A Survey of the River, with Suggestions for the Preservation of its Amenities,
prepared for A Joint Committee of the Middlesex and Surrey County Councils
by Adams, Thompson and Fry, Town Planning Consultants
121 Victoria Street, Westminter, SW1
St Dominic’s Press
Ditchling, Hassocks, Sussex
APPENDIX I. SUMMARY OF PROPOSALS RELATING TO THE PRESERVATION AND ACQUISITION OF OPEN SPACES AND AREAS IN WHICH THE EXISTING CHARACTER SHOULD BE MAINTAINED
APPENDIX II. CONTROL OF THE ELEVATIONS OF BUILDINGS .
APPENDIX III. POSITION OF TOWN PLANNING SCHEMES OF RIVERSIDE LOCAL AUTHORITIES
Frontispiece: Syon Reach
The river Thames, acting in various capacities, and serving both the city and the country, is bound to offer widely varying aspects which can hardly be
related one to the other.
Before entering upon any detailed critical analysis, therefore, it may be wise to attempt to define the various functions of the river, and to see what bearing these have upon amenity, in what measure the imposition of practical requirements are inevitable, and where unnecessary interference with amenity may be avoided.
As a navigable river the Thames must be accounted a commercial waterway up to reaches beyond the boundary of this report,
and it must therefore suffer from time to time the outcroppings of industry and commerce upon its banks;
for it is not only inevitable but right that the river should play its part economically in the distribution and carrying of goods.
For this purpose there must be wharves and warehouses, docks, locks and other works; and round these will sometimes gather factories and mills and coal stores and all other unholy things not spoken of by the guide-book.
While the river continues to be used for the transport of goods, to the general public it is, first and last, a playground.
The fortunes of those who live by the river are governed almost entirely by the tide of pleasure seekers.
Fine weather brings its thousands from the city to take their pleasure and their sport on the river; and wet weather leaves the river deserted.
Nearly every form of Sport which can be indulged in upon and beside the waters of rivers has its place in the organized life of the Thames.
Rowing and punting, in which a certain proficiency is most easily acquired, attract the greatest number of people, and this form of sport or pleasure accounts for the bulk of those users of the river who come from a distance.
Motor boats and similar craft are for the most part owned by those who live on or near the river, and only a few are hired.
These hardly come under the category of sport, which is a very real element of the river life, supporting as it does a great number of active Rowing and Sailing clubs.
Nor is this activity of these clubs to any great extent seasonal.
Year in and year out the eights and fours may be seen on all the good reaches of the river, and a breath of wind will bring out enough sails to make a very busy scene.
The time honoured steam boats must not be forgotten as performing a very useful function in bringing the life of the river and its scenery within reach of those to whom the active exercise of rowing or punting is no longer possible.
The yearly appearance of the steam boats on the river is one of the sure signs of spring, and, the journey from Westminster to Hampton Court, and to the reaches above, part of the visitor’s itinerary when he comes to make the tour of London and England.
Bathing takes place in the river in all its reaches.
It is of necessity a not very highly organized form of bathing, though most local authorities have been at pains to provide and maintain changing facilities at points where safe bathing is to be had.
The short season explains to a certain extent why these arrangements are on a very small scale, though it might be considered whether these facilities should not be enlarged, as in Hyde Park, where the bathing places that have been adequate for many years will be enlarged so that they may attract more bathers and thus become more useful.
It is impossible to enumerate the many ways in which the Thames provides for recreation and amusement.
No mention has been made of walking, or of the type of holiday making which formed the subject of J.K.Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat.”
To the thousands who spend their leisure time on or about the river it is a matter of first-rate importance that the character of the river should not deteriorate into the squalidity of a bungalow town, or become on the other hand, a utilitarian channel for the conveyance of land drainage.
Another function which the river has been called upon to play on a large scale during the last century is that of water provider.
Along the banks in all reaches arc to be found large areas of land given over to reservoirs.
In many cases the outer wall of these reservoirs forms the bank of the river, which becomes thereby a rigid piece of engineering work, turning the river into a canal.
Combined with pumping-stations and their necessary chimneys these retaining walls may rob the river of all charm if tree-planting, which goes far to restore the loss by substituting for the informal river bank a formal arrangement of trees, is not included as part of the lay-out of the waterworks.
In considering the various uses man has made of the river it is apt to be forgotten that its chief natural function is to provide a channel
to carry away surplus water from the land.
The regulation of the flow of water in winter and summer, bound up as it is with the need for conservation of supplies in summer and the necessity of carrying away the flood waters of winter, is at present occupying the attention of the engineers of the Thames Conservancy Board, who have put forward far-reaching proposals of river widening, dredging, and the cutting of new channels.
The need for these alterations in the line of the river are occasioned largely by drainage schemes on the River Wey calculated to bring into the river a very considerably increased flow of water in flood seasons.
As in normal times floods are all too common in every reach of the river, it is obvious that the Wey drainage scheme is indissolubly linked with the clearing of a wider channel down the parent river.
It is diflicult to see at a glance what effect these proposals will have upon the amenities, though one may say that as they seek to straighten out the winding course of the river, and to curtail the eccentricities of its configuration, they may quite visibly change its present character at certain points, not always for good.
These proposals as they occur in the itinerary of the report will be studied in detail, and counter proposals or suggestions offered where it is thought that they may protect the proper amenity of the river without endangering the value of the scheme of drainage.
It may allay a good deal of uneasiness to say at once that it has definitely been stated on behalf of the Thames Conservancy that the normal water levels in the various reaches will not be changed as a result of the “improvements” in the channel.
Finally the aspect of the river as providing upon its banks sites for towns and villages, houses and other types of domestic buildings,
may be said to rank as the most important aspect in the eyes of all those who pass up and down it.
The appearance of a house being everybody’s business, the critical faculties are more alive to the good and bad points of architecture, and the public more fully aware of what it likes or dislikes.
The river has, of course, attracted the formation of towns and villages throughout the ages at every point where traffic has passed across by ferry, ford or bridge.
Age has brought charm and character to these ancient nuclei until it is difficult to decide which of these or the more natural and untouched stretches we like best.
Add to this the larger houses of more recent years, standing within estates that border the river side, but remaining half hidden by foliage, and we are brought to the post-war period of riverside development, more ostensibly the subject of this present enqulry.
As the river must be allowed to act in these several capacities for the benefit of a large population it follows that every recommendation tending to improve the amenities of the river must be qualified, and in many cases compromised, by the practical requirements of commerce and public service.
The river as it flows through virgin meadowland, past ancient towns and under venerable bridges is a river unspoilt and perfect.
Wherever it may be preserved in this state it should be our task so to preserve it; nevertheless in the midst of a teeming population and so close to a metropolis of many millions of people, it is unlikely that this ideal state will exist over very long stretches of the river, and for the greater part of its course it will be our object rather to regulate the relationship of man and his buildings to the river than to deny him all access whatsoever.
And in the same way it should be our object so to order the incidence of open space and built up areas on the banks, that warehouses are not mixed up with houses; that factories shall not be erected upon open meadows within view of the river; and that houses and bungalows shall not so monopolise the river frontage as to turn the gentle river banks into the likeness of suburban streets.
Since much damage has already been done to the river by indiscriminate placing of industrial and domestic buildings there are reaches where it will only be possible to make the best of bad conditions; in others, luckily, it will be a case of preserving the best of beautiful conditions.
Having indicated what is best in the panorama of the riverside, the open meadows of its ideal and untouched state, and the ancient towns and villages which give the river its essential English character, it must be shown how these inherited amenities may be, and are being threatened and spoiled.
The part which the river plays as commercial carrier and water provider has naturally been responsible in the past for the greater part of the damage.
In the lower reaches the transformation from fields and trees to factories and warehouses has been complete.
These crowd to the bank with no thought to arrangement, or plan, and if they are in any way attractive it is by good fortune alone.
In the upper reaches the damage done by one factory standing alone will correspond to the extent to which it is visible over the fields or meadows.
In any case it is bound to be considerable.
Grouped near the bridges in the towns, industrial and commercial buildings quite often destroy the value of the surrounding good work, by reason of their haphazard erection.
The pumping-stations associated with the many waterworks situated by the riverside point the moral to the factory owner.
Though it must be acknowledged that expense has seldom been allowed unduly to influence the design of waterworks’ buildings, this does not explain away the high level of design and building achieved.
The Kingston waterworks, towers and chimneys bulk largely in the view upstream, but it is not the chimneys that detract from the amenity of the river, but the excessive rigidity of the retaining wall of brick, which stretches in unbroken line, bare and uninteresting; the length of what was once a very beautiful reach.
This wall is obviously dull engineering work, built without an eye to the necessity of keeping the river beautiful.
Putney Bridge [ 1886 ]
Hammersmith Bridge [ 1890 ]
Kingston Bridge [ 1870, widened 1914 ]
Walton Bridge [ 3rd bridge 1864 - 1985 ]
The bridges that span the Thames at various points may be counted among its chief treasures.
Not only are the bridges at Richmond, Kingston, Chertsey and Walton beautiful works of art, but the bridges at Putney, Kew, and elsewhere, erected to carry modern traffic and on a greater scale, are also fine and noble things that have added and not detracted from the beauty of the river.
Less public spirited than the builders of road bridges, the Railway Companies are responsible for erections in steel that quite definitely detract from the enjoyment of the river scene.
Within view of Kew Bridge is a bridge that carries the electric railway across the river as clumsily as it is possible to do so.
Barnes Bridge is excessively ugly, and although the railway bridge at Richmond is more competently designed and graceful in line, it must be admitted that the steel bridges of the railway company in the region are generally in a lower category and by no means assets on the side of amenity.
Staines Railway Bridge [ 1856 ]
Barnes Railway Bridge [ 1848 & 1890 ]
Richmond Railway Bridge [ 1846 & 1907 & 1984 ]
Kew Railway Bridge [ 1869 ]
Domestic buildings, because they are more susceptible of conscious design and more indicative of an attitude of mind towards the river,
constitute a very important factor in the balance of ugliness and beauty.
Pettiness of design and the haphazard arrangement of small units close to the river bank are responsible for the greatest amount of damage.
This type of development has been called the “bungaloid growth”, and as in the country at large, so too on the river, it is the disturbing and disintegrating element.
When it is remembered that the river is a broad, uninterrupted flow of water associated with large open prospects, or with fine panoramas of trees and banks, it will be realised how destructive to this essentially calm and simple statement a row of tiny, fussy little bungalows will be.
Like a series of gabled boxes set along the very margin of the bank, the bungalows by the exercise of every possible eccentricity and mark of individuality, break up the line of the river.
Each house has its gable, its weathervane; each plot its fence, and railing, its flagstaff, its nameboard and its crazy paving.
And in spite of so much striving to be different, they are pervaded by a feeling of sameness.
No river could withstand such onslaught as this.
Generally speaking, it may be said that the riverside calls for a type of domestic building that is simple and quiet in statement, avoiding complex roof forms and relying mainly upon pleasant proportions, united to good materials and colour.
It must be noted here that the painted stucco and brick houses of the eighteenth century, such as Pope’s Villa or the Manor House, Shepperton, seem particularly well suited to the river; and that nothing could be further removed from congruity and decency than the pink asbestos roofs of the worst type of bungalow.
The evils of crowded bungalows and small houses can only be mitigated by setting them back from the river front, as houses are set back from a street; leaving, as in a street, a public or at least a communal way along the bank.
Upon this, trees may be planted or allowed to grow, with a path and grass border to the river, and moorings for boats grouped at intervals.
There can obviously be no place for advertisements in river scenery.
Even in the towns they are a not very necessary evil, against which the community seeks to legislate, with gradually increasing effect.
On the river, few people would dare to erect the type of hoarding with which the highway makes us familiar, and such things are of very rare occurrence.
Advertisements of minor daring continue to spoil the character of the river here and there.
Prominent and ugly lettering on tea-houses, boat-houses and the like is common enough, and the advertisements of a well-known brewer on the building and balustrade of Eel Pie Island are an indication of what we might expect if it was thought that enough people passed by to make an extension of the system profitable.
Blatant advertising does definite harm to the river by lowering the standard of conduct, and the general outlook of those who take their pleasure on it.
A river spattered with posters will be used heedlessly by people who have ceased to care for the quieter pleasures that the river brings.
The control of advertisements is largely a matter of public taste, which has of late years grown more conscious of its rights in this respect and will soon perhaps learn to make use of the legislation placed at its command.
There are a hundred and one ways by which the amenities of the river may be lowered or rendered of no effect.
Lines of fencing of corrugated iron may spoil an otherwise beautiful View.
Untidy or ugly buildings may show from the river for lack of judicious tree-planting upon the banks.
Open spaces by the riverside may become nnkempt wildernesses because it is nobody’s business to look after them;
and where the banks are allowed to decay, the river, when in flood, eats into the towpath and decreases its width between the river and the adjacent property.
The proper repair of embankments is a matter requiring attention at many points if a continuous way is to be kept free along the river.
Questions of methods of embanking with stone, wood and concrete will be entered into in another part of this report.
Finally, as the appearance of the river for good or ill is governed in great part by the attitude of those who build on the banks,
or are responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of all kinds of works,
it should be remembered by those that their actions may help to make beautiful or may inadvertently destroy the loveliest highway in England.
When everything has been done by the responsible authorities to guard and preserve what is left to us, the final word will be spoken by the mass of individuals whose actions are not subject to detailed legislation and control.
What they do remains a matter of individual taste, and will be good or bad in proportion to the individual’s sense of propriety and public spirit.
he education of public taste, stimulated through the medium of the press, is slowly teaching people to see how much can be done by the proper design and arrangement of everyday objects to alleviate the squalor of modern cities, but despite the high standards of architectural excellence maintained by government departments, municipalities, local authorities, banks, railway companies and the like, it is still necessary that local government legislation should protect and preserve the amenities which certain sections of the community wilfully destroy.
For convenience in following the survey, the river is divided into arbitrary reaches, each of which is dealt with, first in a summary,
and then in detail, bank by bank.
The respective sides of the river are referred to as Middlesex Bank and Surrey Bank, even in the area of the County of London.
