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Not Brentford

Memories from the 1930s - 1950s

Author - Len Cox

Len Cox writes 'I do, of course, remember Brentford High Street very well. However, I do find it a little difficult (the excuse is 'age') to find any depth to particular memories that I have. Perhaps, for the moment, if I just summarise events and people associated with those that come to mind it may provide you with a connection to other people's recollections which I hope will come your way.' (Len is right, a fascinating part of this project has been finding links between people's memories.)

Len was born in Ealing Road 1927 and lived there until 1958. Len has provided details of his Cox family, who lived in Brentford from the 1860s.

Jack Holderness

During WW2 and afterwards I knew a Jack Holderness. He lived in one of 2 semi -detached houses on the north side, opposite Ashbys the Builder's Merchants on the south side. He worked at R.B. Pullin & Co. Ltd. on the Great West Road. I understand he died in the 1970's. I do have a photo of him but I do not think it will be of particular interest to you. (But maybe to somebody else?)

The 1940 trade directory lists a Lewis Holderness at no. 406, the eastern end of the High Street.

The Green School 367 High Street

At Christmas c1936 attended a Christmas party for children given, I believe, by The Oddfellows. I was presented with an American small die cast car - which I still have (in poor condition).


Seares the butcher, 343 High Street

The paternal great Grandfather of a cousin of mine is Heary Seares (1828- ?), who was a Pork Butcher at, and resident of, number 343 in census years 1881 and 1891, We know little about him apart from wife, sons and daughters. One of his sons Edward James Seares (1874-1947) married Maud Sarah Harriet Lewis (1875-1965) daughter of Cyrus Lamas Lewis of 342 High Street.

Cyrus Lamas Lewis, Hairdresser, 342 High Street

Cyrus Lamas  and Mary A LewisThe photo is of maternal great Grandfather of a cousin of mine, Cyrus Lamas Lewis (1830-1910), who was a Hairdresser at, and resident of, number 342 in census years 1881, 1891 and 1901. We know little about him apart from his sons and daughters. From my cousin I have managed to get a photograph of him and his wife Mary A. Lewis.

A check for Cyrus Lamas Lewis online found reference to him marrying twice, first in Ealing, then his second marriage took place in Southwark in 1877. includes the marriage of Cyrus Lamas Lewis to Mary Ann Childs, January 1st 1877, Christchurch, Southwark when he was 45, a widower and labourer and she 39, both of 61 George Street. Could the photo be a wedding portrait?

In January 2016 Di wrote to ask if the date of the photograph is known. She said that Cyrus and Mary Ann were her great great grandparents. Cyrus was, apparently, the nephew of David (?Daniel) Odell another hairdresser who lived next door to the Hand and Flower in the High Street. Di's family research began in the 1970's and she would be happy for other family descendants to contact her at '.


The Gas Works

The Gas Works dominated the south side of the High Street. Producing gas and coke meant that this stretch of the street was both smelly, dirty and dark. "...Let us be truthful, the entrance to Brentford is like the gate to Hell" (Cecil Roberts). However, it was always a welcome sight after a long walk from Hammersmith Palais in the early hours of a Sunday morning (having missed the last trolley bus) since it meant I was near Ealing Road and home, in subsequent years I have thought how did residents of Old Brentford put up with this monstrosity? I suspect they would not today. But then again, it was the means of many Brentonians "living' in the 19th and 20th century - and one did get used to it and take it very much for granted.


The tobacconists on the Ealing Road corner

My great Grandmother, Eliza Cox, died at 20 Ealing Road (almost at the junction with the High Street) in 1899. Subsequently this row of houses was demolished together with one (or two) shops facing the High Street at this junction (now a MacDonalds I believe). A Tobacconist shop was then left on this comer.

In the 1930's one of my tasks was to visit the shop for my father who at that time rolled his own cigarettes. He had his own special blend of tobacco mix which the shopkeeper had written down. Following my request "Tobacco for Mr. Cox please" I used to watch fascinated as he took a little tobacco from several large earthen jars, mix them together in a weighing bowl and then wrap them in paper which he formed into a neat roll.

The 1940 trade directory lists a George W Wood at no. 322, on the corner of Ealing Road

The Red Lion Public House 318 High Street

When a very young boy I was told (and believed) that the shoe print of Dick Turpin's horse was in one of the steps leading to the cellar.

Read more about the Red Lion.


The Doctors Moore & McGowan at 295

The Cox family Doctors were located in the basement of a house in this area on the north side of the Street. Their names were Dr. Moore and Dr. McGowan. I particularly remember that the Waiting Room furniture was all Victorian.

Read more about no. 295 and area.

Hortons, the hairdressers at 293

In the 30's, 40's and 50's my father and myself always had our hair cut at a men's Hairdressing shop in this area on the north side of the Street. The hairdresser's name was Mr. Horton. I do not know when the shop was demolished but I do remember that in the 1970's and 80's Mr. Horton used to visit my father at his home in Field Lane to cut his hair. Apparently he did this for all his old customers.

Read more about no. 293 and area.

Rattenbury's shop, 288 and 289 High Street

I could never pass the shop without stopping and looking at the Aladdin's Cave contained within the shop windows. For a young boy there were so many fascinating things displayed which one 'must have' but with a between the wars weekly pocket money of exactly tuppence, everything was well beyond my reach.

Read more about Rattenbury's.

269 High Street

In the 1950's knew the Iletts who lived above what I remember as a shop. The son's name was John and the daughter's (for a while a girl friend) Hilda.

Read more about no. 269 and area.

Peter Langley, February 2016:

Peter Langley: Just to say Len Cox memories very close to my early life - a little extra:
  • born 1935 Albany road parents moved Alma house Ealing road Pre war what a great young life
  • in main every inch explored between Chiswick roundabout Brentford Bridge Thames South, Greatwest north, Kew fair and canal to bluebell woods included and of course BRENTFORD market[grand dad worked there]
  • bring back that fantasic smell gas works
  • Carvill hall Hollows On islands football ground Gunnersbury The Ham[Gran Granddad]lived there St Pauls School Senior school alleys and all


Published September 2005; last updated August 2016