Country houses for sale

The history of a Richmond family house

My recent research into the history of houses has brought me to a quiet street in Richmond which was formerly the main road to the Kew horse ferry. The house, known as Oldaport and on the market with Chesterton Humberts, was built in 1884 and has formerly been the home of boot repairers, a French polisher and a music teacher.

Kew Foot Road, also known as West Sheen Lane for a time, was originally the main road to Kew, but it was relegated to the ‘foot road’ when Kew Road was built by the order of George III in the late 18th century. Buildings began to appear along Kew Foot Road during the 18th century, but there was no organised development, so the result was a mix of large country houses and smaller cottages in varying styles.

Oldaport, No.5 Kew Foot Road was one of the later houses to be built along Kew Foot Road, constructed in 1883-4, and first appearing in the local Richmond directory in 1885. The first resident was grocer and ‘provision dealer’, Charles Robert Collen and his wife, Fanny. However, the Collen’s didn’t stay long and by 1887 the house had become the home of a Mr. James Ireland. The 1891 census shows James Ireland was 59 years old and a boot maker, in the house with his wife, Irene Mary, aged 51. Also in the house at this time was their 22 year old son, a gasfitter. The local directories show the house continued as the home of James Ireland throughout the late 19th century and by the time of the 1901 census he had retired and was still in the house with his wife, but all the children had left home.


By 1911, Oldaport had become the home of Henry Charles Clarke, a French polisher aged 35, and in the house with his wife, Annie and their three children, Henry, Frederick and Sonia. The 1911 census also shows Annie’s father Edward Pound, aged 63, a retired builder, living with the family.

The early 20th century brought change to the house and by 1914 it had become the home of Miss Evelyn Johnson, ‘teacher of music’ and her mother, Clara. At this time, it appears that Clara’s husband, Henry and her son, Alfred and possibly nephew, William were all away fighting in the battlefields of World War I. The 1918 electoral registers show that all of the men of the family returned home with Henry Johnson as head of the house. Henry and his son and nephew were all working as shoe and boot repairers. In 1923, Evelyn married a Mr Ernest Redman, while continuing to live in the house with her parents.

The 1932 Richmond directory is the first to record the house as No.5 and head of the house was still Henry Johnson, mistakenly listed as ‘foot repairer’, and Mrs E. Redman was still recorded as a teacher of music. However, by 1935 only Ernest and Evelyn Redman were recorded in the house. Towards the late 1930s, the Redmans moved away and it appears that at this time the house was divided into two separate apartments.

Along with many parts of London, the war years brought extensive disruption to life in Kew Foot Road and it appears that the house was vacant for a time. By the end of the war, the 1946 electoral register shows the house was home to a number of residents, before becoming the home of Barbara Basted in 1955. By the early 1960s, No.5 Kew Foot Road became the home of William and Marjorie Cowell, with Marjorie spending the next 50 years in the house until the early 21st century.

* For more details on Oldaport in Kew Foot Road

* To read the full history visit my blog – The House Historian