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Our History 1996-2018

The initiative for the formation of the Hampton Riverside Trust in 1996 came from local concern about the future of the Hampton Ferry. The Ferry had run between the Molesey Bank and Bell Hill in Hampton since certainly 1519 and probably earlier. It lost its importance and its passengers after the closure of Hurst Park Race Course and development of the Hurst Park estate in 1962. The ferry had always been integral to horse racing on Molesey Hurst, bringing big crowds across the river from the Middlesex bank. Local people didnít quite forget, however, and a tendering process for the renewal of the Ferryís licence was instigated by Richmond upon Thames Council following the death of the previous licence holder, Councillor George Kenton.
A group of about 30 local residents, led by local Councillors at the time, Marshall Lees, Bryan Woodriffe and Bob Parslow, met at Hampton Sailing Club in April 1996 and, with the Ferry in mind, declared the formation of the Hampton Riverside Trust. With local support, this led to the lease of the Ferry passing to David and Sue Bedford and John and Esther Cook. The Ferry was revived and stayed in public use with a daily summer-time schedule.
The Trust continued its work with local Hampton residents, councillors and river people. It became a registered charity in 1999 with declared aims: ëto enhance the appearance and amenities of the Riverside at Hampton and to improve the public access and usage of the riverí.
The initial concern may have been the Ferry but there had also been long-standing concerns about the condition of Garrick's Temple to Shakespeare, built by David Garrick in his riverside garden in 1756. Council property since the 1930s, it had been allowed to decay into a derelict state.
The new Trust was able to exert significant influence, working in partnership with the local Council, The Thames Landscape Strategy and the Temple Trust in a successful campaign to restore what had been a national embarrassment to the splendid attraction it is now. In 2004 a new Trust was formed "Garrick's Temple to Shakespeare Trust" with the Chairman of HRT becoming, ex officio, a Trustee.
The Trust continued with its work, with Marshall Lees retiring as Chairman in 2001 and Ronald Smedley elected in his place and remaining in office until 2012.
The Trust had no statutory powers but it had influence to improve:
The nature of new residential vessels on Tagg's Island
Public toilets at Bell Hill
Platt's Eyot, and the decay of the listed Thorneycroft buildings (still unresolved)
Opening hours at The Bell (a compromise reached)
Educational initiatives at Garrick's Temple, in cooperation with Thames Explorer Trust
Information on the area with the installation of online site (thanks to John Inglis), "Hampton Past and Present", a joint venture with Hampton Society.
The restoration of Bell Hill was probably the Trust's most demanding project. Bell Hill - or Hampton Hard, as it has been called as the village wharf - became a public park in 1863 and was extended in 1910. It had fallen into a state of some dilapidation and required improvement. An approach to the Heritage Lottery Fund was unsuccessful. After other fruitless approaches to other charities, the Council finally agreed a £100,000 restoration that included resurfacing, gates, planting, and two interpretation boards created by the Trust and installed in 2009, funded by the Council's Small Grants Fund.
The last initiative of the Hampton Riverside Trust was the creation of "Hampton Matters", an hour long DVD with ten separate 'chapters' concerning life in Hampton today (and some of its history). All copies were donated to The Greenwood Centre, Hampton Society and Twickenham Museum, with a copy left with Richmond Library's Historical Resources. The Director was Ron Smedley, working with Len Brown, a former BBC colleague.
In 2011 the Trust formed a Riparian Committee. It consisted of three riverside dwellers - the late Colin Hunter, John Sheaf and Suellen Raven, a mid-stream resident. The purpose was to explore the possibility of amalgamating with representatives from Molesey. This was successfully achieved with the creation in 2012 of The Hampton and Molesey Riverside Trust (H&MRT) with Peter Parker CBE as Chairman. Peter stepped down in 2016 and the Chair is now Hampton Councillor Suzette Nicholson.
A river has two banks, and this new Trust unites the Surrey and Middlesex Thames. It has gone on to involve itself in many local issues including development proposals in Molesey and Hampton, conservation of the Arcadian landscape, unauthorised mooring, illegal riparian development, signage, and much else. H&MRT today continues to meet and address local issues and it is highly regarded by those living both sides of the river.



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