Richmond Bridge

The Port of London Authority facilitated the making of a Google street view of the Thames below Richmond Bridge. The 'Richmond Bridge from Downstream' view is the upstream end of that route. It was made using the survey vessel Yantlet - the stern of which can be seen in some of the views (click in view then key left to look the other way and see the stern!).
Upstream of here the various street views were all taken from bridges or roads beside the river.


Part of PLA Chart

The Boathouse marked "R J Turk" is now Mark Edwards' Boathouse with skiffs etc for hire

1770: Richmond Ferry -

Richmond Ferry, 1770
Richmond Ferry in 1770

1774: from "THE THAMES; or GRAPHIC ILLUSTRATIONS Of SEATS, VILLAS, PUBLIC BUILDINGS, AND PICTURESQUE SCENERY" by William Bernard Cooke, 1811 -

Richmond Bridge was begun in 1774, and finished in three years, at an expence of £26,000, which was raised upon tontine, at four per cent. The first tontine consisted of 200 shares, of £ 100 each: in this about seventy-seven of the subscribers are dead ; the second consisted of fifty shares of £100 each, in which seventeen of the subscribers are dead: those living are mostly from forty to fifty years of age.
The tolls have not increased since the year 1796, when they amounted to about £1300 per annum, but there must be a sufficient sum raised for repairs, before they can be taken off.
It is 300 feet long, and has five arches of stone, exclusive of the causeway : the central arch is 25 feet high, and 60 wide. Mr. Payne was the architect: it is by no means the best of his works: the ascent, which is in a straight line, is more sudden than local circumstances required, and, what is worse, forms an apex on the middle of the bridge.
The floods in March 1774 rose more than ten feet above the common level of the water: those of this year [1811] were not so high by four inches.

1774: And here is Richmond bridge actually being built. The temporary timber centring under each arch is clearly seen -

Richmond Bridge being built, 1774
Richmond Bridge being built, 1774 (detail)

Richmond Bridge being built, 1774
Richmond Bridge being built, 1774

1784? -

New Bridge, Richmond, 1784?
The New Bridge, Richmond, 1784?

1779: The London magazine -

The Bridge erected across the River Thames at Richmond in Surrey, is a simple yet elegant structure, and from its happy situation, is one of the most beautiful ornaments of the river and the country adjacent.

New Richmond Bridge,1790?
New Richmond Bridge

1790: Lines written near Richmond, upon the Thames at Evening, William Wordsworth -
[ In 1820 the New Monthly Magazine commented -

How by a ... delightful process, does the poet impart to an evening scene on the Thames at Richmond, the serenity of his own heart, and tinge it with softest and saddest hues of the fancy and the affections!

The verses have all the richness of Collins, to whom they allude, and breathe a more profound and universal sentiment than is found in his sky-tinctured poetry.

Listen to 'Glide gently ...' (4 less impressive verses omitted)

Glide gently, thus forever glide
O Thames! that other bards may see,
As lovely visions by thy side
As now, fair river! come to me.
Oh glide, fair stream! for ever so;
Thy quiet soul on all bestowing,
‘Till all our minds forever flow,
As thy deep waters now are flowing.

1790: And here in that same year in which Wordsworth wrote is what he saw -

Richmond Bridge, 1790
Richmond Bridge, 1790

Lady X, with Nanny and the young master are strolling by the river.
See the gang of men towing the barge with the just visible 1 cm to the left of the young master's head? They were on a seperate path. Can't have ordinary folk mixing with the gentry!
The barge has its cable to its mast to lift it over other boats and obstructions

1802: Picturesque View on the River Thames, Samuel Ireland, shows no less than three prints of Richmond Bridge -

Richmond Bridge, 1802, Ireland
Richmond Bridge, 1802, Ireland

THE charming village of Richmond, from the singular beauty of its situation, has not improperly been termed the Frescati of England.
It received the addition of the present elegant stone bridge from a design of the late Mr. James Payne. The arches are semi-circular, and the structure taken altogether is not inferior to the first work of the kind on this river.
THE annexed view was taken below the bridge, where the rich and variegated scenery of the adjacent country, with the beautiful hill in the back ground, render the landscape highly interesting and worthy selection.

