XIX.—THE CREEK and the HIGH BRIDGE
The Lower and Upper Mall are separated from one another by the
Creek, a picturesque inlet of the Thames which, there is little doubt, formed
the cradle of the early riverside life of Hammersmith. The Creek is spanned
by a wooden bridge called the High Bridge, and, appropriately enough,
we find here clustered about its banks a little village of cottages, some
of which take us back as far as the 17th century. At the High Bridge
there converge four old footways or bridle paths, two on the east—the
Lower Mall and Aspen Place, (fn. 1) and two on the west: the Upper Mall
and Bridge Street, the latter having once been the commencement of a
path which led at first north-west and then proceeded parallel with the
Mall towards Chiswick. This way is now closed, and Bridge Street communicates with Hampshire Hog Lane, which was a northern tributary of
the old bridle path, or, as it is called in the Manor Rolls, the Warple
Way. (fn. 2)
The Creek extends northwards as far as King Street, and for this
distance is navigable by barges. The eastern bank is occupied by wharves,
and the western by malt-houses which formed part of the Town Brewery
founded by Joseph Cromwell about the year 1780. (fn. 3) These form a very
picturesque setting for the water when the tide is high, the effect being
heightened by barges moored to the steep walls and banks.
The Creek was once the mouth of a stream which, as the Stamford
Brook, is very distinctly marked on Rocque's map of 1741–45 (Plate 1). It
rose some distance north-east of Gunnersbury House, and flowed immediately
east of the then Duke of Kingston's well-known mansion, Berrymead Priory,
Acton. After a somewhat devious course it passed north of the house in
Ravenscourt Park, having fed no doubt in earlier days the moat which
surrounded the manor house of Palingswick on this site. Then, having
received a tributary stream rising in the neighbourhood of Harlesden Green,
it turned south towards the Creek, entering it through a brick culvert
which made an oblique easterly turn beneath King Street. A drawing of
part of this culvert under the premises of Messrs. Seldon and Son, 180 King
Street, was made by Mr. A. O. Collard in 1910. The name of the stream is
perpetuated by Stamford Brook Green, and by the district just beyond the
parish boundary called Stamford Brook. It appears to be a mere coincidence
that the word Stamford has been applied not only to this watercourse but
(with slight variation) to the creek south of Counter's Bridge (q.v.), and to
the bridge carrying the Fulham road across this creek and now spanning the
railway on the same site. The two watercourses were a considerable distance
apart, and evidently quite independent.
How long a bridge has existed at this spot it is difficult to say. There
was certainly one as early as 1541, for the Fulham Court Rolls mention a
surrender, dated Whit Tuesday in that year, by Richard Arnold and Margaret
his wife, of lands including an acre at "Highbridge, Hamersmyth." (fn. 4)
Faulkner says (fn. 5) that the bridge was rebuilt by Bishop Compton in 1712, and
Thorne perhaps refers (fn. 6) to another re-edifying when he credits Bishop
Sherlock with building it in 1751. Both statements, however, are unsupported by evidence. The bridge was repaired by Bishop Howley in 1820, (fn. 7)
and again in a very substantial fashion by Bishop Blomfield in 1837. (fn. 8)
Old prints, drawings, etc.
(fn. 9) Rocque's map of London.
(fn. 9) Salter's map of Hammersmith.
Drawing of the culvert under 180 King Street (1910) by A. O. Collard.
In the Council's ms. collection is:
(fn. 9) View of the creek (photograph).