Friday, 18 December 2015

Connecting two Houses of interest

Do you live in the Twickenham area? If so, do you recognise this building? 
A) It's Strawberry Hill House.

Here you can discover Horace Walpole's gothic creation. Of it, he says; “It was built to please my own taste, and in some degree to realise my own visions.”

On the other side of the river is Ham House. An equally fascinating local building of historical importance described as a unique 17th-century treasure trove.”

Wouldn't it be great if these two houses were connected.

Have you seen our banner ad at the ice rink, situated in the grounds of Strawberry Hill House?

If not, why not?  :)

An educational view

This is the view from Radnor House School, looking upstream toward Radnor Gardens. (Taken in the Spring 2015)

It shows off the stretch of the river that the Radnor Bridge - a proposed pedestrian and cycle bridge - will span. In so doing the bridge will be able to provide improved access to the recreational space available in Ham and also to the shops and transportation available in the Twickenham / Strawberry Hill area.  

Three schools and a University - two sitting on Cross Deep Road (Radnor House School and St Catherine's School), the German School in Ham, and then of course St Mary's University in Strawberry Hill - will be huge benefactors of the Radnor Bridge. There are many parents from both sides of the river who have written to us saying how desperately they wish their children's commute was shorter and safer. By simply crossing the river at Radnor Gardens many of their concerns will be addressed and a lot of commuters would be taken off the already congested roads. 

But think of some of the other benefits this improved connectivity will bring; For example, places of education need good access to recreational areas. Ham Lands offers this and plenty more beside. And if learning how to sail is your thing then all of a sudden Thames Young Mariners becomes an easy place to get to too.

We do hope you agree that this will be a fantastic legacy for the area. 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Avenue

This morning I went for a walk with the dog all around Ham. What a lovely place, with lots of really interesting paths to walk along.

I crossed over at Teddington Lock, walked along the river path and then up from the river to the gate at Richmond Park and back to the green before heading along that beautiful path toward Ham House past the tennis club. I then dropped onto The Avenue and walked to where the Radnor Bridge will land...

By plotting my route on Strava I have managed to gather some very useful data about the landscape; relative distances and how it rises and falls around here.

For example, I now know The Avenue is nearly a kilometer long, from the river bank to the road by Ham House. I now also know the relative heights along the path (as measured from sea level).

We know the bridge will need to cross the river at a height of about 20m, to allow for sailing masts to clear beneath it at high tide. The Strava segment I have recorded shows Richard was pretty much right when he said the bank is already at about 12-15m, meaning we only need to raise the path onto the bridge by roughly 5-7m in order that the cycle route remains relatively level as it crosses the Common.

The Avenue itself needs a decent cycle path laid along it, which I am sure the walkers will welcome. After all, it is currently very muddy and full of puddles, making it quite a challenge to walk along without wellington boots on your feet.

This path, known as The Avenue, could then be lit with sensor activated lights to help make the route more safe and secure (a concern I know some people have shared). This can easily be designed to architecturally ensure the natural wildlife is undisturbed by the lighting and that any trails the wildlife need use in order to cross the Common freely will not be impeded.

The actual treatment of this path and how the natural flora and fauna are cared for could learn a lot from the fabulous work, undertaken in recent years, along the River Crane route. Here, people and wildlife exist very happily alongside each other. There is no reason why this couldn't also be achieved across Ham Common. ...just a thought.

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Messages of support

This October we've had a couple of really helpful messages posted to our Facebook page. For these and others' words of encouragement we remain really grateful. Feel free to join in the conversation. The first was from Richard Cockburn and the second from Rob May.

Radnor Bridge is a necessity, not a luxury. As Mark rightly argues, Twickenham has languished in the last 30-40 years and it needs a big project to instill some energy into the regeneration of the town centre. I cannot think of a better project than Radnor Bridge, offering as it does so many benefits for so many of the local population. I do feel that if regeneration was an in issue on the Richmond side of the river, a solution would have been found well before now. There is an unfortunate perception that those representing Richmond would rather not unbalance the status quo, keeping Twickenham in its place by reinforcing the dowdiness of key areas in the town centre. This nonsense has to stop. It is time for those in both Twickenham and Ham to make their views known to their local councillors, making it that their votes will be contingent upon said representatives getting on with an essential project.

Posted by Charles Cockburn on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

As someone who has only lived in Ham for 12 months, i was wondering whether a bridge to Twickenham had ever been considered (as it seemed like an obvious solution to improve both sides of the river). Nice to have found this site and see people talking about this. From my perspective, if the local council goes ahead with the proposed Ham redevelopment ( this would bring additional congestion into the area, particularly increasing cars going to Richmond station via Petersham. Surely having access to Twickenham station via footbridge would be an excellent congestion reduction too...?

Posted by Rob May on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Friday, 27 March 2015

Taking steps toward creating a majestic bridge

So pleased to see Radnor Bridge getting some attention in the Richmond & Twickenham Times. If you have a copy, take a look at page 14.

It also says, in principle, that we have the backing of MP Vince Cable, which is great news.

In the article (from a few weeks ago), which we commented on here, Lord True said that the bridge would need to be "Majestic". We agree. The design of a pedestrian and cycle bridge across the river from Radnor Gardens would need to be very sensitively designed to fit into its environment and offer our area an architectural statement we can all be proud of.