Richmond Bridge, 1802, Ireland
Richmond Bridge, 1802, Ireland

Richmond Bridge, 1802, Ireland
Richmond Bridge, 1802, Ireland

1808: Richmond Hill by Turner

Richmond Bridge, 1808, Turner
Richmond Hill (and Bridge), Turner, 1808

1811: -

Richmond Bridge, 1811
Richmond Bridge, 1811

1818: -

Richmond Bridge, 1818
Richmond Bridge, 1818

1818: from Picturesque rides and walks: with excursions by water, thirty miles round the British metropolis; illustrated in a series of engravings, coloured after nature; with an historical and topographical description of the country within the compass of that circle, Volume 2, by John Hassell -

A native poet, fondly attached to the subject of his poem, may possibly be suspected of a partiality, from which, a foreigner must be exempt: viewing it even in this light, we subjoin a cursory description of the beauties of this charming spot by Mr. C. P. Moritz, of Berlin:
"In every point of view, Richmond is assuredly one of the first situations in the world. Here it was that Thomson and Pope gleaned from nature all those beautiful passages, with which their inimitable writings abound.
Here I trod on that fresh, even, and soft verdure, which is to be seen only in England: on one side of me lay a wood, than which nature cannot produce a finer; and on the other, the Thames, with its shelvy bank, and charming lawns, rising like an amphitheatre; along which, here and there, one espies a picturesque white house, aspiring in majestic simplicity, to pierce the dark foliage of the surrounding trees; thus studding, like stars in the galaxy, the rich expanse of this charming vale.
Sweet Richmond! never, no, never shall I forget that lovely evening, when from thy fairy hills thou didst so hospitably smile on me, a poor, lonely, insignificant stranger! as I traversed to and fro thy meads, thy little swelling hills, and flowery dells; and above all, that queen of all rivers, thy own majestic Thames. I forgot all sublunary cares, and thought only of Heaven and heavenly things. Happy, thrice happy am I, I again and again exclaimed, that I am here in Elysium, in Richmond!"

1818: John Hassell also comments -

One of the most delightful recreations to the inhabitants of London, is an aquatic excursion to Richmond. Embracing a morning tide, a party can enjoy a long day's amusement. On these occasions, it is customary to carry with the company all that will supply the wants of a rural festival, even to their knives and forks; and a cold collation, which, on a warm summer's day, must always he considered a treat — appears consistent with a fete champetre.
Landing from their boats in the vicinity of Richmond Hill, parties usually take up their quarters under the shade of lofty elms or groups of oaks; from whence, until the dinner-hour arrives, it is customary for the visitors to take their stroll throngh different parts of the town and park.
The meal finished, it is no uncommon thing to view very genteel assemblages, tripping it lightly to the tones of some musical instrument; and, on their return home, to amuse themselves with glees and solo singing. The day, on these occasions, usually finishes with a visit to the enchanting scenes of Vauxhall.
It is no uncommon sight on a Sunday to see some hundred wherries, cutters, and sailing-boats floating up the Thames; and should you be late with the tide, it is a chance if you do not pass innumerable parties, who have arrived before you, lining the banks of the river, and already at their sylvan repast. The scenery, from its accompaniments,becomes highly interesting and picturesque.
In suggesting to my readers these rational amusements, I would beg to remind them of the comforts arising from an awning covering their boats: a sultry day on the water, unless sheltered from the sun's effects, oftentimes hecomes oppressive and inconvenient to females. I would also remind a party how pleasant it is to make a landing, when half-way on the excursion; and the same on their return, to relieve them from the cramped position, which unavoidably occurs in a boat: — the very acme of pleasure is to render every part of its enjoyment comfortable.
Upon certain days in each season, the most elevated characters, as well as the humbler classes, consider these delectable excursions worthy of their attention: — hence we see all the companies of the City, with the Admiralty, Victualling, Trinity, and a long et cetera of Government barges; and noblemen and gentlemen's pinnaces, cutters, and pleasure-boats, enjoying this pastime.

1826: The Steam Boat Companion quotes Maurice's poem "Richmond Hill" -

Mark where yon beauteous bridge, with modest pride,
Throws its brond shadow o'er the subject tide;
There little elegance and strength unite,
And fair proportion's charm, the eye delight;

There, graceful while the spacious arches bend
No useless glaring ornaments offend;
Embowered in verdure, heaped unbounded round
Of every varied hue that shades the ground.

Its polished surface of unsullied white,
With heightened lustre beams upon the sight,
Still lovelier in the shining flood surveyed,
'Mid the deep masses of surrounding shade.

