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35 - 50 High Street, Old Brentford

This is at the eastern end of the High Street on the southern side, lying opposite Ealing Road and Albany Parade. It runs from east to west from Smith Hill to Goat Wharf. This section of the High Street was listed as ‘Front Street’ in the 1851 census, presumably in contrast to ‘Back Lane’ and includes Brentford's second Police Station and George IV PH.

The tithe map shows an empty area fronting the High Street in the middle of this section, this site was used for the Police Station in 1869. The numbering of the High Street took place in 1876 and the Police Station was allocated no. 42. However there appears to be an extra property between the Police Station and the George IV at no.50 which may account for later references to no. 43a and no. 45a in the following notes.

Properties numbered 35-39 and 43-50 are recognisable on both the tithe map and OS map from 1894, over 50 years later.

Chiswick Library holds two line drawings dated 1912 and 1913 showing number 36 and a row of cottages with title '45a'. The cottages appear to be those adjacent to the George IV at no. 50 (they are set back a little from the High Street with railings: they can be picked out on the 1894 OS Map).

A photo from the early 1950s (S26) shows only the Police Station still standing; this stretch was otherwise a series of advertising hoardings. A 2006 photo (S26) shows two large office blocks Albany House and Thameside House occupying this stretch.


Notes prepared for numbers 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, Paxton's Wharf, 41, Police Station (42), 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 and George IV (50); also a list of photos, ephemera and maps

Number 35

The tithe map shows a larger than average building fronting Smith Hill, it can be picked out in maps of 1965 and 1894. I believe it was counted as part of the High Street and was numbered 35. Later this was a lodging house occupied by over 20 people in the 1871, 1881 and 1891 censuses; Sarah Rogers was the head of household in 1871 & 1881 and in 1871 there is a note in the census suggesting it may have been known as ‘The Swan’.

North Thames Gas Board records held at the LMA refer to ‘a copyhold messuage in Smith’s Hill Old Brentford, now 35 High Street, Brentford’ (1890). In 1901 as ‘a copyhold tenement in Smith’s Hill, house formerly there now destroyed, known as 35 High Street’. There is also a provisional valuation for Land Tax for number 35 in 1915. (I). The 1909/10 Valuation describes the plot as 'Land at Smith Hill with frontage to High Street, formerly known as 35 High Street'. It was owned by Charles Pascall and described as 'vacant land with advertisement hoarding'. A note dated 25/09/1917 adds 'site slopes away towards river'.


Number 36

This was a coffee house from 1861 – 1901, run by Richard Gardiner in 1881 - 1901. Richard Gardiner was born in Brentford and his father William was a bricklayer at no. 371. In 1913 Maurice Stanton, incubator manufacturer; not listed in 1913 or later directories.

The 1909/10 Valuation Records describe it as a ‘dilapidated old house and shop at the West corner of Smith Hill'

  • Top floor: 2 attics
  • First floor: 2 small rooms
  • Ground floor: shop, parlour
  • Basement: 1 cellar, WC
'No yard whatever.’ The frontage to the High Street was 17’ 4” and the depth ‘very little about 22 foot’. There is a pencil note added on 23 December 1914 regarding a Mrs Forster but no details of owner or occupier are given.

A line drawing dated 1912 (held at Chiswick Library) shows a property with a plastered front, tiled roof with a window in the attic and a shop front with a deep window. The sign 'Smith Hill' is on the side of the building, along with advertisements.


Number 37

Numbers 37 & 38 can be picked out on maps from 1839 – 1894 as a matching pair of properties with a gateway between numbers 38 and 39. In 1839 they were owned by Robert Hopkins and one property was empty, the other was occupied by 'Captain Palmer'.

John Moore, carman, lived at this property in 1861, 1871 and 1881 censuses, by which time he was 60.

In 1891 Thomas E Cooper, wheelwright, lived here with his wife Maria and three children, Robert, Florence and Maud, aged 12 down to 5. He remained here in 1901, his son Robert at 22 was at home working as a journeyman wheelwright. A 1907 trade directory shows T E Cooper & Son, coach builders, 37 High Street.

