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St Paul's Recreation Ground , Brentford

Janet McNamara researched the history of St Paul's Recreation Ground and wrote this article in 2015. In 2018 Peter Stuart provided a fine postcard image showing the fountain and Janet advised of an article about the 1889 opening ceremony (West London Observer) which has been added.

Fountain, Brentford Recreation Ground

The postcard features the magnificent fountain, which is described in the opening ceremony article as being made from polished and unpolished red and grey Aberdeen granite. To the left St Paul's church is visible.

History of St Paul's Recreation Ground

The site for St Paul's Recreation Ground was purchased on May 28th 1888 by Brentford Local Board from Lady Sophia Jane Lateward Croft Delpierre (1) with money that had been raised to celebrate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1887.

It cost £2,500. Due to various delays it was not opened until 1889.

Entries from the Minutes of Brentford Local Board 1888/9:

  • June 5th 1888 Letter to Mr Montgomrey, Hon Treasurer of the Recreation Ground Committee (2) that notice would be given when a cheque for the purchase money would be required.
  • July 9th 1888 Mr Walker (3) asked for permission to erect a drinking fountain on the recreation ground to the memory of the late Mr Montgomrey Esq. (4)
    Proposed by Mr Underwood, (5) seconded by Mr Nash (6)
    Permission granted and grateful thanks conveyed to Mr Walker.
  • August 7th 1888 (page 393) Letter to Mr Walker according permission to erect a drinking fountain on the Recreation Ground and thanking him for the same.
  • August 21st 1888 (page 409) A portion only of the ground offered by Mr Slack, namely the piece on the west side of a line drawn from the end of the proposed house on the plot No 13 of Lateward Road to end of the Grosvenor Road to be taken by the Board and in consideration thereof the Board to bear the expenses of the necessary covering to the sewer under the house proposed to be built on plot no13 and to give a side entrance to the end house in Lateward Road. (7)
    (There are lots of finger marks on this entry as though studied many times)
  • November 20th 1888 Tenders to be advertised for the supply of and fixing the (1) Iron posts and railings round the Recreation Ground and (2) for the supply of and planting the proposed Trees the Trees to be planted to consist of Black Poplars, Limes, Acacias and Wych Elms.
  • December 4th 1888 (page478) Estimate for railings £105 submitted by FW Lacey the Surveyor. (8)
  • December 18th 1888 Messrs Spooner and Sons tender for the trees accepted. An advertisements inserted in The Builder and Middlesex Independent and Middlesex County Times and Richmond and Twickenham Times newspapers invited tenders for levelling the Recreation Ground.
    Neave & Son, Paddington £243
    Street T, Hounslow £267.15.4d
    Saunders, Fulham £251.2.0d
    Parker W, Brentford £249.17.6d
    Fraser & Son, Battersea Park £157.1.6d
    Mr Fraser offered an abatement of £20 if accepted (and he was).
  • January 1st 1889 (page 497) Letter to Messrs Churchyard and Stark that there was no necessity for giving or cement to enclosing the Brook and that the expenses of the Board must be borne by them.
    (Not sure what this means)
    (Page 503) The contract for the levelling was read but to stand over until the next meeting.
  • January 15th 1889 Queried whether the Board would dispense with sureties.
    – answer No.
  • Approved page 513.
  • February 5th 1889 Mr Fraser agreed reduction of £30 to the contract for levelling the Recreation Ground if certain alterations as to levels were agreed.
    Offered reduction agreed.
    P518 Letter asking Messrs Stuart & Tull what steps they were taking for the redemption of the Tithe Rent Charge on the Recreation Ground.
    (Presumably as it was then publicly owned there would be no tithe payable)
  • March 9th 1889 Letter dated 19th February from Messrs Fraser & Son complaining that the Surveyor had not attended to measure up the ground and of the notice given by him to determine the contract was read.

