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Not Brentford

April News

The following items have been extracted from the British Newspaper Archive, also available on findmypast. They are in date order and range from 1847 to 1968:

Notes follow some items: further research, useful links etc.

London Daily News Monday 12 April 1847


William Armitage, a fisherman of Old Brentford, was charged with being in the unlawful possession of a net for catching fish, which was not of the legal size. Henry Farnell, Esq., the honorary secretary of the Thames Angling Prteservation Society, attended to prosecute the defendant, who was one of the most inveterate poachers on the river. The defendant pleaded guilty.

He had already been convicted no less than fourteen times. The prosecutor said that the defendant was liable to punishment for using any kind of net above Richmond Bridge at this time of year; in the present instance he had been found at Teddington Lock with a net smaller than that allowed by law at any period of the year. The magistrate ordered him to pay a fine of 20s., or, in default, a distress warrant would be issued. The net, which was produced in court and had cost 5 l. [ie libra = pounds], was ordered to be burnt.


The fact that William Armitage had been convicted 14 times previously suggested he was likely to be found in other newspaper reports and this was the case.

John Bull 31 May 1840, notes William Armitage, Thames fisherman, was convicted at Brentford Petty Sessions of fishing in the Thames with an illegal net. Armitage received a similar punishment as in 1847: fine of 50s and costs and again his net was burnt.

Sussex Advertiser 31 January 1854 reports William Armitage, a fisherman living in Brentford, was charged with stealing some fish out of a weel on the Thames belonging to Samuel Kemp, a fisherman of Teddington, and for having in his boat an unlawful net for the purpose of taking fish.

He was caught by William Deer another fisherman, and after a scuffle the police were summoned. On this occasion he was fined 40s and costs or two months imprisonment. He was allowed a fortnight to pay.

I could find no later references to William Armitage in the newspapers (as at March 2018) but on 5 March 1859 the Surrey Comet reported, under the heading DETERMINED THAMES POACHER that Solomon Brigley Armitage and John Armitage of Old Brentford were before Richmond Bench for having an illegal drag-net on the Thames at Petersham Ait and for obstructing the River Keepers in the execution of their duty. They were described as 'old offenders'. The other defendants were John Stokes and William Pearce, also of Old Brentford.

It seemed likely the surname Armitage, in conjunction with illegal fishing, was not a coincidence and the censuses provide a link between William and Solomon and hints that John may have been another son.

1841 census:
William Armitage, fisherman, lived at Swan Steps, which ran from the south side of High Street down to the Thames in the eastern end of Brentford. He and his wife Kezia were both 50 (as adult ages were rounded to the nearest five years they may have been aged up to 54) and living with them were Solomon age 15, Kezia 13, William 11 and Thomas 9.

1861 census:
William 77, wife 'Keshia' 80, and son William 27 were living at Ann's Court.
The next property recorded was occupied by John Armitage, 36 his wife 'Sarha' 55 and daughter Rose 16.
The three men were all fishermen, Sarha was a hawker, and all except Keshia, who was born across the Thames in Kew, were born in Old Brentford.
Solomon Armitage was living with his wife Maria in Running Horse Yard; he was a fisherman age 39, Maria was 40 and both were born in Old Brentford.

In defence of the Armitages, the quanitity of fish in the Thames was dwindling at this time, as reported by Faulkner in 1845: using illegal nets may have meant more money on the table, temporarily at least.


Morning Post Thursday 13 April 1854

POETICAL TAVERN SIGNS.—In the parlour of the
“Three Pigeons,” Brentford, is on old painting, dated 1704,
representing a landlord attending to his guests seated at a
table in the open air, with these lines above :—

" Wee are new beginners,
And thrive we would faine;
I am Honest Ralph of Reading.
My wife Susan to name."

Wright, in his “ Historia Histronica,” 1699, tells us that
" Lowin (one of the original actors in Shakespeare's plays). in
his latter days, kept an inn, the ‘ Three Pigeons,’ at Brent-
ford, where he died very old." At a public-house near
Cambridge, known to the natives: of Cambridgeshire as
“ Tew-Pot House”, formerly kept by one Cooper, there
used to be—I cannot say decidedly is, as I have not passed
the place for 10 years and more—the following :—

“Rest, traveller, rest; lo! Cooper’s hand
Obedient brings two pots at thy commend.
Rest, traveller, rest and banish thoughts of care,
Drink to thy friends, and recommend them here.”

