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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 1838 to 1970:

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

Evening Mail of 27 Apr 1838


We regret to state that a most desperate and alarming affray took place on the evening of Sunday last, betwixt the English and Irish labourers employed upon the Great Western Railway. It was again renewed on Monday,and many of the results are anticipated to be fatal. The riot is understood to have arisen in consequence of the Irish party having proposed to work for lower wages than their English fellow-labourers. The atrocities upon both sides have been of the most brutal and unmanly description, and but for the interference of the local authorities, aided by a squadron of the 12th Lancers, the most lamentable consequences must have ensued. 24 of the rioters have been committed to Clerkenwell Prison, where they will remain until further examination.

During Tuesday, although large numbers of the men had returned to their work, they several times congregated together in small bodies, apparently consulting as to their future proceedings, and during that day and Wednesday the horse patrol stationed in the neighbourhood of the line were kept in readiness at their respective stations, in case of their services being required.

On Wednesday morning some riotous proceedings also took place on that part of the line situated at Ealing and Action. About 8 o'clock in the morning Poole and Morris, two policemen of the T division, while on duty in Hanger Lane, close to the grounds of Mr. G. Wood, of Hanger Hill, which abuts on the railroad, seeing some of the workmen passing through that gentleman's fences and trespassing on his fields, took two of them into custody, when they were surrounded by about a hundred of their companions with bludgeons, who with violent threats, rescued the prisoners, and carried them off on their shoulders.

The policemen immediately forwarded intelligence of the rescue to the inspector at the station-house, Old Brentford, who, about 3 o'clock, having mustered the whole of the constables from the Brentford, Ealing, and Acton stations, some of them armed with cutlasses, proceeded on horseback to the line for the purpose of recovering the prisoners, and taking into custody any who could be pointed out as having been concerned in their rescue. Immediately on their being perceived the cry of "War-hawk" ran like lightning both ways along the line, as far as the ear could carry, and hundreds of the labourers, armed with mattock-handles, pickaxes, &c, were instantly to be seen hurrying from all sides towards that portion of the works in which the officers were looking for the persons they were in search of. The determined front shown by the constables, and their numbers, however, completely daunted them, and the police were suffered to remove seven prisoners with but slight molestations.

The prisoners were conveyed for safety during the night to the cage at Brentford, and yesterday forenoon they were taken under a strong escort of police to Hanwell Grove, where, after undergoing an examination before the Red Dr Walmsley and Mr Baillie, John Aldridge was fined 40s, or on month's imprisonment, for destroying Mr Wood's hedges; John Sawyer was fined £5, or two months' imprisonment; James Upton, William Marshall, and Charles Engarfield, were fined £3 each, or six weeks' imprisonment, for the rescuel and John Smith 40s, or one month's imprisonment, for endeavouring to incite the workmen to attack the police. George Ward was discharged, the evidence being inconclusive against him.


This article appeared in several titles, a briefer version being in the Shrewsbury Chronicle 4 May 1838. Her it was followed by a piece describing another set-to by 'navigators' working on the GWR, this time men from Gloucestershire against men from Devonshire and 'the lower parts of Somerset'; this was also prompted by the latter being thought to be working under price.

The same paper include a note to the effect that the GWR was expected to be completed by 25 June 1838 and the line to Maidenhead was due to open to the public on the 4th June.


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.


Acton Gazette 15 Apr 1871

A vestry meeting was held at the Vestry room on Thursday evening to appoint churchwardens for the parish for St Mary...

Mr CARPENTER wished... to ask one or two questions with respect to the duties of the churchwardens. He believed the gentlemen who were appointed for the St Mary's district were considered the churchwardens for the whole parish, and if that was so there were one or two matters connected with Old Brentford he wished to bring to their notice. The first of those was the almshouses, the second was what they called the Cage, and the third the parish fire engine ...he wished to know whether the churchwardens had the superintendence of them or not. ... the Cage was at the present time in a very dilapidated condition, and apparently under the control of no one, while the parish engine was inside in such a condition that if it was required tomorrow it would be of no service at a fire, not having been touched for the last two years.

The engine was formerly kept by Mr Hughes, who also had the management of the Cage; but about two years ago the keys were taken from him by someone, and he was told that his services were no longer required... If the Cage was of no use to the parish generally, it had better be handed over to the people of Old Brentford, who could turn it to account; and, if the engine was not required, then let it be sold. He believed that Mr Honeybone had at present charge of the place, but he was not the parish churcharden; and the question was - who were the legal custodians?...

The VICAR explained that before the passing of the Church Rate Abolition Bill [1868], the churchwardens of St Mary were considered the officers of the parish; but since then they had simply to do with church matters, and not those connected with secular affairs. The money they collected on the voluntary church rate was not even sufficient to defray the expenses of the church, and it was, therefore impossible that they could pay money for the custody of the Cage at Old Brentford... The people of Ealing village had no particular interest in the Cage and the engine, and, if some arrangement could be come to between them and the people of Old Brentford, the affair might be arranged without much difficulty.