The 1909/10 Valuation shows numbers 37 & 38 both owned by Maria E Cooper, presumably widow of Thomas E Cooper. Number 37 was a terrace house and shop, brick built and tiled, old, on three floors:

  • Top floor: 2 rooms
  • First floor: 2 rooms
  • Ground floor: shop, parlour, washhouse, WC
There was a cellar under the shop, frontage to High Street 11’ 3”, depth 58’ 6”.

The rent was £33 16s per annum. Mrs Robinson occupied no. 37.

In 1911 widow Evelina Robinson, tailoress, and her son William, hotel porter, occupied 5 rooms at no. 37, lodging in one room were Elvin Pittard, lath render, and his wife Anne, both 59.

A little of no. 37 appears in a line drawing of no. 36 showing it was a taller building.

A 1913 trade directory shows Albert Clinton, hairdresser at no. 37, then in 1920/1 to 1933 George Picton Clinton, hairdresser. A 1937 directory shows George P ‘Clenton’, hairdresser now working from 312 High Street (which was more or less directly across the road from no. 37) and in 1938 and 1940 directories there is no reference to no. 37.


Number 38

Numbers 37 & 38 can be picked out on maps from 1839 – 1894 as a matching pair of properties with a gateway between numbers 38 and 39.

Emma A Collins, lighterman’s wife, headed a household of 8 (including herself) in 1881. She had 6 children at home, age 2 upwards, and a boarder, George Woodall, engine driver.

An 1890 directory shows Emma Shaw, fishmonger, at 38 High Street and in the census of 1891 John Shaw, fishmonger, was head of household, age 47, wife Emma 42 and three children, John C (21), Ada (17) and Emma (14), all Brentford born.

Mrs Emma Shaw, fishmonger, was recorded in an 1898 directory. In 1901 Harris H George, painter, lived here with wife Elizabeth and three children, Florence, Harry and Peter. They had a shop and occupied 4 rooms. Between numbers 38 and 39 was recorded ‘Arch Cottage’, ‘not in occupation’.

See notes for no. 37 from the 1909/10 Valuation for a description of no. 38, which was ‘similar .. but no washhouse & WC adjoining house, washhouse and WC at rear of yard'. The rental was £30 / annum.

By 1907 A Sargeant, undertaker, used no. 38 but may not have lived there: the 1911 census shows the occupier as the Judd family, headed by Henry, a potman, aged 30, born Southall and married 9 years. His wife was Clara, children Joseph, Charlotte, Nellie, Daisey and Charles, ages from 22 down to 10, all but the youngest working. In the column of the census used to collect details of infirmity Henry noted ‘alright’. The property had 5 rooms.

In 1913 and 1914 A Sargeant, undertaker used no. 38. By 1920 Frederick Healey was recorded at no. 38 (no trade recorded) and in 1928 and 1933 with trade: ‘wireless accessories’.

No. 38 was not recorded in trade directories for 1938 and 1940.


Number 39

A property on the western corner of Sadlers Yard. Occupancy from 1861 is more certain than earlier occupancy, as Ralph Paxton is recorded in this area from 1861 to 1881, by which time the High Street was numbered.

Ralph Paxton was a barge builder who married Mary Ann Sadler at St Mary Stratford Bow in 1860. He was the son of a farmer, Ralph Paxton, she the daughter of maltster Thomas Sadler, both lived in Bow. The following year shows the couple living at a High Street address in Old Brentford, Ralph’s birth place Stanton St John in Oxfordshire, Mary Ann’s Stebbing Essex. Widower Thomas Saddler (two D’s) was living with the couple as was widowed Mary Paxton and a niece Martha Rawbone, who was 5 and born in Old Brentford, suggesting the family moved from Bow due to an earlier connection with Brentford. Widowed Charlotte Allerton (or Alliston), a needlewoman, shared the property, she had two daughters and a grandson living with her.

The 1871 census shows Ralph Paxton, barge builder with his wife, two daughters and widowed lodger Martha Rawbone, 37, school mistress and daughter Sarah age 7.

In the 1881 census the Paxton and Rawbone families were recorded at 39 High Street. By this date Emily Paxton, the eldest Paxton girl age 20, and Sarah Rawbone were both dressmakers.

The 1891 census shows Ralph at 41 High Street. Either the family moved two doors down or there was a renumbering of this stretch. The 1891 census places two families at 39 High Street, each occupying 4 rooms (suggesting it was a larger than average property): John Hampton, brewery clerk & foreman, and James Randall, barge builder’s labourer.