[ Editor's note: The left and right banks are referred to under the old convention of facing downstream: In this survey the left bank is the Middlesex bank and the right bank is the Surrey bank.
The modern Environment Agency now uses the opposite convention of facing upstream. ]
The character of this reach is determined largely by the industrial nature of the right bank.
Although from Putney Bridge nothing of this is visible owing to the intervention of Bishop’s Park Recreation Ground, the right bank thereafter is occupied almost entirely by factories, warehouses and Wharves.
The left bank, on the other hand, is open and free of buildings, owing to its occupation by the Middlesex waterworks and the grounds of Ranelagh Club.
The tow path is continuous on the left bank, being laid with gravel with stonepitched sloping embankment set with grass and shrubs.
It is for the most part well planted with trees that screen the waterworks and Ranelagh Club.
There is no riverside path on the right, the Fulham Palace Road running parallel some quarter of a mile distant, and the intervening space being occupied by houses, factories, etc.
From Putney Bridge, Bishop’s Park Recreation Ground presents to the river a well-built stone embankment, lined with trees,
from behind which appears the tower of All Saints’ Church.
This formal scheme makes a very effective river park, though it may appear rather divorced from the river itself by its high wall.
Behind it Fulham Palace stands within its moated grounds.
There are records of this ancient Manor of the Bishops of London dating back to the end of the seventh century, and among the present buildings is a sixteenth-century hall built in Henry VIII’s time.
The main block, in spite of much re-building, still retains its fourteenth-century tower.
Following immediately on this pleasant feature the grounds of Fulham Football Club present a sorry spectacle of untidy hoardings, standing on a bank of concrete and mud.
More unsightly than the ugliest of factories, this wall of hoarding is yet more easily susceptible of improvement.
Very little expense, involving some tree planting and new boundary fencing would set the matter right. The remaining space is occupied by industrial premises using the river bank as wharf space and leaving no passage up and down.
For a few yards the urban character of Putney High Street is projected along the river front, terminating in the Star and Garter Hotel.
Hereafter the bank is occupied by small houses, public houses and the boat-houses of several river clubs until the grounds of Ranelagh Club are reached.
For the most part the boat-houses are unexpectedly shabby and ill-designed for the reputable clubs they serve, comparing very unfavourably with those in higher reaches.
The embankment in front of these boat-houses is stone laid and sloping above high water level, with natural shingle below.
Just before Ranelagh is reached the embankment becomes a wharf and passes on a delightful bridge over Beverley Brook.
From here onward, the tow path, standing above a stone-pitched embankment, is paved with gravel.
On the stone pitching, grass and small shrubs grow thickly, so as to diversify its natural severity of line.
Tree-planting along the line of Ranelagh is good, and is being well maintained.
The reservoirs that follow are well screened by trees, with the exception of a piece of unused land by the filter beds.
Here further planting would improve the view from the river.
Messrs. Harrod’s Depository, an enormous and very pompous building of brick and terra-cotta, strikes an incongruous note as it stands alone, surrounded by the ugliest of corrugated iron fences, that ill accord with the architectural pretensions of the building.
Hammersmith Bridge is an iron suspension bridge of unusual design.
While not ugly it has no definite lines of gracefulness, and not a few faults of proportion.
Large suspension bridges are seldom successful as works of art.
This reach is important as containing, in a state of remarkable preservation, one of the older riverside developments, upon which the tide of urban expansion has left
few marks of its passage.
Actually the right bank from Hammersmith Bridge as far as Chiswick Old Church has been the site of eighteenth-century and later development long before its uninteresting hinterland shut in behind it.
Chiswick Mall teems with associations of famous people of the past.
In the churchyard is buried Hogarth, one of the greatest of English painters and one of a group of large-minded men that included Captain Coram, founder of the Foundlings’ Hospital.
Though Walpole lived in the house now named after him, and Thackeray went to school in one of the houses, William Morris, who lived and worked in Kelmscott House on the Upper Mall, will be remembered as its most honoured guest.
The list is by no means exhausted by these names, nor is there space to describe the features of the delightful old houses that line the riverside roadway.
It is sufficient to state that historical association is so linked with the beauty and the happy arrangement of the old houses as to make these “Malls” worthy of careful preservation in their present state.
Though these houses generally front on to the river, the water front is extremely irregular.
If there is to be any hope of remodelling the plan with the idea of preserving the good parts, eliminating the bad, and opening up the river front so as to be of value to the dense population that lives so close at hand, nothing but a detailed study of the problem at first hand will suffice to produce satisfactory results.
We have, therefore, refrained from proposals that will only touch the fringe of the problem, and state merely the need for preservation and a measure of clearing and replanning.
Beyond Chiswick Church and its adjoining industrial centre, large reservations of open space have very wisely been made by the Brentford and Chiswick Urban District Council.
The left bank continues to be occupied by the reservoirs and filter beds of the West Middlesex Waterworks, giving a bare and open, but by no means unpleasant character to the river.
From Hammersmith Bridge the banks are lined with mixed residential and industrial buildings.
For a few hundred yards from the bridge there is a wide sloping embankment in front of boat-houses, swerving inland to cross on a bridge over a creek, before it returns to the river at Upper Mall.
On the Upper Mall is situated Kelmscott House and the Doves Inn, after which the famous “Doves Press” was called.
This Mall is of short duration, and until it reappears as Chiswick Mall, wharves and industrial premises and the charming rear facade of Hammersmith Terrace occupy the river frontage.
These “Malls” are subject to seasonal floods and it would be tempting to suggest that strong embankment walls should be built out into the river.
Nevertheless we think that if the whole area were the subject of close study it would be possible to preserve the present character of the district, the semi-natural state of Chiswick Eyot, and the irregular modelling of the bank, while at the same time rendering the roadway and houses free from flood.
The small industrial centre, that lies immediately upstream is distinguished by the extreme ugliness of the motor works that mask Chiswick Old Church.
It is a pity that Chiswick Mall should be isolated from the newly acquired public riverside gardens beyond, but if this is too late to allow of remedy by purchase, something might be done to better the appearance of the building.
The Brewery that ends this line of building is well designed for its position on the river.
The water front of Duke’s Meadows, stretching as far as Barnes Bridge, has been acquired by the Brentford and Chiswick Urban District Council and laid out in gardens, with a retaining wall of rubble, topped with a white painted balustrade.
Projecting bastions at intervals serve to break the monotony of the wall, while shelters and other buildings have been erected some few yards back from the balustrade.
Behind the riverside strip lie playing-fields, owned by the Council, and laid out over the market gardens and orchards that once flourished all over this district lying in the bend of the river.
Riverside Industries: Chiswick
The greater part of the bank up to Barnes Bridge is occupied by the West Middlesex Water Works Company.
The towing path runs continuously above a sloping embankment of stone pitching set with grass and shrubs, and is generally well planted with trees.
Opposite Ferry landing it broadens into an open space, 200 feet wide, which stands in need of tree-planting to mitigate its bare and lifeless appearance.
Where Lonsdale Road joins the tow path a small triangular piece of land, if not reserved for open space, will be the site of bad building, since if sold for such, any attempt to make full use of it is bound to be destructive of good building.
The terraces of houses that stretch to Barnes Bridge are ugly.
The smaller houses, if whitewashed, might become a definite asset to the river view, but nothing but a screen of trees will obliterate the bad features of the larger buildings.
A display of large advertisements which is in such a position as to be visible from both railway and river is very out of place, even when considered in juxtaposition with Barnes Bridge.
This very ungainly example of railway engineering has suffered from a widening that took the form of a complete bridge span placed side by side with the older steel bridge.
Owing to the fact that one is of horizontal girder construction and the other a large segmental truss, absolute confusion reigns; it may be said of Barnes Bridge that it is the ugliest bridge on the river.
From Barnes Bridge to Kew Bridge the river is indeterminate, half urban, half rural.
On the right bank the undeveloped area of land enclosed by the bend of the river provides opportunities for wise development as public open space, which Chiswick Urban District Council are hastening to exploit.
This bank, as it nears Kew, meets the built-up part of Gunnersbury in the much older Strand-on-the-Green, a nucleus of houses similar to, but not so completely articulated as, Chiswick Mall.
On the left bank Mortlake crowds to the water’s edge in a mixed array of breweries and eighteenth-century houses, which stringing out along the tow path give way to the open fields of the Richmond drainage works.
On this bank the tow path is continuous and well planted with trees.
The proposed reservation of the right bank, from Grove Park Farm, beyond Barnes Bridge, to the point where the proposed road-bridge is to cross the river is an acquisition of the greatest importance to the amenities of the river, since the strip of land bought for public ownership is 150-200 feet in depth, and is backed by publicly owned playing-fields.
It is, no doubt, the aim of the Chiswick U.D.C. to keep this large area, in which is already included the public open spaces of Grove Park Farm and the incomparable Chiswick House, an oasis of green amid the heavily populated surrounding districts.
With this in view it would seem wise to extend the acquisition of river frontage to the unbuilt-upon portion beyond the proposed new road-bridge towards Strand-on-the-Green, so that control should not be lost on the immediate boundaries of what is already in public ownership.
As the least measure of safeguarding of the bridge-head the small area lying down stream from the two boathouses adjoining the Thames Motor Boat Club should be added to the river park, since an ill-designed or incongruous building erected upon this land so close to the bridge might quite easily destroy part of its value.
From Barnes Bridge onward to where the proposed road-bridge is to cross the river, a river-park similar to that now existing down stream is contemplated by the Chiswick U. D. C.
The land is already in their possession.
Beyond the site of the new bridge is the small piece of land, which it is advisable should form part of the open space about the bridge-head.
Above this are two boat-houses of good design standing unshielded by trees on the rather bare bank of the river, and next to a small creek or dock, used by the Thames Motor Boat Club.
From here onward the gardens of the houses of Hartington Road, running parallel with the river some 300 feet distant, run down to the river bank, where they end in an untidy assortment of out-houses and immature boat-houses, exhibiting thereby the bad effects of individual ownership of narrow building plots extending to the river.
So far as the mooring of boats or access to the river is concerned, the inhabitants of these houses would be equally well served by a common strip of river frontage, either publicly or privately owned, and if the publicly owned river park down stream could be extended across these gardens and on to Where Hartington Road meets the river at Strand-on-the-Green the amenities, not only of the river, but of this whole area of land would be secured for all time.
Strand-on-the-Green, like Chiswick Mall is an old eighteenth-century settlement, strung out along the bank in a line no deeper than the width of a singlehouse.
Behind it are houses of a much later date.
The “Strand” is an irregular carriage way in front of the houses, sloping away into the river and exhibiting in its lack of regular embankment much of its original charm.
Strand-on-the-Green, looking towards Kew Bridge and the nobly designed Waterworks’ Campanile seen beyond, is as beautiful as anything on the river.
It is, indeed, one of the recognized sketching grounds for artists, for it combines with the grandeur of the view upstream a wealth of no less interesting detail in the foreground.
If ever the town-planning of built-up areas becomes possible this little formation should be included under protective zoning.
Kew Bridge itself is a wide, arched granite bridge, strongly and restrainedly designed.
Though large, it is in no sense overpowering, nor can one deny that lacking the bridge and the waterworks’ campanile (or chimney disguised) to set it off, the river would relapse into the ordinary.
Breweries at Barnes
From Barnes Bridge the tow path is merged into roadway for a hundred yards or so, before this turns in to meet Mortlake High Street,
leaving the tow path to continue its course upstream.
Mortlake, as an old village, has suffered nearly complete eclipse at the hands of the brewers, whose enormous buildings rise like gloomy prisons directly beside the tow path.
The electricity works of the Barnes U.D.C., covered with unpainted corrugated iron, are a more potent source of corruption than are the brewery buildings, which, though they bulk largely in the view, are yet soundly and substantially built and are not without a certain fineness of scale.
But the older Georgian buildings that stand grouped together above the brewery, barely survive the challenge to their position and remain there on sufferance.
Little can be done, other than the rebuilding, removal or repairing of the electricity works, and a thorough overhauling of the premises of the Mortlake Rowing Club, to improve the amenities of this section of the bank.
At the West End, where there is a village green, playing-fields and the group of old houses just mentioned, every attempt should be made to prevent further deterioration, both from the point of view of saving the property that lies nearer the railway from the contagion of decay, and because this part will soon be lying adjacent to the new arterial road which crosses over the river at this point.
From these standpoints alone Cromwell House and its immediate neighbours should not be allowed to disappear.
Beyond the proposed new bridge the tow path, with its stone-pitched sloping embankment, runs in front of the open fields of the Richmond Main Drainage Works.
Trees screen the drainage works from view of the river, and the embankment, now being repaired, is set with grass and shrubs.
At a point about level with the beginning of Strand-on-the-Green opposite, the Southern Railway (Electric Line) crosses the river on an ugly iron girder truss bridge standing on caissons sunk into the river; very much after the manner of the much derided Charing Cross Bridge.
This bridge does a good deal to detract from the charm of the river at this point and when compared with the long sweeping lines of Kew Bridge is quite definitely ugly.
Add to this the noise of reverberation that each train causes in passing over the river and it will be seen to be undesirable in many ways.
Above the bridge the small island in midstream is in an uncared for condition.
The land adjoining the tow path here is used in part for tennis courts. and the remaining open portion for allotments.
This extremely interesting and beautiful reach of the river, although so near London, preserves the general characteristics of its former state,
because the left bank skirts the Royal Botanic Gardens and Richmond Old Deer Park, and for part of the way has an open view across Syon Park.
Kew Gardens and the Old Deer Park may be looked upon as permanent public open spaces, the ultimate fate of Syon Park being the determining factor in the future appearance of the river at this point.
The loss of Syon House would diminish the beauty of Kew Gardens to an extent which few people properly realize, and in the same way the peculiar quality of semi-wildness which is the distinguishing feature of this beautiful reach of the river hangs almost entirely upon the preservation of the present state of Syon Park.
As its future state is to a certain extent uncertain we have entered at some length into questions affecting its future use either as private or public open space or for any other specific purpose.
The other not yet determinable factor in the appearance of the river is the proposed new road bridge adjoining the present railway bridge at Richmond.
