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Not Brentford

May News

The following items have been extracted from the British Newspaper Archive, also available on findmypast. They are in date order and range from 1833 to 1945:

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

Reading Mercury 20 May 1833

COACH ACCIDENT.-- FALSE REPORT.- A Paragraph has run the round of the Papers, and was copied from a Morning Paper into the True Sun on Thursday last, giving an account of the upsetting of the Reading and London Telegraph Coach, at Brentford, on its way to London on Wednesday morning, and of the breaking of the jaw-bone of a gentleman from Bristol, who was one of the passengers.

We learn from Mr. Wm. Hone, the proprietor of the coach in question, that the whole account is a base fabrication from beginning to end.

"The Telegraph" has run from London to Reading for upwards of twelve years, and during that period has not met with the slightest accident.

There are a set of scoundrels connected with the metropolitan press - the offscouring of society, who for sixpence, would upset a coach, sink a man-of-war, burn down a house, or trample an old woman to death by a mad bull in Smithfield. We trust, that the respectable portion of those who are connected with the metropolitan Press - will adopt measures to weed the "reporting profession" of the disrespectable hangers-on to newspapers. Our own endeavours shall not be wanting to aid in effecting so desirable an object.-
From the TRUE SUN of Saturday evening, May 11th.


The True Sun was a London pro-Whig evening newspaper published between 1832 and 1837. Charles Dickens was a reporter 1832-1834.

The Whigs were the opposition party to the Tories, their website states:
The Whigs passed a number of pro-immigration measures, and laws to enable the full participation of religious minorities in public life. The Whigs abolished the slave trade in 1807, and abolished slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833. Perhaps most notably, the Whigs passed the Great Reform Act in 1832, which expanded the electorate, and made Parliament more representative of the country as a whole.

Although this took place nearly 200 years ago the events could happen today:

  • the publication of graphic, inaccurate information to defame a business or individual
  • its spread through the media
  • the publication of a rebuttal, which not all will read or, if they do, believe

Moving on to firm ground, William Hone of 36 Castle Street, Reading was listed in Pigot's Directory, 1830, as a Coach Proprietor. He was initiated in 1833 as a freemason and was a member of The Reading Lodge of Union in 1833 to 1837. (

He was the son of Nathaniel Hone, an innkeeper at The George, King Street, Reading, and in the 1841 census William Hone, 45, porter merchant, was recorded at 10 King Street with William Hone junior, 13, and two servants, William and Ann Kidney, both 30. The next property was the George Inn, 11 King Street, run by Jane Mason, 65.

The Era 29 May 1842

ATTEMPT TO FIRE SIR F. BOOTH'S DISTILLERY AT OLD BRENTFORD. Wednesday it was reported in Brentford that during the previous night a most daring attempt had been made to set fire to the extensive distillery and premises belonging to Sir Felix Booth, Bart.

It appears that about three o'clock, as police constable James CUISHAM, T110, was proceeding round his beat, he observed smoke issuing from the bullock house at the rear of the premises. The building in question is very spacious, being upwards of 300 feet long, and on the ground floor frequently contains nearly 500 head of cattle, while the floors above are filled with ground grain to the value of from £10,000 to £12,000.

On hastening to the spot he found Mr SWAN (one of the managers), with the watchman and other persons, were already there, when by great exertions, the flames, which were found to be raging in a narrow passage leading to the feeding place, and filled with a quantity of shavings, were soon extinguished.

Had the fire remained undiscovered a few moments longer, the whole of that portion of the premises must have been burnt, and the loss of property been incalculable. No carpenters work having been done for three weeks in the building, there is no doubt the fire must have been caused by some incendiary.


The tithe enumeration took place a few years before the fire and shows Sir Felix Booth owned a block of properties between Bull Lane (later known as Pottery Road) and New North Road. The occupiers included Sir Felix BOOTH, Thomas SMITH, William TAYLOR, David FORGAN and Henry SWAN, the last presumably the manager referred to in the piece: the properties had references 229, 229a, 230 and 230a in the tithe map.

