The aims and achievements of The Hampton Society / why we are here

Photograph of the Middlesex Yeomanry Band by Samantha Redfern

The Hampton Society was founded (as the Hampton Residents' Association) in 1956. The inaugural meeting was held on 19 April 1956 in the Public Hall (site of the present St Mary's Parish Hall) and agreed the proposed aims of the Association, which read as follows:

to preserve and foster the amenities of Hampton to
preserve its open spaces from disfigurement or encroachment;

encourage good architecture in its future development;

and generally to express the wishes of and safeguard the rights
of the residents in these matters.

The Hampton Society, as Hampton Residents' Association became in 1998, was the successor to five previous bodies, none of which endured for very many years. The first was formed on 27 March 1865 and lasted only 10 days. The fifth, and most long lasting, was founded in the 1920s and came to an end in the late 1930s at about the time of the bitterly opposed amalgamation of Hampton and Twickenham.

We are, with good reason, interested in our own history and in the history of Hampton, but we are much more concerned with the present and the future and in facing our current and potential problems we try to live up to the aims and principles so well set out by our predecessors in 1956.

We provide an annual programme of 15 or 16 events – a mixture of talks, visits, social activities – but of prime importance is what goes on behind the scenes, a close scrutiny of planning applications, transport and road conditions, and environmental matters, and we vigorously oppose anything that is likely to damage the quality of life in Hampton.

Campaigns

Over the years we have fought many campaigns on large and small issues. As might be expected, we have won some victories and suffered some losses.

Some successes:

Hampton's village green – involved in the successful campaign for the creation of a larger public green space on disused filter beds.

Nursery Land develpoment – fighting the proposed development of tower blocks in favour of an improved design and layout of the new housing;

Air traffic noise – contributed to reducing aircraft flights over Hampton;

Hampton Pool – actively supporting those brave visionaries who saved the pool from destruction;

Taggs Island – preventing the building of a massive hotel on the island;

Further support:

Hampton Riverside Trust – supporting our good friends in in their work for Garrick's Temple, for reopening the ferry, and the long overdue improvement of the riverside area at Bell Hill.

We have also joined other organisations in campaigns against Terminal 5 (lost); parking charges in Bushy Park (won); improved public transport services (continuing) and road safety improvements (continuing).

We have also monitored the transition of Hampton Community College into Hampton Academy. Primary schools in the Borough of Richmond upon Thames have reached a very high standard and regularly feature near the top of the national league tables, but this success has not been equalled at the secondary level and young people in Hampton have not been well-served in this respect, for a whole variety of reasons. Many local people had reservations about the proposed change but now that it has taken place, we all wish the greatest possible success to Hampton Academy under its Principal, Dr Sue Demont. The young people of Hampton need and deserve the best possible provision of educational services.

Not quite what we wanted, but a worthwhile outcome all the same:

St Clare's Nursery and the building of the Sainsbury's Supermarket – together with the Council, other organisations and local residents, we opposed the sale of the land for a whole range of environmental reasons, and of course we lost. The irony of that particular failure, rarely commented on, was that the delays and legal battles, which dragged on over some years, resulted in a huge increase in the amount eventually paid to the Hampton Fuel Allotment Charity, and this has enabled them to continue to give valuable support to many deserving local bodies and individuals in need.

Regular activity

On a day-to-day basis, we are particularly concerned to try to prevent inappropriate developments which all too often take the form of applications to demolish perfectly sound houses or bungalows and replace them with a number of expensive houses or even a block of flats. There are also audacious attempts at in-filling, squeezing extra houses in the spaces behind or between existing properties. We oppose all these, but with only limited success. Potential developers, with large profits in their sights, can be very determined and persistent, and the local authority – planning officers and councillors – do not always have the power or the will to resist in the way that we would like.

Despite the problems, we co-operate where we can with the Council and seek - and often receive - the support of local councillors and our Member of Parliament. We are glad to work with other amenity organisations but we remain totally independent and are responsible only to our members.

In a history written to celebrate our silver jubilee in 1981, our distinguished former Chairman and President, the late Gerald Heath, wrote :

All in all, the successes and compromises have outweighed the failures and it can fairly be claimed that the Association has had a beneficial effect on the moulding of Hampton in regard to housing, the landscape, and community services, in the past 25 years. At least, it would have been Hampton's loss if the Association had not existed.

It is interesting and salutary to review the past, but we are now looking to the future and intend to carry on the good work in the years ahead.