Looking upstream the new bridge is likely to add considerably to the charm of the river scene, not particularly because at the instigation of the Royal Fine Arts’ Commission it has adopted some of the characteristics of a mediaeval bridge, but because in its amended form it is simple in design and will not detract from the quiet repose of the near-by meadows.
The predominant need in this reach is the preservation of Syon Park.
Little more is necessary in a reach otherwise so singularly free from bad building.
Industrial Development at Brentford
From Kew Bridge to the lower boundary of Syon Park, the river is lined with a dense and active industrial development, centred about the mouth of the Brent River,
but Spread evenly along the bank in a succession of wharves and factory walls.
For the most part it lies hidden behind Brentford Ait and a smaller island, the backwater being wide enough to carry barges and small steamers at high tide.
The heavy timber and undergrowth of Brentford Ait acts as a screen for all but the Brentford Dock and shipbuilding yards, these being exposed to the view of those walking on the opposite tow path.
The jumble of yards and factories in the muddy creek are attractive but would be doubly so were they not contrasted with the beauty of the other bank.
It is hard to reconcile the appearance of both in the same picture.
As an industrial centre Brentford Dock is efficient and well cared for; the warehouses well built and substantial; but they cannot be regarded as amenities, and future additions to the buildings might take cognisance of their position on the river and be designed with an eye to the beauty of the scene around them without loss of one jot of efficiency.
We have spoken generally of the unique position which Syon Park holds on this stretch of the river.
Its low-lying banks, thick with reed and sedge, and timbered in isolated clumps of feathery trees, could not be altered for good.
The view of the great house across the meadows is superb, the openness of this view constituting its chief charm.
Syon House was originally a monastery of the fifteenth century, though the shell of the present building was built much later by the Protector, Somerset.
His daughter-in-law, Lady Jane Gray, was here proclaimed Queen, ruled for nine days, and was finally rowed down the river to the Tower.
James the First granted the houses and manor to the Duke of Northumberland in whose family it has since remained.
Robert Adam’s work for the then Duke of Northumberland, who was nearly the richest man in England, entirely transformed the interior, and added to the river front the low arcade which is such a feature in the view from Kew Gardens.
Its future is at the moment a little uncertain.
In the town-planning scheme of the Urban District Council of Heston-Isleworth, the bulk of the park is scheduled for public open space; the frontages to London Road and Park Road have been zoned for residential purposes at a density not exceeding eight to the acre and two areas, adjoining the Brentford Dock and by the Boathouse at the southern corner of the park, respectively, have been zoned for industrial purposes.
These proposals are subject to an agreement with the owner (the Duke of Northumberland) which amounts to a first refusal of the estate in the event of his wishing to dispose of it or develop it.
Apart from the industrial area on the river by the Boathouse which we deprecate in the strongest terms, we see no serious objection to the provisions of the scheme, although we should like to see the whole of the park definitely preserved either as a private or public open space.
The grounds are remarkable for the number of strange and beautiful trees, none more beautiful than those native trees that grow by the river bank, though some are considerably rarer.
But among the chief gems of the estate must be considered the late Georgean boathouse and Garden Pavilion that stands overlooking the river, close to Isleworth Church.
This charming small work has long been admired by architects as a choice example of a period productive of much delicate and refined architecture.
The little building with its bowed front and well-adjusted wings might well be taken as a model of small riverside architecture.
In the boathouse below there is an ancient rowing barge reputed to have been used by Lady Jane Grey but probably of later date.
The building is at present rather uncared for and would be the better for a coat of paint.
The village of Isleworth stands above a shelving muddy shore; its older buildings grouped very pleasantly about the church; its mills standing removed and partly hidden behind Isleworth Ait.
The essential character of this very sturdy village formation has been largely destroyed by the presence of these mills on the riverside, and by other factories situated nearer the railway.
It shares little of the life of the river, partly on this account, and partly because the river being tidal hereabout is unsuited for punting.
Such as remains around the church and the quaintly-named public house, “The London Apprentice,” makes a beautiful composition, with the shelving bank, upon which lie barges and small boats.
As an industrial centre its importance is limited by the nearness of good residential districts, the outskirts of St. Margarets.
Nazareth House, a Roman Catholic Convent and St. Margaret’s House, a school for Marine Officers’ daughters, are buttresses between it and better class property.
It is hoped at a later stage of the Heston-Isleworth Town Planning scheme to schedule the grounds of these buildings as open space.
At present they are zoned for eight houses to the acre. The Isleworth Ait, covered with pollard, willow and rank vegetation, is prescribed by Heston-Isleworth U.D.C. as public open space.
In view of the small risk of it being otherwise developed no immediate purchase is contemplated.
The river bank from here on to the Railway Bridge is built as a substantial wall retaining a tow path of varying width, and backed by the high walls of St. Margaret’s Schools and the gardens of the houses of St. Peter’s Road.
It is proposed to continue Ranelagh Drive, as a wider pedestrian promenade across the front of St. Margaret’s House to join Richmond Road.
The gardens of houses lining St. Peter’s Road and facing the river have been, except for a small portion adjoining the houses, thrown into one garden running the length of the terrace.
This interesting example of communal ownership should not be allowed to lapse at any future date and it should be, if possible, ear-marked as private open space by the authorities concerned.
The left bank of the river fringing the gardens of Kew and the old Deer Park and recreation ground are very unlikely to suffer any changes in the future and are at this moment very beautiful.
For a few yards above Kew Bridge the gardens of houses facing on to Kew Green are nearly all now given over to tea-houses and places for refreshment, which are too littered with advertisements and notices to be pleasant.
It is unfortunate that this class of catering should make its appeal to the public by garish notices instead of through the attractiveness of their grounds, and if they could be induced to regard the tow path as one of their legitimate frontages, this rather unsightly portion of the tow path might be as charming as the rest.
The surface of the tow path, bounding the gardens, is extremely uneven, and is in damp weather wet and uncomfortable walking, and while we would not advise that any form of concrete or smooth surface material should be laid, attention should be given to the state of the tow path in winter.
From Kew onwards nothing could be more beautiful than the walk under the trees which shade the tow path.
The views in all directions and especially across the Deer Park, are very fine.
The footbridge which spans the river at the first lock serves at the same time the sluice machinery which in some measure accounts for its unusual appearance.
A little up stream, separated by only a few yards from the railway bridge, will be built the new concrete bridge carrying the proposed arterial road which bridges the river across the old Deer Park Recreation Grounds.
We have discussed this design in the general remarks of Section “D” of this report, and drawn attention to the unfortunate juxtaposition of this bridge with the existing railway bridge.
Within the arbitrary boundaries of this section is included that part of the river upon which stands the town of Richmond.
All the activities of the river are situated on the Richmond side, the boat-houses, hotels and the long promenade of the tow path itself.
Very few of the buildings lining the river and, indeed, few in either direction belong to anything more recent than the first half of the last century.
The business of the river is concentrated along this bank and has been carried on with but little change for 100 years, and even the configuration of the tow path, the slipways, steps and landings have served generations of boatmen.
Any change in the river scene has taken place on the other bank, which, fortunately, is so heavily planted with trees as to disguise the erection of modern flats and houses of a period of architecture out of harmony with that of the other side.
It is the bridge at Richmond which gives it its essential character - a bridge which, though inadequate for modern needs, is nevertheless so beautiful that any interference with it is unthinkable.
The new bridge down stream will serve to bye-pass the bulk of the enormously heavy traffic which at present passes over it.
The river front on either side of the Bridge is zoned as a residential area with densities of six and eight houses to the acre.
The land lying in front of Duke’s Walk, which is a public footpath to Willoughby Road, is subject to flooding and should not be built upon.
Clear access from the railway bridge to Richmond Bridge along the river front should be envisaged as part of the proposals for increasing the amenity of the river.
A short length of tow path extends from Richmond Bridge to a point about half-way along the Ait.
Some extension of this path might be considered as necessary to prevent flooding of the bank and as a safeguard against unnecessary building.
Beyond Richmond Bridge there is a wide tow path lined with mature trees, and extending in this direction as far up stream as Marble Hill Park.
At present there is unbuilt-upon land lying between the footpath and Clevedon Road which it is proposed should be public open space - a portion of it being already laid down as parks.
The rather ungainly ice-skating rink, a sombre enough building, considering its social purpose, stands well screened by trees at the end of this open space.
Although adding very little of value to the View it is not necessarily a bad building, and a very much worse fate might quite easily have befallen the site.
Above this point are the large gardens of Haversham Grange and Meadow Bank, which it should be the aim of town planning authorities to schedule as private open space, so that they should form a continuation of the very beautiful Marble Hill Park.
In any case a portion of the gardens of Meadow Bank are subject to flooding and should not be built upon.
Upon this bank, as we have said, all the activities of the river are centred.
From the railway bridge as far as Water Lane the grounds of large houses adjoin the very wide and beautiful tow path.
Asgill House is a very fine example of the latter Georgean type of stone-built houses, and the other houses that follow it are extremely interesting architecturally, and belong to a period examples of which should be preserved.
A district, rich in historical association and containing some of the most charming domestic architecture to be found in Richmond, lies behind these houses.
In particular the remains of Richmond Palace are of peculiar interest.
Little more than an archway remains of the Palace built by Henry VII upon the remains of previous buildings by English Kings dating back to Edward III.
More history belongs to the series of Palaces which have stood on this site than can be mentioned here, though it will be remembered as the death place of Queen Elizabeth, who retired here for the last desperate month of her life, refusing to consider herself doomed and refusing to name an heir.
The Town Hall of Richmond, an insignificant building in itself, has been given a most delightful river approach in a series of steps and terraces leading down to the tow path from the main street.
This, in its way, makes use of the river to the fullest possible advantage.
The jumble of boat-houses, standing back to the width of the tow path from the river is exactly as it should be.
The handling of boats and gear, being inextricably mixed up with the passage of people to and fro, makes a busy, moving foreground to the approach above.
The Italian tower, which forms part of a hotel standing on one side of the bridge, forms a particularly valuable feature of the bridge head and gives a characteristic note to the view of the bridge from every direction.
It would be unfortunate if in future re-building of this hotel the tower were lost or replaced by anything less considerable, and we should like to draw the attention of the Richmond Council to this point so that they may take steps to safeguard what we feel sure is a very necessary feature of the river front.
From Richmond Bridge onward to Buccleuch House the gardens of houses standing on Petersham Road fall down to the tow path and preserve the open appearance of the river.
No large buildings should be allowed to be built over the site of these gardens.
Rebuilding may take place as this property grows old and decays, and it would be advisable to lay down a building line on the river side of the houses as well as on the street.
What remains of the gardens of Buccleuch House stand facing the river at the end of the tow path and serve, with their beautiful lines and fine trees, to round off the picture in this direction.
There is no special reason for anticipating the sale of this house but we think that it would be wise to take precautions to ensure that its grounds should not be developed for any purpose other than that of a private open space.
In the event of its coming into the market it should be purchased by the Richmond Council and the tow path continued in front of the house to make good the present hiatus.
Finally, the streets and property that line the river from the railway bridge to Buccleuch House preclude any violent changes, since this part of the town is absolutely devoted to the use of the river and to the maintenance of the amenities centred round it.
The Thames from Richmond Hill Terrace
This reach of the river forms part of the well-known view from Richmond Hill whence it is seen as
"a huge sea of verdure, with crossing and intersecting promontories of massive and tufted groves.”
From below, the flat river meadows and the flow of the wide river, contrasted with the deeply massed trees that stand about it and rise steeply up the slopes of Richmond Hill, are of a scale transcending the normal aspects of river scenery.
Here for a space the river is at its noblest.
It is to the acquisition of Marble Hill Park, on the instigation of the L.C.C., that we owe the present day completeness of the view.
This and part of Orleans Park, both in public ownership, preserve the thickly-timbered foreground and the unspoiled river frontage.
The value of public acquisition was never better demonstrated than in this instance.
The land lying within the curve of the river on the Surrey bank, and containing the flat Ham meadows, is to be subject to a town planning scheme.
In the section devoted to this bank we have outlined proposals for a river parkway that would be designed in conjunction with the development of this area, to be a safeguard against undue urbanisation of the bank and to invoke the best type of residential development in a district which offers so many permanently secured amenities.
These proposals cover most of the ground included in this section.
On the right bank the path from Richmond Bridge is continuous to Marble Hill Park.
The gardens of Meadow Bank and Meadow Side we have proposed should be private open space, so as to be continuous with Marble Hall Park and Orleans Park.
Standing off from this bank is Glovers’ Island, a publicly-owned property, on which landing or mooring is prohibited.
This prohibition is made with the intention of preserving the fine foliage of the island as a part of the view from Richmond Hill.
Beyond Orleans House the river widens to accommodate Eel Pie Island, behind which lies the town of Twickenham, opening on to the river in a tree planted quay, called the “Embankment.”
The peculiar charm of this quay, well built upon the river side in masonry with steps leading to the water, and planted with a fine range of chestnuts, has been realized by the Council, who are taking steps not so much to preserve, as distinctly to create new amenities.
The new bridge will strike across the centre of the embankment, and on the space immediately up-stream from the bridge approach, once the gardens of houses, the Council are furthering the building of a lay-out of flats with the shops of King Street behind.
They are setting back the frontage to the river sufficiently to allow a fine, wide promenade under trees in front.
They also propose to acquire as much of the river frontage facing Eel Pie Island, forming a part of the boundaries of York House, as will protect the bank against bad building and will ensure to the town of Twickenham direct and pleasant access to the river.
Eel Pie Island itself may be divided into three parts.
The section lying down stream is liable to floods and has not before been built upon.
This it is proposed to acquire for public open space, with at the other extreme end, a small unbuilt-upon section as private open space, so that the appearance of the Island from the other way of the stream will be safeguarded.
The centre of the Island is occupied by boat building works, bungalows and houses both good and bad, and by the hotel which has given so much notoriety to the Island in the past.
One cannot help feeling that the appeal this hotel makes to the public is based upon a low conception of what the public wants, and that brewers’ advertisements plastered over the building and lining the balustrade of the river are distinctly out of place.
Actually the boat-building sheds are placed as they should be, on the inner channels, and only the vulgarity of the hotel is seen from the main river channels.
From Eel Pie onwards the bank is occupied by large houses and small houses.
