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Not Brentford New

Fond memories of a dirty, dusty, smelly place

Maurice's memories of Brentford date from the mid-1930s

Brentford in the 1930s and Granny - Emily Underhill (nee Chelton)

When visiting as a child, in the pre-war period when the gas works was operating it was a very dirty, dusty, smelly place to live and the noise from trams rattling past was deafening, nevertheless I spent many happy summer holidays staying at my grandmothers at No 44 and still feel an attachment to the town perhaps this resulted from my Granny being the midwife at my birth and reviving a blue baby with vigorous slapping and also being the one to pull my loose baby teeth.

I remember Grannys Monday wash in the big built in copper in the corner of the kitchen (44 High Street) popping in the bluebag and helping to turn the handle on the mangle.

High Street numbering

An odd thing about the High Street is that the numbering system was continuous, and not the usually used odds and even numbers on opposite sides of the road.

A cycle shop and undertakers

On the corner of Albany Place was a cycle shop where they charged accumulators for 9d a time used to operate the radio. Directly opposite 44 was an undertaker's shop, which it seemed to me almost permanently had two Dalmatian dogs sitting looking out of the full glass door.

Gruesome death of a butcher - not to be read by the squeamish

Towards the Half Acre was Freddie Marriner's butchers shop, my father once related how he choked to death, apparently while working in a slaughter house it was often the practice to grip a knife between the teeth to leave both hands free.

He had caught tape worms from this practice while butchering pigs, medical advice was to not eat for several days to starve the worms but when he did eat the worms travelled to his throat for the food, I have seen tape worms often inches in length. I can not authenticate this story as told by my father but he always kept separate knives for pork only and never mixed them with other knives even when clean, I do not know when this incident occurred but he and Freddie were old mates who used to go to early morning market together pre-war.

Swimming in the Thames

Almost opposite No 400 (Lockyers, the butchers) was Howards barbers shop, cannot now recall the names of other shops, but as a teenager my mates and I sometimes swam in the river behind the Spring Grove Steam Laundry where the hot waste water was discharged into the Thames [ on the left going toward Kew Bridge] and of course the permanent fairground by the bridge.

Butcher's delivery boy

As a Saturday delivery boy from my fathers butchers shop at Leighton Road in Ealing I delivered by carrier cycle to about 50 local West Ealing customers and then to about 20 Brentford customers, the Brentford shop having closed for business early in the 1930's after the death of my grandfather John Tazewell Lockyer and the building left derelict until the early 1950's when it was sold to Wilmotts garage who apparently expected the proposed flyover to come down on the old gasworks site.

Published September 2005