Crossing Richmond Bridge, we entered the town of Twickenham, famous as the home of England’s National Rugby Team…
Status: London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames, Greater London (historically Middlesex), Town, England
Travel: Walk, South West Trains (Twickenham – Kingston-upon-Thames)
Eating & Sleeping: N/A
Attractions: Twickenham Stadium, St Margaret’s Station, All Hallows Church, River Crane etc
We began a 2 mile walk through Twickenham towards 1 of England’s most famous stadiums, and our route took us passed “St Margarets” train station. The 1st services to begin here were run by the London & South Western Railway (LSWR) which operated a line between London and various cities in the South including Southampton, Plymouth, Exeter and Salisbury. The line predated the station itself, and an extension from Richmond to Windsor was completed in 1851, with St Margaret’s becoming an addition to the line in 1876.
Had we decided to get the train from Richmond to the main station in Twickenham we would have passed through St Margaret’s, which is the only stop between Richmond/Twickenham stations.
We kept moving, following the A3004, which had already led us this far from Richmond Bridge. It eventually joins with a large roundabout, where we took “Chertsey Road” heading West. Further along the road, we passed over a small bridge over the River Crane, an almost 9 mile long waterway which has its origins near the town of Hayes in the London Borough of Hillingdon. It then makes its way underneath the M4 (London – Bristol/South Wales), past London Heathrow Airport, and finally on towards Twickenham. It eventually enters the Thames at Isleworth, not far North of our current position, upstream of the Twickenham Bridge/Richmond Rail Bridge.
Our next stop was the Church of All Hallows, located at the end of a row of houses further along Chertsey Road. It has an interesting history, but to tell it, we must 1st take a trip through both time and space, into the heart of the City of London. The year is 1666, and in a Bakery in Pudding Lane, the Great Fire of London has just begun, spiralling out of control and ripping through the City. 1 of the buildings it will eventually destroy is the Church of All Hallows on Lombard Street, where evidence shows that different incarnations of the building can be dated back to at least 1053.
With the fire finally extinguished, the Church was a ruin. Much like many of the other buildings in the City of London, mainly Churches, it was redesigned by Sir Christopher Wren (1632 – 1723, famous English Architect), with construction beginning in 1686, culminating 9 years later, in 1694. It would serve the local community of the City until 1939, when a number of factors including the building becoming unstable, and the number of people both living in the City and attending Church fell, it was demolished.
With new areas in the suburbs of London expanding, such as Twickenham, the Tower was rehoused here, transferred brick by brick to become part of a brand new Church, completed in 1940 to the designs of Robert Atkinson (1883 – 1952, English Architect). The Tower remains the standout feature of the building, with the rest of the Church built in a more subdued style.
We finally arrived at Twickenham Stadium, home to the English National Rugby Team, and frequently seen during the Six Nations competition between England, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, France and Wales.
Outside the South Stand is a large bronze statue of a group of Rugby Players, towering 27 ft over visitors to the Stadium. Created by Gerald Laing, it has proved a hit, and complements a further 4 statues at the West Stand which he created nearly 20 years ago.
Twickenham Stadium dates back to the early 1900’s, when the original Stadium was constructed to cater to growing spectator numbers during matches between England and various other countries, held at other venues around London. Completed by 1909, the 1st international match to feature England was played here in January of 1910, with them winning their 1st game against Wales in 12 years.
Over the following decades, numerous new stands were added to the Stadium, with new East & West Stands finished by the end of the 1930’s.
All of the Stands would be later rebuilt entirely, starting with the North in 1990, then the East & West by the end of the decade. The final change came with the arrival of the new South Stand (shown above) in 2004, which also heralded the arrival of numerous other facilities, including a hotel, and a large shop. This allowed all of the Stands to be integrated together in 1 large arena, in a distinctive oval shape. The stadium is now the 2nd largest stadium in the UK, after only Wembley Stadium, and also the largest stadium in the world dedicated to Rugby matches.
You can of course see the Stadium during matches, and sit in 1 of the famous seats as rival teams battle it out on the pitch below, or you can book a tour, which can you find out about on their official website here.
The location of the Stadium itself is remarkably different to that of Wembley Stadium, which sits in the middle of a purpose built area crisscrossed by train lines, and also containing a plethora of Hotels, and other modern developments. Twickenham however can literally be found sandwiched between normal residential streets, so for some people getting to the game is the easiest thing in the world!
I have included this picture because it’s something I haven’t seen anything like before. We saw it just up the road from Twickenham Railway station, where we boarded a train towards the nearby town of Kingston-upon-Thames as the next stage of our journey.
At 1st glance it looks like a general sign, however there is something quite special about it, as it was put up by Middlesex County Council. This is significant as Middlesex hasn’t existed as an administrative unit since 1965, so the sign itself is presumably quite old.
Middlesex originally covered most of what is now Central London, North of the Thames, including Westminster, the City of London, Camden, Islington, Tower Hamlets etc, along with other more rural areas. In 1889 the new County of London was created, and most of the areas I have just mentioned became part of it, separate of Middlesex, leaving Middlesex much smaller in area, with it’s major population centres removed. This was taken even further in 1965, when the London County was replaced by Greater London, which included what are now known as the Outer London Boroughs, across (amongst others), Middlesex, Surrey, Essex and Kent, including Kingston-upon-Thames, Richmond-upon-Thames (with Twickenham), Greenwich and Croydon etc. The areas of Middlesex that didn’t become part of Greater London (of which there were very few) were transferred to other counties like Hertfordshire, so that year the county ceased to exist administratively, so finding this sign is a rather nostalgic moment.
Twickenham is the administrative capital of Richmond-upon-Thames as a Borough, with the council located at York House, a large stately home located on Richmond Road. Whilst the tube doesn’t stretch as far as Twickenham, with the nearest station being Richmond Tube Station, the terminus of the District Line, there are a few railway stations in the town, with good connections into Central London, and the South of England. We soon left Twickenham on the train for Kingston-upon-Thames, having enjoyed exploring numerous landmarks in the area, as our adventure round London continued…