There is a good match between the occupiers recorded in the tithe and the 1841 census. The latter shows Thomas SMITH, Independent with wife Fanny, both 65 and two female servants; then Henry Swan, Distillery Brewer with his family of seven children, all but the youngest two, Elizabeth age 2 and George 4 months, born in Scotland, as were the parents; then next door but one David Forgan, a millwright, also born in Scotland as were his wife Margaret and eldest son David, age 4: it would seem the Swan and Forgan families moved to Brentford around 1837/8.

Henry HAIG, Distiller, age 30 and born Ireland, was recorded just before Thomas Smith in 1841 and shared the property with him. The house name has been transcribed as Camp House and the name appears to start Ca... but may not be Camp.

Brentford Past by Gillian Clegg confirms that Messrs Haig took over the distillery and provides more information about its history and iowners (p. 110-111).

Salisbury and Winchester Journal Saturday 1 May 1858

A fire broke out on Tuesday evening on the premises of Mr. Matthew George COLLETT, a linendraper, High-street, Brentford. Information of the disaster having been sent to the proper quarters, the engines of Brentford, Isleworth, Ealing, and London, attended, but their efforts were unavailing, and the house containing twelve rooms was totally destroyed and the contents consumed.


The site has details of the will of Matthew Bance Collett, 1835, who may be the father of Matthew George Collett. The 1851 census shows Matthew Collett lived next door to John Hinge, a farrier, on High Street (thought to be at no. 190) and on his other side were two uninhabited properties followed by Joseph MARSDEN, saddler and harness maker, thought to live at around no. 187.

The fire destroyed the property and it is not known whether it was replaced by one or more properties by 1861.

Thanks to Angela for forwarding the following item from 1878:

17 May 1878

An inquiry was held at Brentford on Saturday, before Dr. DIPLOCK, into the circumstances attending the deaths of two men named George PIZZEY and Thomas EDMUNDS, aged respectively twenty-five and thirty-three, who were buried alive in an excavation to drain some new houses at The Butts, Old Brentford.

The two men were employed to make an excavation in front of new houses being built for Mr. James BIGNELL. Mr. W.J. BALL was forman of the works. A distance of 230 ft. had to be excavated and 50 ft. of this had been trenched to a depth of about 10 ft., there being a width of from 2 ft. to 3 ft. along it. The greater part of the earth excavated was gravel, but there was loose earth, and a vein of sand about 2 ft. down. There was some conversation about putting in timber supports or struts, and this had actually been begun.

While the men were at dinner some of the loose earth fell, which the witness thought amounted to about two barrow loads. When the men returned from dinner, one of them began to hammer the wooden strut, when about two tons of earth gave way on one side of the excavation. and entombed Edmunds and Pizzey. Assistance was sent for, and on the men being extracted, one was found to be dead, and the other died soon after. Mr. W.J. Ball, foreman of the works, said neither he nor Edmunds had had any experience of excavation of this description, but the man having been employed in building work satisfactorily, it was though safe to trust the deceased, who was a very sober steady man. In reply to a juryman, witness said he told Edmunds to be sure and let him know if any loose earth gave way. Immediately after the accident, he had more struts.

The jury expressed themselves as of opinion that at a depth of 10 ft. the excavations ought to have been properly protected by timber struts. A verdict of accidental death was returned.



In the second quarter of 1878 the death of George Pizzy age 24 was registered at Brentford. In the 1871 census taken around seven years before his death he was living at Town Meadow, age 16, 'out of employ (Laborer)' with his father William, a carter aged 51, Brentford-born, and mother Ann age 52, born Hereford. Ten years previously the family lived at Mill Bridge, Isleworth and William, 40, a labourer, gave his birthplace as Alperton, Ann's as Langley, and George's, Chiswick. A younger son William, 18 months old, was born in Isleworth.

George Pizzy was buried at South Ealing Cemetery on May 14th, his age this time recorded as 23. Buried in the same grave prior to him were William Pizzey, 31 Jan 1869 age 26; later Jane Pizzy, age one and a half, 20 Jan 1880. (Also buried in the same grave, but later - 1889, 1890 and 1891 - three people named WARD). Returning to the Pizz(e)y burials, as they shared a grave they must have been related - but how?

