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Bulldozers Cannot Budge Miss Brooks’ Memories

An article cut from a local newspaper (early 1960s?) and saved by Frederick Arthur Tickner whose family lived at 79 High Street, Brentford, Middlesex, and obviously knew this lady well. Daisy Brooks' shop was at no. 235 High Street, directly across the road from no. 79.

Thanks to Dee Tickner for forwarding this charming piece.

Her little shop has stood the test of time

Somewhere about the middle of Brentford High Street there stands a draper’s shop - tumbled down and a bit jumbled up inside. But it wasn’t always like that. When the shutters go up over the windows for the very last time within the next few weeks, it won’t really mean the end, for nothing can destroy a dream. And that’s what that drapers shop was, a dream.

It was a dream that became a reality something like 70 years ago when a very attractive young lady took a stroll down Brentford High Street and eyed the bright green paintwork and gleaming windows of the little shop. Her name was Miss Brooks and in those days was one of the “Young Ones” with big ideas. People told the young lady that she was “a bit above her station” and a little over-ambitious for someone so young.

But she didn’t really have big ideas. All she wanted was a little shop. Something she had dreamed about ever since she was a tiny girl, and here in Brentford High Street inviting her to step across the bright threshold was the very subject of her dreams.



Things were a little more difficult in those days. Money was scarce and wages so small they hardly mattered. So the 13s.6d. Weekly rental of the little green shuttered shop, payable in advance, represented almost a fortune to the young Miss Brooks.

She couldn’t borrow it , and out of what she earned as a private dressmaker it would take years to save it. But Miss Brooks was a very determined young lady. She went to see the landlords and they, sensing her determination agreed to accept rent payments in arrears. Miss Brooks came away, clutching the key of the little green shop, her future as a shopkeeper before her.

“What my father and mother said when I got home and told them, I’d better not say,” said Miss Brooks to our reporter, “but I ignored them, went ahead with my plans and on the Monday morning I opened shop”.


First Sales

“Little Miss Brooks” as she is affectionately known throughout Brentford, smiled at that distant memory. “Oh, it wasn’t a grand opening by any means” she said with a chuckle. “For one thing, I hadn’t any stock except what I made myself. I brought my machine from home and installed it at the back of the shop”.

“I bought material and ran up a couple of frocks and then hung them up outside and waited. Five bob each I think was the price, and I sold four on that first day. With the money I bought more material and so, at the end of the week I had the 13s. 6d. Rent”.

Miss Brooks looked around the dim interior or her little shop as though seeing once again the neat array of frocks on the counter. Then she went on: “And so week by week I managed to pay the rent. Salesmen came in to see me and slowly I built up a little stock”.



But the little stock was not all that Miss Brooks built up, for she became well known and loved along the length and breadth of Brentford High Street and only a few weeks after she had opened shop, there was no one who did not know Miss Brooks.

Not only did she build up a reputation honest trading but news of her kindly disposition and cheerful smile travelled faster than the news of the bargains she had behind the windows of her little shop.

Once a customer had been to Miss Brooks they always returned. Like the bargee women of those days with their distinctive costumes. “It was like a Dutch dress,” said Miss Brooks, “with a large poke bonnet and a dress with an hour-glass waist. They had to have special corsets and I used to carry a special stock for them. They nearly all came to me for their outfits right down to the black stockings and the black buckled shoes.”


Hard Luck Story

“You must remember,” she continued, “in those days Brentford was the proper county town. A wonderful little town it was. In spite of what it looks like now. Everyone came to the High Street to do their shopping, from Chiswick, Hounslow and even Ealing.

“Gradually my little shop began to prosper. I didn’t make a lot of money but by the time I was 21 I’d saved enough money to buy the shop myself. That was a wonderful day I can tell you. Even when I had the deeds in my hand I didn’t really believe it.”

Although times were not always good Miss Brooks got by. She admits that she made a few mistakes sometimes. Salesmen would tell her some hard luck story or other with the result that she overstocked or bought too late for the various reasons. “I just didn’t know enough,” she said “If I had know just a little more, then I might well have owned a chain of shops by now.” “But it really doesn’t matter, you know,” Miss Brooks went on. “Money doesn’t matter all that much as long as you pay your way and help a few others along. I’ve got no regrets. I got the shop I wanted, so perhaps I didn’t do to badly after all.”



In another few weeks this shop will close forever before men with bulldozers and pickaxes move in to demolish it. You might be in Brentford High Street about that time, and if you are, you might see in the dust that rises from the tumbling walls the wraith of a girlish figure in a long skirt and stylish bonnet. That will be Miss Brooks, for dreams never die.

And who knows, after the dust has cleared away and another development has taken place on the site, another young lady might appear. Just as determined as Miss Brooks was 70 years ago. The only difference will be that she might be dressed in slacks and a black leather jacket. For it is a strange fact that fortune reserves her sunniest smile for these “Young Ones” whose ideas so often appear to be “just a little bit above their station.”




  1. Daisy Louisa Brooks birth was registered in Brentford in Jan/March 1885 (FeeBMD)
  2. She was a daughter of George & Mary Ann Brooks, who moved from Camberwell to Brentford around 1880 (1881 census); her father was a confectioner in 1881, a shunter on the railway in 1891 and a general labourer in 1901; the family lived at 22 Glenhurst Road in 1881, 20 Glenhurst Road in 1891 and 70 High Street in 1901
  3. 1901 census: Daisy was aged 16 - occupation “Dressmaker”; she had eight siblings
  4. Miss Daisy Brooks No. 235 Brentford High Street, Draper. Source : 1928 Trade Directory Index
  5. Daisy L Brooks married Reginald Evis in Brentford in Jan/March 1928 (FreeBMD)
  6. Brentford High Street was redeveloped in 1929 due to the building of the Great West Road. Brentford High Street was then known as ‘The Golden Mile’ due to the large amount of new factories being built
  7. Mrs D Evis, draper 235 High Street (1938 & 1940 trade directories)