The 1901 census records no. 39 as uninhabited and not in occupation.

By 1907 Charles Brown ran a drapery stores from no. 39 and the 1911 census shows he was 71 and born in Holsworthy, Devon; his wife Grace was 42, they had been married 6 years. The property had just 4 rooms, which supports the theory that this is a different property to that occupied by the Paxton family.

The 1909/10 Valuation covered numbers 39 & 40 together, describing 39 as 'very old and dilapidated brick & tile & part timber & board building, practically uninhabitable.' It had 4 rooms on the first floor, one of which was over the gateway, and a WC; on the ground floor a 'D.F. shop, yard and WC'.

In a 1920 directory no. 39 was not listed and by 1933 the Thames Steam Tug & Lighterage Co. Ltd used numbers 39, 40 & 41.


Number 40

The tithe map shows three properties with tithe reference 61 owned by James Rustat Trimmer. They are described as ‘2 houses, buildings and garden’. I think these were later numbers 40 and 41 High Street and the plot extended back to front the river Thames.

Thomas Cane and Thomas Smart were recorded in the tithe as occupiers, and the 1841 census includes a Thomas Kane and Thomas Smart living in this section, both aged ‘60’. Thomas Kane was ‘Independent’, Thomas Smart a labourer.

In an 1826 trade directory Thomas Kane was recorded as a tailor, it seems likely he lived in a house fronting the High Street and it was either no. 40 or nearby.

Thomas Kane died in 1846 and was buried at All Souls Cemetery Kensal Green on 25 March, he was 65 years old, his abode: ‘Brentford, Ealing’. Searches of the National Archives for ‘Thomas Kane’ bring up some interesting matches.

Occupancy between 1841 and 1881 is uncertain. In 1881 David Green, barge builder, was recorded at no. 40 High Street, in 1891 Joseph Meakes, journeyman smith and in 1901 no. 40 was ‘Uninhabited, not in occupation’.

The 1909/10 Valuation describes no. 40 as the same as no. 39, suggesting they were built to the same design and presumably at the same time. The owner of both properties was Miss Frances Martin, and both were occupied by Charles Brown. No. 40 had two rooms on the top two floors and a shop on the ground floor, with a large warehouse in its yard and a very old brick stable.

The 1911 census shows a small but interesting family living at no. 40: Albert Edward Jay, 42, stenciller in a wallpaper factory, wife Annie Mary Jay, 34, artists color woman, working on her own account from home, and daughter Annie Dorothy Dean Jay, 11, a scholar. The couple had been married 12 years and Annie was their only child; they were born in St Pancras, Hammersmith and Harringey respectively. The property had 5 rooms.

I have not found any later references to this property, but presumably it was used by the Thames Steam Tug & Lighterage Co Ltd, who are recorded at no. 41 until 1940.


Paxton's Yard & Wharf

The 1909/10 Valuation describes a plot with 50’ frontage to the High Street and 70’ frontage to the river, occupied by the Thames Steam Tug & Lighterage Co Ltd on a 21 year term from 1900, owned by Miss Frances Martin and executors (who also owned number 39 & 40 High Street).

The site included a brick built 4 roomed cottage, a large shed with corrugated iron roof and a brick built and slated one storey building. There is reference to "about 100’ by 20’ ": this could be size of the plot or possibly the one storey building.

Number 41

The 1909/10 Valuation describes the plot as ‘site of wharf and dock with various buildings erected thereon used as engine room; tool and plant shop; smithy, saw mill etc. One good building erected in 1907, brick built and slated, about 80’ long, 32’ high, 25’ wide.’ The Thames Steam Tug and Lighterage Co owned and occupied the site, which had a frontage of 32’ to the High Street.

The Police Station at number 42

The 1865 OS Map shows an area of open ground before the Police Station was built.

The Police Station was built in 1869, opened 1870, for the Metropolitan Police, T Division, opposite Charlton House; vacated 1966 (the Police Station moved to Half Acre), pulled down 1969 and the area occupied by empty office block in 1996 (A38). This replaced the earlier Police Station on the corner of Town Meadow Rd (number 60). (C52).