William Pizzey who died in 1869, was born around 1842/3 and there is a good match in the 1851 census at The Ham, age 9, born New Brentford. His parents William and Ann Pizzy, who were 31 and 30, were also New Brentford-born and William senior was a labourer. This fits, in most respects the family found in 1861 and 1871, although birthplaces vary from census to census. However no death registration was made at Brentford in this name, the best match being a William Pizzey at Lambeth, aged 25. Perhaps he was working there but his parents buried him in their local cemetery.

The new GRO search facility shows a William Pizzy birth registered at Brentford in the second quarter of 1842, his mother formerly FREEMAN. A search for George Pizzy found an entry from the last quarter of 1854, mother also Freeman - so William was the elder brother to George. The marriage of Ann Freeman to William Percy registered at Brentford in the first quarter of 1842, not many months before son William was born, fits - perhaps William could not write and 'Percy' was the best the clerk could come up with when he heard 'Pizzey'.

This leaves a minor niggle: the 1861 census included William Pizzey, age 18 months. Did the couple name a second son William even though he was still alive? Or did the census enumerator record 18 months instead of 18 years? A check on the ancestry website shows a note by this entry suggesting Ms Logan has concluded William's age should be 18 years not months.

As for Jane Pizzy who was buried in 1880 - the GRO index shows her birth was registered in the last quarter of 1878 and that her mother was formerly WEST. Further searches showed the marriage of George Pizzy to Jane West took place at Fulham in the last quarter of 1875 and the ancestry website includes further details: his father was William Pizzy and they married at St Paul's Hammersmith on Boxing Day. Jane was the daughter of Richard West. The birth of their first child, William George Pizzy, took place in the third quarter of 1876.

So when George died in May 1878 he left a young widow Jane who was pregnant, a son William George under 2 (and another child - see later). In such circumstances a remarriage was likely and this is what happened - Jane Pizzy married Thomas WARD on 19 January 1879 at Fulham. This explains the presence of the three Ward burials in the Pizzy grave at South Ealing Cemetery.

The 1881 census shows Thomas and Jane Ward living at 18 New North Road, Old Brentford. Thomas was a stoker age 22 born Brentford and Jane was 24, born Acton, with children Ann Pizzey, age 6, William Pizzey 5, and Ellen Ward age 1. Ann Pizzey may have been born before her parents George and Jane married. I have not checked later censuses to find out what subsequently happened to the couple.

Locating Thomas Edmunds proved more of a challenge. There was no death in this name registered at Brentford in the second quarter of 1878 and a search for any Thomas Edmunds who died in 1878 found only a couple in Middlesex; but on examination these deaths were recorded in the January-March quarter, before the accident.

However as George's burial took place on May 14th at the South Ealing Cemetery it seemed possible that Thomas Edmunds was also buried there - and this was the case. A William Edmonds, age 33, was buried in the unconsecrated area, also on May 14th. There is a death registration at Brentford that exactly matches this name and age - so either he was known as Thomas or the newspaper report got his forename wrong.

Mr James Bignell, owner of the new houses, may be related to councillor Robert Richard Bignell.

The foreman, Mr W.J. Ball could be William J Ball, recorded as a builder, aged 36 living in The Butts in 1881. He was born in Southwark and he and wife Melah had six children aged from one month to 12 years old, showing the family moved from Wimbledon to Walburton in Sussex, then back to Wimbledon, then to Chiswick and finally to Brentford. They had a nurse for the new baby - Sarah Green, 52, born Stamford Hill - and a locally-born servant girl of 16 Annie Collett.

The Coroners' Inquest appears in several newspaper and the Leigh Chronicle and Weekly District Advertiser published on May 18th includes the witness's name : John POWELL. The reports focus on the circumstances of the men's deaths and do not mention their family circumstances; perhaps a local paper has more details.

As an aside, a search for Dr DIPLOCK, the coroner, found a book titled The seven secrets by William le Queux, first published in 1903 - 'a timeless whodunit' available to read free online. It has one chapter set in Brentford, which notes 'we walked together into the narrow, rather dirty High Street of Brentford, the county town of Middlesex' - probably worth further investigation!