A majestic bridge will make possible the big idea, which is much needed to re-invigorate Twickenham and Ham. I can't help feeling we have at last taken a collective step in the right direction.

Thank you Tom for writing the article. You've brought a smile to Richard and Mark's faces ;-)

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Re-invigoration will only happen with a big idea

There was an interesting article in the Richmond and Twickenham Times recently (see below), in which Lord True updated us on progress, or perhaps lack of, on developments in Twickenham’s town center.

These included references to; the station work, the old post office site, progress with the opening up of King Street to the river, work on pavements and relocating bus stops and his thoughts on the aspiration to see a pedestrian and cycle bridge from Radnor Gardens to Ham Lands.

While he said it would be nice to see a “river park joining up Ham and Twickenham sides of the river” he also added that the Radnor Bridge idea was unlikely in his current term as leader.

Did you see the article? If so, do tell us what you thought of his message here.

The title of the article (written by Tom Ambrose) was “Town Square plans to ‘invigorate’ area”. However, the thrust of the message seemed to dwell on how the ambition to open up Twickenham to the river front (as expressed as a key desire from residents in the 2010 Barefoot Consultation) would now not happen.

What a shame. Perhaps development of a Square is still going ahead, but because of a fear that knocking down the shops on King Street would be “far too grandiose” a plan, the square will no longer deliver on its original brief of ‘re-invigorating the area’ and opening up Twickenham to the river.

It is our opinion that this type of small-minded ambition and inability to stick to the original plan is what has plagued initiatives in the area for too long. Such an attitude would no doubt have killed the Richmond riverside development ideas before they had got going. However, thankfully it didn’t and we all know what a fantastic legacy for the area the redesign of Richmond riverfront has been.

Sadly over the last 30-40 years there has been a serious lack of investment in our beloved Twickenham. Procrastination has been the enemy of every good idea in the making. I’m sure widening the pavements and relocating the bus stops may seem like a good investment today Lord True, but that is only because the investment hasn’t been happening on an ongoing basis over the years.

What Twickenham (and Ham for that matter) have needed for a long time is a “big idea” to truly “invigorate” the area. That is where the Radnor Bridge idea stepped in, as long ago as the Barefoot Consultation in 2010.

We had hoped the Council would grasp this ‘big idea’ back then and we would have had the bridge installed in time for the Rugby World Cup (later this year), when Twickenham will once again be on the global stage.

Clearly that opportunity has passed. But we still keep campaigning. The team here at Radnor Bridge had a meeting last week with a couple of councilors, to see if we could at least get the Radnor Bridge onto the Council’s “Village Plans”. According to the councilors we met with, everyone agrees that a pedestrian and cycle bridge between Twickenham and Ham will happen one day, but there simply isn’t agreement about where that bridge should be.

I ask you, if not Radnor Gardens, where is the best location for this ‘inevitable’ bridge?

When the mini-Holland strategy was proposed last year, Radnor Bridge was one of four locations being considered. Unfortunately none of the other three locations are credible because of the protected view from Richmond Hill, the flow of the river and layout of surrounding streets and homes and then, perhaps most significantly, the obvious lay of the land.

There simply isn’t another location in the area that works as well. Only Radnor Bridge effectively satisfies the requirements of the landscape strategy by working with (not against) the general topology of the land.

Bridges are as much about the allocation of run off on both sides of the river as they are about the crossing of the river itself. Also, any pedestrian and cycle bridge between Ham and Twickenham will need to have a certain amount of natural height to clear sailing masts without the cyclists and pedestrians being forced to climb a steep slope on both sides. The natural height of the land at Cross Deep to the Avenue on Ham Lands provides this clearance and the required run off on both sides of the river.

Perhaps the biggest challenge to any ‘big idea’ happening in the local area is “how much will it cost?”

This is not a project that has to be covered entirely by local council taxes. Clearly this bridge will need to be paid for by several stakeholders. After all, how else is any significant infrastructure project funded?

In the article, Lord True says that “we are talking millions” and adds that TFL, when approached, had said it was a nice idea but were more interested in other things. And at that the council seems to have shrugged its shoulders and given up.

Surely, if presented with the right argument, it is only a matter of time before the Port of London Authority (PLA), Transport for London (TFL) and perhaps even the Mayor of London’s budget for improving London’s cycle routes, will be able to find the required sums. I therefore challenge you Lord True to ask the TFL (and others) again, but this time with a bit more conviction.

Procrastination is the enemy of all invigorating big ideas.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Keeping up with the gossip

We often broadcast our latest shenanigans to a growing number of followers on Twitter too. Feel free to follow us @RadnorBridge to keep up with our chatter-chatter and gossip there too.

Like this conversation with Tim (who was on the organising committee for Footbridge 2014) about our up coming meeting with local Councillors to help ensure the Radnor Bridge idea is recorded on the Village Plans for our area.

Or this conversation with Julie and John who wanted to know if the bridge would be high enough for sailing masts to pass underneath at high tide. As with most of these things the answers can be found in our White Paper, which we presented in summer 2014. However, in short, the aim is for the bridge to maintain the same height as Cross Deep Road on the Strawberry Hill side as it crosses to the Avenue in Ham Lands. The intent is that cyclists and pedestrians will not be faced with a slope from either direction.