In 1871 James Tarling, aged 39 was the Inspector and about 18 police constables (a few with wives) are listed here, suggesting there was accommodation for many; there were also two women prisoners Isabella Reed & Ellen Ryan. James Tarling was still in post in 1874, but by 1881 John Rowling from St Columb, Cornwall, was in charge, aged just 24.

James Tarling meantime had become a licensed victualler and was running the Red Lion, across the road at no. 318 in 1881.

John Rowling remained here in 1901, at which point around 30 people lived here: 19 unmarried PCs plus 4 married men, including John, with their families.

The 1909/10 Valuation described the Police Station as ‘brick built and slated building on three floors, good condition and well built.’

  • 2nd floor: 5 rooms, 3 lavatories, bathroom, WC
  • 1st floor: 5 rooms, 3 lavatories
  • Ground: 6 rooms
  • Basement: cells
End of yard: 2 storey brick and slate building
  • 1st floor: 4 rooms
  • Ground: stabling

The 1911 census includes three returns for the Police station at 42 High Street:

  • A flat occupied by Richard Wallis, Police Sub Divisional Inspector and his family (household of 6, 5 rooms)
  • House at rear occupied by John William Suddaby, Police Constable, and family (household of 4, 4 rooms)
  • Section House occupied by 16 unmarried Police Constables, ages from 21 to 34, and Daniel Lewsey, a 41 year old farm labourer; an institution form was used to record the details and unfortunately it does not give the number of rooms

In 1913 Thomas Faulkner, sub-divisional inspector, was in charge; in 1920 George Dear; in 1928 Henry Baughan. In 1933 John Young & William Ritchie were inspectors, in 1940 W. Ross: see below for a link to the 1939 Register entry.

Arthur Fanning, a descendant of John Oman Mumford, describes John's career with the Metropolitan Police at Brentford. John was born in 1851 in London, joined the Met in 1871 and in March 1892 became the sub-divisional inspector in charge of the Old Brentford Police Station.


Number 43

A farriers for over 60 years. The 1839/41 tithe return describes the property as a house, smiths forge & premises owned by Thomas Harrington and occupied by Thomas & John Baily. Thomas & John are listed in Pigot’s 1839 directory as blacksmiths and farriers. John Bailey headed the household in 1841, then Thomas from 1851 through to 1881. In 1891 Harry W Wise, a farrier born in Wiltshire (Westbury?) lived and worked here, by 1901 William Kerslake, another farrier. He remained here in 1913 but by 1920 no trade was associated with the property. By 1933 the Metropolitan Winding Co., electrical engineers, was established here and remembered for the sound of their lathes – see no. 44.

In the 1909/10 Valuation Records the property was described as a ‘semi-detached house, blacksmith’s shop, stable & premises’. The frontage was 27’ and at the side of the house was a dilapidated forge, 22’ 3”. At the rear of the property was a ‘dilapidated 2-stall stable’.‘The house is old property’.


Number 44

Maurice Lockyer describes his maternal grandparents’ (Harry Underhill & Emily nee Chelton) home as ‘a two bedroom cottage house with a large coal cellar and outside loo, no front garden and two steps up to the front door. Harry & Emily brought up 12 children here. The house was next door to a single storey machine workshop by the old police station and opposite the undertaker where there was always two Dalmation dogs looking out at the passing trams.’ The house ‘only ever had gas lighting with mantles’ and ‘a small rear garden with a brick wall at the rear which overlooked a river shore tiled roof shed, with views across Lots Ait to Kew Gardens’.

The workshop next door housed ‘engineering lathes which could be heard humming through the structure into the Dining room.’ Maurice has prepared a vivid account of the Underhill and Lockyer families.

Records show Henry Underhill at number 45 in 1911, 1913, 1920 & 1928; in 1933 & 1940 at number 44, the house remembered by his grandson; next door, at number 43a, was the Metropolitan Winding Co. which became known as the Great West Electrical Co, in 1940. The undertakers Maurice remembers are probably Frederick Sargeant, who had premises at number 308/9 in 1933 & 1940.

The 1909/10 Valuation describes no. 44 ‘House and premises, frontage 11’ 3”, owner A. N. Newens (presumably a descendant of Newens the bakers at no. 327) 1 Kew Road, Kew, annual rent £20 16s. Terrace house of 2 storeys: top floor 2 rooms and slip room; ground floor 2 rooms, washhouse and WC. Small yard at rear. Premises old and dirty’.