The Embankment: Twickenham
In front of Poulett Lodge, immediately adjoining the Twickenham embankment, a large and ungainly dance hall has been built,
obscuring the house itself in as ugly a manner as it is possible to do.
Above this there are a certain number of small houses, in which one may study the effect of the partition of the river frontage into small plots.
While not in the same category as the bungalow, these houses serve to prove that the juxtaposition of so much unrelated individuality is at the bottom of our dislike of bungalows in general on the river frontage.
It is impossible to avoid in a certain measure what is called “ribbon development” so long as the banks are free to be exploited by private speculators and estate agents.
Whatever general proposals we might make to mitigate the evils of this form of development, nothing but the public ownership of the banks, with the setting back of residential development to such distance as will preserve the natural state of the river front, will entirely solve the problem.
The house called “Pope’s Villa” bears no trace of the building in which Pope himself once lived.
The original house and its gardens which lie beyond the road and were connected to the house by a subterranean passage were destroyed by a later owner, who found the associations of the poet, coupled with the constant stream of pilgrims, so annoying that she obliterated every reference and built herself a new house.
At Crossdeep Hall the small island lying close to the bank has been turned into a pleasure ground, together with a strip of the main land.
The upper end of this island is the site of a not unsightly boat-building works, while a little further up stream is a shutter works, built quite substantially of brick, and making a presentable face to the river.
All these places have been zoned as isolated industrial centres.
Midway behind the lock and the weir and immediately adjoining the existing footbridge over the river a new road bridge is proposed to be built, joining Ham with the High Street, Teddington.
This bridge will be built over the site of the “Anglers’ Hotel” and will entail the demolition of Weir House, the grounds of which it is proposed to schedule as public open space so that the bridge head on the Teddington side will be protected.
The left bank from Buccleuch House to Teddington Weir is singularly free of bad building.
A wide and generous tow path heavily screened with trees as far as Eel Pie Island runs the length of this stretch.
Behind it lies the old district of Petersham which is rather a development of large houses than a village proper.
In Petersham and in the long road which runs from Ham to the river are to be found some of the finest examples of both early and late Georgean domestic architecture.
Chief among these is Ham House standing on land adjoining the tow path.
Lying within the curve of the river on the left bank are the flat fields of Ham and Petersham, interspersed with fine Georgean houses and their gardens.
The road from Richmond strikes across in a direct line to Kingston, leaving the land contained within the river bend, undeveloped and open.
Only the vein of eighteenth-century development that runs from Ham Common to reach the river at Ham House breaks the monotony of flat fields.
Upon this open land the Ham U.D.C. have laid out a scheme of development as part of their town planning scheme occupying the whole of the site, including the river frontage.
As the river is lined with many fine trees as far as Eel Pie Island and fewer trees thereafter, the planning of this development scheme presents the opportunity of maintaining riverside amenity by creating it in a new form.
It is noticeable how often the development of property on the banks neglects the aspect of the river front and places its service roads just so far from the bank or tow path to allow the depth of one house and garden, with the resultant effect of exposing the backs of the houses and the untidy ends of their gardens, to the river.
It is usually necessary to screen these with trees.
One obvious reason for this practice is a matter of economy of drainage and public services running under the street; but in the case of a housing scheme of some magnitude that occupies a position of great importance on the river this drawback should not be allowed to operate as a deciding factor, and the outer roads that run parallel to the river should expose the front and not the backs of houses, and should, moreover, be set back a sufficient width to give a wide band of green in front of them and a double avenue of trees.
It is the practice of town planners to intersperse open space with houses in such a scheme.
In this case it is along the river bank that such open space would be of greatest service, not only to the inhabitants, but to the general public who use the river and the tow path.
The outer roads of the Ham U.D.C. scheme approach the tow path at certain points so as to leave just such narrow space as leads us to fear a recurrence of this evil, which we have seen to be productive elsewhere of such unfortunate results.
Rather than leave the river bank to become the fringe of a development of which it forms only a subsidiary part, we suggest that the river bank should be developed first by the formation of a river parkway running from the Petersham Road at a point immediately opposite the garden wall of Buccleuch House, along the river bank the length of the Ham Town Planning Scheme, until it turns away from the river to join the new Twickenham-Kingston Road at the boundary of the Leyland Motor Works.
The parkway should make use of the fine line of trees that stands removed some 100 feet or so from the river and is continuous from Buccleuch House, across the public open space adjacent, and the gardens of Petersham House and Ham House, up to a point nearly opposite Eel Pie Island.
From here onward it would have to be planted with trees to continue the line of the avenue, leaving a wide space between it and the river, until it finally turned in to join the main road.
The value of such a parkway would be in the first case twofold.
It would provide for all classes of the general public, pedestrian and motor traffic alike, a magnificent view of the river at its best.
Already motor cars may be parked by the river at one point in the length of the proposed parkway, and the right to the privilege of enjoying the river view must obviously be extended equally to the motoring public as to the steadily diminishing number of pedestrians.
It is better to grant this privilege in the form of a spacious parkway than to tind that amenities that do not provide for the ever present motor car are destroyed through later and unpremeditated concessions and compromises.
If one may imagine such a parkway laid out, and a stream of pleasure vehicles passing along it, it is but natural that a more or less unknown district should very quickly become eligible for development.
Provided that the parkway was laid out with every regard to the amenities of the future, and that the land lying beyond was protected from haphazard speculation, there would be every reason to expect an increase in the value of the land impossible without the presence of the parkway or by any other less certain form of preliminary development.
A better class of house, one perhaps more in keeping with the eighteenth-century type of development of Ham and Petersham, might well be the natural corollary of such a careful policy of protected amenity.
These proposals would cover the area in its entirety to the exclusion of the small industrial area shown on the Ham Town Planning Scheme as covering the site of gravel excavations.
The residential development of the right bank discussed in the preceding section continues without interruption to the railway bridge at Kingston,
and on the left bank the fields of Ham narrow in towards the river and are brought to an end at a point known as “One Tree.”
From thence onward the town of Kingston lines the banks and might quite easily have spoiled this section of the river, were it not that Canbury Gardens mask the view of the gas works, sewage works, and electricity works.
The Leyland Motor Works built upon ground forming part of the flat ground surrounding Ham is the most prominent feature of the left bank;
an outstanding example of the disastrous results of the misplaced siting of industries.
These buildings, in a style that pays no attention to surroundings and would be unsuitable anywhere, are incapable of disguise and stand as a serious blot on the landscape from whichever direction they are seen.
A certain amount of tree-planting has taken place along the banks in front of the buildings, but this would be of little use if extensions were made so as to completely occupy the large site owned by the Company.
The type of residential property that lines the banks from here onward to the railway bridge is mainly situated close to the river and continues the charm of Surrey architecture,
keeping the embankments trim and pleasant.
Only when their gardens are cut up and allowed to become the sites of small bungalows that crowd to the water’s edge is the effect of repose and the value of the trees lost.
In contrast to this the well-known development of Broom Water, which takes the form of a canalized back-water lying at right angles to the river, offers a distinctly helpful solution of river development.
From the river only the entrance to the back water is visible, but along the length of it the gardens of houses lining parallel roads go down to the water;
while at the far end are boat-houses and a turning place for launches.
It is obvious, from inspection of a plan, that Broom Water is but a simple form of development, similar, in a sense, to the cul-de-sac development of housing schemes.
Indeed this may be considered to offer a legitimate solution of river side development in contrast with the wasteful “ribbon development” which makes the riverside bungalow so much to be deplored.
Stephens’ Eyots which lie in mid-stream at a point where Canbury Gardens commence are the property of the Thames Conservancy, and are kept by this body in very good condition.
They are used extensively for mooring, and are much appreciated.
Kingston railway bridge is built after the style of that at Richmond and is in iron with masonry piers.
Behind this bridge and Kingston Bridge itself is an industrial development consisting for the main part of timber Wharves and warehouses.
The timber warehouses themselves, with enormous corrugated iron or similar roofs, are ugly in the extreme and do much to lower the amenity of the river at this point.
The tow path from the Weir onward to One Tree is open and bare, presenting to the river a high bank.
The Thames Improvement scheme proposes to cut into the tow path along this bank to such an extent as to narrow the present available width, which should, if possible, be added to by the purchase of adjoining property.
Mention has been made of the Leyland Motor Works whose playing fields adjoin the tow path and should continue to do so, any additions to the factory being made to the rear and not towards the river.
Houses of poor design standing against the tow path, at the edge of the Leyland buildings, have been erected, and continue, in a row, a few yards up-stream.
Some boat-houses at this point are well designed and suited to the river.
At Stephen’s Eyots Canbury Gardens commence and continue to run all the way to the railway bridge.
From the river the gardens are exceeding beautiful and very well planted with trees, and altogether they constitute an extraordinarily charming riverside park.
In view of the fact that the Gardens completely screen from view the municipal gas works, etc., that lie immediately behind them, the Gardens must be considered as one of the most successful attempts to preserve the amenity of the river in exactly that position where it was most threatened.
Although the chimneys, and some of the features of the gas works are visible through the trees, such is the beauty of the foreground that the unsightliness in the rear is forgotten.
Kingston Bridge itself has been successfully widened without severe loss of proportion.
Upon one bank of this reach building is continuous as far as Thames Ditton; the other bank embraces Hampton Court Park and is open land from end to end.
The one proposal of importance in this section is that of scheduling the long strip of land lying between the Park and the river as public open space.
Coupled with this is the inclusion of a “parkway” running from the Lodge at Kingston Bridge parallel with the park railings until it turns towards the river and crosses over it and the reservoir to join Brighton Road at Seething Wells.
This recommendation has already been made as part of the Regional Town Planning Scheme for the Thames Valley Joint Town Planning Committee, and is merely endorsed by its further recommendation here.
At the same time as this road is constructed it should be possible to open up the vista of Hampton Court Palace seen along the axis of the Long Water, which at present terminates in the overflow from the lagoon.
It was probably part of the garden scheme of the palace that the great avenues should present vistas in both directions, so that the prolongation of the widest avenue towards the river should add to the significance of the plan.
The left bank of the river is badly marred by the Kingston Water Works which were built directly into it, compressing the flow of the river into a rigid and ugly channel.
There is little possibility of this uninteresting line of high engineering brickwork being tree planted, because of the narrowness of the retaining wall.
We understand that the Thames Conservancy intend to erect further mooring posts here, these and the barges using them should serve to break up the monotony a little.
The right bank is open, unbuilt upon and absolutely unspoiled.
Seen from any point on the other bank it presents a long low line of trees; it would be impossible to over-estimate the value to the town of Kingston of a setting of such natural charm.
The river bank is built in rough stone pitching with soil joints, and in parts with larger stones bedded in concrete which resemble rather a decorated cake than a strong wall, while the smooth concrete leaves no space for the roots of grasses and small bushes.
The tow path for its entire length is of generous width.
At a point opposite Thames Ditton Island the long terrace wall of Hampton Court Palace commences, running parallel with the bank until it joins the formal garden plan and turns away from the river.
The mellow brick of this fine wall is the first indication of the nearness of Hampton Court.
It comes into view long before the Palace is seen, and ends only where it breaks into the semicircle of wrought iron gates and railings through which Wren’s facade of red brick and stone is seen in the distance.
A little further on are the landing-stages of the Pleasure Boats, hardy structures of timber, painted black and white.
Beyond, the river bank shelves in a wide shingle and grass bank towards the road, and it is from here that the view of the Mitre Hotel, standing against a background of heavy trees, makes a picture that is a complete crystallisation of the river scene.
One sees the river in a fine sweeping line; a shelving bank to the tow path and trees, and in the background the road sweeping over the bridge past the Mitre Inn.
There is a fine flavour of antiquity in everything around which neither the vast bands of Bank Holiday excursionists, nor the continuously passing stream of motor cars can destroy.
The old iron bridge that is shortly to be replaced by a more permanent structure of stone is, in its modest proportions, a not too forceful element of the picture.
The new bridge must be modest in the same way if it is to do justice to its surroundings.
It is doubtful whether the lodge gates that figure in Sir Edwin Lutyen’s design for the new bridge, are not an altogether unnecessary reminder that the bridge leads to Hampton Court; and their architecture, obviously a derivation from Wren’s work on the palace, may easily be out of harmony with what work of late Georgean period lies in the immediate vicinity.
As it is likely that the new bridge will be built at a slightly new angle to the river, and a few feet down stream, it is impossible to prognosticate the effect of these disturbances on the setting as we know it to-day.
Other changes, the result of new river widenings on behalf of the Thames Conservancy, will be discussed in connection with the Right bank, and in the succeeding section (J).
The River above Kingston Bridge
From Kingston Bridge to where the Portsmouth Road joins the river, wharves, warehouses and a brewery line the waters’ edge.
They form a not uninteresting series of unequal shapes, and may be regarded without serious qualms as a minor river industrial centre, which serves the local needs of Kingston.
Barges and boats are moored at the Wharves and the activity of a small port is an interesting contrast to trees and fields.
Some of the buildings are definitely bad, temporary roofs and walls of corrugated iron making a poor show against the brick work and tiles of older and sounder buildings.
The gardens of Nuthall’s Restaurant face the river in an immature arrangement of steps and balustrades, which, despite their timidity, prove the value of regarding the river front as worthy of attention.
Where the Portsmouth Road joins the river bank there is a slipway and wharf lying just off the roadway.
Timber Wharves: Kingston
Here barges loaded with timber are usually to be found making a pleasant mixture of commerce with the life of the street and promenade.
Where the road runs by the river it is raised some six feet above the water and recessed sufiiciently to allow of a lower footpath, the Queen’s Promenade.
Separated from the noise of traffic by trees and hedges, this walk by the water’s edge is doubly pleasant, besides forming an unmolested approach to the boat-houses and mooring grounds on the river.
It is terminated abruptly, however, by the walls of Kingston waterworks which continue over the long stretch already described in the introduction to this section.
Raven’s Island in mid stream is too heavily used by boat-houses and swimming clubs to be beautiful.
Little attempt has been made in this direction by any of its occupants.
Beyond Long Ditton Ferry the river bank resumes its normal course, with a succession of suburban houses, cutting the bank with garden fences.
