Richmond Bridge, London
Richmond Bridge is an 18th-century stone arch bridge that crosses the River Thames at Richmond. It was built as a replacement for a ferry crossing which connected Richmond town centre on the east bank with its neighbouring district of East Twickenham to the west. Its construction was privately funded by a tontine scheme, for which tolls were charged until 1859. It is the eighth Thames bridge to be built in what is now Greater London.
About Richmond Bridge, London in brief
Richmond Bridge is an 18th-century stone arch bridge that crosses the River Thames at Richmond, connecting the two halves of the present-day London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The bridge, which is Grade I listed, was built between 1774 and 1777, as a replacement for a ferry crossing which connected Richmond town centre on the east bank with its neighbouring district of East Twickenham to the west. Its construction was privately funded by a tontine scheme, for which tolls were charged until 1859. The eighth Thames bridge to be built in what is now Greater London, it is today the oldest surviving Thames bridge in London. It was widened and slightly flattened in 1937–40, but otherwise still conforms to its original design. A ferry had almost certainly existed at the site of thepresent-day bridge since Norman times, the earliest known crossing of the river at Richmond dates from 1439. The service was owned by the Crown, and operated by two boats, a small skiff for the transport of passengers and a larger boat for horses and small carts. The ferry service was also in service from at least 1652, but due to the steepness of the hill leading to the shore-line on the Surrey side neither ferry was able to transport carriages or heavily laden carts, forcing them to make a lengthy detour via Kingston Bridge. In 1772 the Richmond Bridge Act was passed by Parliament, selecting 90 commissioners, including landscape architect Lancelot Capability Brown, historian and politician Horace Walpole and playwright and actor David Garrick, to oversee the construction of a stone bridge.
The Act stipulated that no tax of any sort could be used to finance the bridge, and fixed a scale of tolls, ranging from ½d for a pedestrian to 2s 6D for a coach drawn by six horses. Henry Holland was granted £5,350 compensation for the loss of the ferry service. Local resident William Windham had been sub-tutor to Prince William, Duke of Cumberland, and was the former husband of Mary, Lady Deloraine, mistress to George II. He sought Parliamentary approval to replace the ferry with a wooden bridge, to be paid for by tolls. Local residents lobbied for it to be at Water Lane, a short distance downstream from the existing ferry pier. The approach to the river was flat to the Surrey bank, but the Dowager Duchess of Newcastle refused to allow the approach road to pass through her land at Newcastle Park, and the commission was forced to build the bridge on the site. The 60-foot wide central span was designed to allow shipping to pass, giving a distinctive hump-backed appearance. It ran between Portland Hill and Portland Hill, and ran between 300 feet and 300 feet in length and 24 feet 9inches in width in length, supported by five elliptical arches.