1834: Tombleson -

Richmond Bridge, 1834
Richmond Bridge, 1834, Tombleson

1835: "Richmond" from "An Every Day and Table Book" -

Richmond Bridge, 1835
Richmond Bridge, 1835

In the beginning of May, a steam-boat for conveying passengers ascends the Thames in the morning from Queenhithe to Richmond, and returns the same day ; and so she proceeds to and fro until the autumn. Before she unmoors she takes in little more than half her living freight, the remainder is obtained during the passage.
Her band on deck plays a lively tune, and "off she goes" towards Blackfriars Bridge. From thence, leisurely walkers, and holiday-wishing people, on their way to business, look from between the balustrades on the enviable steamer; they see her lower her chimney to pass beneath the arch, and ten to one, if they cross the road to watch her coming forth on the other side, they receive a puff from the re-elevating mast; this fuliginous rebuke is inspiring:

A Legal Lament
Ye Richmond Navigators bold all on the liquid plain,
When from the bridge we envied you with pleasure mix'd with pain,
Why could you be so cruel as to ridicule our woes,
By in our anxious faces turning up your steamer's nose ?
Twas 'strange, 'twas passing strange, 'twas pitiful, 'twas wonderous
Pitiful, as Shakspeare says, by you then being under us,
To be insulted as we were, when you your chimney rose
And thought yourselves at liberty to cloud our hopes and clothes
The same sweet poet says, you know, "each dog will have his day,"
And hence for Richmond we, in turn, may yet get under weigh.
So thus we are consoled in mind, and as to being slighted,
For that same wrong, we'll right ourselves, and get you all indicted.

The steam-boat is a good half hour in clearing the port of London, and arriving at Westminster; this delay in expedition is occasioned by "laying to" for "put offs" of single persons and parties, in Thames wherries.
If the day be fine, the passage is very pleasant. The citizen sees various places wherein he has enjoyed himself,— he can point out ... [ a great many features] ...
The Aits, or Osier Islands, are picturesque interspersions on the Thames. Its banks are studded with neat cottages, or elegant villas crown the gentle heights; the lawns come sweeping down like carpets of green velvet, to the edge of its soft-flowing waters, and the grace of the scenery improves till we are borne into the full bosom of its beauty — the village of Richmond, or as it was anciently called, Sheen.
On coming within sight of this, the most delightful scene in our sea-girt isle, the band on board the steam-boat plays "the lass of Richmond hill," while the vessel glides on the translucent water, till she curves to the bridge-foot, and the passengers disembark.
Ascending the stone stairs to the street, a short walk through the village brings us to the top of the far-famed hill, from whence there is a sudden sight of one of the loveliest views in the world.
Here, unless an overflowing purse can command the preference of the "Star and Garter," we enter the pleasant and comfortable "Roebuck" inn, which has nothing to recommend it but civil treatment and domestic conveniences. The westward room on the second floor is quiet, and one of the pleasantest in the house. The walls of this peaceful apartment have no ornament, unless so can be called a mezzotinto engraving by Watson, after Reynolds, of Jeffory, Lord Amherst, in armour, with a countenance remarkably similar to the rev. Rowland Hill's in his younger days. The advantage of this room is the delightful view from its windows.
Hither come ye whose hearts are saddened, or whose nerves are shattered by the strife of life, or the disturbances of the world ; inhale the pure air, and gaze awhile on a prospect more redolent of beauty than Claude or Poussin ever painted or saw. Whatever there be of soothing charm in scenery, is here exuberant. Description must not be attempted, for poets have made it their theme and failed.
To the over-wearied inhabitants of the metropolis, the trip to Richmond is covetable. The lively French, the philosophic German, the elegant Italian, the lofty Spaniard, and the Cossack of the Don, pronounce the prospect from the hill the most enchanting in Europe. There was no itinerary of Richmond until Dr. John Evans, during a visit in 1824, hastily threw some memoranda into a neat little volume, illustrated by a few etchings, under the title of "Richmond and its Vicinity," which he purposes to improve.

1837: Knickerbocker [article on the Thames in London and above] -

.. by Richmond Hill and Twickenham, it winds through groves and meadows green, a rural silver stream.
The traveller who sees it here for the first time, can hardly believe, that this is the mighty river which bathes the feet of London. He asks perhaps the coachman, what stream that is? and the coachman answers with a stare of wonder and pity, 'The Tems sir'.
Pleasure boats are gliding back and forth, and stately swans float, like water-lilies, on its bosom. On its banks are villages, and church-towers, beneath which, among the patriarchs of the hamlet, lie many gifted sons of song, 'In sepulchres unhearsed and green'.