Number 45

There is little continuity in occupation of no. 45 which makes it more difficult to track its residents with any accuracy in the 1841-1871 censuses when the High Street was not yet numbered. However the Bovingdon family lived next door at no. 46 from 1871 for at least 70 years and from 1871 onwards the picture is clearer.

Later records suggest it was a twin of no. 44. A tentative list of earlier occupants follows:

In 1841 Thomas Walter, 89, independent, was recorded with Elizabeth Walter, 35 (his daughter?) and Charlotte Jones, age unclear but probably 15 or 25. All were born outside Middlesex. The tithe enumeration records Elizabeth Walter as occupier of this property which was owned by John Beck.

In 1851 James Buchanan, gas fitter, wife Martha and five children, aged 9 to 20 lived here, with a four year old nursechild Elizabeth Watkins. All were born in Surrey, apart from Martha (Twickenham) and daughter Mary, 17 born Greenwich. His eldest child at home, George, 20, was also a gas fitter. By 1861 George had married local girl, Sarah (21 in 1861) and headed the household – it is possible both his parents had died. George was a gas fitter and had two children, George and Sarah junior; his sister Mary A Buchanan, a dressmaker, was living with the family, her age recorded as 22, five years younger than the 1851 census suggests. Her birthplace – ‘Greenwick’, Kent.

The Buchanans had moved away by 1871 and James North, a labourer born in Oxford, lived here with his wife Ann, age 38. James’ age is difficult to make out and could be 27 or 37.

The 1881 census includes two households in number 45: Richard Price, labourer, 37 headed one household, with his family and three visitors; lodgers William Haywood, 30, a labourer and wife Hannah may have occupied part of the house, although the enumerator counted their residence as a separate building.

James G Sorrell, farrier, 38, born Springfield Essex lived here in 1891. His trade suggests either there was access to a working area at the back or he worked elsewhere. The birthplaces of his children suggest he lived in Richmond before moving to Brentford around five years previously.

Harry J Grant, fishmonger, 42, wife Rachel and their four children, aged 1 to 15, were occupiers in 1901 and as Harry worked from home presumably the front room wa used a a fish shop. All were Brentford-born except Harry: Ealing.

The 1909/10 Valuation describes no. 45 as a house and premises with a frontage of 11’ 6”, owner as 44 High Street. The description and annual rent also match that of no. 44.

Harry Underhill and his large family lived at no. 45 in 1911; he was 42 and had been married 22 years by this date, with all ten of his children surviving and most of them at home. He worked as a car man for the Brentford Urban District Council. Harry Underhill remained at no. 45 until around 1928, but was recorded at no. 44 in 1933; whether this is due to renumbering or he had moved house is not known. The latter is possible – both properties were owned by Newens. Harry’s grandson, Maurice Lockyer, has written about him.

In 1933 a street directory records Archibald F Mattocks at this address. The 1939 Register shows another change in occupancy:

  • James C Humphries, born 1891, Barge Builders Labourer (annotated ‘Heavy Worker’)
  • Nellie Humphries, 1891, Unpaid Domestic Duties
  • Charles H Humphries, 1916, Metal Polisher ‘Heavy Worker’
  • Harry V Humphries, 1919, Lighterman Apprentice ‘Heavy Worker’


Number 46

In 1871 Edward Bovingdon, poulterer, lived and traded from no. 46 and the Bovingdon family remained at this address until at least 1940. In 1871 the household consisted of Edward, his wife Mary and 6 adult children, plus a female servant: all born in Buckinghamshire.

Edward died in 1878 and by 1881 his widow Mary had taken over the business supported by three unmarried children, Mary (37), John C (30) and Elizabeth (29). Meanwhile her son Henry ran a lodging house at 328 High Street and James was a butcher at 325 High Street.

Mary Bovingdon continued to head the household in 1891, aged 74, with daughter Elizabeth and son John, but died in the April to June quarter. Following her death son John took over and is recorded as a poulterer at no. 46 in 1901, age 45. He had an assistant, Percy Grant, age 16, possibly a son of his Grant neighbours at no. 45.

