Location and description
Strand-on-the-Green is located immediately to the east of Kew Bridge, along the north bank of the river Thames. The name is shared by the first part of the road east of Kew Bridge, its continuation on the riverside path, and the area itself.
The area is renowned as a particularly picturesque part of London. A footpath runs along the bank of the river, overlooked by numerous imposing 18th-century houses and local pubs, and, being a low part of the Tideway which has been narrowed with embankments on both banks, is flooded at spring tides; property flooding is rare but has occurred to basements and other storeys before the construction of the Thames Barrier.
Historic local pubs
Moving downstream (from west to east), the three pubs along the river at Strand-on-the-Green are:
- The Bell & Crown; licensed by 1751, closest to Kew Bridge.
- The City Barge; licensed by 1786. This pub was known as the Maypole Inn until 1807, when it was renamed after the City barge moored nearby. The pub was largely destroyed by a bomb during World War II, and the old bar is all that remains of the original inn. Featured in the 1965 Beatles film Help! Currently (winter 2014) the City Barge is closed for refurbishment and is due to reopen in early summer 2014.
- The Bull's Head; licensed by 1722, farthest east from Kew Bridge.
History to c.1750
Over 100 human skulls were reportedly found in the river Thames opposite Strand-on-the-Green during the 19th century, and although they have since disappeared, dating of other similar river skulls suggests they may have dated from c.600 BC. Pottery dating from Roman times has also been found in Strand-on-the-Green.
Strand-on-the-Green is first recorded as "Stronde" in 1353 ('strand' probably means 'shore'). It was called 'Strand Green' in 1593 and 'Strand under Green' in 1760. Almshouses, first built in 1658, still remain, though they were replaced by new buildings in 1721-24.
It was one of the four villages (Chiswick, Little Sutton, Turnham Green and Strand-on-the-Green) that merged to form the present-day Chiswick.
History since c.1750
The opening of Kew Bridge in 1759 (which replaced a ferry on the same spot) and the royal palace at Kew increased the importance and popularity of the area, prompting the building of large houses and the development of small industries along the waterfront. These industries included malt-houses, repair yards, barge-builders and wharves. By 1860, Strand-on-the-Green also housed one of the largest laundries in London, the Pier House Laundry, whose brick facade is still visible to the left of Cafe Rouge. The laundry eventually closed in 1973.
The area began a slow decline in the 19th century when the Grand Junction Canal diverted freight traffic to Brentford, and the royal family moved from Kew to Windsor. Strand-on-the-Green has now become a residential area once again, and was described in 1932 as "London's last remaining village".
During World War II, 41 houses in Thames Road and Magnolia Road were destroyed and a further 60 were severely damaged when a parachute mine landed on September 21, 1941. Scenes from the Beatles' 1965 film Help! were shot in the City Barge pub and around Strand-on-the-Green.
Oliver's Island is a small eyot in the river Thames opposite Strand-on-the-Green. It acquired its name after rumours that Oliver Cromwell used the island as a hideout and held military councils at the Bull's Head pub during the English Civil War, but there is no hard evidence to support these rumours. The City of London's Navigation Committee erected buildings on the island after 1777, and barges were also stationed here for the collection of tolls.
One of the houses overlooking the river (No.65) is marked with a blue plaque noting that the 18th century portrait painter Johann Zoffany lived there at the end of his life. Donald Pleasence used to live in Strand-on-the-Green. The Film Director John Guillermin lived at No.60 (The Dutch House). Sir Hugh Cudlipp Newspaper Publisher, and the Botanist and Explorer of Australia Allan Cunningham lived at No.21 in two different centuries. British Rocker Midge Ure lived at No.70 (Zachary House) in the 1980s. Current residents include actor Rhys Ifans, former MP Gerry Neale, and the television entertainers Ant and Dec both live in the area.
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