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GUNNERSBURY District Line (Richmond) 
This is an unusual exploration of about 2 miles with river views, interesting houses and several old pubs to visit, plus a Steam Museum. Strand on the Green was once a fishing settlement, anpeople still wait patiently with rods on the beach below the path, though I imagine the cormorants that live round here don’t leave much to be caught.

To get to the river, (just over ten minutes), leave the Tube station by the Wellesley Road exit, right down an alleyway by the side of the car park. At the top, right into Wellesley Road. Cross over Oxford Road North,  then pass under the M4 road bridge. Cross at the island, left into Brooks Road which slopes downwards to Oxford Road South.  Walk over this then take the railway bridge at Chiswick Village to reach the continuation of Brooks Road (left-hand fork), now a lane.  Notice the pretty mosaic at the main entrance of Strand on the Green schools. At Thames Road cross over and turn left. Almost immediately go down Ship Alley and you will be at the river, where there is a delightful mix of pubs, cottages and imposing houses, mainly eighteenth and nineteenth century, though some had to be rebuilt after WW2 bombing. Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society's website has a splendid panorama of what the village would have looked like in Georgian times. 

Walk to the left, past the wooded Oliver’s Island, which gets its name from an improbable story that Oliver Cromwell once sheltered on it. More prosaically, river tolls were collected from here and eventually it became a place where barges were built and repaired. Incidentally, small islands in the Thames are frequently referred to as 'Aits' or 'Eyots'. 
Continue towards the 1869 railway bridge that carries trains to Richmond.  As you wander along the river bank, note the surge tide defences at the doors of large and small dwellings/old commercial premises alike.Good examples are the heavy shutters, metal framed windows and steps at Nos. 46-49. Don’t miss Post Office Alley (just before The City Barge pub) - its whitewashed walls are reminiscent of a Cornish village. The name dates back to the time when No. 29 was a Post Office. 

Soon after the railway bridge and Bull's Head pub are the tall chimneys of Hopkin Morris almshouses. These were rebuilt 1933, with several tablets let into the old brick wall explaining the various renovations. I particularly like the 1974 one done in old style by Hounslow Council. 

This section of the path ends near Strand on the Green House (rebuilt 1788), a lovely building with bow windows on two storeys that must have great river views. Over the years many aristocrats lived here. Pass the Victorian drinking fountain and follow the road round to the left.  Peep through an archway in the old garden wall to see the entertaining address:  'Number Nought, Strand on the Green'. You're now back in Thames Road and can enjoy a different aspect of some of the places you have just passed. You can also discover the main entrances to Bull's Head, the City Barge and the Bell & Crown. For the second half of the route, slip down Post Office Alley (or Ship Alley if you want some shops, which are further up the road), but this time turn right towards the arches of Kew Bridge  with the modern buildings of Kew itself in the background. Again, you will find a mixture of architecture;  old and new - grand and humble. The German born artist Johann Zoffany, lived in one of the elegant terrace houses (No. 65, with blue plaque). Walk on, eventually passing through a grassy seating area. 
Where this ends, go into the road (Strand-on-the-Green**). Surprisingly, in view of its formal design, the long pedimented terrace was once a laundry. The first section was built in 1905, the second in 1914. Now offices. At the end turn right into Spring Grove where there are some pretty cottages; also some unfortunate modern redevelopment, which is particularly sad, given the thoughtful rebuilding of war-damaged property nearby. Spring Grove leads you back to Strand-on-the-Green. Cross over at the traffic island and turn left, past the arches of the bridge. Make your way carefully under the bridge (a few flood-defence steps) and bear right into a new development. Walk ahead through a square to the narrow riverside path which has new apartments on one side and moorings visible through bushes on the other. After a few minutes the path finishes. At this point take the steps to reach the High Street.  
To the right is the magnificent tower (over 60 metres high) of the Kew Bridge Steam Museum . Cross at the traffic island and go past the main blocks (Italianate design in golden stock brick) to find the entrance in Green Dragon Lane. These impressive buildings were originally erected in the nineteenth century in order to house the pumps for London’s water supply. They now contain the world’s largest collection of pumping engines, with plenty of activities for children.
The museum has that pleasant air of informality that characterizes places with volunteer enthusiasts. The little garden created on an embankment has a huge beam from a 1853 Cornish engine and there are nooks and crannies where people can sit and read, or view the railway/restoration yard below.  To the left of the entrance is a jumble of studios, workshops - even a forge - where you can watch craftspeople doing all kind of exciting things. This area and the peaceful garden can be accessed free of charge, but there is an admission charge for the main displays.   Be warned - it's easy to forget the time just pottering about trying to make out what the mysterious pieces of rusting metal lying around were used for!  Steam usually only happens at weekends and Bank Holidays (see above link).When you wish to return home, it might be convenient to use Kew Bridge Overground station from which trains go to central London. It's only five minutes to the left as you leave the museum.

Access note: Due to the number of steps involved, this route is not suitable for wheels of any kind.

*For details of the people who lived in Strand-on-the-Green, click here.

**There doesn't seem to be a consensus about the hyphens, but as they are used on the map, I have used it when referring to the road.


Photos (click on image to enlarge)
Towards Kew (road) Bridge at low tide

Oliver's Island
Nos. 46-49 Strand-on-the-Green/Post Office Alley
Hopkin Morris Almshouses/Bull's Head pub seen from the river at low tide

Strand on the Green House, ditto
Cottages in Spring Grove/View from under Kew (road) Bridge  

Zoffany's House/old Pier House Laundry
Steam Museum tower/beam from Cornish engine
Steam Museum railway line 
Gunnersbury is just one route from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings even in the most unpromising areas covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the above link and see the other destinations explored. It's amazing what's out there!

© DR