Upper Tideway Branch
Teddington to Putney
We start in Teddington, the limit of the tidal river, with the Tide End Cottage pub and Anglers Arms near the footbridge over the weir-stream and lock cut.
Teddington has the longest weir and largest locking system on the river, with three locks having a rise and fall of just under nine feet and just below the locks jurisdiction passes from the Environment Agency to the Port of London Authority.
Going downstream, on the left, Middlesex bank we pass Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill House, Swan Island Harbour with its houseboats and slipway into Cross Deep, a famous fishing area into Twickenham.
River-side Twickenham has some fine old houses, St.Mary’s Church and The Barmy Arms close by the footbridge to Eel Pie Island, with its resident community and working boatyards. Then past the grounds of York House with its exotic fountain, Riverside lane, often flooded at high tides, the fine Dial House, to The White Swan and the Georgian terrace of Syon Row.
From Teddington Locks, on the right, Surrey bank are the expanse of Ham Lands and the entrance to the dock serving the gravel pits, now the base of the Thames Young Mariners, for sailing and canoeing. Then past the National Trust’s Ham House, with its formal gardens and collection of 17th century furniture and décor to the steps of Hammerton’s Ferry, which runs a regular service to the other bank.
Back on the Middlesex side we see the beautiful white Marble Hill House, built for Henrietta Howard, mistress of the future George II, set in a park with a view across the river to Richmond Hill, dominated by the Star & Garter home looking, from its heights, out over the open vista of Petersham Meadows – one of the classic Thames views.
We then reach Richmond Bridge and the waterfront, with a boat-builders yard and day-boat hire base in front of a combination of old and old building styles from architect Quinlan Terry, opened by the Queen in 1988. Then we reach the Old Town Hall, with a library and museum to the White Cross pub, whose customers can be marooned at high tides.
Past Trumpeters House of 1701 and the Palladian Asgill House of 1758 to the former river frontage of the royal palace of Sheen, where Henry VII built his own RichmondPalace and where Elizabeth I died. Then past Old Deer Park, now playing fields and a golf-course, with stone obelisks near the river markers along the meridian line through Kew Observatory, built by George III.
On the Middlesex bank from Richmond Bridge is Ducks Walk, with boats moored at the end of gardens, down to Richmond Lock, a “half-tide” lock where the weirs are usually opened for two hours either side of high water and, when closed maintains navigation depths up to Teddington. Then past a collection of houseboats and barges where the River Crane flows in, behind Isleworth Ait, which has working boatyards and an important heronry. Then to Old Isleworth, the mouth of the Duke of Northumberland’s River, a preserved crane marking the former commercial importance of the area. Then The London Apprentice pub, the modern Isleworth Church built on to a 14th century tower and the gates of Syon Park Home to the Northumberland family the Tudor Syon House has interiors re-modelled by Robert Adam and a stone lion on the roof .
Leaving Richmond on the Surrey bank, we look across Syon Reach to a rare, preserved habitat, a tide meadow that is flooded twice a day and to our right are Kew Gardens, with the red brick of Kew Palace, to Kew Bridge and Pier. Then past Oliver’s Ait, with a view across the river to the cottages and pubs of Strand on the Green to Chiswick Bridge and Mortlake riverside. Past the eight-storey block of the old Mortlake Brewery and The Ship Inn, with across the river the finishing post of the Universities Boat Race.
On the Middlesex bank are Duke’s Meadows, several boathouses, Chiswick Pier and St.Nicholas Church, with William Hogarth’s tomb in the churchyard. Then Chiswick Ayot, with its post showing the available room under Hammersmith Bridge , the elegant houses of Chiswick Mall to Hammersmith. Past Upper Mall with the famous Dove pub and Kelmscott House, where William Morris had his printing and design works into Lower Mall, with boat clubs, pontoons and a house-boat colony.
The decorative Hammersmith Bridge, designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, opened in 1887, is the lowest bridge on the tidal river and pleasure boats can often be seen stemming the tide waiting for sufficient air draught.
On the Surrey bank we pass in front of Harrod’s Depository, now apartments and go alongside the Wetlands Centre, where the old reservoirs of Barn Elms have been transformed into a marvellous bird reserve. Crossing Beverley Brook we come to Putney Hard, with many rowing clubs, pubs, a ships chandlery and the post marking the start of the Boat Race. Then, before Putney Bridge is a barge-loading slipway and after the bridge, St. Mary the Virgin, with its medieval tower.
On the Middlesex bank after Hammersmith Bridge, are the Riverside Studios, theatre and cinema, the distinctive head quarters of architect Richard Rogers, with its green sun blinds and adjacent River Café. Then Craven Cottage, home of Fulham FC to Bishop’s Park and Fulham Palace, the Tudor residence of the Bishops of London, arriving at Putney Bridge.
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Except where otherwise stated, photos supplied by the Thames Landscape Strategy