2015 in Twickenham: A Year in Review

ice-cream-van-twickenham-twickeratiWhat a funny old year it’s been on twickerati. From a springtime of booming reader stats and heated debate in the comments sections to a summer lull and retrenchment, and then to ending the year trying to move things forward with additional contributions. A very big thank you to the many people who have provided such positive feedback about twickerati. If it wasn’t for you the site would definitely be consigned to the internet wilderness by now. Thanks too to the lovely locals who have offered to help with additional content, especially to those who have already provided copy, namely ‘Bill Webb-Ellis’ and the ‘Newbie’ journo. It’s much appreciated. Here’s to more collaboration in 2016.

Of course, regardless of the sustainability or otherwise of the finest and only blog featuring ‘news, comment and ill-informed opinion about Twickenham’, the town itself has had plenty of newsworthy excitement in 2015, so much so that we wrote a few words for the Richmond & Twickenham Times about it. You can read it on page 14 of the current edition of the paper. Can’t find your copy? You could always sign up for the e-edition couldn’t you? In the meantime, we’ve included it below for your public convenience. We hope you enjoy it…

Twickenham – A Year In Review

2015, eh? What a year it’s been. First there was January happily ticking along all on its tod and then, hot damn, before you knew it a load of other months turned up one after another, after a-flippin-nother. And this happened not just in God’s Own London Borough (that’s Richmond upon Thames, btw) but across the whole of the south of England too! It really is amazing how LBRuT (aka El Brute) manages to co-ordinate this with other local authorities. Hats off to them! And what of plucky Twickenham, you ask. Well, here at twickerati HQ this is what we remember about 2015.

It all began with a lot of heated debate about bus stops moving, pavements changing and cycle lanes migrating. And then it just carried on. It’s all part of El Brute’s Twickenham Action Plan aka the “TWAP”. First it was the new luxurious York Stone paving in the town centre that got people all in a lather. This was a tad ironic because, as we’ve all now found out, a jolly good lather is exactly what is needed to keep those fine slabs gleaming and gum free. The one teeny problem? This hasn’t actually happened yet. As for the new cycle lanes in central Twickenham, there’s nothing like dedicated cycle lanes to transform the whole cycling experience and what we have is nothing like dedicated cycle lanes. To be fair though, the uncertainty about what bikes and vehicles are now supposed to do in King Street keeps everyone hyper-alert, and we especially love those new car-sized boxes at traffic lights where drivers can pull up and stop on top of a bicycle painted on the road. Satisfying.

London Road

London Road, cycling

By the time we got to April, election fever was in full swing. It was turning into the battle of the doctors but not in the sense of Baker versus Tennant versus Capaldi but rather Cable against Mathias. Would Vince Cable keep his seat thus ensuring that the people of Twickenham were ignored at the very highest level of government or would there be an upset such that Twickerfolk would get a new representative who would sit on the back benches and get ignored from there? As it turned out “our Vince” was toppled from his perch by “our Tania”. The result shocked many and even seemed to stun the good doctor herself when the results were announced in the early hours of 8th May. It was a real FA Cup style upset after which Tania got to her cup final at Westminster, the Lib Dems got heavily pipped (is such a thing as ‘heavy pipping’ even possible?) and Labour, UKIP and the others were condemned to return to the Mr Fixit Southern Premier League until the next time around.

When it wasn’t election politics, it was politicking of a different kind keeping us interested. We’re talking Heathrow expansion of course. With David Cameron “off of being Prime Minister” having previously stated a third runway would not be built on his watch, the plans for a third runway rumbled onwards and upwards like that Air Emirates flight which lumbers over your house on a summer’s evening, spoils your barbecue and wakes up your toddler. Despite a previous referendum in the borough that showed over 70% opposed to a third runway, the lobbying both for and against has been intense. It’s not surprising that big business is campaigning hard for this but they’ve been ably abetted by what must surely be the most professional and well-organised grass roots campaign ever. Funny how things like that can happen. A Government decision got closer and closer and closer until suddenly it was shunted back to next summer. At least we can still ponder on visions of the Blue Baron (aka Council Leader Lord True), Zac, Tania and Boris all manning the barricades against David, George, the CBI and the shareholders of Heathrow’s owner Ferrovia. It would be quite a sight wouldn’t it?