Morning Post Friday 15 May 1885

- This bill, which yesterday passed the Committee stage of
the House of Commons without opposition, incorporates a
company to construct additional tramways from Kew
Bridge, passing along High Street, Brentford, the London
Road, Bath Road and Staines Road to Isleworth and
Twickenham and to Hounslow and Hounslow Barracks.


Although the bill was passed the plans were not implemented until 15 years later. Janet McNamara's 'History from Roman to Modern Times' has more details, see a photo of the works at the Half Acre / High Street junction, ca 1899 and a local newspaper article about the work.Gillian Clegg's 'Brentford Past' notes 'trams ran first from Shepherds Bush to Kew Bridge in April 1901, with an extension to Brentford and Hounslow opening in July of that year'.

There are several postcards featuring trams on this site (search for 'tram', top right on the home page), also a photo of a Brentford tram which was undergoing restoration at Crich Tramway Museum in 2010, hopefully it is in use by now.

Middlesex Independent 6 May 1896

So far as this district was concerned, May Day passed off quietly enough, though as is usually the case much attraction was excited by the gaily decked horses and vans which passed through the town. Messrs Beach's, the jam manufacturers' horses looked particularly smart and the same may be said of those of Messrs Benn.

A procession took place of Mr. Benn's animals, all of which were in fine condition and equipped with gorgeous trappings, starting from Little Ealing, proceeding to Ealing Broadway and returning to Brentford. Messrs Radford's and Co's horses and vans also took part in this ceremony, which was no doubt arranged as an advertisement as well as in order to afford amusement to the public.


Of the three businesses mentioned, Beach, jam manufacturers was based at Ealing Road, Brentford - postcard of the area from around 1913. A history of the business by two descendants is also available.

Benn's and Radford's have a few mentions on the site but concerning individuals, not businesses.


Daily Telegraph & Courier (London) 12 May 1896

An ambitious little boy of Brentford named William COLE, ten years of age, had early given up all hope of setting the Thames on fire, but resolved to imitate Nero on a small scale by starting a conflagration in the home of the celebrated two Kings.

He and two or three others like unto himself went out for a walk, and, as is customary among the rising generation there, they lighted cigarettes and trudged gaily along. Cole, however, is rather short-winded, and he soon allowed his weed to go out. With a borrowed match he relighted it, and then applied the remainder of the flaming lucifer to a hedge by the roadway, remarking to his friends," We'll set the show on fire and have some fun." The flames were soon extinguished by a constable, and the fun took place at the Brentford Petty Sessions yesterday morning, where Cole appeared to answer for his misdeeds.

The magistrates adopted the principle which underlies the homoeopathic course of treatment - like by the like is cured: and after receiving six strokes with the birch the youth became convinced that more cold water would be required to restore a certain part of his corpus to its normal temperature than was necessary to extinguish the burning hedge.


William Cole may be William Charles Coles, who was living at 28 Cressage Road in the 1891 census, age 5 (which fits with the age noted in 1896). He was the son of a general labourer, age 48, of the same name, born in Northampton, and Eliza, age 36, a dressmaker born Brentford. His elder brothers (Henry 13, Thomas 7) and a younger sister, Emma, age 1, were all born in Brentford.

Alternatively, William Cole, age 6, a step son of Edward BROWN, 45, bricklayer and his wife Ann, 38 at 24 Devonshire Street, Chiswick, may be the young smoker.

The third option, a William G Cole, was 3 in 1891, born and living in Hanwell; perhaps too young to be smoking in 1896?


Yorkshire Evening Post 18 May 1922

A bold experiment is on foot just now in the South of England. A new road is being constructed to avoid a bottle-neck at Brentford. It is to be six miles long, and 120 feet wide; and the total cost will be well over £700,000.

When the soil has been levelled and rolled hard it will be covered with a hard core of clinker, etc, 12 inches deep. On top of that will be a 9-inch layer of reinforced concrete, two inches of Trinidad asphalt, beaten in hot. It is hoped that this method of construction will produce a highway of lasting qualities such as the work of those grand road-makers, the old Romans, possessed. The initial cost is great; but it is held that the road, once made, will last 50 years. If it does, it will prove economical in the long run. Authorities elsewhere will watch the result of the experiment with interest.