In the 1909/10 Valuation no. 46 is described as 'very old, dilapidated property' owned by John Bovingdon. It had 2 attics on the top floor, 2 rooms on the first floor and a shop, parlour and washhouse on the ground floor. At the rear was an old shed and WC. It had a covered forecourt.

John Bovingdon was recorded at no. 46 in trade directories up to and including 1933. His death was registered in Brentford at the age on 86 in 1936. In 1940 Reginald Woods lived here.


Number 47

Before 1881 the occupancy of no. 47 is not clearcut, as there is no continuity of trade or surname.

In 1881 Ann Bissell, a widowed, Shropshire-born "basket maker's wife", lived here with her three children and a lodger (David P Morgan, a confectioner's traveller born in South Wales). The property was not occupied in 1891. In 1901 Thomas W Barnham, locally born builder, lived here with wife and two small children.

The 1909/10 Valuation describes no.47 as a terrace house of 3 storeys, with 2 attics, 2 rooms on the first floor, on the ground floor 2 rooms, a washhouse and WC at rear. The property was 'old' and owned by Frank Peacock.

In 1907 Miss Mary Ann Dickman, secondhand furniture dealer, is recorded at no. 47; 1911 and 1913: Frederick Oliver; 1920/21: Thomas Moody; 1933: Mrs Moody; 1939 and 1940: Leonard Smith. A newspaper article from 1942 describing the death of Cornelius Ryan gives his address as 47 High Street. Read more about Cornelius's life.


George IV PH at number 50

The PH was on the east corner of Goat Wharf: listed from 1839 to 1928 but not in 1933; John Stacey was the publican in 1839 & 1841; there is a PCC will for John Stacey in 1854; in 1845 J Barnes was in charge; by 1851 William Edwards,from Suffolk, who had recently moved here from Pimlico with his wife Julia and three children under 3; then William Milton in 1861; William Cooper from Kent had taken over by 1871 and remained here in 1881 and 1891; in 1901 Mrs Catherine Mumford, widow of John Mumford (see above, no. 42) was the publican and she remained here in 1913; Joseph B Hart has taken over by 1920, and was still here in 1928.

By 1933 the premises were not listed, but in 1940 H Willmott and Sons, cycle dealers were at number 50, in 1952 Brenray Industries Ltd.



Links are included below to some photos, ephemera or maps accessible on this site. There may be additional photos on the site - suggest you check the Properties - photos link (the navigation area to the left).

References such as '1899 (X11)' indicate the date of a photo (1899) and where it is published (X11). Details of 'X' are available: see Mainly paper sources page; '11' refers to the page no, or photo no. in the publication.

38 Photo showing W Healey shop frontage ca 1924 (Tony Healey)
Goat Wharf photo- 1946 (H)
42 Police Station photo – 1901 (C52); postcard around 1908 - 1910; 1939 register; early 1950s (S26)
43 Shoeing Forge run by Kerslake Bros., R.S.S. (Registered Shoeing Smith) (advert 1906)
45A Line drawing showing in the centre a row of 4 cottages, each with an attic room and set back slightly from the High Street with railings at the front. At either end of the run of cottages are houses, that on the left having a flat roof, that on the right a rather grand entrance (I think this could be the George IV at no. 50), both front directly on to the High Street. The drawing is dated 1913 and titled ‘45A High Street’, though it is not clear which property is ‘45A’.
50 Brenray Industries Ltd, electrical radio and television engineers (1952 invoice)

Warning - download over 100k! 1839/41 Tithe Map: modern numbers 35 - 50 have tithe property refs 64 - 54
Warning - download over 100k! 1894 Ordnance Survey Map annotated with house numbers including numbers 40 - 50

Roads Off

Smith Hill: between numbers 34 & 35

Sadlers Yard between numbers 38 & 39 (1861 census): 1 property occupied by two households in 1861, headed by John Gray and Charles Clarke, both gardeners

Goat Wharf: between numbers 50 & 51. Wiltshire & Swindon Record Office holds an agreement dated 1907 between James Clements & George Knowling (of Goat Wharf, trading as Clements Knowling & Co) and the Great Western Railway for tenancy of stables at High Street Brentford (I). James Clements was also the deputy superintendent of the Fire Brigade in 1913 and Charter Mayor of Brentford & Chiswick.


Published 2005; last updated July 2017