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Not Brentford

Catherine Wheel, Brentford

Vic Rosewarne has researched the histories of several local pubs including the Catherine Wheel.

Name origins

The sign of the Catherine Wheel derives from a fourth century Christian martyr, St. Catherine of Alexandria, also known as St. Catherine of the Wheel, who was reputedly killed by being broken on a wheel. A barbaric method of execution by which the victim is tied to a wheel and then having their limbs crushed. In the medieval period she was greatly venerated, and portraits of her invariably include a wheel, the symbol of her martyrdom. According to some reports of her death as she was bound to the wheel it broke and its blades flew off in all directions, flashing in the light. Thus it is no surprise that the modern spinning firework is named after her, the Catherine Wheel. There is no evidence that St. Catherine actually existed and her story was probably invented in the eighth century.

94 High Street, New Brentford

This is purely speculation but Moses Glover’s map of the Manor of Isleworth Syon, produced in 1635, shows Brentford High Street, and names a number of public houses, The Boare’s Head, The George, The Doves and The Lion. It also shows four "Gallows" sign posts (named for the close similarity to gibbets) which were erected overhanging the roadway outside inns, to attract travellers. One is clearly seen attached to the Lion.

There is "The Whele Wharf" marked some eight to ten houses East of the Lion (subsequently the Red Lion) that could indicate that there was a house named the "Wheel" at this point; given that a number of the Wharves and Yards in New Brentford are often named after public houses, could it be that the Catherine Wheel was here in 1635 ?

Also the house is first recorded in 1726 with Thomas Gower as licensee, the house is then just named "The Wheel", that year, but in 1727 Thomas Gower was listed at "The Catherine Wheel."

Thomas Gower . . . . . . . . . . . 1726 – 1732
Ann Gower . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1737
George Hall . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1743

The returns for 1746 to 1751 only give the name of the licensees, one of these was Mary Hall, so it is possible to assume that the wife had taken over the licence on her husband’s death.

Mary Hall . . . . . . . . . . . 1746 – 1751

There are no returns for 1752 – 1759, there is then an almost continuous listings of the public houses in New Brentford to 1828.

Thomas Bartlett . . . . . . . 1760 – 1776

The 1776 return lists both Thomas Bartlett and John Dean, so it can be assumed a transfer was made following September 1775.

John Dean . . . . . . . . . . . 1776 – 1779

It appears John Dean died c. 1779-80, and his wife then took over the licence.

Ann Dean . . . . . . . . . . . 1780 – 1797

[An Ann Dean, Widow, was buried at St. Lawrence, New Brentford, 12 May 1800].

Robert Morton . . . . . . . . . .1797

In 1798 William Bland is licensed to the house followed by John Ward in the same year.

William Bland . . . . . . . . . . 1798
John Ward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1798 -1809
Michael Sims . . . . . . . . . . . . 1810 – 1828



The renewal of the licence of the Catherine Wheel in 1825 is recorded in this document, which was issued to each publican at the Licensing Sessions, it sets out the terms by which the licence is granted.

Middlesex to wit,
At a General Meeting of His Majesty’s Justice of the Peace acting in and for the Division of New Brentford in the said County --- held at the 3 Pigeons, New Brentford, in the Division and County aforesaid, on Monday, the twenty first day of March One Thousand Eight Hundred and Twenty five Michael Sims at the sign of the Catherine Wheel in the parish Township of New Brentford in the said County --- Victualler, acknowledges himself to be indebted to our Sovereign Lord the King in the sum of thirty pounds; and Thomas Jones of the Township of New Brentford in the County of aforesaid Grocer acknowledges himself to be indebted to our Sovereign Lord the King in the sum of twenty Pounds, to be levied upon their several Goods and Chattels, Lands and Tenements, by way of Recognizance, to His Majesty’s Use, His Heirs and Successors; Upon Condition that the said Michael Sims do and shall keep the true Assize in uttering and selling Bread and other Victuals, Beer, Ale, and other Liquors in his House; and shall not fraudulently dilute or adulterate the same; and shall not use, in uttering and selling thereof any Pots or other Measures that are not of full Size; and shall not wilfully or knowingly permit Drunkenness or Tipling, nor get drunk in his House or other Premises; not knowingly suffer any gaming with Cards, Draughts, Dice, Bagatelle, or any other sedentary game in his House, or any of the Outhouses, Appurtenances, or Easements thereto belonging, by Journeymen, Labourers, Servants, or Apprentices; nor knowingly introduce, permit, or suffer any Bull, Bear, or Badger-baiting, Cock-fighting, or any other such Sport or Amusement, in any Part of his Premises nor shall knowingly or designedly, and with a view to harbour and entertain such, permit or suffer Men or Women of notoriously bad Fame, or dissolute Girls and Boys, to assemble and meet together in his House, or any of the other Premises, during the Hours of Night, or early in the Morning, for any other Purpose than the Reception of Travellers; but do keep good Rule and Order therein according to the Purport of a License granted for selling Ale, Beer, or other Liquors, by Retail, in the said House and Premises, for one whole year commencing on the fifth Day of April next, then this Recognizance to be void, or else to remain in full Force.

