Glimpse history through old images of Chiswick in Greater London.
Chiswick’s Growth over 150 Years
This video cleverly uses old maps to show how Chiswick grew from a rural area surrounded by fields, to a heavily urban community, in just 150 years.
The focus is on Staveley Road, which suffered loss of life and property when a V-2 rocket fell on it during World War II.
150 years history of Staveley Road, Chiswick W4 using old maps – Daniel Goldsmith on YouTube
Old Buses at Chiswick 1938
Even in the old days people liked dressing up in costumes from the past.
Here a small group of people wear Victorian clothing as they scramble on and off old buses, often with great difficulty given the size of hopped skirts.
We see the horse drawn Shillibeer bus from 1829, the horse drawn Knifeboard bus of 1850, and a bus referred to as the Garden Seat bus.
Amongst the old motor vehicle buses is Ole Bill, but there is a possibility they are referring to the driver rather than the bus, since the commentator says Ole Bill “went to France during the war, when conductresses were on duty at home.”
The reference is to World War I, as World War II broke out the year after this film item was made.
Buses Old And New At Chiswick (1938) – British Pathé on YouTube
Chiswick Roundabout in the 1980s
Just over two minutes of film showing cars and trucks driving on the Chiswick roundabout. The building in the background was later demolished.
Chiswick Roundabout | 1980s Cars | 1980s Road – Thames News on YouTube
Brief History of Chiswick
An urn found at Turnham Green, containing Roman coins, and Roman brickwork found under the Sutton manor house, show that the area was settled during Roman times.
Around 1,000 AD, Chiswick is first recorded, using its Old English name of Ceswican, which means Cheese Farm. It’s thought that an annual cheese fair was held in the riverside area of Duke’s Meadows until the 18th century.
St Nicholas Church was built around 1181 AD, on what became Church Street. The village of Old Chiswick grew up around it.
There were no bridges between London Bridge and Kingston during the Middle Ages, so a ferry at Chiwick carried passengers across the river.
Other residents were mainly farmers and fishermen.
Nearby was the fishing village of Strand-on-the-Green, the hamlet of Little Sutton , and on the west road out of London was Turnham Green.
In November 1642, during the English Civil War, Turnham Green was the location of an important skirmish between the Roundheads and Parliamentarians. Prince Rupert was leading the royalist forces from Oxford, with the aim of retaking London. The Earl of Essex and his forces stopped them, ending the last threat to London during the civil war.
Various Dukes of Devonshire owned Chiswick House between 1758 and 1929.
Many street names in Chiswick are linked to the Dukes of Devonshire.
In 1822, 33 acres of land (13.4 hectares) were leased by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). Located between today’s Sutton Court Road and Duke’s Avenue, the site contained the RHS fruit tree collection, its first school of horticulture, and hosted the first RHS flower shows.
A shipbuilding yard was established at Chiswick in 1864, by John Isaac Thornycroft, founder of John I. Thorneycroft & Company.
Construction at Gunnersbury in the 1860s signalled the start of suburban housing developments in Chiswick.
In the 1870s, the RHS reduced their land lease from 33 acres of land to 10 acres, or 4 hectares.
Bedford Park was built in 1875, as Chiswick’s first garden suburb development.
1887 Acton Green & Chiswick Park station opened.
In 1893, the Thornycroft shipbuilding yard built HMS Daring, the first naval destroyer.
Chiswick’s population grew to 29,809 by 1901, which was ten times what it was a century earlier.
In 1904, the RHS terminated its land lease at Chiswick, and moved to the RHS garden at Wisley. Houses were built on the vacated land, some of which still grow the society’s pear trees in their garden.
In 1909 the Thornycroft shipbuilding yard moved to Southampton, so the company could continue to build and repair warships, which were increasing in size.
Acton Green & Chiswick Park station changed its name to Chiswick Park in 1910.
High explosive bombs were repeatedly dropped on Chiswick by the Lufftewaffe during World War II, along with incendiary devised whose primary aim was to start fires.
Further damage was caused by falling anti-aircraft shells and shrapnel.
On 8 September 1944, at 6.43pm, a V-2 rocket hit Staveley Road in Chiswick. It was the first V-2 to fall on London, and killed three people. A further 22 people were injured, six houses were destroyed, and many more nearby trees and buildings suffered extensive damage.
Today, Chiswick is an affluent suburb which still contains many homes from the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras.