This is the oldest Thames bridge in Greater London.
Before Richmond Bridge opened in 1777, a ferry owned by the Crown operated at this point on the river. Henry VIII and his daughters Mary I and Elizabeth I spent a good deal of time at Richmond Palace. There were two boats, one for passengers and another, for horses, small carts and goods. Carriages were too heavy and had to travel upstream and cross at Kingston Bridge.
In 1760 William Windham, the ferry lessee, petitioned Parliament for a Bill. However, there were strong objections, the inhabitants of Richmond did not like the idea of a wooden bridge and they did not want a privately owned toll bridge. Although the idea of a stone bridge was accepted the bridge was built the proposed site, on the line of the ferry.
Designed by the architects James Paine and Kenton Couse, the bridge was built in 1774 – 77. The bridge had gates and at each end were lodges for the toll-collectors.Tolls were removed eventually and the gates were taken down, the lodges survived for another 50 years.
Richmond Bridge has 13 arches. The five river arches are made of stone while three arches on the Surrey side and a causeway on the Middlesex side are made of brick. On the Surrey side the interior parts of the brick arches have been converted for private use.
Richmond Bridge was transferred to the counties of Surrey and Middlesex in 1927. In 1937 – 39 the bridge was widened on the upstream side. Each stone was removed, numbered and replaced after the piers and cutwaters had been extended. The new work can still be seen on the undersides of the arches.