The present bridge was opened in 1903 by Edward VII, and connects the south and north circular roads. The first bridge was built in 1759 but only lasted 30 years as a new bridge replaced it in 1789., and tolls were charged until they were abolished in 1873. The bridge was eventually replaced in 1903 by the present day bridge.
I did not enter Kew Gardens as i thought it was rather expensive at £16 entrance fee, plus £6.50 to park the car if you have one. But walking by the Thames you can see how beautiful it is as you can catch a glimpse of the gardens and some of the structures inside.
An eyot is an island in the Thames and were created over 1000's of years as the Thames meandered towards the sea creating mud banks and different channels at the bends forming the eyots. There are roughly 180 islands, some accessible by bridge, some by boat. Thirty of the islands are inhabited by houseboats, single houses or small settlements. Some are nature reserves and some are noted for historical facts such as Oliver's Eyot, a refuge for Oliver Cromwell during the civil war. On the walk from Richmond to Kew you will come across two of the larger eyots.
Stroll along the side of the river on the Thames walk and you will be surprised what you can see. The path is surrounded by trees for most of the way, and a small canal on the left hand side separates the path from Old Deer Park and Kew Gardens. Good views of houseboats and life along the river. The walk will take 90 minutes at the most. There is a particular good view of Syon House.
Richmond lock has a footbridge over it and is the furthest downstream of all the Thames locks. It was open in 1894 but it is closed at night for pedestrians. The lock ensures that there is always 1.72m of water between Richmond and Teddington. For 2 hours each side of high tide the sluice gates are raised into the pedestrian bridge structure so boats can pass by. Toll booths remain today which were used to collect a penny from pedestrians who crossed the bridge until the first world war.
The King's Observatory can be found in Old Deer Park as well as obelisks which indicated where the original meridian line was. The observatory was built in 1769 and the obelisks were installed for adjusting the instruments at the observatory. At one time London's official time was taken from here and the time piece was made by Benjamin Vulliamy, the King's Clockmaker, but it was eventually moved to the observatory at Greenwich.
While on the Thames walk you will come across the line across the path and a metal post with a split down the middle where you can view the original line.
Old Deer Park is just north of the Twickenham Road and is 147 hectares which has several rugby pitches, a cricket ground, football ground, athletic ground, swimming pool and lido , car parks as well as the King's Observatory.
Asgill House was built on the site of the old palace brewhouse in the 18th century for Sir Charles Asgill who rose from a clerk to become a successful banker and Lord Mayor of London. Sir Asgill used it as a weekend vill or summer house. In the garden there is a beech tree, supposed to be one of the finest trees in London as the plaque on the wall announces.
The house is now a Crown Estate.
During a walk along the Thames you are likely to see geese, ducks , swans, herons and other birds. The ducks and geese are tame so bring your children along to feed them. If you are really interested in birds take a walk up to Richmond Park where 144 different species can be seen.
The Roll of Honour of the men who gave their lives can be seen on the memorial near the river, down a few metres from the old town hall. It is an orb on a circular column on a double plinth and the names are on the walls by the memorial from both sides. It is a rather nice small park which has benches for relaxing.
Just by Richmond Bridge you will often see workers repairing the boats as there is a boat repair business operating from some of the lock-ups by the bridge. While i was there they were refurbishing a passenger boat in the river and repairing some boats on the pavement.
The Richmond Riverside Plane Tree is the tallest of its kind in London and can be seen as you walk past Buucleuch Park by the river, and is designated as the great tree of London. There are many plane trees in Richmond Park including one with an 8.2m girth.
As you stroll along the Thames towards the Richmond Bridge you will see Buucleuch Gardens on the right. Buucleuch House was the home of the Duke of Buucleuch and there was a subterranian entrance to the gardens. The house is no longer there but the brick structure was built where the house stood, a good place to stop and rest while admiring the Thames.
Petersham Common Woods clings to the side of the hill just after the Star and Garter at the top of Richmond Hill and although not big, you can take a shortcut through them to reach Petersham Road. The woods surround the Star and Garter and most of the trees are oak, but it is nice to walk underneath the trees while the ground is covered in leaves. The meadow by the Thames can be seen from the woods.
Most of the traffic exits the park at Richmond Gate to reach the town and on the left you will see the old gate house, but there is a newer one next door. There are 6 gates around the park, Roehampton, Kingston, Robin Hood, Ham Gate Pond, and Sheen Gate. There are several ponds, parking areas and countless walking paths where you can easily spend a half day walking around.