archaeological and historical background
Evidence for prehistoric activity dating to the Neolithic / Bronze Age has been found to the west ofthe site near Brentford, in excavations on waterfront sites and in the form of riverine artefacts.Over a hundred human skulls were reportedly found in the Thames opposite Strand-on-the-Greenduring the 19
century, and an Iron Age bowl has also been recovered from the river.
The site was located just to the south of the road from Roman
to Silchester (
), which passed through a small settlement, probably a a
or posting station, atBrentford. At the time the road was probably the principal route from London to the west, and wasthe precursor of the medieval and post-medieval routes, which survive today as the A315 andparts of the Roman road were found during excavations in Brentford.
There is no evidence foractivity of this period in the immediate vicinity of the Strand on the Green foreshore zone.
There is evidence for both Saxon and medieval activity in the Brentford area, with a significantsettlement around Brentford Bridge by the later medieval period. From 1306 Brentford had its ownweekly market. However, areas to the east and closer to the Thames may not have beenintensively occupied and archaeological investigations at Kew Bridge House have revealed deepalluvial deposits dated to the 15th century.
The place name ‘Strande’, for the settlement along the
shore, is first recorded in 1353.
The medieval village economy was probably centred around fishing, however during the 17thcentury, the construction of high status housing on the opposite bank at Kew and the growingimportance of the ferry crossing point meant increasing development at Strand on the Green.
Local legend also relates that Oliver’s Ait is so named because
Oliver Cromwellused the island asa hide-out and held military councils at the Bull's Head during theEnglish Civil War.Malthouseswere established by c 1700 and a number of public houses were constructed along the river
edge: the Ship and the Bull's Head had both been licensed by 1722, the Bell and Crown and theIndian Queen by 1751, and the City Barge by 1786. Until 1759, the only way to cross the Thamesat this point was two ferries owned by Robert Tunstall; the foot ferry for pedestrians ran just west ofthe present Kew Bridge (the second ferry point lay further west again). However, with the royalpalace at Kew increasing the importance and popularity of the area and with greater volumes oftraffic, the pressure grew for a bridge to link the main road west from London to Oxford andGloucester with Richmond and Kew on the south bank. Construction for the toll bridge began in1758; it was located about 40m upstream of the present bridge and was built of wood. The firstbridge was superseded by one constructed of stone (along the line of the present bridge) in 1789;this Georgian structure was in turn reconstructed in 1903. The railway bridge was built in 1869.The construction of Kew Bridge encouraged the development of both higher status housing andsome industry (such as barge repair yards and the Pier House Laundry) in Strand on the Green.Oliver's Ait also had buildings, put up after 1777 by the City of London's Navigation Committee.The first City barge, bought in 1775, and its successor were often stationed there for the collectionof tolls. The area began a slow decline in the 19
were shot in the City Barge pub and in the local area.
thames discovery programme
Strand on the Green FHL12
The zone is approximately 510m long and 55m wide. The access to the sitearea is very good as there are numerous sets of stairs leading directly fromthe riverside path to the foreshore surface. Most are in reasonable conditionbut some are poorly maintained and may be hazardous to use. The zoneextends from Kew Bridge to just beyond the Railway Bridge and includes
The ground conditions on the site are very firm and generally thesite is very safe.