The conclusions reached are not known - more digging required - but the Cage survived, whether in use or not, until demolition in 1897 to make way for the new fire station.

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.

Daily News (London) 9 Apr 1924

This was published from the London Gazette, heading RECEIVING ORDERS, COUNTRY:

Brentford.- Palmer, H.E. (male), Beehive works, Brentford, but now of The Ham, Brentford, director of a company.


The 1921 census includes Palmer families at numbers 33 and 47 The Ham, but no match on "H.E. Palmer". In this census folk gave their age in years and months, birthplace, their occupation, employer and business, and place of work:
33 The Ham

  • David Palmer, head, 22 1, Brentford, Cocoa Roasting, J Lyons Co Ltd, West Kensington
  • Edith Mabel Palmer, wife, 24 5, Kew Strand on Green Chiswick, Household Duties, at Home
  • Edith Palmer, dau, 0 5?
47 The Ham
  • Thomas Palmer, head, 46 4, married, West Bromwich Staffordshire, Lightering, Ham Lighterage Co, Ballast Carrier (out of work), Richmond
  • Catherine Palmer, wife, 45 4, Brentford Middx, Household Duties
  • William Palmer, son, 19 9, Brentford, Lightering, Hope Lighterage Co, Coal Carriers (out of work),Brentford
  • George Palmer, son, 18 1, Brentford,Money Collector, Brentford Gas Co, Brentford
  • Robert G Charlton, nephew, 15 2, Brentford End, Van Boy, A.V. Box, Oil & Colour Merchant, Brentford

No sign of H.E. Palmer with financial difficulties. Further searches found the following published 3 May 1924 in the West Middlesex Gazette, which gives his full name and more about his circumstances.

The Official Receiver for the Brentford district has issued his observations to the creditors of Harry Ernest Palmer, of Beehive Works, Brentford, now of The Ham, Brentford, director of a company, against whom a receiving order was made on a creditor's petition on 9th April.

The Official Receiver states that the debtor served in the Army from September, 1914, to February, 1919, and that on 7th April, 1920, he promoted a company for the purpose of carrying on business as advertising contractors and consultants, with a nominal capital of £2,000, of which only £1,000 was subscribed.

He paid £100 for 100 shares (now estimated to produce £50), in the Company with money borrowed from the petitioning creditor, from whom he subsequently borrowed further sums to the amount of £500. He was chairman and managing director of the Company at a salary of £1,000 per annum, but resigned on September 30th, 1922.

The Company subsequently applied to him to refund £1,000 which, it was alleged he had overdrawn on his personal account, but this was subsequently satisfied by salary due to him. Since October, 1922, he has acted as commercial manager for another company at a salary, with commission, of £459 a year.

Debtor had stated his willingness to pay £1 per week out of his salary towards paying his creditors. He attributed his failure , and reduced income since September 1922, His statement of affairs showed liabilites expected to rank for dividend £1,497 13s, 10d., and assets £50.

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.

Kensington Post 24 April 1970

(London) LIMITED
For three small staff canteens opening
shortly on Great West Rd., Brentford
Applicants must be good cooks -
training given with simple accounts.
Approx. 40 meals daily or up to 60 with Assistant Cook.
Hours 8.30-5pm., Monday-Friday only.
Commencing salary negotiable
but not less than £16 per week.
Holiday dates honoured.
Write or telephone Staff Manager
162-164 Arthur Rd., Wimbledon Park, SW19 Telephone 01 - 946 7681


Employing a cook for 7 and a half hours a day to prepare 40 meals sounds rather expensive. I wonder if the diners paid or if the meals were a perk?


Middlesex County Times 24 April 1970

Park mansion belongs to public ... not the teachers

An article describes proposals for Hounslow and Ealing Councils to use the small mansion in the grounds of Gunnersbury Park as a training centre for adult teachers and a training unit for gardeners. In brief ...

A 44-year-old covenant, dating from when the park was handed over to the local authority by the Rothschild family, restricted its use to the public.

Another snag in the council's plan was the need to spend at least £26,000 on the mansion. During the debate that followed it was mentioned that there were 'between 45 and 50 gardeners working in the park at the moment, depending on the season', although Mr Overton disagreed with this assertion.

Mr Jolland told the tribunal he had made applications to the council in 1960, 1965 and 1969, for use of the small mansion.

He had wanted to use the mansion for a collection of pianos which were now housed at St George's Church, High Street, Brentford. But he was turned down because he wanted to charge an entrance fee and he was told this would have broken the covenant.


50 years later the small mansion is again in the news.

In 2019 Hounslow Chamber reported Gunnersbury Park's Small Mansion and stables have received a lifeline in the form of a £2.3 million grant for emergency repair work.

Ealing and Hounslow Council accepted the grants from Highways England at two separate cabinet meetings on Tuesday night (23 April).

See also Friends of Gunnersbury Park & Museum, which has many news items about the small mansion.

Hanger London includes a history of Gunnersbury park


Published April 2012; updated April 2024