The next book of Local Board minutes is not indexed but meetings are reported in the County of Middlesex Independent newspaper as follows or as poor photocopies from the microfilm reader:

  • April 17th 1889 £75 paid to Bird & Co for levelling the recreation ground
  • May 8th 1889 Contract sealed with Mr Stark to building over the Brook sewer
  • June 5th 1889 Report in the paper of a flood at the Recreation Ground
  • July 17th 1889 Work checked under the contract for covering the Brook
  • August 7th 1889 Questions about the mowing of the recreation ground - the surveyor said he took responsibility and that the men were paid 3/4d per day and the Board had part of the crop and the men the remainder
    There was a suggestion that men could have been found to work free and keep the crop
  • October 16th 1889 Notice in the paper of the Opening on the following Thursday and the order of the procession from Brentford Bridge.
  • October 19th 1889 ‘A Brentford Red Letter Day'

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Account of the opening ceremony, West London Observer Saturday 19 October 1889

BRENTFORD RECREATION GROUNDS
OPENING CEREMONY

Fine weather favoured the opening of the Brentford Recreation Grounds on Thursday. The streets presented quite a gala appearance, strings of flags being suspended across many of them, and all the public buildings, and many shops and private houses were decorated with banners etc. This effect was heightened by the large number of inhabitants, who, attired in holidaty costume, stood at the street corners awaiting the procession.

In answer to the request of the Joint Committee, consisting of the Local Board and a Committee elected by the subscribers, the majority of the shops were closed during proceedings whjich passed off without hitch. The procession formed at Bedford Bridge [editor: must be Brentford?] and proceeded to the Recreation Ground, down the High Street to Ely Road [editor: Ealing?], turning up Ely Road to Back Lane, West, and thence to the ground by way of Albany Road in the following order:-

Mounted Police.
Band of the B Company, 2nd Volunteer Battalion,Middlesex Regiment.
Brentford Fire Brigade, under the direction of Superintendent Montgomery.
Children of the Brentford Day Schools (4 abreast).
Band of the Brentford Gas Works.
The Joint Committee (3 abreast).
Mrs Montgomery's Carriages.
Magistrates of the Brentford Bench in their Carriages.
Mounted Police.

On arriving at the ground Mrs Montgomery, accompanies by several ladies, took a seat upon a platform, which had been erected in the cente of theground, upon which the Joint Committee also stood. Mr Stephen Woodbridge (clerk to the Local Board), presented Mrs Montgomery with an address, which briefly set forth how and in what manner the ground had been obtained, and the advantages which were expected to be derived from it. Mr Woodbridge referred to the deep interest which Mrs Montgomery and her family had always evinced in past years in the welfare of the town, and their readiness to help in any good cause, had prompted the Committee to request her to perform the opening ceremony.

Mrs Montgomery, in response, said she thanked the committee very much for their kindness, assuring them that she felt deeply sensitive of the honour which had been conferred upon her in asking her to open the ground. It was a proud day for her, and she was sure it must be the same for many, as it saw the successful completion of the scheme. She regretted that the ground was not larger in extent, but she understood that the inhabitants of Brentford would rather have a small recreation ground than none at all; for the time being, at any rate, the ground was sufficiently spacious to allow, both old and young, to enjoy themselves to their hearts' content. As a memorial of her gracious Majesty's jubilee it was very appropriate, as nothing could have been more in accord with her hearts desire than that the inhabitants of the county town, should have an opportunity of enjoying the fresh air. She complimented the Jolint Committee upon the energy and perseverance they had shown in carrying out the scheme, Mrs Montgomery then fomally declared the ground open, the declaration being received with cheer after cheer by the several thousand people who surrounded the ground, the bands striking up the National Anthem. Three cheers having been given for Mrs Montgomery, the party walked to the corner of the ground upon which had been built, at a cost of £200, a drinking fountain of polished and unpolished grey and red Aberdeen granite, surmounted by a fluted cornice. The fountain, which is the work of Messrs Dorey, of Brentford, bears the following inscription:- "Erected and presented by Stephen Walker, of Park Lodge, Brentford, in memory of his friend James Montogomery, J.P., D.L., of this place, 1889."

Miss Walker, having been presented with a handsome bouquet by a little school girl, and the fountain having been unveiled, she formally presented the fountain to the twon on behalf of her father. She then drank a up of the water.

Mr Thomas Layton, Chairman of the Local Board, said the very pleasnt duty devolved upon him of receiving the gift of their much esteemed fellow-townsman. It was very kind of Mr Walker to make such a lasting and beautiful gift to the name of Mr Montgomery. Three cheers were then given to Mr and Miss Walker, after which Mr Archibald S Montgomery said he would constantly feel a very great debt of gratitude to Mr Walker of having perpetuated his father's name - a name which was very dear both to his family and to those who were assembed there that day.