Plane landing at Heathrow

Plane landing at Heathrow

Autumn came, and the long, long wait for the Rugby World Cup was finally over. Twickenham was ready. Richmond was ready. England was ready. The hype, the tension, the excitement, the fans… the early exit of the hosts from their own competition. Oh dear, that wasn’t in the plan. As for Twickenham itself, after bracing itself for an influx of supporters, traffic and tourists the event turned out to be surprisingly muted in the town centre. Carmageddon never fully materialised, Twickenham traders did not see the boom in tourist sales some had hoped for and even the pubs seemed quieter than on regular international days. It was almost as if the RFU were happy to see fans stick to the stadium bars and official FanZone whilst parting with their cash. Surely not.


Twickenham Stadium

No year in Twickenham is complete without a big argument about something or other, preferably directed at Richmond Council. Until Twickenham becomes a London Borough in its own right that’s just the way it’s going to be. Schools, stations, rugby, a big home for a big boat the name of which still sends shivers down many a spine, we love ‘em all. In 2015 it’s been the plans for developing the land along Water Lane between King Street and the river that’s been the argument of choice. It’s well known that Twickenham’s greatest asset is not its people (unlike the place where you work) or even its vast array of cafes, rib shacks, pubs and charity shops but rather its proximity to the River Thames. With El Brute’s 2014 purchase of a chunk of land giving the possibility of opening up the space down to the river and creating something new, the ‘design concept’ for the site was launched to great fanfare. The architects appointed to wow Twickenham were Q&F Terry, who had successfully re-imagined Richmond Riverside some years back. It works well in Richmond doesn’t it? Imagine the surprise of many a humble denizen of TW1 and TW2 to find that the Terrys’ ideas for Twickenham paid homage on a grander scale not just to the architects’ own designs in Richmond but also to central Twickenham’s extensive regency architectural tradition, you know, the one that didn’t exist until the construction of the Barclays Bank building on York Street at the turn of the 20th century. Cue much grumbling from the locals, lido-ists and those who wanted, well, something that opens King Street up to the river and draws on Twickenham’s own heritage. Hey, maybe this would be a good spot for some kind of boathouse? La plus ca change.

Extract of design from LBRuT website

Extract of riverside design from LBRuT website

So, does the town look better at the end of 2015 than it did at the beginning? Sure does. Some great shops have opened, there’s always lots going on and Twickenham remains London’s premier leafy suburb beginning with a T and ending in ‘ham’. Will we still be arguing the toss about building plans, schools, airports and traffic all the way through 2016? You betcha! It’s just the way we roll. Or, as is the case on Heath Road and Richmond Road during rush hour, “don’t roll”.

Merry Christmas Twickenham and Best Wishes for 2016. You know you love this place really!


Filed under Features, Local Issues & News, Reviews

30 responses to “2015 in Twickenham: A Year in Review

  1. Now closed to new comments.

    There is a new item on the riverside plans here: http://wp.me/pVBg2-3mc

  2. The press release is back at: http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/council/news/press_office/older_news/january_2016/riverside_now_we_respond_to_the_feedback.htm

    This is the gist of it:

    ‘ . . Residents put forward views for and against, as well as suggesting modifications. Main areas of concern where further work will focus included parking, the need for a clearer single open space or square, the visibility of the ‘river view’ from King Street and scale of the development. Advocates of modernist architecture, in particular, opposed Quinlan Terry, the designers of Richmond’s famous Riverside

    Positive comments include the removal of the present buildings, the proposed link from King Street to the River, the quality of the architectural ideas, including, the riverside ‘amphitheatre’, the strengthened relationship to the award-winning Diamond Jubilee Gardens, and the additional open space.

    Inline with the original timeline for the programme, that was included in the consultation, the architects are now working with this feedback to further develop their design – looking at each of the main areas residents and businesses highlighted. At the same time, a number of studies will be carried out, looking at traffic, flooding and financial viability of any proposal.

    A second consultation on the amended designs and feedback from the studies will be launched in the summer . . ‘

    The 5:1 opinion of locals, that they don’t like the design, is dismissed in a single sentence!

  3. Sally

    Well, the report is well worth a read and poses some intriguing questions.
    Under Background and Research” it presents highly subjective and council friendly views as fact. The proposed site has “rundown and outdated buildings….an underused car park”. No mention of the spruce little seating area overlooking the riverside or that the retail buildings are occupied, neat and doing good business. It isn’t factual description of what is actually there but a subjective opinion that what is there is terribly crummy . I doubt that Snap Surveys have opinions on the merits of the site so this seems to have come from the Council ,but what sort of independent survey is this?

