Ferry Road 27, "The Boathouse"

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"The Boathouse", 27 Ferry Road
"The Boatyard", 27 Ferry Road

Road: Ferry Road

Property: 27, "The Boathouse"

Listed in 2011

The Boathouse at former Tough's boatyard, now offices and chandlers' shop. Dated 1862, extended by mid-1890s, altered 1970s.

Reasons for Designation

The Boathouse at former Tough's Boatyard, now offices and chandlers' shop, dated 1862, extended in the later C19, the upper floor converted to offices in the early C21, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

• Architectural Interest: small commercial boatyard at the upper limit of the tidal Thames, built to construct, maintain and store small river craft and leisure boats including the royal barge (1862-1890); where the plan and function remains legible, expressed for example in the open-sided north boathouse wall, the river frontage openings, and the ventilated boat store;

• Materials and finishes: the architectural detail and quality of execution is above the norm for a commercial building or workshop of this type;

• Rarity: rare surviving example of its type on the upper tidal reach of the Thames;

• Date: dated 1862, it coincides with the start of the later C19 interest in boating as a pastime;

• Historic interest: tenanted and owned by James Messenger, boat builder, Queen's Bargemaster from 1862-1890 and champion sculler; C20 association with the Tough family, Thames lightermen and boat builders; wartime associations, providing vessels to Thornycrofts yards at Platts Eyot in World War I, and as muster point for the Dunkirk 'Little Ships' in 1940.


The boatyard in Ferry Road was first shown on a map dating from 1850. It is built at upper limit of the tidal Thames, adjacent to Teddington Lock and predates Richmond Lock, further downstream, which was built in 1894 to maintain a navigable depth of water in the upper tidal reach of the river.

The boathouse was probably built in 1862 (the date is inscribed on several bricks on the south gable wall). It was extended by the mid-1890s, adding a lean-to bay on the north-west side, and altered in the 1970s, when an upper floor bay was added to the riverside gable and the interior of the boathouse was opened up to house larger boats. It is possible that the upper floor was added in the later C19.

James Messenger, the first known tenant, and a champion sculler, established a flourishing business at the yard; in 1862 he was appointed Queen's Bargemaster, a post he held until 1890. As well as building smaller boats, he gained a reputation for building unusual one-off craft such as the Lady Alice, a five-sectioned boat which was commissioned by Sir Henry Morton Stanley for his second African expedition. He also built the Nautilus canoe for Baden Powell and a twin-screw launch Daisy for use by the Church Missionary Society in central Africa.

During World War I the yard supplied vessels for the shipbuilders, Thornycrofts, whose yard was based at Platts Eyot, Hampton (listed Grade II) further upstream.

The Tough family, who had a long association with the river as lightermen and boat builders, acquired the yard in the 1930s. The business expanded to provide repair work, chandlery and winter storage and to running a passenger boat service between Richmond and Kingston, for which they had built the launch Tigris II. The boatyard also has historic associations as the muster point for the 'Little Ships', for the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, which was organised locally by Douglas Tough. By 1945 the business employed 220 men spread between their two yards in Ferry Road and Manor Road, Teddington. Circa 1900 the boathouse was one of many similar scale boathouses on the Thames which were built to service the increasing river-based leisure industry, typified by Jerome K Jerome's 'Three Men in A Boat' (1889). It is now one of only a few surviving boatyards on the tidal reach of the river.


MATERIALS: the ground floor of the main building is of red brick with a white brick dentil storey band and other white brick dressings, some of which are painted. The eastern single storey range is similar, but painted. The upper floor is weatherboarded and each bay is enriched by pilaster strips. The northwestern single storey range is also clad in horizontal boarding. Roofs are of slate.

PLAN: the boathouse is a six-bay, 2-storey building which comprised a boathouse at lower level, which formerly opened, via a slipway, onto the river, and upper floor workshops, which are now converted to offices. Access to the river is curtailed by a river wall. Attached to the east is a single-storey chandler's shop, formerly a boat store, and to the west an added single-storey workshop extension. Whereas the eastern single-storey extension appears to be original to the building, or was added shortly after it was built, the western range was added towards the end of the C19 to enclose the otherwise partially open-sided boathouse.

