About the Thames

Section 8 – Teddington to Chelsea

Researched and written by Jeannette Briggs and photos by Stephen Worsfold

Richmond Bridge - photo courtesy S Worsfold

After Teddington Locks the Thames is traversed by the beautiful Richmond Bridge (headroom 17’4"), an elegant five-arched structure faced in Portland stone and designed by James Paine and built in 1774.

Richmond Rail bridge seen under Twickenham Bridge - photo courtesy S Worsfold

In quick succession Richmond Railway Bridge (headroom 17’4") was built by J.W. Jacombe Hood in 1908, and is followed by Twickenham Bridge (headroom 19’4"). This unusual structure is a five arched bridge built in ferro-concrete and completed in 1933 at the same time as Chiswick Bridge (see below) to carry the A316 Great Chertsey Road over the Thames.

This charming view of Richmond half-tide footbridge (above) is reproduced with our thanks to Clare Ambrose who was highly commended for her entry for the 2018 Thames Bridges competition. 

   Richmond Footbridges follow next - these were built in 1894 as part of the "half-tide" lock which is unusual in that for two hours after the passage of the tide the sluice gates underneath the footbridges are lowered to block the river.  This action maintains the water level at a height which enables navigation up to Teddington Lock 3 miles upstream.

Another long stretch of the Thames passes Kew Gardens, until the next bridge at Kew. Kew Bridge (headroom17’4") was designed by Sir John Wolfe Barry and opened in 1903. This replaces a much earlier bridge which was opened in1758, but which was no longer wide enough to cope with the traffic 150 years later. Now the existing Kew Bridge is frequently congested….. Kew Railway Bridge (headroom 18’4") is next – this was built in1864 by W. R. Galbraith. Just before these bridges you will see the entrance to the Grand Union Canal on the north bank of the Thames - from here you can complete an exciting journey through the Home Counties and the Chiltern Hills in the direction of Birmingham - see www.canalguide.co.uk for more details.

Chiswick Railway bridge to Kew Gardens - 
photo by Simon Worsfold

Next is Chiswick Bridge (headroom 22’8") – as stated before this was built in 1933 to the designs of Sir Herbert Baker and faced in Portland stone, to carry the A316 Great Chertsey Road over the Thames. It is famous as marking the end of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.

Barnes railway Bridge - photo by Simon Worsfold

Barnes Railway Bridge (headroom 17’9) is an elegant iron structure designed by Joseph Locke and built in 1891. At Hammersmith the Thames is crossed by the beautiful Hammersmith Suspension Bridge (headroom 12’2").

This emotive view of Hammersmith Road and Footbridge (above) is reproduced with our thanks to Marta Skutkevica the winner for this photo in our 2018 Thames Bridges competition. 

The original bridge was designed by William Tierney (who was also responsible for Marlow Bridge) and built in 1824. The present bridge was designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette to try and reproduce Tierney’s design and opened in 1883. Downstream from Hammersmith the Thames reaches Putney, where Putney Bridge (headroom 18’) was designed again by Sir Joseph Bazalgette and opened in 1882. It is constructed of granite, and pipes for the Chelsea Water Main Company are incorporated in the structure. This was a typically original and innovative engineering idea by Bazalgette.

Fulham Railway Bridge (headroom 22’7") is next – it carries the District Line tube trains high over the river. After this one encounters in fairly quick succession the Battersea Railway Bridge (headroom 20’) and Wandsworth Bridge (headroom 19’) built in 1936 in three steel spans. 

Putney Road Bridge Photo by Simon Worsfold Wandsworth Bridge - photo by Simon Worsfold

Sir Joseph Bazalgette was also responsible for Battersea Road Bridge (headroom 17’) and he used cast iron as the building material. It replaced an ancient wooden structure that featured in paintings of this stretch of the river by Turner and Whistler.  

Battersea  Bridge - Photo Stephen Worsfold Battersea Road Bridge - Photo by Stephen Worsfold

 Finally on this stretch of the river one sees Albert Bridge (headroom 16’) one of the most distinctive and picturesque river crossings. It is a three-span straight-link suspension bridge, which was built by R M Ordish in 1871.

Albert Bridge - photo courtesy Stephen Worsfold Albert Bridge - photo courtesy Stephen Worsfold

Albert Bridge is possibly the most beautiful bridge on the River Thames and is much loved by artists and walkers along the Thames.

Back To Thames Bridges                                                                                                                                                                            Next section