The station was opened by the London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) on 1 January 1869, in an area of market gardens and orchards. The station was located on a new L&SWR branch line to Richmond built from the West London Joint Railway starting north of Addison Road station (now Kensington (Olympia)). The line ran through Shepherd's Bush and Hammersmith via a now closed curve and Grove Road station (also now closed) in Hammersmith. Via a short connection from the North & South Western Junction Railway (N&SWJR) to Gunnersbury the line was also served by the North London Railway. The DR's service between Richmond, Hammersmith and central London was more direct than the NLR's route via Willesden Junction, the L&SWR's or the MR's routes via Grove Road station or the L&SWR's other route from Richmond via Clapham Junction. From 1 January 1894, the GWR began sharing the MR's Richmond service and served Kew Gardens once again, meaning that passengers from Kew Gardens could travel on the services of five operators.
It is the nearest station to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (located to the west) and The National Archives (to the north east) and is managed by London Underground. The main entrance to the station is located at the junction of Station Parade, Station Avenue and Station Approach about 100 yards (90 m) from Sandycombe Road (B353) and is about 500 yards (460 m) from the entrance to the Botanic Gardens and 600 yards (550 m) from The National Archives. The station can also be accessed from North Road, on the other side of the railway line; the two entrances are connected by a pedestrian subway. Both the station building and the footbridge are Grade II listed.
There are no lifts. Platform 2 (going towards central London) is at ground level. Platform 1 (going towards Richmond) is reached by a short set of 10 steps; there is also a wheelchair-accessible ramp. The National Archives is on the Platform 1 side of the station. The village proper, Sandycombe Road, and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are on the Platform 2 side, and visitors to those locations must cross the tracks via either the tunnel underneath (left of the main exit, 15 steps down, then 22 steps up) or the footbridge (right of the main exit, 30 steps up, then 30 steps down). The simplest alternative for those wishing to avoid the steps is to remain on the train while it travels one stop to Richmond and returns. The station has cash machines, Euro cash machines, toilets and boarding ramps.
Connections: National Rail. London Buses route 391 serves the station, with a bus stop nearby on Sandycombe Road.