Taken and acknowledge the Day and Year first above written before Us, - James Clitherow – Wm. Crighton


William Mantle – c. 1829 to c. 1840

William Mantle had taken over the house by 1830 as there was theft at The Catherine Wheel that year, by a servant girl.


In 1830 William Mantle, the landlord of the Catherine Wheel, had employed a young servant girl named Sarah Pepperill for a couple of months, and in April he became suspicious when she had suddenly acquired some new clothes. Suspicious as to how she had acquired the money for these purchases, as her wages were £5 a year, he checked the money he kept in a locked drawer in his bedroom, and found that nine sovereigns were missing. Confronting her, she said she had found a purse in the street with £7 pounds in it, some of which she had given to her mother. On enquiring further he found there was no truth to the story she had told about finding the money, and he then had her arrested by the local constable, William Durban. The Constable then tested the key that Sarah Pepperill had for her box, and found it easily open Mr. Mantle’s locked drawer.

She was then charged with the theft and sent for trial at the Old Bailey. There she was found guilty of the theft, but only for 99 shillings, and sentenced to transportation for seven years.

[See Appendix 2 for a full transcript of the trial.]


One feature of a public house was the holding of Inquests on the premises, the custom was to hold it at the nearest house to where the deceased died. By the 1890s these inquiries were mainly held in public offices, hospitals and mortuaries. There were a number of other drownings recorded in Brentford in the nineteenth century, many of them being children.


In 1835 there was an Inquest held at the Catherine Wheel on the death of a 14 year old girl, named Elizabeth Cornish, who drowned in the River Thames. The alarm was raised by Benjamin Cole, who was passing along the river in the morning and observed a bonnet floating on the water, and nearby a pail on the surface of the river. Fearing that someone was in the water he obtained some drags and the body of the girl was discovered. She was taken to the Catherine Wheel, a surgeon was summoned, but he found life extinct. That spot on the river was rather lonely and it was most likely she was going down to the river to collect water and had slipped or fallen into the river. A verdict of accidental death was returned.

[A full transcript of the Inquest is given in Appendix 3]



William Mantle was still at the house in 1839 as he is recorded in the "1839 Pigot’s Directory – Catherine Wheel -- William Mantle".

Henry Girard – c. 1840 to October 1853

Henry Girard had taken over the Catherine Wheel by the time of the census in 1841, so he was probably there when the following inquest was held on a young man who drowned in the 1841 Brentford Flood.


The Inquest opened at 12 o’clock on Wednesday on the death of William Spruce who was 19 years old, and had been on a barge on the river, and had drowned. In opening the Inquest the Coroner, Mr. T. Baker, said the inquiry was one that could not be concluded without entering into the causes of the calamitous event which had resulted in the young man’s death. Therefore they would view the body, then proceed and the spot where the body was found, then take evidence as to the identity of the deceased, and then adjourn for a week.

The foreman of the jury said he and others of the jury agreed with this as there was a strong feeling existing in the town that the calamity had been in a great measure caused by the breaking loose of the timber floats which were moored in the stream. They then went to the room where the body lay, then looked over the wrecked barge, where the body was found. They then visited Brentford Bridge and to the spot where the timber floats were fastened, which at that time was considered the main cause of the catastrophe.

