The Unbelievable Truth, or Made You Look

On 1st April 2016, Jane Baxter, Heritage/ Local Studies Manager for the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, published the following entry on Facebook (ending it for good measure with “Visit our Local Studies Library and Archive to unearth the truth”.):

“Victoria Place in Richmond used to be called Artichoke Alley; named for the alehouse known as The Artichoke. It had become very dilapidated and unsavoury and was renamed following redevelopment to dissociate it from the original. Michel’s Row was previously known as Night and Morning Row, apparently, because the houses were put up by a workman in his spare time – before and after his day’s work. Golden Court has a much more pleasant tone than Pensioners’ Alley, its previous name. In Teddington we have the unusually named Anlaby Road so-called because the sign writer miss-spelt Albany and no-one was prepared to meet the cost of a new sign. Worlds End in Richmond became The Quadrant while Bug Island transformed into Lower George Street. Brewers Lane, one of the earliest streets in Richmond to be built and named, has no association with brewing, but was named for a William Brewer who had a cottage there in 1576. Paved Court (pronounced Pav-ed) was named after a mysterious Czech resident whose origins are unknown. Twickenham is home to an estate comprising Lisbon Avenue, Augusta Road, Manoel Road and Portugal Gardens which was named after the exiled King Manoel of Portugal (‘The Unfortunate’) whose house, Fulwell Lodge was on the site.

Some names have long-since disappeared – examples include Shitting Alley in East Sheen which was stopped up in 1862. This alley ran eastwards from Sheen Lane to the Upper Richmond Road. The name was considered by Anderson, a local historian, to be very appropriate. Other long-lost names are Bones Alley, part of Vineyard Path, Mortlake; Cut Throat or Choo Alley and the delightfully named Tittlebury Hills Footpaths, East Sheen.

Throughout the Borough road names echo those of the ancient Shots and Fields. Such names include Parkshot and Dunstable Road in Richmond and Warfield Road in Hampton.”

From the website of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames:

“…In the 2nd World War, the Town Hall suffered severe fire-bomb damage in one of the worst air raids during the night of 29th November 1940. The roof and top floor were completely destroyed and the Council Chamber was gutted. Temporary accommodation was found for the Town Clerk’s and Borough Treasurer’s departments whilst essential repairs were in progress, so that the Council’s activities were carried on practically without interruption. When refurbishment took place after the war it was thought inadvisable and uneconomic to restore the building exactly as before so a modified scheme was approved. The Council Chamber was reinstated and a new Committee room and improved accommodation for members were provided on the first floor. Additional offices above the Council Chamber provided extra room for staff and there was a flat for the Town Hall keeper. The restored Town Hall was re-opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother on 16th December 1952.

The Council Chamber was rebuilt in late 17th Century style with English oak panelling and chandeliers and a decorative plaster ceiling. The roof line was completely remodelled and the gothic turret disappeared. The cost of the restoration was £68,357. The work on the Council Chamber was undertaken by Hampton & Sons Ltd, who also furnished and decorated the new royal yacht, Britannia.

In 1965, Richmond was incorporated with the Boroughs of Barnes and Twickenham to become the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and Twickenham’s York House became the main municipal building. The Council Chamber in the Richmond Town Hall was hired out for meetings and the rest of the building was used as additional Council offices. In the 1980s the whole of the riverside area between Water Lane and Richmond Bridge was redeveloped to a design by Quinlan Terry. The complex was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 28th October 1988. The Old Town Hall was refurbished and modified as part of this. In 1987 the Central Reference Library which previously had been housed with the Lending Library on the Little Green was opened on the first floor of the Old Town Hall. The Local Studies Library was given its own space and a small museum dedicated to the history of Richmond was also included – both on the top floor of the building (where the clock hangs over the street in image above).

In 2000 an extension was built into the attic space and a new air conditioned store built to house the Local Studies Collection. The Twickenham and Richmond collections were amalgamated and a new Local Studies centre opened.”

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