    It goes on. The intention is to create “a stunning community space…to achieve this ,the council are working with a top architect”
    Ok. This is not an independent survey.

    Under Analysis of Results, it is remarked that ” there were no questions designed to measure support or opposition..(why not?) “questions were designed to gauge people’s reactions to ideas”. ( this is not an “idea “it is a plan for a development)
    “Respondents were not asked what aspects they liked or disliked” so no comparisons or quantification of for and against were possible. Never mind.

    The people named as the main contacts for the Survey were a Catherine Pierce of Richmond Brough and a Margaret Reed of Snap Surveys.
    I don’t yet know Ms Pierce’s position, but I would very much like to know who gave Snap Surveys the brief to carry out a survey which did not permit responses to the plans to be measured,

    Gosh this is an old trick.
    1.Gather support for a glorious idea any what you can. “Would you like a stunning community space?”
    2.Claim that you can deliver that. “We will open up the Riverside! Because you are worth it!”
    3.Claim that what you propose will deliver those things, it’s just that silly nay sayers are looking at the wrong bit of your plans.
    4.Sternly remind residents that financial realities have to be recognised. It is impossible to improve anyhting without luxury housing all over it.
    5.Build a block of luxury flats on the Riverside.

  4. The consultation report is still at: http://www.richmond.gov.uk/twickenham_rediscovered_consultation_report.pdf

    What has vanished is the web page that lay between it and the 2 main starting pages: http://www.richmond.gov.uk/ and http://www.richmond.gov.uk/home/council/news.htm This had the council’s response and it is this which has been withdrawn to be, one must suppose, rewritten.

    Instead you are taken to http://www.richmond.gov.uk/twickenham_rediscovered which has no link to the report.

  5. Cleo: yes, it’s gone along with its press release.

    I have published the complete plain text of the report at: https://orleansgardensblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/31/twickenham-riverside-consultation/

    I recommend that readers copy this text and paste it into a WP document which they can they format and edit themselves.

    I have alerted the St Mags cllrs and asked them to investigate. I have sent the report to Twickerati and asked them to publish it as it should be (= pdf)..

  6. Sally

    I have just been having a look at the consultation document and I think the data is presented as if to nullify the overwhelmingly negative feedback.
    Responses are represented in bar charts. Any positive responses lead each section.The negative responses, of which there were many, many times more , are introduced with “not all respondents were positive about-” as if the negatives were a minority.
    The positive and negative bar charts are kept separate, making comparisons difficult. The bars are also not in scale , so the bars for, say, 275 outright negatives and 63 positives do not appear all that different until you read the figures.
    No summary seems to have been given of negative versus positive responses. However the responses are overwhelmingly negative. Even with the hilariously biased consultation document to contend with. A very small minority have anything nice to say about the scheme. Of the positives many were commenting on the idea of a town square and open space rather than the realities of the design.

    Councillor Flemming is quoted on the Council website brightly welcoming this feedback as if there are just a few kinks to iron out of this otherwise super idea.

    • Cleo: yes, it’s gone along with its press release. I have alerted the St Mags cllrs and asked them to investigate. I have sent the report to Twickerati and asked them to publish it.

  7. Today’s print RTT has ’‘Riverside plans secret’ (p 3): the RTT has put in a FoI request to see the other plans Cllr Fleming has responded that she will look into the possibility of making the failed plans public. And three letters (p 17): ‘Tories like the Lib Dems’ from Barry Edwards, ‘River plan a disgrace’ from Jennifer Wyatt and ‘Selling off riverside’ from Sally Kermond


    The report on the consultation will be published today.

  8. The webcast of Tuesday’s council debate is at http://www.richmond.public-i.tv/core/portal/webcast_interactive/207458 running from 1:30:00 to 2:20:00. Speaking for the motion (to consult on all 5 schemes) were Cllrs Roberts, Acton, Ehmann and Elengorn (Lib Dem) and Churchill (Lab). Against were Cllrs Fleming, Chappell and Lord True.

