Kew Bridge development

Site history - the early period


The road through Brentford was one of the main routes to the west from Roman times until the Great West Road (now the A4) was opened in 1925. The Kew Bridge plot was part of the land owned by the Tunstall family from at least the 17th century. Henry Tunstall and his son Robert had a lime burning business which supplied farmers and builders in Middlesex and Surrey. By 1659 they operated a ferry service across the Thames probably slightly to the west of the present line of Kew Bridge. Another ferry further west took goods and later took carriages. Some time before 1726 the Tunstall family took over that ferry as well and in 1757 got permission from Parliament to build a bridge. Initially it was to run on the line of the goods ferry but after local objections the line was moved to the foot ferry which ran from the Kew Bridge site across to what is now Bush Road 20m west of the current bridge. It was completed in 1759 but its wooden structure required a lot of upkeep and in 1789 it was replaced by the second Kew Bridge made of brick and stone.

Before the second bridge was built the bridge and surrounding roads were mapped by Capt Daniel Paterson as part of his comprehensive guide to the roads of Great Britain called Paterson's British Itinerary published in January 1785.

This extract from the book shows the first Kew Bridge and the darker circle shows one of the earliest known maps of the site. There are a couple of buildings on it, one tight in the corner between the river and the bridge and a smaller one by what is now Kew Bridge Road. That may be the 18th century house later lived in by Thomas Layton.

The building by the river could have been part of Tunstall's lime burning business or associated with the timber yard on the river.


More on the history of Kew Bridge

I am grateful to Debbie Radcliffe who has done brilliant and detailed research into the history of the site and who has kindly given me access to her work.

Earlier History of Site OR Later History of the Site

Back to start of History of the Site

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All material on these pages is Paul Lewis 1996-2007