The Depot

Riverside Restaurant

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The location is special of course. We’re so lucky to be by the river with lovely views and the sunsets over Chiswick can be spectacular. But we wouldn’t want the view to obscure the real efforts made by the kitchen, led by the indomitable Gary Knowles, who’s no nonsense style of cooking is robust, generous and authentic. His team work hard to produce consistent, well sourced and flavoursome food, which is a credit to his determination and passion.

Then there’s the history. Thirty years is a long time in most businesses, but quite a feat for a restaurant and we’re proud to have been running The Depot successfully under the same ownership all this time. It’s been a privilege to see our customers, literally, growing with us and throwing parties to commemorate births, Christenings, birthdays (of various significance, usually with a zero at the end), weddings, retirements and naturally deaths. Special events really have become part of our tradition.

We aim to make the old place look attractive and welcoming but it’s the guests who enhance the atmosphere; it can certainly feel very lively on occasions, with the ebb and flow of regulars, neighbours, friends and families, at both lunch and dinner. Our friendly front of house team recognise so many faces it’s astonishing, and seem genuinely over the moon to welcome guests and look after them with warmth and professionalism. We couldn’t leave this subject without mentioning J.F., our lovely host who makes such an effort to accommodate everyone with all their various and inevitable needs and expectations.

Talking of the ‘old place’, it really does go back some, as far back as Victorian times, when Tideway Yard was indeed an old council depot (hence the name) housing refuse carts and horses (hence the stable doors) amongst other things. Given its wonderful position on the river it’s surprising to think that when we looked at the site all that time ago, back in 1986, it was derelict and in danger of being demolished. Thanks to one of the owner’s skills as a designer and architect, the site was saved and sensitively restored and, as such has been much admired.

Then there’s Sunday lunch…if ever there was a Barnes and Depot tradition, it’s this: traditional (and not so traditional!) Sunday lunch, on the river; usually families, but not necessarily. All are welcome for Hereford sirloin of beef or roast Gloucester Old Spot with all the trimmings- crumble with real custard – never a rush, just an easy place to be…

We love our location and our ‘people’ and we feel a real sense of connection with Mortlake and Barnes, whose community we have been a part of for so long. Barnes Summer Fair is always a blast, especially when it pours and the recent food fair has proved a real success. A strong community association can take pride in their work. And of course we have our ‘Yardie’ neighbours who we love to see dropping in for a coffee or working lunch and often indulge in a cocktail or two on a Friday evening.

All in all, we hope we’ve ‘covered the bases’, as one critic once put it, and we can say without too much immodesty that we try hard to deliver what you, the public, want – honest, good-value grub, well selected wines, lively atmosphere, great location and genuine service with a smile. We hope you’ll enjoy coming as much as we’ll enjoy having you…

A brief history of Tideway Yard and the Old Power Station, London SW14.

Constructed in 1901, the buildings, which currently house The Depot restaurant and all the offices at Tideway Yard, were originally the stables and coach houses for the Barnes Council refuse depot. The Old Power Station also used to belong to Barnes Council and the borough made its own electricity there, using coal or coke brought up the Thames in barges. In fact, there are still traces of railway lines under the new cobbles along the riverfront.

The London Electricity Board took over the Old Power Station and it gradually fell into disuse and dereliction. The council depot was continuously enlarged. At one time it contained not only a de-lousing station but also the borough mortuary! During World War 2 the corner occupied by The Depot served as a barracks for air raid wardens – the tin helmets were still hanging there in 1983! The building on Mortlake High Street which resembles a house, used to be where the old council steamroller was put at night.

By 1981 the council was now Richmond Borough Council and they had no further use for any of the buildings. They proposed to demolish the whole site and leave it as an open space. The local Mortlake residents were up in arms about this and formed a Residents Association to protest about the demolition and to suggest future uses for the interesting collection of buildings on the site. A competition for local architects/developers was held, with a brief to keep the best of the existing buildings, to include some new housing and to provide space for small new businesses to start and flourish. Many of the big- named housing developers were short-listed, but the competition was actually won (voted for by the local people) by Gillian Harwood and her architect partner Philip Lancashire.

In 1985 their plans were fast becoming a reality when they teamed up with Marstons Builders from Fulham; the old mortuary was demolished and replaced by the riverside apartment block, now known as Tideway Wharf and the loft style section of this development was several years ahead of its time.

In order to create more useable space inside the old stable buildings, an iron walkway was designed. The cast iron columns supporting this were salvaged from the County Stand at Aintree racecourse. The final part of the development was The Old Power Station. The part of the building fronting Mortlake High Street contains many original features, with tall timber ceilings and a grand staircase. The original turbine hall now houses the local youth club and also contains some splendid reminders of its heavy-industrial past. The refurbished buildings, including The Depot, re-opened in 1986.

One building that Gillian Harwood is personally gratified to have saved is the little gatehouse at the entrance to Tideway Yard. In 1983 the GLC road planners insisted on its being demolished to make “better sight-lines”. Gillian flatly refused to let this happen and she held out long enough for the GLC to be demolished by Margaret Thatcher instead!