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Brentford Councillors - James Clements

Introduction

Janet McNamara has researched details of the men who served as Brentford Local Board Members and Councillors, see intro page for more details of early local government structure.

James Clements

James Clements was elected to the Brentford Urban District Council in 1895 and was the Chairman of the Council a number of times. His name is on the dedication stones at
  • the Baths (1895)
  • the Fire Station (1897)
  • the Market extension (1905) (now at Western International Market)
  • Brentford Monument (1909)
  • a house at 217, Ealing Road (1920) when he was a Justice of the Peace (appointed 1914) and a Middlesex County Councillor and
  • Boston Manor House (1924) to mark the opening of the Park to the public
He was the first Vice Chairman of the Brentford and Chiswick District Council in 1927 and became the Charter Mayor when the Borough of Brentford & Chiswick was formed.

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There is some family history on this website but highlights from his obituary in the Middlesex Independent after his death in December 1934 aged 72 show how highly thought of he was describing him in the headline as ‘’Jim’ Clements: Brentford’s ‘Grand Old Man’’.

It tells that aged 9 he had worked at a sewing machine with his widowed mother at Penningtons at Brentford Bridge; how, aged 13 he had walked the towpath to Birmingham and worked on the canal. When he returned to Brentford he worked for Brentford Gas Company and Mr Brunsden before moving to Thames Steam Tug and Lighterage Company where he became a lighterman, captain of a sailing barge and skipper of a tug by the age of 17.

He later worked for Oylett and Francis and then in partnership formed Clements Knowling trading from Goat Wharf and Ferry Lane as lightermen, tug and barge owners and haulage contractors.

He was a Justice of the Peace, a member of the Brentford Philanthropic Society and the Liberal Club, also President of the British Legion and member of 9 Masonic Lodges and had been founder of 5 of them. On 2 occasions he had been Master of the Waterman’s Company.

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He had retired from the Council in 1927 but reading Council minutes for October 2nd 1906 it seems he had resigned after an argument about the timing of the meeting.

The secretary had called the meeting for an hour earlier than usual which meant that the press had not been notified and had therefore been excluded. Mr Clements moved that the business of appointing a matron for the Isolation Hospital should be referred back to a proper Council Meeting. When this was refused it was reported that he had walked out saying he was resigning.

His letter of resignation was received with a penalty payment of £1.1.0d at the meeting on October 16th. At that time a penalty was payable by anyone who resigned.
Mr Haley (another member of the Council) suggested that the Chairman ask Mr Clements to reconsider his decision and that he might do so if the whole of the Council agreed.
Mr Gomm’s comment had been ‘Do we want to make a God of Clements?’
It seems Mr Clements had refused when the Chairman had asked him but then the Clerk informed the Council that the penalty for resignation was £20 not £1.1.0d and it was agreed that Mr Clements should be ‘informed of the circumstances’ and given the opportunity of withdrawing his resignation.
This he did and his guinea was returned.

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At his death it was reported that he still owned the sewing machine he’d used as a child and that it was in his house, Sidney House, Boston Road where he died and which was named after his son who was killed at Ypres during the First World War.

Sidney is commemorated on his father’s grave stone in South Ealing Cemetery together with his wife Sarah who died in 1945 and their baby son who died aged 3 months in 1896.

Probate Records: Clements James of Sidney House, Boston Manor Road, Brentford Middlesex died December 21st 1934. Probate London March 28th 1935 to Charles Turner, estate agent and Henry Edward Myatt, commercial clerk. Effects £41,761.16s.

There is a block of flats, originally built for Council tenants near Brentford Station called Sidney House. I think this is likely to have been called after the Clement’s house and may even be on the same site.

Other material

Janet has also provided photos of his gravestone, from his time of serving as a councillor and an example of his signature; also newpaper reports of his appointment as Vice Chairman, Brentford & Chiswick District Council; notice seeking re-election in 1911 elections, BUDC; notice of his death; photos from Chiswick Town Hall including an oil painting as Charter Mayor. To be added as time permits. See also notes compiled from the newspaper article of his funeral in 1934, listing mourners.

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Page published November 2011