A Burst Weir, 1914

All Canal Traffic held up.

Middlesex Independent, December 23 1914

Middlesex Independent, December 23 1914

Owing to the excess of wet, a tremendous volume of land water has been flowing down the Brent of late. This culminated in the Weir near Col. Clitherow’s property bursting on Sunday afternoon.

It was about two o’clock when a swift rush of water broke the weir down, the effect of which has been to empty the canal between the two sets of locks over a distance of about a mile.

All traffic on the canal from Brentford to the north has been held up and as a consequence it is very doubtful if many barge workers who reside in the Midlands will reach their homes in time to spend Christmas as they seek to do whenever possible.

So much land water has been coming down that repair works are necessarily delayed until the flood abates. It is hoped however to commence the repair today (Wednesday). Everything was got in readiness for the work to be commenced within a few hours of the occurrence thanks to the prompt action taken by the Grand Junction Canal Officials but of course they are impotent before the swift rush of waters.

It was fortunate that the canal officials were so early apprised of the untoward event and were able to take prompt measures, otherwise it is almost certain much of the craft must have been sunk.

Cholera in 1853

Tuesday, November 1st 1853, The Morning Post

Tuesday, November 1st 1853, The Morning Post


From returns made to the Commissioners of Metropolitan Police by the superintendents of the F, K, L, M, P, and R divisions of police, and transmitted this day to the General Board of Health, it appears that, between the 18th and 28th instant,there have occurred in those districts 20 cases of cholera, of which eight have resulted fatally. In one instance one patients died in 13 1/2 hours, and in another after only eight hours illness. Five of these cases had previously been reported as being under treatment.

On inquiry into the cases of cholera which have occurred in Brentford, Dr. Milroy states that, on the 4th instant, Mr. Radcliffe, one of the parochial medical officers, was called to see a young woman on intemperate, immoral habits, in a low unwholesome lodging-house at the Bar, New Brentford. She was a tramp, and had recently come into the town. Mr. Radcliffe found her in a state of collapse; but neglected diarrhoea had existed for several days previous to the invasion of the malignant symptoms. She recovered; and no other case of sickness has occurred in the house, although there are nearly 20 inmates in it. About the same time Mr.Goodchild, another of the parochial medical officers, attended a case in Thames-row, Hollows, near the river side, an unhealthy locality. The patient was a fisherman; and, like most of his class, was improvident, and much [prone] to intemperance, living from hand to mouth -he was badly off at the time. This case was fatal. Several cases of severe choleraic diarrhoea have recently occurred at the adjoining houses in Thames-row. On the 6th instant Mr. Davis was called to a man aged 46, a pensioner, recently returned from Ireland, who had been engaged the day before on the river removing ballast &c. Shortly after his dinner he began to be purged; the diarrhoea continued until the evening, when cramps were first experienced; nevertheless no medical aid was procured until 11 o’clock p.m., when Mr. Davis found him verging to collapse. The vomiting and purging were checked under the use of sulphuric acid, but the collapse increased, and he died next day at three o’clock p.m. There were seven inmates in the house, but none of them, including the man’s wife, have been affected. On the 12th a fatal case occurred at a place called Cage-square, in a navvy, who had been suffering from neglected diarrhoea for three or four days previously. He was collapsed when Mr. Ralfs first saw him, at two o’clock a.m., and survived 30 hours. He has left a wife and three children. One or two cases of diarrhoea have occurred in the same house. On the 13th, a child, one year of age, was seen by Mr. Radcliffe, in a small house near the railway station. The child had been affected with diarrhoea for four days previously. It died on the 14th. No other member of this poor family, nine or ten in number, has been affected. On the 18th, two fatal cases occurred – one in a notoriously filthy Irish court, called Poppett’s-parlour, where several of the inhabitants had already been attacked with diarrhoea, and the other in Knight’s-buildings. Both localities are situated by the river side. Several of the houses in Poppett’s-parlour are stated by Mr. Goodchild to be so bad as to be utterly unfit for human habitation. The place where one of the above died, a woman aged 60, is described as a filthy shed, which should not be allowed to be occupied. It consisted of two rooms, in which eight or nine people slept. On the 24th a militiaman died of cholera at a beer-shop in the town; he was attended by the surgeon of the regiment. Besides the cases of developed cholera enumerated above, there has been a considerable amount, more especially within the last three weeks, of diarrhoea of a choleraic nature in Old Brentford. The localities chiefly affected are Thames-row, and other places near the river. In one house opposite the gas works several severe cases have occurred, in one instance with a fatal result. The privy is stated by Mr. Ralfs to be in a horrible condition. The same gentleman mentioned that he had recently attended a very sever case in a place called Eaton’s-row, which is a very narrow lane, where the stench from several open privies is so disgustingly offensive as to sicken those who are obliged to pass along to their dwellings. But this is far from being a solitary or exceptional case in Brentford. It is known to be in a shockingly filthy and offensive condition, nor will any one wonder at this when he learns that there is not a sewer or proper drain in the town, and that there is not a single house which water laid on, although the very source of the chief metropolitan water supply, the Thames, is at their doors, and the works of the Grand Junction Company are not half a mile distant. The water used by the inhabitants for culinary purposes, and for making tea, is sold in the streets at so much a bucket; it is derived from one or two deep Artesian wells in the town. Some of the wells from which the poorer classes obtain their water are stated to be contaminated with the contents of adjacent cess-pools. There is, of course, a large amount of preventable disease arising from such a state of things as has been described. The worst localities are mostly near the river, the bed of which, at low water, exhibits a black putrid slime, exhaling a most nauseous stench. The effects of this upon the health of the fishermen and their families must be most injurious, and may, in conjunction with other causes, account for the intemperate habits to which they are addicted.Taken altogether, there are few places which stand more in need of sanitary improvement than Brentford, and which would be more benefitted by the adoption of the Public Health Act.

