.
The most popular site was slightly downstream at Water Lane, but the residents of that street were understandably unhappy about losing their homes and the Dowager Duchess of Newcastle refused to let it land on Twickenham Park – so it was built on the site of the ferry crossing.
The ferry owner was compensated with the equivalent of £1/2 milion in today’s money. Presumably he was doing good business as there were two boats; one for horses and the other for people.
The bridge was funded by a Tontine scheme which meant that investors put the money up front and had a guaranteed return, presumably thanks to the tolls that were charged until 1859. The total cost was over £10,000 which would be £1 million today.
From 1937 to 1940 major work took place on the bridge to both widen it and also flatten the on-ramp sections so that it was less hump-backed. Each stone on the upstream side was individually removed, numbered and then replaced (after widening the carriageway) to keep the look of the bridge as similar as possible.
Today the bridge is a key landmark on the River, and in the Borough, photographed by thousands every year. Here are just a few shots…