One of the ancient paths that used to slip between fields when all around Richmond was fields and Palaces.

Kew Road (originally Kew Horse Road) is itself an ancient route running past the old Places, although it has changed its alignment several times as Kew Gardens emerged from the grounds of Royal Palaces.

At the bottom of Kew Road, as you approach the modern town centre, Blue Anchor Alley seems to have been a shortcut between Lower Mortlake Road and Kew Road, emerging onto the latter on the eastern side of the Blue Anchor pub, hence its name.

The pub is known to have been functioning on the site under this name since around 1780 although an inn is also indicated on the site on the Rocque map of London of 1741-1745.

The name of the blue anchor is likely to be derived from the distinctive blue marl (mud) which coated the anchors of some vessels. The name of the Blue Anchor seems a popular one in riverside towns, and the anchor was a popular sign to indicate the venue was welcoming to sailors.

For some years, the alley was a narrow path lined with high walls, of the sort commonly found backing onto shops and warehouses in the City. One side was still farmland right up to the turn of the 20th century when it was finally built on, and the alley, opened onto a row of charming cottages.

Today it’s still here, and on my visit, quite well used by people still seeking a short-cut. It’ has the air of a quiet mews with the cottages lining the heart of the alley, and the narrow high brick walls an imposing barrier at the ends.

The concrete slap paving is a pity, and although more “rustic” paving would look nicer, it’s also admittedly less stable to walk on.

Sadly, the the Blue Anchor Pub that gave its name to the alley is no more, having closed in 206 and is now occupied by The Library Pot, who retain its strong blue colour scheme.

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