Thames Ditton itself is grouped round a shelving shore, half hidden by its island and many fine trees.
The lawns of Boyle Farm combine very pleasantly with the broken features of the shore and the Old Swan Inn behind.
Once again a typical riverside village has suffered the intrusion of industry, for here the works of A.C. motors, which make no definite use of the river, tower above everything about them, and, if they were not screened by the long island in front, would do infinite damage.
As it is, they prove the necessity for a strict zoning of industries along the river in the interests of the extremely valuable amenities which settled village communities afford.
The A.C. works and a small area at Long Ditton are zoned as industrial areas.
Thames Ditton Island is occupied along the entire river front and portions of the backwater with small bungalows of a better class than are met with in less fortunate parts of the river.
These bungalows are well maintained, freshly painted in season, and their lawns and flowers are evidence of continuous occupation by owners who appreciate their life on the river and are at pains to make it as pleasant and enjoyable as possible.
In saying this we wish to show the bungalow habit at its best, and to present the view of the owners of bungalows, for it must be admitted by even those who are the strongest opponents of bungalow development that life on the brink of the river has obvious and legitimate advantages, especially for those whose limited means deny them the luxury of a well-built house or the privacy of lawns.
It is the ceaseless multiplication of the small bungalow that turns a simple building into a real offence.
The bungalow is undoubtedly most attractive to its occupant when it enjoys proximity to the river bank, but doing this in long series it completely monopolises the foreground of the view from the river, and this constitutes the major problem of bungalow development.
In place of the long lines of grassy banks, the shadow of trees and depth of colour; of open views across meadows to distant woods or villages and everything beautiful that the river may bring, the little line of bungalows offers only a jumble of pink roofs, flimsy railings, banal name boards, lace curtains and the too public exposure of intimate interiors.
Looking at these the real essence of the river vanishes and as we journey up stream the ever present bungalow makes every sensation of enjoyment a compromise.
The bungalows at Thames Ditton are of some years’ standing, many of them quite substantially built and unlike the rather less desirable variations of the same theme which are to be found in the higher reaches.
Generally speaking it may be said that wherever land on the banks is unprotected by public or crown ownership or by wise private or public control the bungalow springs to life.
Were it not for such open space as Hampton Court Park the aspect of the river would be spoiled by the indiscriminate building of individuals who are incapable of realizing the effect of one small but poor bungalow in the beautiful scheme of the river.
The presence of these unprotected portions and the consequent outcrops of bungalows, now here, now there, has become so severe a menace to the proper amenities of the river that the authorities of the banks will be forced to make determined efforts both from a legislative and a financial point of view to combat and diminish the evil.
Two methods suggest themselves as applicable to the problem.
The one regards the river as a street or pathway along which building lines of varying depth may be laid down, and the other proposes the public ownership of the banks.
There is a third alternative which has already been given effect to in some reaches.
This method seeks to sterilize land by covenanting with private owners to preserve it as private open space upon which no buildings, or only buildings of a certain character, may be erected.
We have, we think, put forward fairly the point of view of the bungalow owner but, this allowed, the amenities of the river which depend almost entirely upon the preservation of natural beauty along the banks and the visible portion of land lying adjacent to them is of such importance as to set aside the rights of the individual to injure the amenities.
The subject of the control of bungalow development is further dealt with in an appendix to be found at the end of the report.
Above Thames Ditton lies a long line of poor houses, stretching as far as Hampton Court.
“The Albany Hotel,” with its annexe “Utopia,” is a rather faded attempt to create a riverside amusement centre, and to-day looks battered and out of date.
Here again little or no attempt has been made to use the river as part of the attractions of the place and the whole arrangement of buildings is little more than an ordinary hotel, set down by the river.
The house-boats, although they vary in the quaintness of their design and range from the Turkish Mosque to the converted seagoing boat, are nevertheless rather good in appearance, painted white and are in their summer season well kept.
As white seems the most suitable colour for house-boats there is little need for control in this respect.
Opposite Hampton Court the area of land upon which stands the station of the Southern Railway is to be cut into by the scheme of river widening, to be undertaken by the Thames Conservancy.
It is extremely difficult to forecast the exact changes which this cutting and the new alignment of the project will bring about on the river here, but in any case it would seem to be highly desirable in the interests of preserving the amenities both of the river and of Hampton Court, that a strip of public open space should be reserved along the Surrey bank between the new bridge and the Albany Hotel.
The Thames from Hampton Court Bridge: Bank Holiday Crowds
The consideration of the river from Hampton Court to Sunbury is complicated by proposals for cutting new channels at various points.
At Hampton Court itself, where the river is narrower than at any other point, it is proposed to widen it by cutting a strip from the river end of the Mitre Hotel grounds, to the Weir at Ash Island.
The Mitre, Hampton Court
This involves, unfortunately, the felling of as fine a growth of timber as is to be found anywhere on the river.
On the other hand it will expose the lines of houses standing on the ground behind, including the Royal Mews, Cardinal Wolsey’s Inn, and Sir Christopher Wren’s house, all of which are as beautiful from the back as from the front.
A certain amount of timber remains, but as it is natural that the finest growth should be nearer the river the loss will be severe.
It would not appear to be impossible to preserve these trees by widening the existing channel in the rear of them and leaving them standing on a smaller island than at present, and such a course commends itself from the point of view of saving amenities so difficult to recreate.
It is recognized that, if the Wey Drainage Scheme is undertaken, severe cutting of the river is inevitable at this point in order to widen the channel, which is constricted. because of the locks and the presence of Ash Island, but every effort should be made to save these trees that form an essential part of the bank at this point.
Hampton Court from the Air: Shewing Proposed Cut
Higher up-stream it is proposed to widen the channel behind Platt’s Ait. The appearance of this island to-day is entirely due to the piling of excavations from the waterworks opposite,
which form high mounds, so unlike the typical river island.
As cutting will take place on the channel, which is used more for coaling purposes, by the waterworks, than by the public, there is little need to fear the consequences.
The island was tree planted, at the time of its last disturbance, with tall-growing poplars and other trees, and it should be possible to retain the trees growing at the head of the island so that the appearance of the river looking down-stream will be unchanged.
At Sunbury it is proposed to widen the channel running behind Dax Island and Swan Rest.
This channel has been incorporated in the gardens of a private house and extremely carefully built to form part of the private amenities, and no doubt any proposals that seek to alter its present appearance will be fiercely contested.
Other proposals at Sunbury will cut away the low-lying portions of Sunbury Ait and straighten the backwater lying behind Wheatley Bay.
So far as Sunbury is concerned the operations will merely widen the stream at this point, and, in our opinion, no amenity will be lost thereby.
Sunbury from the air: Shewing Proposed Cut.
We have outlined in the introduction to this section the effect of the proposed river widenings upon Hampton Court Bridge.
The right bank is unaffected above Ash Island until we reach Sunbury.
From Ash Island Weir to Hampton the Hampton Court road runs parallel and close to the river.
The terrace gardens opposite Kent Ait form a very pleasant variation in the stretch of large houses that line the bank.
The right bank retains many of its older architectural features, such as Garrick’s Garden Temple, although in this case the beauty of the classic temple has been challenged by the appearance in late years of a quite well-built house that nevertheless overawes the Temple by its proximity.
Above the town of Hampton the waterworks of the Metropolitan Water Board line the bank as far as the intake immediately downstream from Sunbury Court.
Seen from the river the waterworks are not at all unpleasant, owing to extremely good planting above the embankment walls which are well built in brick with a grass bank.
GOOD AND BAD MANNERS IN WATERWORKS:
Behind Platt’s Ait are the coal wharves and dumps, serving the waterworks, and barges are always to be found moored by the bank.
As we said before, these activities are well screened from the generally used channels of the river.
From the remaining intake, with its rather unsightly island, the Sunbury road runs parallel with the river, but is soon hidden from view by a long series of islands extending as far as Sunbury Lock.
These are lined with varying types of bungalows, but at the Sunbury end are houses of a better class, while one part of Dax Island has been made into a public park, the riverside portion of the island at this point being in the possession of the Thames Conservancy Board.
The village of Sunbury stands on a curving shore.
Its main street is set a few yards back from the river, so that the backs of houses face on to the river.
These are picturesque enough, however, and not so continuous as to block out a view of what stands behind.
The trees of Sunbury Park and other estates are a rich and varied background, and the Georgean church with its domed tower is the culminating point of the picture.
The island opposite Sunbury Court is zoned for twelve houses to the acre by the Sunbury-on-Thames Urban District, as is also a large area southward from Sunbury Lock.
Several small reservations are proposed, mainly consolidating spaces at present used by the public, adjoining Thames Street and on Dax Island.
Immediately above Hampton Court Bridge is the lock and weir that spans the river to Ash Island and from the upper end of this island to the other bank.
Ash Island is heavily grown with large and small timber, and is used a good deal for river camping and other purposes besides providing sites for one or two bungalow and a small boat-building yard.
Above it is the larger Kent’s Ait on which has been built a fully developed river club and hotel.
The Thames Riviera, as it is called, caters for dancing, tennis, etc., and advertises its attractions as being unique of their kind.
So, indeed, they are, considering their nearness to London.
The hotel and the island generally are well cared for; the hotel is painted in pleasant colours and the covered tennis courts that are, no doubt, a source of great attraction, have been built in such a way as not to obtrude their presence unduly.
The hotel provides a ferry for the transportation of motor cars.
The tow path opposite and upward as far as Platt’s Ait is in a bad state of repair, the actual path itself being eaten into by the stream, at several points.
The path is also uninteresting in itself owing to the high and ugly fence erected to withhold from the public the view of races taking place on Hurst Park Racecourse, which occupies the river frontage for some considerable distance.
This fence is substantially built in wood and keeps a uniformly ugly and undeviating line for over a mile.
It is, fortunately, innocent of any form of advertisements, but even without this, is a graceless and forbidding protector of vested interests.
The planting of tall growing poplars along the boundary of the fence would mitigate the sense of bareness and make a fine line of green.
Looking up the river the tower of Hampton Church closes the perspective of trees.
However uninteresting the church itself may be, the view of the tower from this point is very charming.
Opposite Hampton is Garrick’s Ait, a beautiful little island, overcrowded with bad bungalows.
The racecourse comes to an end opposite Platt’s Ait, and an untidy colony of badly laid out houses, thrust out from West Molesey, occupies the river front.
Reservoirs of the Metropolitan Water Board then stretch nearly as far as Sunbury.
Their banks are of grass terminating in a brick wall, and the tow path lies at their base.
Tree planting, similar to that which is such a charming feature of the reservoir above Hampton should be undertaken along parts of the retaining wall where it is bare and uninteresting.
Two pumping stations stand by the tow path; one being at the upper end.
They both appear to be derelict, and though one is well designed and of excellent appearance, they would be better demolished than allowed to fall through all the stages of dilapidation into a ruinous state.
The severe lines of the reservoirs give way, near Sunbury, to open country, seen through the trees and bushes by the edge of the tow path.
With Sunbury Weir the reservoirs come to an end, and the river wears something of its original freshness.
Even the outer fringes of the London suburbs and dormitory towns are now out of reach, and the pressure of development is relaxed.
There are great areas of meadow land on both banks, and small towns are to be seen in the distance, clearly distinguishable as compact units, set amidst open country.
This is the Thames of the period prior to the advent of motor traffic; the country to which Matthew Arnold returned again and again and found it always unchanged .
Only in one particular is any change discernible.
Small bungalows have crept in.
Along Wheatley’s Ait they stand in regular series.
The bank opposite the town of Walton is cut up into a hundred tiny plots, each with its small gabled box.
Bungalows in Summer.
Bungalows in Winter.
Up-stream and down-stream from Shepperton, bungalows crowd along the bank and invade the fringes of the open meadow; until, at Shepperton Lock,
they burgeon forth into the semblance of a small “squatters’ ” town, occupying every bank, both of river and island.
In some cases the bungalows appear to be the offsprings of speculative estate agents and may be found standardized in rows, exactly after the manner of suburban streets, and with as little space separating building from building.
The ground lots are generally small, it being assumed by the estate agents that the cultivation of a garden is not part of the scheme of bungalow life.
The profits made by selling river frontage of £2 per foot must be very small when compared with the amount of damage done, for although for the purposes of agriculture the value of low-lying land adjoining the bank may be low, it is now realized that the beauty of the river, which rests almost entirely on the nature of the banks, has a distinct monetary value to the towns that lie near the river.
It is, therefore, to the authorities of these towns that the preservation of the banks is a matter of first importance - worth more than the expenditure of £2 per foot.
Within this reach are to be considered several proposals for river diversion and widening, occasioned by the increased flow of flood water that will result from the River Wey drainage scheme
The widening of the backwater of Wheatlcy’s Ait is not likely to affect the appearance of the river very greatly, nor is it intended to make an entirely straight channel of it.
At Walton a new channel will bring through the old arches of the bridge and probably require the cutting of the tow path below the backwater.
The proposal of greatest moment is that which concerns the cutting of a new direct channel, from the bend of the river below D’Oyly Carte Island to a point, a little downhtream from the West Surrey waterworks.
We understand that this channel is to be about one-third the width and capacity of the river, so that in normal conditions of flow it will carry away only one-third of the total water.
As in summer the river between locks has just sufficient flow to prevent stagnation, there is little or no chance that the new channel will be the cause of silting up in the present channel.
Indeed it seems that such silting is bound to take place under normal conditions and that it is part of the work of the Thames Conservators to dredge the river periodically at all points to prevent undue silting.
In flood time the new channel will act in increased capacity owing to its shorter length (when compared with the wide circuit of the river) giving it increased velocity of flow, the level of both river and channel being equal where they meet again.
Tugs and barges will, no doubt, prefer to use the new channel rather than the winding river, so that in a certain sense it will act as a bye-pass to heavy traffic.
It is to be hoped that the Thames Conservancy Board will include in their purchase of land a wide strip of meadow on each side,and that they be induced to do this as a means of preserving amenity - otherwise the cutting of the channel will constitute a menace of first magnitude to the character of the river in its immediate vicinity and, by natural contagion, over a much wider length in either direction.
In any case the proposal if carried out is bound to affect the present appearance adversely.