EXTERIOR: ground floor openings are set below shallow four-centred arches. On the south-west gable wall a pair of outer arches frame recessed gauged brick arches above an entrance with a pair of boarded doors and a two-light window with a shaped head. Before the river frontage was altered, the main block had a pair of similarly arched boathouse doors. One entrance has been blocked and a window inserted, leaving the vestigial outer arch intact, the other has been enlarged under a flat lintel and has a steel rolling shutter door. At upper level and now internal, the riverside gable wall has a central, square-headed doorway flanked by pilasters. Early photographs show a pair of partglazed doors presumably to a loading bay, since unlike many of the recreational boathouses, there was no upper floor balcony. To each side is a round-headed window, each of two fixed panes, in a continuous moulded architrave. The side bays have wide, arched entrances facing the river, each with a pair of vertically boarded doors. The chandlery has a smaller entrance to the south gable with a pair of similar doors. Upper floor windows are late C20 timber casements, or windows inserted c 2010, which replace casements in similar openings. The eastern elevation of the chandlers' shop was ventilated by lunette openings, one of which retains its C19 iron grille, while one is replaced by an inserted window. Most gables have pierced bargeboards, which were present circa 1900.

INTERIOR: the south-east wall between the boathouse and chandlers' shop is of solid brickwork and appears to be unaltered. The north-west wall, which was originally external, is a blind arcade of four-centred arches in gauged, white brick, supported on chamfered brick piers and has a chamfered brick plinth which appears to have been cut to accommodate doorways. Set back within each alternating bay is a lunette with a cast iron ventilation grille, under a gauged, white brick arch. The other bays have an altered or inserted doorway but under an original gauged brick four-centred arch. The main boathouse has a ramped floor leading to the external slipway. When the internal space was opened up to accommodate larger boats, the shafts supporting the upper floor were removed and replaced with horizontal support. There are no fittings. Many of the original floor boards remain in place on the upper floor but the southern end of the building was reputedly repaired after a fire. The main space has a kingpost roof.

The following link takes you to the full entry for this building on Historic England's website:


© Historic England 2011. The National Heritage List Text Entries contained in this material were obtained on 29/9/13. The most publicly available up to date National Heritage List Text Entries can be obtained from http://www.historicengland.org.uk

The note below was written by the Studio operators occupying the first floor in 2012:

27 Ferry Road, The Boathouse (http://boathousedesignstudio.blogspot.com/)

The boatyard in Ferry Road, Teddington first appears on a map dating from 1850. The first known tenant was James Arthur Messenger who had served his apprenticeship on the river and set up for himself in business in 1848. By 1861 his yard employed four men and three boys. The business flourished, probably due to Messenger's reputation as a champion sculler and his appointment as the Queen's Bargemaster in 1862. By 1871 thirty men were employed there. Apart from standard rowing boats and small leisure craft, Messenger gained a reputation for building unusual one-off craft, such as the Lady Alice, a five-sectioned boat commissioned by Sir Henry Morton Stanley for his second African expedition, the Nautilus canoe for Baden-Powell, and the twin-screw steam launch Daisy for the Church Missionary Society for exploration in central Africa.

Robert Porter opened a yard in 1891 and in 1895, as Porter & Brice, took over Messenger's yard. They continued until 1910 when the yard was taken over by Tom Bunn, who was kept busy supplying vessels for Thornycrofts in Hampton for the whole of the First World War.

Douglas Tough was apprenticed to Tom Bunn and once this was completed, he and his brother Gordon, built a passenger launch Tigris II & began carrying passengers between Kingston & Richmond. By 1928 the firm of Tough Brothers was established enough to acquire Bunn's old yard & went fully into repair work, passenger boat service, chandlery and winter storage. In the late 1930s, Douglas bought another larger yard in Manor Road, Teddington. The firm expanded greatly in the Second World War, having sixteen men in 1939 and 220 in 1945 at the two yards. Ferry Road was used as the collection point for over a hundred of the commandeered Little Ships that were sent to Dunkirk in May 1940 to help with the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force. After the war the yard was used for boat repairs & building, along with manufacturing interior furniture for some of the large vessels that were built in the Manor Road yard.

The Boat House was recently Grade II listed by Historic England;


© Historic England 2011. The National Heritage List for England entry contained in this material was obtained on 29/9/13. The most publicly available up to date National Heritage List Entries can be obtained from www.historicengland.org.uk

This page is part of the Directory of Buildings of Townscape Merit (BTMs) and Listed Buildings in Teddington assembled by the Planning and History Groups of The Teddington Society. Click on any photo for a higher resolution version. Copyright for the material on this page rests with the contributor.