Kingston upon Thames

The Borough of Kingston upon Thames was formed in 1965 from the old municipal borough of Kingston (also a royal borough), which could trace its foundation back to Saxon times. At 14.3 square miles it is one of the smallest of the London boroughs. It is on the southwest edge of London and shares its borders with the London Boroughs of Richmond Upon Thames, Merton and Sutton as well as the county of Surrey.

Population change:

1966 146,000 people
1998 144,300 people

Kingston has medieval origins but was essentially built up between the wars. Although it is primarily a residential suburb it had areas of industry. During the 20th century its industries included paint and aircraft manufacturing. Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith established the Sopwith Aviation Company in Kingston in 1912. The famous Sopwith Camel fighter plane was developed in 1917. Although the planes were initially difficult to control, once pilots mastered them they found them highly manoeuvrable and well armed. These planes destroyed more enemy aircraft that any other during the First World War.

Kingston ended the 20th century as one of the least deprived borough in London, according to official statistics. People from ethnic backgrounds accounted for 14% of the borough's population, including significant numbers of people of South Korean and Sri Lankan origin.

One of the best-known 20th-century attractions in the borough is Chessington World of Adventures. Reginald Goddard originally opened the theme park as a zoo in 1931. By 1945 a funfair, circus and miniature railway had been added. Today there are many rollercoaster rides as well as animals and discovery areas. There are parks, gardens and areas of woodland in the borough including Richmond Park, one of the largest of the royal parks.

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