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Not Brentford

Gillette factory, Great West Road, 1970s

Peter Young took these photos of the Gillette factory on the 3rd July 1973 and 3rd March 1974. The first shows the Deco factory frontage in the spring of '74. This was one of the later additions to the Great West Road, lying at the western end of the 'Golden Mile': the Ordnance Survey map published in 1936 shows a field of nearly 11 acres at the junction of Syon Lane and the GWR; this junction was later to take its name, Gillette Corner, from the factory. Google StreetView from June 2016 shows few changes to the building, the main difference being the loss of the red Gillette signage; and, of course, the roads look very busy today.

Wikipedia notes the building was designed in 1936/7 and adds 'no commercial buildings could be built further west along the Great West Road after Syon Lane (Gillette Corner) as the land was owned by the Church Commissioners. Syon Lane railway station was built especially for the workers at these various factories'.

A search of newspapers found an article about the factory's opening (Aberdeen Press and Journal on 07 January 1937):
A new Gillette factory, built on the
Great West Road, Isleworth, Middlesex,
was opened yesterday by the Lord
Mayor of London, Sir George Broadbridge.
The new factory is capable of turning
out one and a half million safety razor
blades per day and 25,000 razors.
The factory will supply fifty miles of
blade edge each day, one half of which
will be exported, and the other sold in
Great Britain. Japan is one of the
firm's best customers, supplying one of
the largest markets for Gillette razors
and razor blades.

Reporting the same event, the Gloucestershire Echo set a jauntier tone and included this gnomic quote from the Mayor of London 'War may rage and kingdoms may rise and fall and years may pass and things may change, but every morning before breakfast, all over the world, man must scrape his chin, never knowing the satisfaction of feeling that a good job has reached finality' and noted that the area shaved each day in the British Isles amounted to about 125 acres and comprised around 50,000 miles of growth.

In 1941 the company placed adverts for scrap brass (such as old safety razor frames) in various local newspapers. The scrap was melted down and Gillette sent any proceeds to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

Over 30 years after Peter took these photos Gillette moved out: Wikipedia reports 'Gillette stopped using this factory in April 2006, moving production to Poland. The building is as of 2013 undergoing conversion into a mixed use complex with a hotel and residential apartments.'

Gillette frontage

The first photo below gives another view of the frontage, summer 1973; the second shows the ornate octagonal iron lamps supported by cherubs set against the landmark clocktower; apparently the lamps are Victorian streetlamps, originally gas but converted to electricity; and the final shows another view of the frontage and lamps from spring '74.

Gillette frontage Gillette lamp detail Gillette frontage

Full list of Peter's photos

Published November 2016