The long line of Wheatley’s Ait exhibits the bungalow problem at its worst.
It is here that one finds the standardized article set closely for the profit of the owner and the loss of the beholder.
Although there is open country away from the river and no railway very near, the appearance of Wheatley’s Ait is reproduced with little respite along the bank to Walton Bridge, culminating in a vulgar and flimsy erection above the bridge.
From here onward the river winds across flat country, enclosing in each loop large tracts of low-lying meadow land.
From Walton Bridge there is an open view across meadows which are entirely unbuilt upon and should remain so.
The smaller towns such as Walton, Chertsey and others have had, in the past, no pressing need to provide their inhabitants with public open space, since open space has been theirs by nature.
To-day it is necessary to safeguard open space wherever it may be bought or controlled because of the widely directed scope of land speculation and the ease with which remoter places may be reached by car.
For the moment distance is overcome and no land is entirely safe.
Because of this a greater area than would be countenanced in the past should be added to the amount of land already in the possession of the public in small towns and villages.
With this in view, and remembering the wider scope attached to the amenities of the Thames we would propose the acquisition of these meadows or, at least, a measure of control that they should be safeguarded from buildings as private open space.
Halliford appears at the end of the reach lying beyond white painted houses on the right bank.
With its road and grassy bank skirting the bend of the river, and its village inns, the Ship and White Lion, vying with each other in sparkling white paint and flowery gardens, Halliford is an ideal riverside village.
As you look at it upstream nothing disturbs the serenity of a scene that is, in a sense, undated; so little has it changed during many years.
Looking further upstream a long row of little bungalows breaks the green of the bank and brings discord with it.
Built upon land which is scheduled as being liable to flooding, it is difficult to see how any drainage other than the most elementary is possible for these bungalows, whose position on water-logged ground makes them already far from healthy.
The village of Shepperton appears round the bend of the river; the church and a nucleus of houses being half hidden behind the stately Manor House - a long, low, white-painted Georgean house that occupies a position of prominence seen from either direction of the river.
Its lawns are wide and beautifully kept, and show against the trees and shrubs as a luscious green.
The bank is maintained for the most part in very good condition.
Another sweep of the river, enclosing open meadows on the left, brings it to Shepperton Lock, where the tow path continues on the right instead of the left bank.
Above Sunbury Lock the tow path is in need of repair in places on account of the low gravel parapet slowly crumbling into the weir.
The path here is already not very broad and its present width will soon be diminished unless steps are taken to prevent further erosion.
In the open fields opposite Wheatley’s Ait gravel digging is being carried out but is not generally perceptible from the weir owing to the shrubs and trees at the side of the tow path.
A large timber warehouse has been constructed at the weir-side on Sunbury Lane and 400 yards beyond is the Walton Urban District Council Bathing Pavilion.
The water front of the town of Walton consists of a pleasant unpretentious wharf in front of two public houses, and here starts the wall of the gardens of Mount Felix.
Parts of this estate have already been developed and the builder of small houses has been busy on the slopes below Mount Felix itself overlooking the backwater pond.
A steel girder has replaced some of the stone arches that completed the bridge which Turner made the subject of one of his most beautiful sketches in oils.
In so varied a composition this intrusion is not so damaging as might be supposed, though one regrets the perfection lost.
The cutting of the proposed channel across the meadows above the bridge may quite easily add to the amenities by producing new flows of water through the old stone arches.
The meadows through which the new arm of the river will flow are subject to grazing and other rights held by a number of people, including the town of Walton.
They may be regarded as public open space and immune from building.
Above, the river skirts the extensive Weybridge meadows - flat and open.
The View across these meadows is wide, stretching over to the trees of Broadwater and Oatlands Park.
Across these is to be constructed the new “cut” that will bye-pass the flood-waters in winter time, and it is of especial importance, as has been mentioned in the foreword to this section, that the new line should not be allowed to gather to itself such undesirable developments as will ruin the aspects of the meadows.
It is hoped rather that ownership of a wide strip being vested in the Conservancy Commissioners will act as a safeguard.
The last of the proposed river widenings will have the effect of cutting off a corner of the left bank opposite D’Oyly Carte Island so as to ease the flow of the Wey waters into the Thames.
As this corner is well timbered for some distance from the bank it is hoped that the “cut” will not seriously affect the character of the river.
The river flows over two weirs here at Shepperton, and executes a wide meander, being joined by the River Wey and by its canalized channel.
Two islands are formed out of the twist of the river - one being occupied by the Conservancy Lock House and depot, and the other by a colony of bungalows.
Bungalows fill every available part of frontage along the river below the weirs, although to boats travelling up-stream little is visible, owing to the preservation of a belt of trees along the north side of Hamhaugh Island, and the delightful weir that connects the two islands retains a setting of green trees.
No further river widenings are contemplated above Shepperton Lock and questions of amenity are centred on the preservation of open space,
linked with the control of bungalow development.
The river passes by the town of Chertsey under a very beautiful bridge, and higher up-stream Laleham spreads itself along the bank.
Once again a wide detour of the river encloses an area of low-lying meadow land where again the scourge of the bungalow is gradually destroying the feeling of openness and freshness.
The public-spirited attempts on the part of one large landowner - Colonel Clare of Abbey Chase, Chertsey - to safeguard the beauty of the banks by buying large areas of land adjoining the river, stands out as “a good deed in a naughty world.”
It is hoped that the land bought by Colonel Clare may be scheduled as private open space and be sterilized from further building for all time.
What is done here by the private enterprise of one man, it should be the aim of local authorities to emulate, buying where it is impossible to acquire large open spaces, the vulnerable margins along the banks.
Above Shepperton Lock bungalows deprive the banks of all natural beauty.
At Dockett’s point in particular their presence is particularly inimical to the spirit of the place, where in their effort to enjoy the river they have succeeded in reducing the value of that which they hoped to find.
Fortunately the long Ryepeck reach is undisturbed on its right bank and gains Chertsey Road without further loss.
The tow path is at several points in need of repair.
Before reaching Chertsey another bend of the river encloses open meadows lying in front of the Chertsey Road.
These are scheduled in the Staines Rural District Council town planning scheme as public open space, and it is particularly important that they should so remain inasmuch as they form an admirable recreation ground of the type that needs no further attention than a “common” requires, and because from over their level surfaces one may see Chertsey Bridge rise and sweep gracefully across the river.
Though of mediaeval form the bridge was nevertheless built in the eighteenth century.
It preserves about its bridge head the spaciousness of open fields, while on the other bank great poplars stand before the two roadside inns that guard the approach.
Of more importance still are the two pieces of public land on each side of the bridge, which combine with the tow path on the left bank to preserve the setting.
If the meadows were ever built upon, it may be safely assumed that this incomparable piece of work will lose half its charm at a blow.
It is above Chertsey Lock that land is being bought by a private owner for purposes of preservation.
The right bank onward to Laleham is particularly unspoilt and is protected in part by the great estate of Laleham House,
where elms and pines flourish as in few other places.
At Laleham lived Arnold of Rugby, and his even more famous son Matthew.
Thomas Arnold wrote of the river here, saying, “I have always a resource at hand in the bank of the river up to Staines; which, though it be perfectly flat, has yet a great charm from its entire loneliness, there being not a house anywhere near it, and the river here has none of that stir of boats and barges upon it which makes it in many places as public as a highway.”
“As public as a highway” it may be to-day, though not so much less beautiful that Thomas Arnold would fail to recognize it.
Matthew Arnold lies buried in a corner of the graveyard of the church.
The old village of Laleham stands retired a little from the river and only a fine old brick wall, gathering about it a suggestion of antiquity, shows through the line of newer houses and villas.
Above Laleham the loneliness that comforted Thomas Arnold is sadly departed.
The nearness of Staines makes itself felt in a growing harvest of bungalows, developing ribbon-wise on the river, as they have already done on the straight road behind.
Weybridge and Chertsey Meads from the Air.
There are bungalows above the lock at Shepperton, but more unfortunately there are further bungalows and more land for sale at £2 a foot along the fringes of the beautiful Chertsey Mead.
At Dockett Eddy low - lying and beautifully wooded land is being cut up for bungalows and it will soon be too late to save the banks if no action is taken.
Anything that is built either on the bank or upon the flat meadow land is clearly to be seen.
The whole and particular virtue of the place resides in the open view across the meads towards Chertsey and St. Ann’s Hill upstream, or backwards towards Weybridge and its church steeple which rises above the trees.
If there is room to build two hundred and fifty bungalows in a line from Shepperton Weir to Chertsey Bridge, and two hundred and fifty families might find space to enjoy their little view across the river to the unspoilt bank opposite, it might be assumed that the countless thousands who will come from near and far to enjoy this beauty that now is here, will be cruelly disappointed.
It is from this point of view that bungalow development is not only, broadly speaking, selfish but also uneconomical; for, though in comparison with the area of the Mead the bungalow strip is infinitesimal, when judged by the damage to the whole this little strip causes it is seen to be possessed of extravagant powers for evil.
The whole of this low-lying area should, therefore, be scheduled under Town Planning Powers, either as land unfit to be built upon or as public open space.
This bank of the river is in a natural state with much timber on the water’s edge as far as the bend at the end of the Ryepeck Reach, and occasional clumps and single trees from thence on to Chertsey Bridge.
The charm of the bridge on this bank lies in the happy arrangement of the two inns that flank the roadway at a distance from the river.
Standing beyond the open bank above and below the bridge and set about with great poplar trees, nothing could be more pleasing or could better typify what we like to imagine as the true character of the river.
Little has come to spoil the beauty of the scene at this point.
A few bungalows have crept in on the bank facing the delightful lock and weir, but otherwise there has been little change over many years, and the comparative perfection here is a prelude to an untouched and beautiful stretch of river up to Laleham.
On the left bank stretch the meadows upon which once stood the greatest of English foundations, Chertsey Abbey.
Before the suppression of the monasteries by Henry VIII this mighty organization drew tribute from near and far, and paid in taxes alone the equivalent of £4,000 yearly.
Of its church and monastic buildings practically nothing remains.
Traces of moats, fish ponds and old foundations indicate their extent, and records prove the importance of the Abbey and its monastery in the life of the time, but to-day one may look across meadows and know nothing of this once vivid page of history.
Perhaps the town survived where the Abbey disappeared, for Chertsey, the town, seems to be moulded about the land where the Abbey once stood and the road that leads from the church to the river turns sharply round what is called “Black Ditch,” as though it once skirted the boundary of church lands.
As in Chertsey Mead, the land is low-lying, water-sodden land upon which no one has thought fit to build his house in time past.
It is intersected by winding ditches and meets the river in a bank lined with rushes and trees.
From Chertsey Weir upstream to Laleham this bank is free from disfigurement.
Opposite Laleham House the Chertsey Golf Course occupies a large area to westward of Ferry Lane, but otherwise the land is entirely agricultural up to the outskirts of Staines and Hythe.
Above Laleham bungalow development sets in and continues with but little break to Staines.
As far as Penton Hook much of the land is low-lying, and is shown on the maps to be subject to floods, but this land is used regardless of its suitability for habitation.
At Penton Hook the river loops very much as it does at Shepperton Lock leaving an island that is approached on foot only by way of the lock and weirs.
At present the island is covered with rough grass and is put to no other use than that of camping or landing, and there are no bungalows.
On the surrounding banks of the mainland, however, the river frontage is being gradually acquired for bungalows, and it is no doubt but a matter of time before the unfortunate development of Shepperton Lock is repeated here.
The little roof that covers the Weir sluices is a quite delightful feature.
The last stretch of the river covered by this report exhibits at its worst the depressing effect of the bungalow habit.
Both sides of the river are nearly continuously lined; and though here and there one may find examples of well-designed bungalows and, on the whole, there is a distinct effort to make beautiful each individual case, the total effect is that of a suburban street, where too much striving for little effects has destroyed all simplicity and charm.
Near Penton Hook the bank is treeless and rather bare, with a view over uninteresting fields.
Tree-planting is urgently needed to give character to the river here.
The banks also are crumbling away in places and require attention.
There is little of incident along the course of this heavily occupied bank.
Whatever open spaces have been left between larger houses are now occupied by bungalows and very small houses.
At the bend in the river before Truss’s Island is reached a thick hedge demonstrates the value to the river of a suitable screen between it and the close residential development lying immediately behind.
Much of the property on the right bank is of a substantial character, with pleasant gardens falling to the riverside.
An exceedingly ugly railway bridge crosses the river immediately below Staines.
Rows of heavy circular steel columns carry a still heavier girder bridge.
The whole is painted dull grey.
Without concession to the spirit of the river or town, this bridge strikes a note of quite unnecessary brutality.
Between this and the road bridge up-stream, the bank is occupied by semi-industrial premises, broken into by the landing and steps which lead to the small public gardens, the Town Hall lying behind, and the main road.
It is difficult to chronicle in detail the long panorama of small houses and bungalows that occupy this bank from Penton Hook to Staines.
The land lying between Staines Lane and the river has been almost completely developed in this way from the railway bridge as far as Truss’s Island, while below this, a thinner fringe of tiny bungalows lines the bank, with open meadows beyond.
There are boat-houses of good design above and below the railway bridge and by the tow path between the bridges a few great trees that should be regarded as of especial value in this built-up part of the river.
The Swan Hotel seen either from the bridge or from the river, is charming.
Its white walls and red tile roof are of that quiet and dignified order especially suited to the banks of the river.
Without any particular striving after effect, it achieves both harmony and contrast, and must have been as charming when it was first built as it is now, mellowed with time and hung with the associations of a hundred years.
The recommendations for the preservation of amenity that have been made in the course of the foregoing detailed survey of the river are necessarily conditioned
both by the nature and extent of the development that has already taken place upon the banks of the Thames and by considerations of financial practicability.
Within these limits and bearing in mind that between Putney and Staines the Thames must be regarded mainly as an urban river with amenities of a more sophisticated character than those of the higher reaches, the proposals are designed to secure:
A.The prevention of continuous “ribbon” development along the river frontage, by the preservation of blocks of open space separating the areas where development has already taken place or where it may be allowed to take place.
B. The preservation of the present character of existing buildings and their surroundings where these form an essential part of the riverside amenities.
