Walton Bridge on Thames, JMW Turner
A Short but Fascinating History of Walton on Thames
We tend to think of Walton on Thames in terms of how we see it today, a pleasant town that can be described as having the attractiveness of rural Surrey and the convenience of suburban London. It has become a lovely place in which to put down roots, but it should be noted that it has a proud, diverse and fascinating history.
Walton on Thames started life as little more than a river crossing that connected Surrey with Middlesex, and there are claims that Julius Caesar crossed the waters here during his second invasion of Britain in 54BC. These claims could well be true, because it was certainly possible to do so at that time.
Over the centuries Walton on Thames and the surrounding area remained a collection of small hamlets located on and around the roads from Chertsey and Guildford to the city of London. While it remained a relatively quiet area, there have been a number of important archaeological finds in recent times.
They include a number of cinerary urns, which were used to contain the ashes of the deceased after cremations, a Neolithic flint dagger and an uninscribed gold coin which was found in the Thames. These finds show there was a distinctive amount of activity in the vicinity.
It all started with a humble river crossing
The beginnings of the town can perhaps be traced back to a toll crossing on a wooden bridge that was established by a Mr Samuel Dicker in 1750. This was the first in a long line of bridges at Walton that led to the current construction which opened as recently as 2013. Previous incarnations were famously painted by Canaletto and Turner.
As is the case with so many other locations around London, it was the construction and development of the railways which transformed Walton on Thames from a village into a town. First established in 1838, the local station now handles almost three million passenger movements every year.
A number of famous names have had strong links with Walton on Thames over the years, including the celebrated naval commander Admiral George Rodney, who was born in the town. Hollywood superstar Dame Julie Andrews and rock singer Nick Lowe were also born here. Some of the famous names who have lived in houses in Walton on Thames include former US President Herbert Hoover and one-time US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.