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Patsy Langley's Brentford Memories from the 1960s

I came across your website when researching the burials in St.Lawrence’s Church, Brentford.

I was born and raised in Brentford of two old Brentford families. I would like to advise you of two things:

The photo of the ladies’ outing, circa 1950, outside ‘The Magnet’ pub on Brentford High Street. Clara Hamlin was first married to my dad’s Uncle Ted (Edward) Langley. My dad knew her very well as ‘Aunt Clara’ and she remained ‘Aunt Clara’ following her second marriage.

Andy Webb’s photo of the cafe on Brentford Bridge brought back memories. My dad used to take me in there for drinks sometimes. I think it closed down in the late 1960’s when the (very lovely) fried fish shop opposite closed, along with the dress shop and the barbers. The barber shop migrated further into the High Street and is still called ‘Jeffs.’ The Magnet pub ceased to be a pub in the early 1960’s, giving way to a repair shop called ‘Ballantynes’.

The Wheelers, referred to by Andy, lived at 157, right next door to us. I know the Wheeler family very well, even now. The Wheeler girls had a brother called Tubby. His mum was old Mrs. Wheeler (Maud.) Tubby Wheeler was a good friend of my aunt’s husband Jumbo Smith.

When I was born in 158 High Street in 1960 no. 158 High Street was owned by Mr. & Mrs. Wilson. Mr. Wilson died on the stairs and my dad had to remove him for the undertaker.

Christening photoAttached is a photo showing my parents Alf and Joan Langley and I on my Christening Day outside St. Lawrence’s Church, Brentford. It was taken in April 1960. You can see the gravestones (no longer there) and White’s sweetshop in the background. Also in the background to the right, are the ruins of what was Percy Close, a rabbit warren of houses where Brentford Lock flats are now. The old buildings that once stood in the High Street are only just visible beyond this.

The Vicar of St. Lawrence’s at that time was Rev. Arthur Court. Notice how wide the entrances to the church were in those days.

I can confirm that 158 High Street was a mirror image of 157. I remember my mum telling me about the flooded basement, which was often filled with rats as well as coal, and would flood whenever the Thames was in spate. Both houses, Andy Webb’s dad’s cafe, Ballantyne’s, etc were demolished in the 1980’s to make way for offices. The Waterways Board finally got around to erecting floodwalls then, to prevent the new offices from being flooded.

My mum was born at 20 The Ham and attended The Ham School behind The Magnet, adjacent to the railway. She remembered the barge horses, and when they were being taken to the knackers yard, they would whinny and kick all night, as if they knew.

My grandparents (Mr. & Mrs. Kendall) were ‘river gypsies’. My grandma was first widowed from Mr. Sherville before marrying my granddad, who was buried in St. Lawrence’s Churchyard on his death in 1926.

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The Honeywell ghost

Patsy provided information about the Inverness Lodge ghost, adding:

Another Brentford ghost, one of even later time, was one I personally witnessed at work one afternoon. I used to work in the Honeywell building on the Great West Road.

One afternoon in 1997, I had cause to visit the floor below. As I returned and went to walk back upstairs to the 6th floor, a woman in a tan skirt and light coloured blouse ‘whizzed’ past me, and dashed up the staircase. This ghost was common knowledge among my colleagues on the 6th floor, one security man was so scared by ‘it’ one night during his rounds that he refused to patrol the sixth floor or the landing below it.

It was some years later when I found out that the ghost was a former office worker who died of meningitis one weekend. Seems that she loved her job so much that she refuses to leave the building. She may also account for the ghostly footsteps that are heard on the landing.

Published July 2012