On their return to the Catherine Wheel, a number of dignitaries of the town had arrived, they said that a full inquiry should be made into the cause of the flooding, as if the gates were not opened to allow the water to flow off, there was the possibility that certain persons could be liable. The inquiry was then adjourned for a week, so that the fullest evidence could be obtained. Also that the jury would require the report of a person competent to determine the cause of the flooding.


The adjourned inquest was held the following Wednesday, when they heard the evidence that that a breach had taken place in the walls of the Kingsbury Reservoir belonging to the Regent’s Canal Company, through which a vast body of water was poured into the Brent. The reservoir itself, as it was stated, covers upwards of 140 acres of ground, and the walls by which it is enclosed being insufficient to resist so immense a pressure as that thrown upon them by the thaw and consequent influx of water from the country, the flood both overtopped the walls, and forced a passage through one part, by which a considerable volume reached the Brent, and, as it is supposed, tended in a great measure to produce the calamity at Brentford.

There were three further sittings of the inquest jury, these were held at the Three Pigeons, due to the large number of people who were due attend.

[A full transcript of the Inquests is given in Appendix 4]


1841 Census – HO 107 655 / 1/ fo. 28, p. 10.

(The Catherine Wheel), High Street, New Brentford.

Henry Girard, aged 55, a Publican, not born in Middlesex
Richard Millard, aged 24, a Waterman, born in Middlesex
Elizabeth Millard, aged 22, not born in Middlesex
Heather Millard, aged 1, born in Middlesex
Sarah Allwright, aged 16, Female Servant, born in Middlesex
John Pendry, aged 25, Labourer, born in Middlesex
William Chambers, aged 39, a Tanner, born in Middlesex
George Gorranll ?, aged25, a Waterman, born in Middlesex


It appears that by the mid 1840s that Robert Millard was running the house, perhaps as a manager, for he appears as a complainant in two cases at the Police Courts, describing himself as the landlord. The same man is obviously involved in both incidents, though he is named Bernard Fitzpatrick of the 80th regiment, in the first, and Daniel Fitzpatrick of the 8th regiment, in the second.


Yesterday, a man named Bernard Fitzpatrick, formerly belonging to the 80th Regiment of Foot, who has been several times in custody for having uttered threats against Sir Robert Peel, Bart., M. P., and the Duke of Wellington, and who has several times an inmate of the Hanwell County Lunatic Asylum, appeared before Mr. G. Baillie (Chairman), Sir Alexander Spearman, Bart., Rev. H. S. Trimmer, and Mr. J. Frere, the sitting magistrates, under the following circumstances : --.

Mr. Millard deposed that he kept the Catherine Wheel in New Brentford. The prisoner lived in the house adjoining in Catharine-Wheel Yard. On Monday, the 18th inst., the prisoner came into witness’s house, and without having spoken to him, he caught hold of witness by the nape of the neck and tried to throttle him, and would have injured witness severely had he not knocked him away. So violent was the prisoner’s conduct, the witness was obliged to keep the back door closed during the whole of the day. In the evening the prisoner declared he would murder witness, and brandished a broomstick outside the door, saying he would beat out witness’s brains with it. A few days before the prisoner stood nearly all day with a hatchet in his hand, watching for witnesses, and on Wednesday last witness heard the prisoner say that if he did commit murder nothing could be done with him, as he was an insane man.

After other evidence. Fitzpatrick was then called to find two sureties of £10 each, for his good behaviour for three months, and in default he was committed for that period.

(Morning Advertiser 26 May 1846) .


The following year there was a further incident involving Daniel Fitzpatrick.


Daniel Fitzpatrick, formerly a private in the 8th regiment, was brought up on a warrant, before Mr. W. F. Beadon, on a charge of having threatened to twist the neck of Mr. William (Richard ?) Millard, of the Catherine Wheel public house, New Brentford.

The prisoner is an individual who has repeatedly appeared before the public as a monomaniac. On the present occasion it was proved that on Tuesday last, after having taken his wife to the station house at Old Brentford, on a charge of robbing him of two shillings, which charge was refused, upon which he went to the Catherine Wheel, public house, behind which he lives, and called for a glass of ale; but Mr. Millard, the landlord, seeing the excited he was in, very properly refused to serve him, but told him he could have what he pleased in his own house, upon which he used the threat for which the warrant was issued.