—Notes and Queries


The Three Pigeons on the corner of Market Place features in a postcard of the early 1900s, and there is a little of its history in the property notes section.

West London Observer 10 April 1858


The next business which occupied the attention of the Bench was the appointment of overseers, and was as follows

Ealing   Charles N. Atlee, William Foord, George Smeed, and John McNae
Greenford    James Lane and William Milwood
Hanwell    Frederick Haley and Richard Mountjoy
Heston    William Jasper Hinge and James Franklin Baker
Isleworth    Samuel Ruff and George Toyne
Twickenham    Edward Brazier and Alfred Eustance
Norwood    H.P. Baxter and Joseph Harvey
New Brentford    Thomas Bradshaw, Jun., and Joseph Onion Neville
Perivale which consists of (it) five ratepayers it, all holding office, the chairman observed, was like a regiment of officers without any privates. And Twyford Abbey, which, by a recent act, requires one overseer, Robert Coombs.


A brief foray into the men appointed as Brentford overseers:

In 1858 Ealing encompassed Old Brentford and of the four overseers it is likely two were from Old Brentford and two from Ealing.

Charles N. Atlee was a 53 year old schoolmaster of Byron House School, The Park, Ealing in 1861. British History Online has a paragraph detailing his career in three Ealing Schools from the 1830s to the 1860s.

William Foord is part of my Foord family; he moved from Kent to Brentford in 1840/41 and was a plumber and glazier.

George Smeed may be the 57 year old retired licensed victualler who was living at Willow Cottage, Uxbridge Road, Ealing in 1861.

John McNae is probably the draper who lived at 404 or 405 High Street in the mid 1840s. Electoral registers place him at a High Street address in 1860 and 1862 but so far I have not found him in the 1861 census.

As to the two New Brentford overseers:

Thomas Bradshaw junior is likely to be the baker who lived at 119 High Street at this time.

Joseph Onion Neville is part of the Neville family and the site has a family photo including Joseph Onion thanks to descendant Alister Neville.


Morning Post Friday 11 April 1884

At the Brentford Police-court yesterday Benjamin New-
man, High-street, Brentford, a shopman, was charged
with burglariously entering the shop of Mr. Bradbury, pro-
vision merchant, Brentford, and stealing therefrom £12 10s,
besides wine and tobacco, on the night of the 8th inst.
The prisoner had been four or five years in the prosecutor's
employment, but had left. On Saturday the premises were
found in confusion, the tills and money bags having been
ransacked by some one acquainted with the place. The
prisoner was remanded.


Read more about the Three Pigeons at 195 High Street and Bradburys at 108/9 High Street.

East & South Devon Advertiser 5 April 1902

SIR WILLIAM RICHMOND, the eminent artist, states that after five weeks' fog six tons of smoke-fog - carbon matter, that is - were scraped from the glasshouses at Kew Gardens. He uses this fact to illustrate the damage caused to the delicate plants in the gardens by the smoky chimneys at Brentford.

Middlesex Chronicle 21 April 1917

FOR SALE. - 3 SHOPS amd 5 COTTAGES at Brentford, clear profit rental £100 per annum, lease £75 years unexpired, price £450, part can remain. - Owner, 8 Sion Road, Twickenham.


A check of the address in the 1911 census found
Henry Cornelius Hunter, 8 Sion Row Twickenham; motor and marine engineer, 45, wife Rosa born in Brentford age 41, married 17 years child Ruby 9 youngest; house had 7 rooms.

Henry C Hunter married Rosa Jane Watkins in the Oct/Dec quarter 1893 in Brentford Registration District.

The name H C Hunter is recorded in the 1909/10 Valuation: he owned number 283, 284 and 285 High Street along with 5 shops on Albany Street (presumably Albany Road). See details of number 283.

Birmingham Daily Post 02 April 1968

London Docks may become a 'mini-city'

The challenge of opening up the visual and active amenities of the Thames for Londoners was a recurrent theme in Thameside planiing, Mr. Desmond Plummer, leader of the Greater London Council, said in London yesterday.

"For too long London has turned its back on its greatest single physical asset," he sold a conference on River Thames development.

Among schemes he mentioned for 43 miles of the river's urban reaches were a yacht basin and housing for Brentford Docks, and a "mini-city" at London Docks with homes for 8,000. He hoped, too, that anglers would one day be as common on the banks of the Thames as they were now on the Seine.


The site has before and after photos: Brentford Dock remained undeveloped in the mid-late 1960s but by 1978 the area had been transformed.


Published April 2012; updated March 2018