Trivia

There is a commonly held myth (perpetuated by Rudyard Kipling) that the name Teddington derives from the phrase “Tides End Town” but this is incorrect.

It actually got its name from an Old English tribal chief. The Saxon in question was almost certainly called Tedd, the ‘ton’ part means settlement. Since these times it has also been called Todyngton and Tutington.

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If you’ve ever wondered why there seem to be a lot of helicopters flying low over Teddington then the answer is more mundane than you might think.

To keep Helicopters out of the way of major airports and generally over open spaces or the Thames wherever possible (in case of engine troubles), helicopter ‘corridors’ have been designated that you can view here.

Teddington happens to be right under the path of the H3 route – a popular one that transports passengers from central London out to Heathrow and further afield.

Twin-engine helicopters such as Chinooks are allowed to stray off these pre-designated routes because they can land even with just one engine. What is the destination for the Chinooks that are seen flying over Teddington? Now that would be telling.

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If you run in the park and have ever been passed effortlessly by a group of very professional-looking runners, don’t despair – it’s probably the group of world-class athletes that live and train in Teddington.

The group known locally as the “Teddington Kenyans” share a house for the northern hemisphere’s warmer half of the year. They use this base to train locally in Bushy Park and fly to compete in professional long distance races in the US and Europe.

Their choice of location is a combination of ease of airport access, proximity to London for occasional sight-seeing (when their strict routine allows) and the excellent training ground that Bushy Park provides. The park also provides the closest match to some of their training grounds back home with open and flat grassy plains.

The fastest man in the world Usain Bolt has also used Teddington as a base to train and complete for the last two summers.

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The WWII ‘Dambusters’ bouncing bomb was tested at the NPL.

A 670ft long water tank that was used to test the devices has only recently been demolished as part of the re-development of the NPL campus. During the war, workers in the top secret project used to plunge into the water at the end of a hard days work to cool off.

Barnes Wallis, the inventor of the modern bouncing bomb, gained permission to run tests at the NPL grounds and despite the superintendent of the ship tank telling him to “stop playing the fool and go do something useful for the war“, his successful scale-model tests were shown to the Air Staff to show the how the ingenious bomb design skipped over torpedo nets and then ‘clung’ to the dam wall as it sank, allowing it to explode at the weakest point underwater.

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When the first train-lines were being built out of London, rich Kingston residents thought that the town was too high-class to have a railway through it so instead it was routed through Surbiton.

Later when they realised that they were missing out on the commerce and convenience of the railway boom, the ‘loop’ was added to the network that now links Kingston, Teddington, Twickenham & Richmond etc all the way back to Waterloo.

If it wasn’t for this decision, Teddington might have a much faster train route into Waterloo and out to the countryside.

The particular stretch of track that includes Teddington was completed in 1863. Soon after followed the house-building boom that shaped the suburb that we recognise today.

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Hit comedy series The Office was filmed in a real office next to Teddington Studios.

This was later occupied by Haymarket Publishing (publishers of Autosport, Stuff, MediaWeek, What Car/Hi-Fi? etc). Visitors to the office often experience a double-take when they enter the 4th floor and get an eerie feeling they have been there before.

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Monty Pythons Flying Circus’ Fish Slapping Dance was filmed at Teddington lock. Cleese’s particularly vicious slap from the large halibut throws Palin into the largest lock.

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Fans of Simon Peggs cult-hit comedy series Spaced might recognise the cafe in episode 1, “Getting to know you” scene where Tim and Daisy’s friendship blossoms and they decide to rent a flat together.

This was filmed in Diners Delight on Church Road. The interior shots for the series were filmed at nearby Twickenham Studios.

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Down’s syndrome as it is known today was named in honour of the doctor that first fully recognised the condition: John Haydon Langdon-Down

His medical career brought him to London where he acquired Normansfield House on Kingston Road which he turned into a private home and school for people with learning disabilities. Residents were cared for and learned life skills like dressing, feeding and cooking. The considerable site was self-sufficient – with vegetables grown to feed residents but this gave way to various new buildings and caring methods over the years, especially since the hospital joined the NHS in 1951.

Much of the original hospital building is now derelict and has fallen into disrepair with some notable exceptions especially the theatre wing which still contains original painted scenery and extravagant Victorian fixtures and fittings.

The Langdon Down Centre Trust now own and maintain the theatre after being refurbished and handed over by Laing Homes in 2003. The house-building company developed a considerable part of the rest of the site into high-spec dwellings now known as Langdon Park. The theatre venue and other rooms are available for filming and general hire through the trust. There is also a small Dr Langdon museum situated in basement containing medical papers and photographs which is viewable by appointment.

Langdons heritage continues with the national headquarters of the Down Syndrome Association being situated on the top floor of one of the old buildings.

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Benny Hill lived in a small flat on Twickenham Road – walking distance from where his popular TV show was filmed at Teddington Studios.

Teddington born Noel Coward (1899-1973) left a sizeable contribution to the arts and could name amongst his talents: actor, dramatist, filmmaker, director, author and composer.

Alan Turing who is considered to be the “father of modern computer science”, worked at the NPL from 1945-47 where he worked on the first designs for the worlds first stored-program computer.

His work during the war at Bletchley Park was instrumental in breaking German ciphers and helping the Allied war effort. Most will recognise his name from the Turing Test which is a series of questions designed to test a machines ability to display intelligence (or fool humans into thinking they are talking to another human).

Both Keira Knightley and Julian Clary were also born in Teddington.

Andi Peters can often be seen keeping trim at Fitness First and former Blue Peter presenter Mark Curry is often spotted enjoying a local cafe or running in the park.

Have you spotted Johnny Depp in the area? Probably not, it’s far more likely that you have seen a resident of Hampton who is a professional Johnny Depp look-a-like, frequently spotted in the area and causing much confusion.

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