Waldegrave Road, TW11

Waldegrave Road was named after Frances Waldegrave, the widow of the 7th Earl Waldegrave who lived at Strawberry Hill House, situated on the road in the 19th century.

The road is split into two sections – a Teddington (TW11) part and a Twickenham (TW1) section. The Teddington part of Waldegrave Road is noted for late Victorian semi-detached villas.

This road, connecting Teddington with Strawberry Hill, was at first known as Fry’s Lane. In the early nineteenth century it became Factory Lane after Alexander Barclay built a wax manufacturing factory in 1800. After the death of Frances, Lady Waldegrave, in 1879, the name changed to its modern form.

Following enclosure at the beginning of the nineteenth century, a large pond covered the south west part of the road at the centre of Teddington. Elmfield House on the corner of Waldegrave Road and the High Street was built about 1700.

In 1863, a new railway track was built through the site of the pond. A road bridge was constructed to reunite the two parts of Teddington that had been separated by the railway. Several properties were built on the bridge approach, known as Bridge Place, and let to commercial tenants.

Teddington Library was completed in 1906 and now Grade II Listed. This was one of 660 libraries in the UK financed by Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-Canadian philanthropist.

82 Waldegrave Road, now the Waldegrave Clinic, was home to the mountaineer Edward Whymper, who in 1865 was the first person to climb the Matterhorn. The expedition ended in tragedy when three of his team were killed on the descent.

At 131 Waldegrave Road, Teddington, Sir Noël Peirce Coward was born in 1899. It is marked by a blue plaque. Number 131 was formerly numbered 5 and the house was informally known as ’Helmsdale’.

Noël’s parents, Arthur and Violet had lived at Helmsdale since their marriage in 1890. Noël was christened at the house in February 1900 but the family left in 1901: “An unpretentious abode/ Which, I believe,/ Economy forced us to leave/ In rather a hurry” wrote Noël Coward many years later. After living locally, the family left Teddington altogether in 1904. In 1917 they moved to Ebury Street, SW1 where Violet Coward took on a boarding house.

Sir Noël Coward attended a dance academy as a child, making his professional stage début at the age of eleven. As a teenager he was introduced into the high society in which most of his plays would be set. Coward achieved enduring success as a playwright, publishing more than 50 plays from his teens onwards. He composed hundreds of songs, in addition to well over a dozen musical theatre works, screenplays, poetry, several volumes of short stories, the novel Pomp and Circumstance and a three-volume autobiography.

At the outbreak of the Second World War Coward volunteered for war work, running the British propaganda office in Paris before the French occupation. Coward won an Academy Honorary Award in 1943 for his naval film drama In Which We Serve and was knighted in 1969.

Sir Noel died in 1973.

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