Mr. Beadon said, it was quite evident to him that the prisoner was not a proper person to be at large, without some restraint being placed on him. He should therefore require him to find two sureties for his good behaviour for a calendar month.

He was then locked up.

(Morning Advertiser, 2 July 1847)


1851 Census – HO 107 1699, fo. 27, p. 3, Sch. 9.

(Catherine Wheel), High Street, New Brentford

Henry Girard, Head, Widower, aged 65, a Publican, born Middx., St. Luke’s
Richard Millard, Son in Law, married, 34, a Lighterman, born Middx., Brentford
Elizabeth Millard, Wife, married, aged 31, born Surrey, Lambeth
Martha Millard, daughter, aged 10, a Scholar, born Middx., Brentford
Joseph Girard, Nephew, aged 11, a Servant, born Middx., Brentford



Henry Girard retired from the house in 1853, and was to be followed by three further landlords in the next seven years, who each stayed only a couple of years each.

Brentford Petty Sessions 8 October – Transfer – The Catherine Wheel, Henry Girard to Henry Baker.

(Morning Advertiser 10 October 1853,).


Henry Baker - October 1853 to March 1855

This was a brief tenure, as Henry Baker was in trouble at the Annual Licensing Sessions in 1855. There had been a complainant made against him and his licence were suspended until the adjourned day, along with another miscreant. All the other old licences were renewed. Henry Baker had obviously been fined in the previous year for some serious transgression, and would have to appear on the Adjourned day with a petition from local residents to ask for its renewal. At the Adjourned Licensing Session, however, the licence was not renewed to him but transferred to a new tenant, John George Gibbs.

(Morning Advertiser 19 March 1855)

[If the pub was owned by a brewery, then the brewers may well have given the tenant notice to quit. There was a similar case in 1850, where the brewer appeared and said if the Magistrates renewed the licence, he would find a new tenant; this is possibly what was done on this occasion.].


John Edmund Gibbs – March 1855 to March 1858

The new tenant, John Gibbs, was then in trouble himself, but he survived, at least for a time.

At the Brentford Petty Sessions on 9 August 1856, he was fined 20s. for serving during the prohibited hours on a Sunday.

(Windsor and Eton Express 16 August 1856).


The Catherine Wheel, New Brentford, from Mr. John Edmund Gibbs to James Hunt, formerly of the Devonshire Arms, Chiswick.

(Morning Advertiser 3 March 1858 ).


James Hunt – March 1858 to c. 1860

This was a very brief tenure, apparently without incident, or none that was recorded in the newspapers, before a transfer to the longest serving landlord of the house, and of any other house in Brentford during the 19th century.


George Charles Collier c. 1860 – 1905

He took over the house about 1860, probably continued serving till his death in 1905. In the 1851 census he is recorded as a "Waterman," with his wife Hannah, son Joseph aged 3, and daughter Sarah, aged 2, living in New Brentford.

Many publicans in Brentford were involved in other trades besides running their houses. He probably continued his connect with the Canal and River traffic, as in 1901 he describes his trade as Licensed Victualler & Lighterman. He was also very active in local affairs, as the obituary on his death in 1905 shows.

1861 Licensed Victuallers Returns : Catherine Wheel -- George Charles Collier.


The 1861 Census list the family at the house.

RG 9 777, fo. 35, p. 23, Sch. 122.

(Catherine Wheel ), High Street, New Brentford.

George C. Collier, Head, married, aged 32, a Licensed Victualler, born Middlesex, Brentford
Hannah Collier, Wife, married, 31, born Middlesex, Brentford
Rebecca Collier, daughter, aged 9, born Middlesex, Brentford
Jemima Collier, daughter, aged 2, born Middlesex, Brentford
Plus 2 Boarders, both of whom were Watermen

George’s wife Hannah Mary Ann Collier was to die at the end of 1863.



There were a number of incidents reported at the house in the following years, many of which were the common troubles for licensees. Awkward, drunken or abusive customers, or serving on a Sunday morning, the usual problems for a licensed victualler.


George Collins (Collier), landlord of the Catherine Wheel public house, summoned a young woman named Biven, for having used abusive language in his house on the previous Saturday night; in the case having been clearly proved, the Bench inflicted a fine of 10s. for disorderly conduct, and 10s. for abusive language. .

