The Brentford Gate of Kew Gardens


“For many centuries, possibly as far back as the Romans, a ferry crossed the Thames between Brentford and Kew, part of an important commercial link between London and the West Country. From 1659 it was managed by the Tunstall family. By the early 18th century two ferries were being operated by Robert Tunstall, a Brentford citizen of some consequence, one for pedestrians and the other for carriages. Traffic increased significantly from 1731 when, shortly after arriving in England, Frederick, Prince of Wales and his wife Augusta leased a house at Kew from the Capel family as their country home. William Kent was employed to enlarge and embellish it. From 1750 the couple began extensive works in the grounds, including a great pagoda. (In later times the estate became part of the Royal Botanical Gardens).

From: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – World Heritage Site Management Plan 2019-2025:

“Brentford Gate – opened to the public in 1847, was initially intended to serve ferry passengers, as was the Isleworth Ferry Gate (opened in 1872). However, visitor numbers to the Brentford Gate fell dramatically when the toll on Kew Bridge was abolished in 1873, with visitors instead preferring to enter by the Main Gates on Kew Green. Whereas the Isleworth Ferry Gate was eventually closed, the Brentford Ferry Gate has remained open, serving a riverside car park for visitors. Views into and out of RBG Kew from the car park and the Brentford Ferry Gate are very limited, due to the strong boundary tree planting in this area. The car park itself is very open to the river and to Brentford across the river, viewed through the trees planted on the aits.”

From Brentford (September 2016):

“A crossing between Brentford and Kew Gardens is not a new idea. A foot passenger ferry used to run between Ferry Lane on the north bank, and Brentford Gate in Kew Gardens, but this service stopped during the Second World War. Subsequent attempts to revive it have been unsuccessful.

The Thames Landscape Strategy, an important ongoing study and strategic plan for the ‘Arcadian Thames’ between Hampton and Kew, envisages a revival of this crossing either by ferry or bridge.  Kew Gardens Landscape Master Plan in 2010 also envisaged an elegant footbridge, possibly a ‘Living Bridge’.

This proposal started life in 2013 as a demonstration project. Acanthus Architects LW were invited by Transport for London to submit a theoretical design for a bridge or similar transport infrastructure project, the subject and location being at our discretion.

NB: On the 21 May 2019 rail infrastructure specialist Acanthus Architects LW will trade under the Scott Brownrigg brand.

From Spacehive Crowdfunding for Local Projects webpage:

“Help us build a dramatic new bridge linking historic Brentford to Kew.

This historic stretch of the Thames is where Caesar forded the Thames, the Grand Union Canal starts, and where Brunel built his London depot for the Great Western Railway. It also has the word heritage site at Kew.

Linking other green spaces and parks – Syon Park, Boston Manor, Osterley House, Waterman’s Park, Kew Gardens and Richmond Park – it will improve access and use, encouraging fitness and wellbeing.

It will provide a much needed boost for the local economy by connecting commerce and culture – Kew Gardens and Richmond town centre with Waterman’s Art Centre, London Museum of Water and Steam, local businesses and Brentford FC.

The bridge will provide a dramatic new open space and iconic landmark. It will link with Brentford’s traditional roots to the Thames, the Grand Union Canal, its boatyards and the new Brentford Marina – making Brentford more of a cultural/historic destination.

Brentford’s heritage sites include Syon, Boston Manor and Osterley houses and grounds, and has new projects such as the new Waterman’s Arts Centre.

Linking Kew to Brentford’s industrial past – and future (home to many high tech companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Sky Broadcasting) affords a unique opportunity to bring these communities together.

Sorry this project was unsuccessful, we did not reach our fundraising goal: £8,696 pledged of £166,088.”

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