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Not Brentford New

Memories of Stanley Goddard 1920s onwards

Thank you to Len Cox for providing this cutting from the Middlesex Chronicle. The reporter was Astrid Stubbs and I think this article appeared in the 1980s. The text is unaltered but I have added headings and a few notes, eg [1].

Percy Goddard, furniture dealer, appears in trade directories from the 1920s onwards at 277 High Street.

Percy Goddard's son, Stanley Edward Goddard, was born in 1914 and died in 2005 at the age of 91. Janet McNamara has forwarded a cutting from the Brentford & Chiswick Times about his life, this will be added later.

Stan's story of a bygone age

The rapidly-changing face of Brentford has severed many of the town's links with its past. But for one Brentford businessman who has jotted down his reminiscences, those memories are still vivid today.

Mr. Stanley Goddard, of P. Goddard and Sons Limited, Brentford High Street, has family associations with the town stretching back to 1815. In fact there is even evidence to suggest that a Goddard furniture dealer was operating in Brentford as early as 1780.

In a series of letters, many written between the hours of five and seven in the morning, Mr. Goddard has now shared some of his personal experiences of a boyhood spent in Brentford...

Deliveries 1920s style

"Furniture vans were sent out over a 20-mile radius in Middlesex and Surrey, serving the surrounding growing districts of Hounslow, Richmond, Ealing and Chiswick

"Long distance removals were carried out by three horse team pantechnicons (furniture vans) and the vehicles were sometimes transferred to the railways if the journey was too far for the horses.

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Work for all

"The warehouses, malthouses, distilleries, potteries, clay pipe and skin factories provided plenty of work for people. Girls travelled by canal to work in the fields around Brentford in the market gardens. There was work for all, but with very long hours.

"Brentford's very success contributed to its undoing. It must be remembered that it had been a thriving town for more than two thousand years and the High Street was narrow and the whole area overcrowded."

Decline

With the coming of the underground railway, people began to travel to the growing shopping areas of Richmond, Hounslow and Ealing although the Great West Road brought a new kind of prosperity to the area.

The First World War saw the beginning of the decline of retail trade in Brentford.

"I well remember at the age of five the empty horse stalls and carts and vans at the back of the old shop, with its large hooks where the carcasses had hung when it was a wholesale butcher and grocery establishment.

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Two shillings and sixpence for a chimney fire

"Other reminiscences of old Brentford are legion. The town was a close-knit community with its own ambulance and fire station.

"The maroon was set off at the Town Meadow and the volunteer fire brigade (Frank Davis, the grandfather of Leslie Davis, who is director of H. F. Davis Builders [1] was captain) rushed from their shops, houses and places of work.

"Mr. Young, the horse keeper [2], used to arrive with two horses to be placed in the waiting fire engine followed by a fire escape ladder.

"The firemen were paid six shillings for a fire, two shillings and sixpence for a chimney fire and two shillings for a false alarm.

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Fourpence for a pint of beer

"Food was cheap, one penny for loose pickles and a fish and chip dinner for threepence. It cost fourpence for a pint of beet, one penny to go across to Kew Gardens on the ferry, twopence to go to the cinema (The Coronet) on a Saturday, with an orange thrown in for inducement.

"A boy's haircut cost threepence, but not on Saturdays, which were reserved for adults at sixpence.

"I remember how the police had their own long barrow to transport any corpses they found to the mortuary, with a folding umbrella to cover the body.

"The muffin man came round the streets on Sundays swinging his bell and carrying a tray on his head. Salt was cut off from a large block for sale and milk was dipped out of large churns.

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Names from the past

"Names from the past include Nash the iron merchant (boys could supplement their income by taking jars, rags, metal and old bones to his establishment)[3]; Mr. Remnant [4] and Mr. Heath [5], the harness and leather merchants; Mr. Huxley, who sold rabbits from his barrow at sixpence and gave a rebate if he kept the skin; and Tom Chinnery, the baker's roundsman.

"In Rapers Alley there was a side door where the customers of Rattenburys, the pawnbrokers, nipped in hurriedly to put in or claim their pledges.

Sounds from the past

"I recall the squeal of the wheels as the trams gathering speed from Ealing Road down towards the Half Acre reached a slight bend by Young and Martens, the clank of the shunting engines at the docks and the clip-clop of the horses pulling the carts of vegetables from Staines and beyond to Brentford Market, with the drivers fast asleep, shrouded in sacks and waterproofs holding the reins.

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Christmas in Brentford

"In the days before Christmas all the shops were decorated and remained open much later than usual to do as much trade as possible.

"Pawnbrokers were particularly busy as was the toy shop on the site of the present International Supermarket.

"Butchers slept on their premises—partly to deal with the extra work of plucking birds and preparing the meat (best beef was only one shilling and sevenpence a pound) — and partly to protect their stock.

"People were seen about during Christmas Day and Boxing Day, sporting their Christmas gifts — gloves, a new hat or cap, shoes or a suit, which made-to-measure cost from as little as 35 shillings.

"With no cars in Brentford, a Christmas party with visitors coming any distance finished with them sleeping in chairs or on makeshift beds and waiting for public transport to start on Boxing Day.

"There was no radio or other outside entertainment and no football or public games until Boxing Day when all the men went to the match. The following day the town returned to normal."

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Notes

[1] 118 High Street
[2] possibly Edward Young, horse slaughterer at 403 High Street
[3] 329 High Street
[4] 65 High Street
[5] 267 High Street

Published December 2008