An entrance known as the Cumberland Gate, funded by local property developer George Engleheart and located 300 yards north of the Queen’s Gate, also opened in 1868. This ended up being the closest entrance for visitors arriving from Kew Gardens Station until the Victoria Gate opened.
Kew’s Victoria Gate entrance comprises a pair of imposing double gates with flanking single side gates, designed by William Eden Nesfield. He was the son of the landscape gardener William Andrews Nesfield, who helped redesign the Gardens in the mid-19th century. Cast in wrought iron, with Portland stone pillars bearing the crown and ‘VR’ for ‘Victoria Regina’, the gates are one of four pairs at Kew that are Grade II Listed.
The gates were originally located close to the Marianne North Gallery, opposite the Temperate House. Called the Queen’s Gate, this entrance was completed in 1868 to coincide with the planned location of a new railway station being built as part of an extension to the London and South Western Railway. In the event, the station was built half a mile nearer Kew village, so the entrance was never used.
Instead, the gravel path that had been laid from the Queen’s Gate to the Temperate House was grassed over in 1871 and planted as an avenue of alternating deodar cedars and Douglas firs. The gate itself was moved nearer the station, and formally opened as the Victoria Gate on the Queen’s birthday in 1889.
The Victoria Gate Visitor Centre and Shop opened in 1992. It was expanded by adding the present coffee shop in 1999. On one wall of the centre is a mural carved from trees that fell during the Great Storm of 1987. The shop sells plants and gardening paraphernalia, along with Kew souvenirs, framed photographs, books and toiletries. Most visitors now enter the Gardens through the Victoria Gate.