C. The limitation of the areas which may be used for commercial and industrial purposes.
D. The preservation of the amenities of the river in development areas by the prescription of Building Lines, and by the limitation of the number of houses to the acre.
E. The control of the elevations of and the external materials of which the buildings are constructed.
F. The prohibition of building on land liable to flooding.
G. The preservation of existing trees and the undertaking of further tree-planting.
H. The control of advertisements.
J. The proper maintenance of Tow paths.
The actual proposals are shewn on the map accompanying the report and are detailed in the summary of recommendations, but some further explanation of them and of the way in which it is intended that they should be carried out is desirable.
The areas which it is proposed should be reserved as open space are of two kinds, namely,
(a) land which should be available for use by the public, and
(b) land such as playing-fields and golf courses or private estates which are not required for public recreational purposes but which, in the interests of amenity, should certainly be preserved as open space.
In the case of land required for public open space it will sooner or later be necessary to purchase the land.
This can be done by agreement at any time and if the funds are available direct purchase is usually the most satisfactory method of procedure.
Land can be reserved for future acquisition as public open space by means of a town planning scheme and this is a convenient method where the likelihood of development or the actual need for public open space is not immediate.
It involves, first, the payment of compensation for depriving the owner of the prospective building value of the land, and second, the actual purchase of the land at its grazing value.
This is only a convenient way of splitting up the purchase price into two instalments - one of which is paid on the approval of the town planning scheme and the other when the land is actually acquired - the owner having the use of the land in the meantime.
The total should not, therefore, in theory exceed the price at which the owner would be willing to sell at the present time, but in practice it is usually greater, and there is little doubt that if it is possible immediate purchase is the cheaper course.
Lands not required for public open space but which should nevertheless be kept open, can be reserved as private open Spaces in town planning schemes.
Where the landowners have no intention of developing or selling their land for development and are themselves anxious to preserve the amenities of their surroundings, this method of preservation is especially appropriate.
It does not impose on the owner any restriction that he does not voluntarily impose upon himself, while in so far as adjoining lands are similarly scheduled it offers him a security against the spoliation of his surroundings which he could not obtain by any other means, short of purchase.
If, as has been suggested, lands which have been scheduled as private open spaces in a town planning scheme were to be exempted from death duties, we think that there would be a very strong inducement to many public-spirited landowners to agree to the scheduling of those parts of their land which in the general interest ought to be kept unbuilt-upon and to waive any claim for compensation.
In other cases, such as golf courses and playing-fields, where the land is owned by a limited company, the position is much more difficult as, although very often there is no intention of changing the present use of the land, the security of those who have subscribed capital is considered to be jeopardised if the land is limited to use as a private open space.
In such cases it might be possible to arrange that the local authority should purchase the land and let it to the golf club or athletic club as the case may be.
The greater part of Duke’s Meadows at Chiswick - although not originally playing-fields - has already been dealt with in this way.
It is clearly advantageous to the local authority that golf courses and similar playing-fields should be maintained both on account of their value as open space and also because the former, at any rate, tend to attract good class property to their neighbourhood and consequently high rateable value.
Of the areas that have been recommended for preservation as private open spaces, Ranelagh and the Old Deer Park at Richmond are the chief in the more urban part of the river, while the grounds of Laleham House, Laleham Burway and Abbey Mead are quite essential to the beauty of Laleham Reach.
The Old Deer Park is Crown property and presumably safe and so far as Laleham House, Laleham Burway and Abbey Mead are concerned, we believe that the owners are most anxious to do all in their power to preserve the beauty of this part of the river.
There is not, therefore, so far as we know, any immediate danger that any of these areas will be developed, but the amenity of the river would suffer irreparable loss if any of them were to suffer this fate, and we think that so far as may be necessary steps should be taken to make their future preservation secure.
A rather different form of open space is furnished by the reservoirs and other areas occupied by the Metropolitan Water Board at
Barnes, Surbiton, Hampton and West Molesey and to a smaller extent by the West Surrey Water Company at Walton and the Woking Water Company at Chertsey.
So far as can be foreseen these areas or most of them are likely to continue to be used as waterworks but in the event of any contemplated change in this respect they certainly ought not to be allowed to be built on.
The recommendations under this heading comprise buildings or groups of buildings such as those in Chiswick Mall, Strand-on-the-Green,
Kew Green and Richmond.
The necessary protection can be afforded by including them in town planning schemes, with a clause making any external alteration in the appearance of the buildings, subject to the consent of the Council.
Chiswick Mall and Strand-on-the-Green have been so scheduled by the Chiswick and Brentford Urban District Council.
These have been limited virtually to those frontages to the river which are already occupied by these buildings.
Industries directly connected with the river, such as boat building and repairing, and clean and inoffensive trades, should be allowed both in the industrial and commercial zones.
Other industries should be strictly limited to the industrial zones, and industries likely to injure the amenities of the river should be entirely excluded.
In the areas in which it is suggested that residential development should be permitted, the building density should be kept as low as possible and should not,
in any case, exceed twelve houses to the acre, though generally it should be less.
Building lines should be laid down in order that the houses may be kept back a reasonable distance from the river, from, say, 50 to 100 feet, as local circumstances require.
Having regard to the fact that considerable lengths of the riverside between Staines and Putney will be subject either to new building development or redevelopment,
it will be evident that one of the most important features in any scheme for the preservation of amenities must be the maintenance of as high a standard of architecture
as it is practicable to secure.
That it should be necessary to lay such stress upon this matter and still more that it should be considered desirable to institute some form of public control over the external appearance of buildings is a rather melancholy commentary upon the level to which both taste and manners have fallen during, shall we say, the last century.
It is, nevertheless, unfortunately true that the architectural standard of recent building on the banks of the Thames is deplorably low and that there is little evidence of any attempt on the part of the modern riverside dweller to preserve either for himself, his neighbours or the general public, the amenities which are presumably the prime cause of his choice of site.
Ignorance and thoughtlessness rather than deliberate vandalism are mainly responsible for this state of affairs and there is no doubt that a permanent cure can only be effected by educating public taste.
This must inevitably be a slow process, even if full use be made of the wonderful instruments of propaganda that are now available - the Wireless Broadcast, the Cinema, and the illustrated press - and during the process of education, forming, indeed, part of it, there must be some positive action to prevent the erection of, at least, the more outrageous kinds of buildings.
Fortunately there are powers available to this end.
Local Authorities can embody in their town planning schemes a clause enabling them to refer the plans of any building which, by reason of its design or of the materials proposed to be used in its construction, they consider would seriously disfigure its surroundings, to a specially appointed Advisory Committee whose decision, approving or disapproving the plans, is final and conclusive.
By the terms of the model clause (a copy of which will be found in the appendix), recommended for adoption by the Ministry of Health, the Advisory Committee is to consist of three members one of whom shall be an Architect appointed by the President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, one a Surveyor appointed by the President of the Surveyors’ Institution, and one a Justice of the Peace appointed by the Local Authority.
As none of the members may be a member of the Local Authority its impartiality is beyond dispute whilst its constitution ensures the consideration of any project from a lay as well as an expert point of view.
This power of architectural control is already in operation in a number of districts and it has been found in practice to work smoothly and with most beneficial results.
Its chief value lies less in the actual exercise of the veto than in the opportunity it affords of persuading prospective builders in the first place to eliminate any undesirable features there may be in their designs and ultimately to adopt more pleasing architectural forms.
The issue of memoranda dealing broadly with the main principles of good design and of the appropriate use of materials and pointing out some of the pitfalls to be avoided has, where undertaken, been welcomed and bearing in mind that by far the greatest proportion of buildings are erected without the help of a trained architect, it recommended that more use should be made of this valuable means of educative propaganda.
Certain areas of riverside land, notably between Staines and Walton-on-Thames, are subject to seasonal flooding.
Part of this land, mainly the river frontage, is already built upon, with very undesirable results.
Apart from the damp and unhealthy condition of houses located in a flooded area and the inconveniences to which the residents are subjected, there is involved an important consideration of public health.
Generally speaking there is no system of public sewerage in the areas affected, each house being provided with its own cesspool.
In time of flood the contents of these cesspools are washed out and eventually are either deposited on the land or find their way into the river.
This, at the best, cannot be considered an agreeable state of affairs, and, at the worst, it may give rise to serious pollution of the water supply, especially as there is a pumping station just below Shepperton.
Having regard to these circumstances both the North-West Surrey Joint Town Planning Committee and the West Middlesex Joint Town Planning Committee and a number of its constituent local authorities have passed resolutions that the erection of buildings for residential purposes on land liable to flooding should be prohibited and the Rural District Council of Staines actually included in the Preliminary Statement of their town planning proposals a provision designed to prevent further building upon certain lands at Shepperton that are liable to regular seasonal flooding.
In this case the owner of the land objected to the restriction on the grounds that as there were people who were willing to build on such land it was therefore suitable for building purposes.
It was held by the Minister of Health that it was competent for the local authority to impose the restriction but that the owner would be entitled to claim compensation and the final result has been that as the Staines Rural District Council felt unable to undertake this liability the Minister allowed the appeal of the owner to have the right to build on the land.
It is true that the Rural District Council has adopted a bye-law imposing conditions with regard to the height of the floor above flood level and the construction of the foundations of buildings in areas liable to flood, but these conditions will not prevent the risk of pollution from sewage and they do not, of course, prevent building in flood areas.
If, therefore, it is considered desirable, as we maintain, that, on the grounds of public health, further building should be prohibited in flood areas, it would appear to be a matter upon which concerted action should be taken by the Middlesex and Surrey County Councils, the riparian local authorities, the Thames Conservancy, the Metropolitan Water Board and the other Water Authorities concerned.
Such action will naturally be conditioned by the steps that may be taken with a view to preventing flooding or reducing the area liable to flood.
The judicious planting of trees would be a great help in preserving and improving the amenities of the Thames,
as by this means some rather dull stretches of waterworks and some of the more hideous of the bungalows could be partially screened.
This is a matter for co-operation between Public Authorities and landowners.
It is, in our view, of the greatest importance to see that the amenities of the riverside are not spoilt by the display of advertisements.
Powers for the control of advertisements are already in the hands of Local Authorities, both under the Advertisement Regulation Act and the Town Planning Act.
Those under the latter are, perhaps, the more comprehensive and the inclusion in its town planning scheme of the model clause recommended by the Ministry of Health gives the Local Authority the right to prohibit the display of any advertisement
“in such a position or manner as to injure the amenity of any part of the area.”
The tow path, by opening up the river to every class of the public performs an extremely important function,
especially in these days of crowded thoroughfares and widely expanding urban development.
It has the virtue of being an entirely informal footpath by the side of the river, and is used by pedestrians from one end of it to the other.
It should be remembered that the tow path was originally created for the purpose of towage, and that despite the decline in the type of barge requiring the use of the tow path, rent is still paid by the Thames Conservators for this purpose.
Although the tow path runs by one or the other side of the river for its entire length, there is no continuity of ownership or control.
The Thames Conservancy or Port of London Authority own and maintain small portions, the remainder being in the possession of the Crown, local authorities or in private ownership, and there does not appear to be any statutory obligation on the Thames Conservancy or others to maintain the path, although the Conservancy and local bodies have powers to expend money thereon, and from time to time exercise such powers.
While in practice it is sometimes found quite possible to adjust the cost of repair works among these persons and authorities interested, it is not always a simple matter to fix responsibility, and there occur at intervals stretches of tow path which have obviously suffered by this lack of obligation to maintain.
Again, there may be places where the river has eaten away the existing tow path; if there is unbuilt upon land adjoining, a diversion inland may be possible, but should the land be already built upon the path can be made good only at the very considerable expense of re-embanking, for which neither private owners nor public bodies are liable.
It would be in the interests of the river authorities as well as of the general public if there were some form of continuous control, and a more efficient system for the apportioning of the costs of repair and maintenance.
There is no more delightful pathway in the Kingdom than this 136 miles of tow path, of which 29 miles are comprised within the length under review.
From it the unfolding beauties of the River can be seen by the public, who otherwise would only have access to the river at a comparatively few isolated spots.
It is not everybody that cares about using boats or launches or can afford the expense involved.
The majority of the recommendations which have been made with regard to the preservation of the amenities of the riverside can be carried out effectively
by the riparian local authorities through the medium of town planning schemes.
Provisions in respect of the character, density and height of buildings; the control of building design; the preservation of the existing character of already built-upon areas possessing special architectural beauty and historical interest; the prescription of river-front building-lines; the regulation of advertisements and the protection of trees, are all matters that can most suitably be dealt with in this way.
Town Planning Schemes affecting riverside lands are already in course of preparation by several local authorities.
Their provisions are based upon the proposals contained in the regional planning schemes prepared by the West Middlesex, Thames Valley and North-West Surrey Joint Town Planning Committees with which the present recommendations substantially agree.
In a few instances, notably in regard to the planning of Ham Meadows, the provisions of the town planning schemes are not in accord with either the regional or the present proposals and in such cases we suggest that the local authorities should be invited to consider the amendment of their schemes.
Other local authorities have either not embarked upon a town planning scheme or have not included all their riverside lands in the scheme.
In these cases it is recommended that the Councils concerned should be urged to prepare schemes and to embody the proposals contained in this report.
It is to be noted that after April 1st of this year County Councils will have certain powers of co-operation with local authorities in the preparation of town planning schemes which may be of considerable help in this matter.
A list of the riparian authorities with particulars of the stages reached in regard to town planning will be found in an appendix.
In addition to joint action by the County Councils with the local authorities in the preparation of town planning schemes, to which reference has just been made,
the financial assistance of County Councils will undoubtedly be required in connection with the implementation of the provisions of the schemes.
Such assistance will be more particularly required in connection with the reservation of land for open spaces.
Except in the somewhat rare cases of gift by the owner the reservation of land for open space involves either immediate purchase or compensation and ultimate purchase.
In the case of small open spaces for purely local use the local authority should clearly bear the cost, but in so far as the reservation of Thames-side open spaces is primarily intended to preserve the amenities of the river, it will, we think, be agreed that the benefit derived from these open spaces will be enjoyed by a far larger public than that of the districts in which they are situated.