Expect you have worked out that the 'bold experiment' was the Great West Road, which opened in 1925. The site has several images of the Great West Road, from the 1920s onwards, and more about many of the businesses that operated here: perhaps start with Local History Day, 2013, which focused on the GWR.

I had not heard of Trinidad asphalt and the National Museums Liverpool website at has more information about this unique natural resource. It notes:
' ... commercial asphalt harvesting did not start until after 1850, largely for road-surfacing material. By the 1890s more than 175,000 tons of pitch had been harvested, and by the 1920s - with the booming motor industry’s need for paved roads - this rose to 265,000 tons annually. Export to Europe, particularly after the first World War, was a major impetus, with many roads in France, England, and eventually Germany, Egypt and Japan paved with Trinidad asphalt.'
You learn something new ...

Middlesex Chronicle Saturday 12 May 1945

Borough's Jubilation on Return of Peace

From loudspeakers installed on the balcony at the Council House, Treaty Road, Hounslow, on the afternoon of Tuesday - VE-Day - the broadcast by Mr Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, announcing Germany's unconditional surrender and the end of five years and eight months of war in Europe, was heard by a large crowd. The Premier's statement was punctuated with applause and was followed by a short address from the Mayor of Heston and Isleworth (Councillor DJ Thomas, JP).

The Mayor said they had just heard a historic message, marking the end of five years of stress and strain. He desired to take the opportunity of tendering a word of appreciation to the people of the borough. They had not all been in uniform, but, like the people of other boroughs in London and coastal areas, they had been in the front line. As Mayor, he wished to pay a tribute to all who helped to keep the Home Front firm, to turn out munitions, aeroplanes and ships, and to face the difficulties of rationing of food and clothing, and all the strain of war time.

His Worship, continuing, stated that victory over Nazism and Fascism had been achieved, and now we had to gain the victory over Japan. Then we must turn to the tasks of peace, resolved to make this country worthy of the sacrifices of the young men and young women in the war.

"Whilst we are rejoicing today," said the Mayor in closing. "let us spare a moment for remembrance of those who have lost their lives. If we do that we will go forward with determination to make a new world in which there will be no more danger of war. Let us all do our part, and the war and sacrifice will not have been in vain."

The rest of the article describes local 'VE-Day and VE-Day plus 1' celebrations, focusing on Hounslow, Heston and Isleworth.

A few excerpts

  • al fresco tea parties, dancing, music and song, games and races for the kiddies, and bonfires on which Hitler's effigies, after hanging all day on improvised gallows or strung up to a lamp-post, were burned amid scenes of jubilation
  • home-made fireworks were let off, and many of the streets were flood-lit by the ingenious devices of amateur electricians
  • flood-lighting of churches and public buildings
  • pianos were placed outside many of the hostelries, where dancing and singing continued long after the last barrel had been emptied
  • the Ray Sisters sang and tap danced on iron sheets from Morrison shelters
  • Mr Brian, licensee of the "Black Horse", Lampton, in addition to providing lemonade, gave each child a shilling
  • trestle tables appeared in the street, adorned with red, white and blue flowers in shell cases on blue pennant mats
  • cakes with icing, sausage rolls, coconut buns, butterfly cakes, jam tarts
  • Great West Road, with its many large factories floodlit and attractively decorated with flags, pennants, coloured lights, signs etc
  • on the Brentford and Chiswick Council housing estate at Brentford End ... a hugh bonfire provided the illumination for the dancing, which continued until after 3am to the strains of a jazz band
  • some 50 or 80 students from Borough Road College (Isleworth) started off in a procession ... preceded by an improvised band and PT students doing somersaults etc


Thanks to the generosity of several individuals, the site has some fine photos and memories of Brentford's VE-Day parties:

New Road residents' party in the Methodist Hall, includes several names: Colin Halstead
Distillery, Pottery, Netley and North Roads area, children's fancy dress indoor party: Barry Draper
Ealing Road, party, outdoor photo at Braemar Road junction, over 80 people shown: Diane Elphick (Gardner)
Hamilton Road's outdoor party, includes many names and memories: Sandra Graves
Thames Bank House, Goat Wharf, over 80 people, some names: Arthur Peters


Published May 2012; last updated April 2022