(Morning Advertiser – Saturday 1 June 1867 )



George Collier, landlord of the Catherine Wheel public house, New Brentford, was summoned for having opened his house during the prohibited hours on Sunday morning last.

Police sergeant Alison stated that he visited defendants house during the hours of Divine Service in the afternoon, when he found three men in a little back parlour, and on the table two pint pots and one quart pot, all of which contained beer.

Defendant contended that two of the men where travellers on the water, and had come down from near Gravesend that day. The other man was a lodger. The Bench fined defendant 10s., and hoped it would be a caution to him.

(Windsor and Eton Express – 6 April 1861)

The "Bona Fide" traveller question was a source of much annoyance for publicans. By law anyone who had travelled more than three miles and then applied for refreshment at a public house during the time the house should, by Law, be closed, had to be served by the landlord. At Isleworth in 1840 the landlord of the Chequers was summoned for not serving bona fide travellers and convicted, he thought they were not genuine travellers. So the licensees were in a dilemma, serve what appears to be travellers and you could be summoned if it turned out they had not come the required distance that day. Refuse to serve and be summoned for the refusal. It was a crazy law and this was remarked on a number of occasions when these cases were tried.

Also a lodger could be served with liquor. So it is not clear why Charles Collier was fined on this occasion, unless the men served were not genuine travellers, or the lodger was not a lodger. But the fine was a low one for the offence; the usual penalty was 20s. or 40s.]


Brentford Police Court Tuesday 18 March – Before J. Frere, Esq. - THEFT OF A COAT.

William Jones, a rough looking fellow, was charged with having stolen a coat, value 15s.; 1 waistcoat, value 5s.; and a pair of trousers, value 14s., Richard Page under the following circumstances.

Mary Ann Collier stated she was landlady of the Catherine Wheel, New Brentford, and that on the previous night, between 10 and 11 o’clock, the prisoner came into the house and asked for lodgings. She told him they were full, but he could go and ask her husband, who was in the back. Prisoner then went to the back of the house, and on doing so had to pass the stair case. Soon after witness, hearing a noise, looked up, and saw prisoner near the front door with a coat under his arm. Knowing he had not one when he came in, she called to her husband, and cried out, "Stop thief !" Prisoner then ran out of the front door.

Police constable Ingram said he was in New Brentford last night about the time stated, when, hearing the cry "Stop thief !" he looked round and saw prisoner coming out of the Catherine Wheel public house, when he dropped the coat produced and ran away. Witness chased him, and brought him back, when he was given into custody by Mrs. Collier. He pretended to be drunk.

Prisoner was remanded.

(Windsor and Eton Express 15 March 1862 )


Brentford Petty Sessions Saturday 15 March. - THEFT OF A COAT

William Jones, the man who stood remanded from the previous Tuesday, on the charge of stealing a coat from the Catherine Wheel, public house, was again placed at the bar, when the evidence taken having been read over, Mr. Rigarlsford, the inspector of Police, stated that inquiries had been made respecting the prisoner, but nothing had been ascertained respecting his antecedents; the address he had given was found to be incorrect.

The prisoner, who is a bricklayer, said he was drunk at the time, and did not know what he was about, or it would not have happened.

Committed for trial.

(Windsor and Eton Express 22 March 1862)



Brentford Petty Sessions 29 Oct.


George Collier, of "The Catherine Wheel," New Brentford, licensed victualler, was summoned by the police for illegally keeping his house open for the sale or consumption of excisable liquors, between the hours of one and four on the morning of Tuesday, 25th of October.

A Police-constable said he was on duty on Tuesday morning last, and at ten minutes before two o’clock he heard a noise inside defendant’s house, in consequence of which he knocked at defendant’s door. The gas-light was then lowered or put out. When he got into the house he saw several men and women in front of the bar, Collier’s brother was one, and he said to witness: "If you don’t go out, I’ll chuck you out.".

Police-constable Edwards said he saw four men and two women inside. He also saw three empty pots on the counter.

Mr. Woodbridge, of Brentford, who appeared for the defence, said the defendant was a free waterman, and his house was much frequented by that class of person who had occasionally to rise early to go down the river with the tide, that his house was closed for all business purposes at twelve o’clock, and that the four men and two women alluded to were, besides the landlord, the landlord’s brother and brother’s wife, who had been looking after the business for the landlord, two lodgers named Light and Pearce, and Sarah Hall, to the latter of whom the landlord was paying his addresses, and this he (Mr. Woodbridge) by the credible witnesses.

