Roads of Richmond: A history of our very own Albert Rd

By The Editor

17th Aug 2020 | Local News

This is a most unique and enchanting area and like no other in the whole of Richmond.

It all began when the first cottages were built near The Red Cow Tavern in the early 1700s in Worple Way. This was an ancient field path or Worple.

On the South side of Worple Way, the hundred or so yards of land to the east of the field path which came down past Houlbon's almshouses was built up with cottages between 1770-1810.

George Robinson acquired most of the fields including what was by then one large field by Marshgate (now Sheen Road) and another stretching up the hill on the East side of the field path which is now Albany Passage (named after Queen Victoria's fourth son - Leopold, Duke of Albany).

In 1821, perhaps anticipating further development to come, he turned the lower field into a brickfield.

The north part of this passage from Worple Way to Albany Terrace was an ancient bridleway which stretched all the way from the Red Cow to St Mathias Church.

The whole passage was called Brick or Brickfields Passage presumably because it ran near Robinsons brickfields by the bottom of Kings Road: several of the bricklayers lived in Worple Way.

In 1901 Richmond Council renamed it Albany Passage. It still incorporates Albany Terrace, a row of houses without vehicular access.

The development of the Robinson estate saw a huge advance in the late 1860s-1870s.

John Maxwell - the publisher, vestryman and husband to Mary Braddon the novelist - bought up at auction in 1865 some parts of the Robinson estate and built houses in Marchmont Road, crossing Kings Road and later in Audley Road, named for two of his wife's best known works John Marchmont's Legacy and Lady Audley's Secret.

Royal influences

This estate became known as The Alberts and continued to be developed in the 1870s.

Most of the new roads were named after members of the royal family - Princes, Albert, Albany, York, Connaught, Lorne (a son-in-law of Queen Victoria) and Beatrice but Albert Road gave its name to the whole area.

The development was of small houses for the artisan class, tradesmen and labourers.

There were several beer houses or off licences in the Alberts including the one at 44 Albert Road which in 1978 was converted into a small dwelling house.

The gentrification of The Alberts began in the 1960s. The houses were sold off 'as suitable for renovation' or were renovated by landlords and then sold at ever increasing prices.

This quiet backwater, with its narrow roads with charming little houses to this day remain an extremely popular area to live.

All the houses are slightly different in size and shape though they are mainly 'two up, two downs', with little courtyards to the rear - although the houses on the east side of Albert Road have slightly larger gardens. The cottages never had bathrooms upstairs but some owners have squeezed them in.

Some of the lofts have been opened up into small spaces though mansards or dormers are no longer allowed as it is now a conservation area.

If you are lucky enough to own or buy a property with a pre-existing loft extension with dormer windows then you have a decent bedroom up there.

Owning a freehold house with a little backyard over a flat is also preferable.

The houses still attract the artisan today and mix of age groups - friendly, safe and totally gorgeous neighbourhood.

When you walk there in the evenings and see the warm lights glowing from within and brimming bookshelves you would be forgiven for thinking you had stepped into a Dickens novel.

Neighbourhood haunts

The continuing popularity of this area is due to its proximity to the centre of Richmond and train station yet set apart in its quiet little enclave.

The Alberts is also fortunate enough to have not one but two great pubs - The Red Cow with their famous burger and The White Horse with lovely beer garden backing onto the playground.

Both are well run, friendly establishments with a loyal local clientele.

The White Horse is packed on the quiz and open mic nights and families pile in for Sunday lunches whilst their kids dash around the playground next door.

The Red Cow gets the crowds in for the rugby matches but also has a lovely hotel upstairs.

But The Alberts wouldn't be complete without award winning The Alberts Deli run by Feaston Hope.

Locals queue up for the freshly baked bread, fruit and vegetables, cheeses, bacon, homemade meals, craft beers and locally made One Gin.

It's packed at the weekend for breakfast, brunch and lunch but in my opinion nothing can come close to their incredible Brownies & Blondies - 'A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips' - but I simply don't care!

In terms of school catchments, the Alberts couldn't be better within catchment for Marshgate School, rated 34th in the country on the Times Top 500 Primary Schools in the UK December 2019.

That is 34th out of over 22,000 primary schools - quite an achievement. It's also in the school catchment for Grey Court, Waldegrave and Christ's Senior Schools and Kings House Independent Boys School is on the doorstep.

What the neighbours say

"We are a family of five, we moved to the Alberts a few years ago," Martina said. "At the time the oldest ones were attending Vineyard Primary School and are now at local secondary schools. Both primary and secondary schools in the area are outstanding.

"The Alberts community is unique as it brings together a wide range of residents: elderly who know everything about the area, young couples, families with young children and grandparents.

"Street parties organised in the Alberts are memorable. The local pub White Horse is a very family oriented pub where you can enjoy a wonderful Sunday roast while the kids play in its playground."

Kate said: "The Alberts has a lovely mix of residents with a few who have been here since the 1960s/1970s, others who have raised families here for the last 10 years or so, and more recent arrivals who have recently moved to the area – whether they be single, couples, with or without children.

"It all contributes to the buzz of the neighbourhood."

Nikki said: "My family moved to Richmond when I was three years old and we bought 1 Albany Road opposite the playground for the princely sum of £15,000!

"Our door was always open to the neighbourhood kids for a glass of squash and a chocolate biscuit.

"After seven happy years and a Coronation street party where the table stretched from The White Horse right up Albert to Audley Road, we moved to different roads in Richmond.

"But whilst many of the residents have moved on and most of the houses have been smartened up and extended, the happy vibe is still the same.

"It will always hold a special place in my heart and I can't recommend it highly enough whatever your stage in life - whether it's your first home, your forever home or any home in-between."

This piece was produced by Nikki and Nina of estate agents N and N Richmond - many thanks!

Read their focus on Friars Stile Road which we published two weeks ago here.

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