Regular visitors to the Local Studies Library & Archive will know that we were closed for two weeks at the beginning of December. During this time, Local Studies staff were at the Council’s headquarters at York House, Twickenham, packing hundreds of documents to be transferred to the Old Town Hall, Richmond, so that they can be made available to the public.  Pictured is Local Studies Manager, Jane Baxter, kitted out for the task.

Local Studies Archival work.
Local studies Manager, Jane Baxter, prepared to face the dust of times gone by.

We filled over 180 boxes with records dating from 1836 to 2013.  These records help to tell the story of the development of the Borough and the lives of its people.  For example, one volume dating from 1890 to 1902, contains the minutes of several Twickenham Urban District Council committees, including the St Margaret’s Bridge Improvement Committee, the Moor Mead Committee, the Housing of the Working Classes Committee, the Sewer Ventilation Committee (including a plan of different sewer zones in Twickenham), and the committee in charge of deciding which local children would be awarded a place at Christ’s Hospital school.  The Hampton Urban District Council Education Committee minutes (1896-1903) include the names of children awarded scholarships, as well as those fined for failing to attend school.

The Barnes Borough ‘Contravention of Byelaws’ register contains many intriguing tales.  For example, in East Sheen in 1947, Mr J Abrahams was fined £15 and imprisoned for 1 month for selling spaghetti and vermicelli pasta that was unfit for human consumption.  On 30th November 1948, Herbert Wouters was fined £1 for keeping noisy cockerels in his garden at 24 Glebe Road, Barnes.

Local Studies Plans 1
Plans of the Teddington Fire Station

Among the records are several building plans from the 1950s and ‘60s.  These include plans for the conversion of Orleans House into an art gallery, conversion of the Cleveland Road library in Barnes, an extension to Whitton Secondary School, conversion of Teddington Fire Station in Waldegrave Road (see above), and construction of six ‘old-aged persons dwellings’ in Roy Grove, Hampton (now Roy House).

Plans - Roy House 1958
Roy House construction plans

When the new London Boroughs were created in the 1960s, many names were suggested for ‘Borough 24’, which was to be formed from the merger of the former boroughs of Twickenham, Richmond, and Barnes.  A file among the newly transferred records contains correspondence that reveal what the Borough we know as Richmond upon Thames could have been called.  Names suggested by residents included ‘Richmond and Twickenham’, ‘West Thames’, ‘Thames Reaches’, ‘Swantown’, ‘Russell’, ‘Richbarnham’ (combining the names of all three boroughs), ‘Shene-upon-Thames’, and ‘Sunshene’.  As you can see from his letter, Mr Clarke thought that ‘Sunshene sounds like a new detergent or soft drink – Ugh!’

Local Studies Letter
One of the many letters from the archives

The above examples represent a tiny fraction of the range of records among the newly acquired material.  Local Studies staff will now work on cataloguing and preserving the material, so that it is accessible to current and future generations.  If you are interested in any aspect of local history or the development of your area and the people who have lived here, it’s always worth enquiring with Local Studies or searching our online catalogue at

You can view other articles in this series by clicking on the following link: Behind the Scenes 

[ By Felix Lancashire, Archivist ]