It is only equitable, therefore, that the cost of preserving them should be similarly distributed.
This principle has already been adopted by the Middlesex County Council who have agreed to contribute to the cost of acquiring approved open spaces of regional (i.e. more than local) importance.
We consider that all the proposed Thames-side open spaces should be treated as at least of regional importance from this point of view.
The actual apportionment of the cost would have to be determined in each case individually as an equitable arrangement would depend partly on the way in which the areas of open space are distributed as between the various local authorities and partly on the financial capacity of the latter.
The Thames Conservancy, acting through a Board consisting of twenty-eight members representing the Board of Trade, the Ministry of Transport,
the Port of London Authority, the Metropolitan Water Board, the London County Council, the Corporation of London and the Councils of the Counties,
Boroughs and Districts concerned, are the controlling authority for the river from its source to a point just below Teddington Lock.
Its powers and duties are wide and varied; they relate chiefly, of course, to the maintenance and regulation of the river as a waterway, but one of the most important functions of the Conservators, in view of the fact that the Thames forms one of the principle sources of London’s water supply, is to protect the river and its tributaries from pollution.
In performing this duty with admirable efficiency, they not only safeguard public health but they also make an indispensable contribution towards the preservation of amenities.
The value of this service is so great that it leads us to hope that the Conservators may be willing to extend its usefulness by combining with the County Councils to prevent further building on lands liable to flooding.
Another function of the Conservancy, which has a great deal to do with the amenities of the river, is the maintenance of the banks.
A variety of methods and materials has been employed for this purpose and comments upon these have been made during the course of this report.
It is, perhaps, desirable to recapitulate these to the extent of saying that, with the exception of the concrete bag work which has fortunately been used only to a limited extent and is unlikely to be repeated, the treatment of the banks is on the whole very satisfactory.
The stone pitching, now mainly employed, when it has become overgrown with grass and bushes is, indeed, so pleasing that there is a danger that it may be used too continuously and lead to monotony.
We think it very desirable that the different kinds of bank should be treated in different ways.
This matter will have to be considered very carefully in connection with the works that are about to be undertaken for the widening, straightening and deepening the channel and the provision of new cuts in order to provide for the increased discharge of flood water arising from the Wey drainage proposals.
Great care should be exercised in seeing that the works destroy the present character of the river as little as possible by maintaining the curves of the banks and avoiding a canal-like appearance.
Existing trees, especially those at Hampton Court Bridge, should be preserved to the utmost possible extent and newly cut banks should be furnished with a strip of open space and tree-planted.
If these precautions are taken, and the past history of the Conservancy leads us to believe that they will be, we do not think the amenities of the river will suffer after the first effect of rawness has disappeared.
|AREAS RECOMMENDED FOR ACQUISITION AS PUBLIC OPEN SPACE||Approximate Acreage|
|1.||Triangular area on Lonsdale Road, Barnes||0.5|
|2.||Riverside strip (not exceeding 200 feet in depth) from the proposed new bridge to Richmond Sewage Works, on the Surrey Bank||5.5|
|3.||Riverside strip (not exceeding 200 feet in depth) from Richmond Sewage Works to Kew Railway Bridge, on the Surrey Bank||7.0|
|4.||Riverside strip from proposed new bridge to “Thames Bank” on the Middlesex Side||9. 5|
|6.||Riverside strip between the railway bridge and Richmond Bridge on the Middlesex Bank||4.0|
|7.||Riverside strip between Richmond Bridge and Haversham Grange on the Middlesex Bank||3. 5|
|8.||The extremities of Eel Pie Island||2.0|
|9.||Continuation and enlargement of existing riverside open space along Ham Meadows||60.0|
|10.||Grounds of Weir Hotel, Teddington||4.5|
|11.||Land between Hampton Court Park and the river, from Kingston Bridge to Long Ditton||108.5|
|12.||Riverside strip from the Albany Hotel to Hampton Court Bridge on the Surrey Bank||13.5|
|13.||Riverside grounds opposite Molesey Weir on the Middlesex Bank||4.5|
|14.||Riverside strip about 50 feet wide below the road at Sunbury Court||4.0|
|15.||Riverside land from Sunbury Lock to River House, Walton-on-Thames on the Surrey Side||37.0|
|16.||Coway Sole, Walton-on-Thames||19.0|
|17.||Meadowland in bend of river, Lower Halliford, on the Middlesex Bank||27.0|
|18.||Ferris Meadows, above Shepperton on the Middlesex Bank||30.5|
|19.||The greater part of Chertsey Mead||154.0|
|20.||Meadowland below Chertsey Bridge, on the Middlesex Bank||25.0|
|20.||Land alongside Chertsey Lock, on the Middlesex Bank||2.0|
1 . The grounds of Fulham Palace.
2. Barn Elms Park (Ranelagh).
3. Chiswick Eyot.
4. Part of Duke’s Meadows, Chiswick.
5. Syon Park.
6. Land on Ranelagh Drive, St. Margarets.
7. Part of the grounds of Haversham Grange, Meadowbank and Meadowside, Twickenham.
8. Grounds of Buccleuch House, Richmond.
9. Part of Orleans Park.
10. Islands at Teddington Lock.
11. Island and lands near Broom Water, Teddington.
12. Steven’s Eyot.
13. Island formed by proposed new cuts at Hampton Court.
14. Ash Islands.
15. Garricks Ait.
16. The greater part of Platt’s Ait.
17. Small island near Sunbury Court.
18. Sunbury Lock Ait.
19. Meadows on Surrey side between the Thames and the Engine River, chbridge and Walton-on-Thames.
20. War Close, Shepperton.
21. D’Oyly Carte Island, Shepperton.
22. Islands at Sheppcrton Lock.
23. Land between Bridge Road, Chertsey, and the Pumping Station, including part of Abbey Mead
24. Laleham Burway, including Chertsey Golf Course.
25. Grounds of Laleham House.
26. Small islands opposite Laleham Burway and at Penton Hook.
27. Pcnton Hook.
1. Chiswick Mall and the riverside property between the Oil Mills and The Doves.
2. Houses at Thames bank Barnes.
3. Riverside property on Thames Road, Strand-on-the-Green.
4. Property between Kew Bridge and Kew Gardens.
5: All Saints’ Church, Isleworth.
6. Property on Cholmondeley Walk and Water Lane Richmond.
7. Manor House and Grounds, Shepperton.
1. Any person intending to erect a building in Zones . . . shall, if so required by the Council, furnish the Council
(in addition to any plans and particulars required to be submitted under the Byelaws and Local Acts), with drawings of the elevations of the Building,
together with a specification or other sufhcient indication of the materials to be used in those parts of the building which are comprised in the elevations.
The drawings shall be upon suitable material to a scale of not less than one inch to every eight feet, except that, where the building is extensive as to render a smaller scale necessary, it shall suffice if the elevations are drawn to a scale of not less than one inch to every sixteen feet.
2. For the purpose of assisting the Council in the exercise of the power of approving or disapproving elevations herein after conferred a standing Advisory Committee of three members (in this clause called “the Advisory Committee”) shall be constituted for the Area, of whom one member shall be a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects to be nominated by the President of the said Institute, one member shall be a fellow to the Surveyors Institution to be nominated by the President of the said Institution and one member shall be a justice of the Peace to be nominated by the Council.
Provided that a member of the Council shall be disqualified from being a member of the Advisory Committee.
3. Subject as aforesaid the members of the Advisory Committee shall be appointed by the Council and any vacancy occurring on the Advisory Committee shall be filled by the Council on the nomination of the person or body by whom the member causing the vacancy was nominated.
The Council may pay the members of the Advisory Committee such reasonable fees and expenses as the Council think fit.
4. The Council Shall within one month after the submission to them of any elevations:
(a) approve the elevations; or
(b) if they consider that havmg regard to the general character of the existing buildings in the neighbourhood or of the buildings therein to be erected the buildings to which the elevations relate would seriously disfigure the neighbourhood, whether by reason of the height of the building, (notwithstanding that the height conforms with the requirements of Clause . . .) or the design of the building, or the materials proposed to be used in its construction, refer the questions of the approval of the elevations to the Advisory Committee for their decision thereon, and the reference shall be accompanied by a statement of the grounds on which the proposed building is considered to be objectionable.
5. The Council shall forthwith send notice in writing to the person by whom the elevations were submitted of their approval thereof or, if the building is considered objectionable on any of the grounds mentioned in this Clause, of the reference of the elevations to the Advisory Committee, and the notice shall be accompanied by a statement of the objections to the building.
6. (a) The person by whom the elevations were submitted shall within fourteen days of receiving notice of the reference of the Advisory Committee be entitled to send to the Advisory Committee a statement of his answers to the objections of the Council, and, if he does so, he shall at the same time send a copy thereof to the Clerk of the Council.
(b) The Advisory Committee shall, within one month after the receipt of the reference, decide whether, having regard to the considerations mentioned in paragraph 4. (b) of this clause, they approve or disapprove the elevations, and their decision shall be final and conclusive.
The Advisory Committee shall not, however, disapprove the elevations, on any other grounds than those specified in the Council’s statement of objections hereinbefore referred to without first giving not less than 10 days’ notice of their intention to the person submitting the elevations and to the Council, and hearing any representations which either party may make to them before the expiration of the notice.
Subjects as aforesaid, the Advisory Committee in arriving at their decision, may adopt such procedure as they think fit, and, if the elevations are disapproved, the decision of the Advisory Committee shall contain a statement of the grounds on which the proposed building is considered to be objectionable.
7. The decision of the Advisory Committee shall be in writing signed by them, and a copy of the decision shall as soon as may be after the determination
of the reference be sent to the Council and to the person by Whom the elevations were submitted.
8. In the event of a division of opinion among the members of the Advisory Committee upon reference to them, the matter shall be decided by a majority of votes of the members to the Committee, but, save as aforesaid, the Advisory Committee shall act by their whole number.
9. (a) No building shall be erected the elevations of which have been disapproved under this Clause.
(b) No building shall be erected in Zones . . . the elevations of which have been submitted for approval and not approved under this Clause, except where the Council or the Advisory Committee, as the case may be, have not given a decision under Sub-Clauses 4 and 6 within the periods fixed therein for the purpose.
10. The costs of any reference to the Advisory Committee shall be paid as the Advisory Committee may direct.
Where such costs or part thereof are payable by the person submitting the elevations, they shall be recoverable by the Council summarily as a civil debt, and, where such costs or part thereof are payable by the Council, they shall be recoverable by the person submitting the elevations in the like manner.
11. The provisions of this Clause shall not apply to any building exempt from the operation of the Byelaws With respect to new streets and buildings made by the Council on and confirmed by the Minister on under paragraphs * of Byelaw thereof, so long as those buildings continue to be exempt from those Byelaws or any Byelaws of a like kind which may be substituted therefor.
12. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the definition of the erection of a building in Clause 1 ‡ , the erection of a building for the purposes of this Clause includes every re-erection or structural alteration of, and every structural addition to, any building.
* Paragraphs corresponding to paragraphs (a) to (i) of Model Byelaw 2 of Urban Series IV.
‡ Clause I (Interpretation) of the current edition of the Town Planning Model Clauses. (July 1928).
|Metropolitan Borough of Fulham and Hammersmith.||The London County Council is the Town Planning Authority for these areas wWhich, however, being completely developed do not come wlthln the scope of the present Town Planning Act.|
|Chiswick and Brentford Urban District.||No. 1 Town Planning Scheme relating to Duke’s Meadows, has been finally approved. In addition the Resolution has been passed to prepare a No.2 scheme In respect of several areas including some riverside lands. The Preliminary Statement of Proposals for Brentford has been approved, but this does not include the riverside land, which is completely developed.|
|Heston and Isleworth Urban District.||The Preliminary Statement of Proposals, including Syon Park and other riverside lands, has been submitted to the Minister of Health. The Preliminary Statement of Proposals for the com|
|Borough of Twickenham. Teddington Urban District.||The Preliminary Statement of Proposals for the complete river frontage of the Borough is in draft form.|
|Hampton Wick Urban District.||The Preliminary Statement of Proposals for a small riverside area is approved.|
|Hampton Urban District.||No Town Planning Scheme has been prepared.|
|Sunbury-on-Thames Urban District.||The Draft Scheme for the Urban District, including the riverside lands, has been adopted by the Council.|
|Staines Rural District.||The Preliminary Statement of Proposals, including the riverside from Walton-on-Thames to Penton Hook has been submitted to the Minister of Health.|
|Staines Urban District.||No Town Planning Scheme has been prepared.|
|Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth.||The London County Council is the Town Planning Authority for this Borough, and a Preliminary Statement of Proposals for an area of 7,200 acres has been approved. The riverside land, however, is completely developed and is therefore not included.|
|Barnes Urban District.||Two schemes are in course of preparation, the Preliminary Statement of Proposals in both cases having been approved. Neither area directly affects the riversid.|
|Richmond Borough.||The Town Planning Scheme, which includes proposals for the river front, has been finally approved.|
|Ham Urban District.||The Preliminary Statement of Proposals for the Urban District has been submitted to the Minister of Health.|
|Borough of Kingston.||No town planning scheme has been prepared.|
|Surbiton Urban District.||The Preliminary Statement of Proposals has been approved, but the river front, occupied almost entirely by reservoirs of the Metropolitan Water Board is unaffected.|
|Esher and The Dittons Urban District.||The Preliminary Statement of Proposals for the Urban District, including the greater part of the river front, is in draft form.|
|East and West Molesey Urban District.||The Preliminary Statement of Proposals has been adopted by the Council. This includes Hurst Park, but the built-up portions of Molesey, together with railway lands at Hampton Court Station and Water Board Reservoirs at West Molesey are excluded.|
|Walton-on-Thames Urban District.||The Preliminary Statement of Proposals, including the riverside, is in draft form.|
|Weybridge Urban District.||The Council have passed the Resolution to prepare a Town Planning Scheme.|
|Chertsey Urban District.||The Preliminary Statement of Proposals for the Urban District is in draft form.|
|Parish of Thorpe (Detached Portion of Chertsey Rural District).||No town planning scheme has been prepared.|
|Egham Urban District.||The Preliminary Statement of Proposals is in draft form.|