Mr Stephen Walker said it gave him great pleasure to perpetuate a name so well deserving of the honour as Mr J Mongomery's was.

The proceedings concluded by several ladies and gentlemen drinking the water from the fountain, an example which was followed by the school children, who vied with each other as to who should have the honour of drinking first.

During the afternoon the childrem to the number of about 2,200, assembled at their respective places where they were regaled with tea.

In the evening the members of the joint Committee and their friends dined together at the Castle Hotel.

The recreation ground, which is four acres in extent and is situated at the rear of High Street, was bought by public subscriptin ad presneted to the Local Board on behalf of the town, the price being £2,500. The cost pf levelling, fencing, draining, lighting, seating, etc, of the ground was nearly £500.

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Names in the report

Mr Stephen Woodbridge was a solicitor in the High Street and the secretary to the Local Board the equivalent of the present Council. He lived at Inverness Lodge next to the library.
Mrs Montgomrey, widow of James Montgomrey who had died in 1883. He was the founder of the timber business that was between the High Street and the canal on the site of Heidelberg in 2015. Mr M had been a Councillor.
Stephen Walker, local Councillor and employee of Montgomreys.
The Castle Hotel was along the High Street in the row where Jenny's coffee bar is in 2015. The yard at the back ran through to the Butts. An earlier establishment on the site had been a coaching inn.

People mentioned in minutes above

  1. Lady Delpierre was a large land owner in the area and her name appears on lots of house deeds in the area. A great deal of this seems to have been inherited.
  2. Archibald Sim Montgomrey (1847-1922) son of James Montgomrey and a Councillor.
  3. Stephen Walker (1829-1891) lived at Park Lodge, Boston Road – see above
  4. James Montgomrey 1811- 1883 was a member of the first Local Board founded in 1874.
  5. Edwin Underwood (1839-1915) was a hay, straw and coal dealer who lived at 80, High Street which is a listed building opposite Morrison's. He had a warehouse in the garden down Dock Road where the Routemaster buses are parked in 2015. He was a Councillor for many years.
  6. Frederick Nash (1844-1921) was a local Councillor and his name is on the Sewage Pumping Station. He was a basket maker with his parents when young and later became a general merchant in the High Street.
  7. Grosvenor Road first appears in the Rate Book in 1883 and Lateward Road in 1892.
  8. Frederick W Lacey was the local surveyor from 1881 to 1889. He built The Gables on the corner of the Butts and Brent Road about this time as his own home and he seems also to have bought a lot of the older property in the Butts. He moved to live and work in Bournemouth in 1889 where he was responsible for the late 19c infrastructure.
  9. Messr Dorey, who constructed the fountain: a prominent local family that had two members who served as Brentford Local Board Members and Councillors

A few snippets and throughts

Is there still an inscription on the drinking fountain?
There's a picture of it before the First World War in Archive Photographs Brentford by Carolyn and Peter Hammond. The trees are all very small!

Some years ago in what's known as ‘The Bomb Book' from WW2 at Chiswick Library Local Studies I read a report by a fire watcher in a station at the bottom of Grosvenor Road. She's reported as saying that when she was on the phone to headquarters during a raid the ground opened and there was the Brook rushing along under her feet.

The only other thing that seems to be recorded from the local paper was in the Brentford and Chiswick Times 3.8.1972 a picture of the fountain.

In the 1970s Brentford Carnival procession gathered in Lateward Road, drove around the town and finished up with the Carnival in the park. This was never as big as the present Festival at Boston Manor Park or Blondin Park, W5. The procession held up the traffic badly as it usually crossed and re-crossed the Great West Road and eventually it got difficult to get lorries loaned for the procession.

From the Brentford & Chiswick Times:

  • 12.10.1990 and 19.10.1990 the Council wanted to leave the park unlocked at night.
  • 19.7.1991 the site was required for use a camp while the sewers were relaid – lots of protests.
  • 26.7.91 an alternative site found.
  • 4.10.1991 site to be at Point Wharf

Janet McNamara 2015

The site has a photo which may show a glimpse of the grounds back in the late 19th or early 20th century.

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Page published November 2016; updated May 2019