1855: The Thames frozen at Richmond. View under Richmond Bridge with the eight year old Richmond railway Bridge in the distance -

Thames frozen at Richmond Bridge, 1855
Thames frozen at Richmond Bridge, 1855

1870: Richmond Bridge, Henry Taunt -

Richmond Bridge, Henry Taunt, 1870
Richmond Bridge, Henry Taunt, 1870
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT1139

From Lyrics of the Heart, Alaric Watts -

Let poets rave of Arno’ stream
And painters of the winding Rhine
I will not ask a lovelier dream,
A sweeter scene, fair Thames, than thine;
An ‘'neath a summer'’s sun’'s decline
Thou wanderest at thine own sweet will
Reflecting from thy face divine
The flower-wreathed brow of Richmond Hill.

Richmond Watermen's Regatta and Venetian Fete

1889: Centenary (does this mean it started in 1789? In which case it is 50 years older than Henley Regatta!)
from The Graphic 14 Sep 1889

Favoured by exceedingly fine weather, these festivities took place on Wednesday, August 28th, under the management of Messrs. C.Capel Smith and T.C.Brooks, the Postmaster of Richmond, who were assisted by the Watermen of Her Majesty the Queen
The programme contained nine events, the principal race being the Watermen's Double Sculling Race, for which there was the large number of eighteen entries.
The racing was varied and caused some amusement, especially in the punting and canoeing competitions, and the minor events bringing the sports to a conclusion.
But it was not until after dusk that the Thames looked its best. Soon after nightfall the whole of the river shone with one serried blaze. Some hundreds of boats hung out illuminations of various kinds, many remarkable for their beauty and originality, and a veritable fairy scene was enacted for the benefit of the spectators.
The illuminations were admitted on all hands to be more brilliant than any seen in connection with a regatta on the Thames, and the gorgeousness of the colouring and diversity of the effects will doubtless be remembered by the spectators for a long time to come.
The prizes were given by Sir J. Whittaker Ellis, Bart, at the annual dinner on the follwoing Friday night at the Greyhound Inn, when the watermen of Richmond seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.


Richmond Watermen's Centenary Regatta, 1889

Richmond Bridge lantern slide 1883-1906, W.C.Hughes, research by Dr Wilson, courtesy of Pat Furley

Lantern Slide (1883-1908) - View from Richmond Bridge
Pictures by W.C.Hughes. Thanks to Pat Furley, research by Dr Wilson.

1890: from Richmond by Richard Garnett -

The structure has always been admired, although the lines of the local laureate, the Rev. Thomas Maurice (1754-1824), a lazy, genial man of some repute as an Orientalist, who was at one time an assistant librarian of the British Museum, may be thought to err on the side of hyperbole : —

Mark where yon beauteous Bridge with modest pride
Throws its broad shadow o'er the subject tide —
There Attic elegance and strength unite,
And fair proportion's charms the eye delight ;
There, graceful while the spacious arches bend,
No useless, glaring ornaments offend —
Embowered in verdure heaped unbounded round
Of every varied hue that shades the ground.
Its polished surface of unsullied white
With heightened lustre beams upon the sight.
Still lovelier in the shining flood surveyed
Mid the deep masses of surrounding shade,
Glittering with brilliant tints and burnished gold,
Above, the cars of luxury are rolled.
Or commerce, that upholds the wealthy thane,
Guides to Augusta's towers her cumbrous wain ;
Below, refulgent in the noontide ray.
While in the breeze the silken streamers play,
A thousand barks, arrayed in gorgeous pride.
Bound o'er the surface of the yielding tide.

English poetry, taken as a whole, was probably never at a higher level of tumidity, or at a lower level of bathos, than when compositions like the above " petrifaction of a plodding brain," as Byron called the poem from which it is taken, were considered examples of correct taste, and poetasters like the Rev. T. Maurice shared public favour with Hayley and Erasmus Darwin.

1899: -

Richmond Bridge, 1899, Frith
Richmond Bridge, 1899, Francis Frith

1906: Water colour by Sutton Palmer -

Richmond Bridge, Sutton Palmer, 1906
Richmond Bridge, Sutton Palmer, 1906

Richmond Bridge
Richmond Bridge

1939: Richmond Bridge was widened on the upstream side and the roadway flattened.

Richmond Bridge © 1996 Doug Myers
Richmond Bridge © 1996 Doug Myers

Richmond - invention of the Catamaran? 1826

1826: The Steam Boat Companion -

On the opposite side of the river, at the foot of the bridge, is the mansion of Archdeacon Cambridge, a noble brick-built edifice, commanding a fine view of the surrounding country.
Here resided the Rev. Richard Owen Cambridge, father of the present proprietor; the author of several works, and inventor of a curious double boat, which is said to possess great swiftness in sailing, with equal safety, formed with two distinct boats, 50 feet long, though but 18 inches wide, connected together by a deck, at the distance of 12 feet.