November 6 1853, Reynolds Newspaper

November 6 1853, Reynolds Newspaper


The article continues with cases at Mortlake and further afield.

An extract from this article was published a few days later in Reynolds newspaper which summarises outbreaks of the cholera in the Metropolis and the Provinces, with Brentford being in the latter.

Thanks to Celia Cotton for supplying the articles and text. She also adds that Poppet’s Parlour appears to have been owned by John Bond at the time. Poppet’s Parlour was still occupied  1871 but by 1881 I reckon they it was demolished to allow expansion of the gas works.

The Markets and Growers of Brentford

At the end of the thirteenth century the Manor of Boston was given to the Priory of St Helen’s, Bishopsgate by King Edward I. It’s thought that the Priory may have used the Manor as a country retreat and as a place to grow food. Later they were granted a charter to hold a weekly market and an annual six day fair around St Lawrence’s Day in August.

The stalls would originally have been along the High Street – at that time little more than a wide track – but the market flourished due to easy access by river and locally grown produce for sale. By about 1587 it expanded in to an orchard on the north side of the High Street still called Market Place and expanded in to the Butts.

Locally grown produce was sold to merchants from London. Transport links by road and river were good and the carts and boats carrying  fruit and vegetables returned filled with what was politely called ‘night soil’ which was used as fertiliser. Baskets for carrying the fruit and vegetables were made locally from the osiers cut from the willow trees grown on the aits or islands in the Thames. Continue reading

Watermen at War


Friday May 29th 1942


Barges and Canal Boats are Vital Links in Supply Chain


Through Fires and Bombs Up River in London Blitz

On the late afternoon of September 6th 1940 a solitary pair of boats, frail river craft, moved steadily up the Thames between banks of blazing warehouses, flying masonry, and under a sky noisy with ‘planes and the crash of anti-aircraft fire. The boats’ crew of five, including two Brentford men, were maintaining the slogan ‘Keep Moving’, which river and canal workers have nailed to their masts for the duration. Continue reading

Looking after bikes during football matches

Memory of Mr Stan Prince who lived at No. 92 Brook Road:

Brook Road end of Griffin Park

Brook Road end of Griffin Park

“On days when the bikes used to come around, my dad would give me a couple of shillings for helping him. People used to cycle all the way from Windsor and Staines to watch Brentford play.

“This was before cars began to come in, and trains were expensive. Blokes used to jump off the bikes, we’d give them a ticket; we slapped a ticket on the bike and they’d run off to get into the queue for the ground.

“We used to run ’em through the house. We’d have loads of bikes in there. Threepence a time. You might rake in about 15 shillings. At the end of the game, they’d be saying, ‘where’s my bl**dy lamp gone; where’s my pump!’ Continue reading