Sir – The Richmond, Petersham and Ham Open Spaces Act, 1902, is on the council website and in the Local Studies collection. I’ve been right through its 29 pages and checked that its name and the description given on the first page [An Act to confirm agreements for vesting common and other lands in the local authorities of the districts of Richmond, Ham and Kingston as public open spaces] are both accurate and complete. There’s nothing whatever in it about the Middlesex side. So the notion that it has some talismanic power to keep the barge shed out of Orleans Gardens seems to be wishful thinking, a fairy story for grownups.
Also in the Local Studies folder [32/03/30] are the 1902 LCC General Powers Act and a covenant. The Act is a mixed bag of powers, whose ‘Section IV Purchase of the Marble Hill Estate, Twickenham’ allows the LCC to purchase Marble Hill and adjacent land ‘to preserve the view’ – but only by agreement. Also, ominously, to provide boat houses. This power has now passed, via the GLC, to the borough council.
The covenant forbids development of the Haversham Lodge site; the council web site says: ‘a Deed of Covenant was entered into by Richmond and Twickenham Councils and Surrey, Middlesex and London County Councils in 1930. The terms of the deed were designed as far as possible to preserve the view from Richmond Hill by restricting the future development of the land to certain limited areas only. Compensation was paid to the then owners of the land for granting the right to enforce these restrictions.’
The terms of the purchase of the Gardens by the Council in 1926-7 were reported in the Times of October 29 1926. Nothing is said about further covenants for the Gardens but there were to be new ones for the House and Grounds which were to be purchased after the gravel had all been dug up by a ’lady of large means . . for her private use’ – Mrs Ionides of blessed memory – ‘to preserve the view’.
So the only special protection the Gardens have comes from the restrictive covenant imposed by the Cunard executors in 1925, described by Ron Berryman [Letters August 29]. The Council planning committee has to agree that its new barge shed counts as a boat house and is therefore to be permitted, even if it is many times larger and uglier than the Victorian original.
Christopher J Squire
See also on this website: