The London & South Western Railway (L&SWR) built the first Richmond railway from their terminus, Nine Elms, in 1846, though two years later they moved their terminus to its present site at Waterloo.
The original Richmond station ran to the west of the present station, under the road bridge and nearby offices, but nowadays, only the long narrow platform under the bridge is all that is left of the original station.
Three years later, when L&SWR wished to build a line to Kingston, they had to seek permission, as every railway company needed a private Parliamentary Act to build a new line. But permission was turned down because of successful objections by a local landowner, Lord Cottenham, and Kingston coach owners, who felt their businesses threatened. It took 14 years for a line to Kingston to be granted consent.
Instead, the company extended the line to Windsor. They used the leading railway architect Sir William Tite to design most of the stations on their lines. Only two of his designs on this line are left: the Neo-Gothic booking office at Barnes station and the Tudor style Windsor and Eton Riverside station.
In 1869 L&SWR were allowed to build a line from Addison Road Station (now Olympia) to Richmond, including building a railway bridge over the Thames at Kew. As a new station at Kew could prove to be a major benefit for Kew Gardens by substantially increasing the visitors numbers, the then Director, Sir Joseph Hooker, sought to have the station built at the end of an avenue leading to the recently opened Temperate House and even lowered the Garden’s wall to install a new gate.
However, Kew Gardens station was built further up the line, probably to have more space for sidings. Kew is the last surviving original railway station on this line and was designed like a traditional suburban Victorian villa.
L&SWR built their new Richmond station close to the first station and these platforms are still there. In 1877 the Metropolitan District Railway, (now the District Line) were allowed to open their line from Mansion House to Richmond via Hammersmith, using the L&SWR tracks from Ravenscourt Park, which are still used today. The District Line’s competition proved too much and the L&SWR line from Addison Road was closed in 1916. In 1905, the District line brought in electric trains, as up to then all the trains had been steam. In 1937, Southern Railway, who had taken over the London & South Western Railway, rebuilt Richmond station in the new Art Deco style, amalgamating the two stations.
(c) John Moses