    Gareth Roberts told us that the other four firms that submitted designs were: Acton & co, Adam Architecture http://www.adamarchitecture.com/, John Simpson & co. http://www.johnsimpsonarchitects.com/ and KMW http://www.kmw.co.uk/

    Lord True said that the designs were ‘commercial in confidence’ and that was the reason they couldn’t be made public; also that the results of the consultation will be published on January 29, a week today. KMW have published their scheme at http://www.kmw.co.uk/improving-twickenham-town-centre/ so the next step should be to invite the other 3 architects to do the same or to withdraw.

    Adam Architecture and John Simpsons are neoclassical specialists like Terry so we may expect that their schemes are similar though perhaps based on different romanesque palaces. Google didn’t find any trace of Adam & co. – I may have misheard the name.

  9. 2nd try:
    This week’s print RTT has: (p 14) ’River ‘rethink’ thrown out’ (reporting Tuesday’s council meeting); and two letters: (p18) ‘Consulting on a single option?’, from Cathy Thompson and ‘Attracting more to our town’, from Teresa Read.

  10. [[http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?pbid=c7955673-549d-44a9-9a9c-a642bedeaef8 This week’s print RTT ]]has: (p 14) ’River ‘rethink’ thrown out’ (reporting Tuesday’s council meeting); and two letters: (p18) ‘Consulting on a single option?’, from Cathy Thompson and ‘Attracting more to our town’, from Teresa Read.

  11. From the agenda for the meeting of Council on Tuesday January 19:

    ‘ . . 5. Members’ Questions:
    Councillor Dias has given notice to ask the Strategic Cabinet Member for Environment, Business, and Community: “Now that the Twickenham Riverside consultation has finished can the Cabinet member please advise as to the next stage?”

    Councillor Elengorn has given notice to ask the Strategic Cabinet Member for Environment, Business and Community: “Could she report the results of the recent consultation on the Francis Terry
    scheme for Twickenham Riverside”

    . . 13. (a) Councillor Roberts has given notice to move the following Motion: “Council instructs officers to reopen the consultation process on Twickenham Riverside to include all submissions to the design competition, alternative proposals submitted by other interested parties plus an open riverside park option with a prospect of the river from King Street.” . . ‘


    Today’s RTT reports this on p. 3: ‘Re-open the river consultation’ http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?pbid=c7955673-549d-44a9-9a9c-a642bedeaef8

  12. stellagdb

    I always enjoy reading Twickerati articles, and also the readers’ comments, so may I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year of continuing activity.

  13. Briliant year round-up! Happy Christmas and keep on rockin’ in 2016 xx

  14. Re: ‘the Lib Dems got heavily pipped (is such a thing as ‘heavy pipping’ even possible?)’:

    OED has;

    ‘pip, v.3 colloq. 1. trans.
    a. To defeat or beat narrowly.
    . . 1891 Pall Mall Gaz. 1 Oct. 1/1 Cycling..an exciting struggle at top speed resulted in A. C. Edwards just pipping A. T. Mole for first place.
    . . 1992 Empire Apr. 12/1 Bridget Fonda finally nabbed the plum role, pipping the likes of Kim Basinger, Demi Moore and Julia Roberts . . ‘

    So it seems you’re either pipped or you’re not. No ‘heavy pipping’.

    • Hmmm. Are you sure? Didn’t “No Heavy Pipping” used to be on signs at swimming pools? Or was that “No Petting”?

    • Alexis

      I was mildly amused by Mr Squire’s semantics about the LibDems getting “pipped at the post”. I would describe it as “trounced”.

      So, what fun it is to see Ed Davey ex-LibDem MP for Kingston and a pretty indifferent Environment secretary getting a knighthood. Does anyone else remember his agent Dan Falkichov’s “leak” on the train about Kingston Hospital A&E closing just before his election? Well worth a Google – there’s other interesting stuff there.
      A suitable candidate for knighthood? I don’t think so, but, fortunately for him it wasn’t my decision.

      For a relatively small party they seem to have a disproportionate number of oddballs, fortunately many were voted out at the last election, sadly not all. Perhaps our very own council leader of the LibDem minority, Gareth Roberts, could be in line for a knighthood? After all the competition is thinning by the day and he’s dutifully retweeted Robin Meltzer’s fulsome praise of Sir Ed Davey on Twitter.
      Isn’t it fun!
      Happy New Year to you all – fans or opponents.

  15. ahogshead4me

    Good to see that you’re still here as apocalypse beckons, Twickerati. Have a good Christmas!

    (As this is such a nice comment, can I go at the top of the column, please?)