Kew Bridge

Kew Bridge, Hounslow

A river crossing and station located where the Thames makes the first northward loop on its journey through London

Kew Bridge - waterandsteam

Until 1759 a horse-fer­ry car­ried traf­fic across the riv­er near here, owned for the last cen­tu­ry of its exis­tence by the Tun­stall fam­i­ly, who also had a Brent­ford limekiln busi­ness. The entre­pre­neur­ial Robert Tun­stall com­mis­sioned the build­ing of a wood­en toll-bridge, which last­ed 30 years before his son, also Robert, replaced it with a stone struc­ture.

The present bridge was designed by John Wolfe-Bar­ry and opened in 1903 by Edward VII, in whose hon­our it was named, although its users con­tin­ued to call it Kew Bridge. The con­struc­tion of the bridge, in con­crete and gran­ite, was a joint project by the coun­ty coun­cils of Sur­rey and Mid­dle­sex.

Kew Bridge

Kew Bridge sta­tion, on the Houn­slow loop line, opened in 1850. In 1869 the Lon­don and South West­ern Rail­way Com­pa­ny built Kew Rail­way Bridge at Strand on the Green to pro­vide a short­er route for their line to Rich­mond.

From 1924 to 1956 the Q The­atre stood oppo­site Kew Bridge sta­tion, stag­ing plays that often went on to become West End hits. Vivien Leigh, Joan Collins, Sean Con­nery and Dirk Bog­a­rde were among the actors who per­formed here ear­ly in their careers. The the­atre’s for­mer site is now occu­pied by the block of flats called Rivers House.

A gem among London’s less­er-known col­lec­tions, the Lon­don Muse­um of Water and Steam is housed in a for­mer water pump­ing sta­tion on Green Drag­on Lane. The muse­um has a nar­row-gauge steam rail­way, an exhi­bi­tion on the sto­ry of London’s water sup­ply and the world’s best col­lec­tion of steam pump­ing engines, includ­ing the Grand Junc­tion 90 inch engine, the top of which is shown in the pho­to­graph above.

A short dis­tance to the west, the Musi­cal Muse­um has an unri­valled col­lec­tion of self-play­ing musi­cal instru­ments – from tiny clock­work music box­es to a ‘Mighty Wurl­itzer’. There’s also a tea room with a view of the Thames and a con­cert hall that hosts dances and show­ings of clas­sic films.

Hidden London: Developer's CGI vision of the Brentford community stadium and associated housing

Assum­ing all goes to plan, a twelve-acre indus­tri­al and com­mer­cial site off Lionel Road South, north-west of Kew Bridge sta­tion, is soon to be trans­formed into a major res­i­den­tial devel­op­ment, accom­pa­nied by the Brent­ford com­mu­ni­ty sta­di­um, which will become the new home of Brent­ford foot­ball club. The club also has out­line plan­ning per­mis­sion to build a hotel on the site – but extra apart­ments may be added instead.

Shown in the devel­op­ers’ CGI above, the project will fill most of the area with­in the tri­an­gle of rail­way lines filled in pale pur­ple the map below. Will­mott Dixon will build the hous­ing.

Postcode area: Brentford, TW8
Station: South West Trains (zone 3)
See also: Kew