Richard Pearce said he was one of the party on the occasion in question, and that he and Light had lodged with the landlord several months, that he saw the house closed at twelve o’clock, and no beer or spirits were sold afterwards, the only persons who were there when the police came in, being the landlord’s brother and wife, and Sarah Hall, the daughter of an old inhabitant.

Other witnesses were about to be called to corroborate Pearce, but the chairman said they had heard enough of the matter, and as the defendant might not have become acquainted with the new Act, the fine would be for this offence 20s. only, including costs. The Bench afterwards reconsidered their judgement, and the Bench fined him 40s., which was at once paid.

(Buckinghamshire Advertiser - 5 Nov. 1864)

The offence was recalled at the next licensing session in March 1865, and the renewal of George Collier’s renewal was held over to the Adjourned Session held on 18 March 1865. At these sessions he would have been given a warning not to repeat the offence committed above and probably had to produce a petition of local residents to show he was a proper person to hold a licence. The occasion was lightened by this exchange with the Chairman of the Magistrates : --

George Collier, the Catherine Wheel, New Brentford. The Chairman (Mr. F. H. N. Glossop) told applicant they perceived there was one complaint against him. Mr. Collier; Yes, Sir, it was a case of sweet hearting. I just came out of the house, and was about taking my young lady home, when the police came up, and thinking there was some drinking going on, summoned me, and I was fined 40s. The Chairman hoped the sweetheart had become his wife. Mr. Collier: Yes, sir, that is so. License granted.

(Windsor and Eton Express 25 March 1865)

A marriage of a George Charles Collier is recorded at Poplar in the first quarter of 1865, this, I assume, is to the Sarah recorded in the 1871 census.


A year later George Collier was again before the Bench for the same offence, this time he got off.

Brentford Petty Sessions Saturday 15 December 1866 – PROHIBITED HOURS

George Collier, landlord of the Catherine Wheel, New Brentford, was summoned for keeping his house open for the sale of liquors during prohibited hours, viz., at twenty minutes to one on the night of the 1st inst. Defendant admitted that one or two travellers were at the bar, and he thought he had a right to serve them. The summons was dismissed.

(Windsor and Eton Express 22 December 1866)



George Collier was then involved in an altercation on Brentford Bridge.

Brentford Petty Sessions Saturday, 23 February - ABUSIVE LANGUAGE.

In February 1867, George Collier was summoned for using abusive and threatening language to James Burrows, a waterman. It began as Burrows was on a barge going under Brentford Bridge, when a large clod of turf was flung over to bridge onto him, which fortunately only caught him a slight blow, he claimed if it had hit him full on, he would have been thrown overboard. He immediately went ashore and was surrounded by a large number of people, among whom was Mr. Collier. He claimed Collier said "I’ll chuck you over the bridge !" and was urging others to make a disturbance. He thought the only offence he had given Collier was in not joining a society Collier was connected with.

James Burrows then picked a fight with Charles Pearce, who he thought was the man who had thrown the turf over the bridge and who had, he thought, insulted him as he was coming up the creek. He claimed the Collier was urging the crowd and saying he should be pelted with stones. The fight stopped when Pearce realised he was no match for the more powerful and larger man. According to a witness for Collier, Thomas Farrington, the landlord of The Beehive, Collier tried to stop the fight saying "You ought to be ashamed of yourself to fight a boy like that. If he was a boy of mine, I would throw you over the bridge.".

There was a contradiction in the evidence given by both sides about the weight of the turf thrown, those for the complainant claim it was 7 pounds and those for the defence said only about a pound.

George Collier had originally been a waterman, so there may have been some long standing antagonism between him and Burrows. The Magistrates dismissed the summons and indicated that Charles Pearce should have brought a summons against Burrows, perhaps indicating where their sympathies lay.

(Windsor & Eton Express 2 March 1867)

[This is an abbreviated report, the full transcript of the case is in an Appendix 5.]


Landlords of public houses were often the stake holders for betting on a variety of sporting activities, rowing, athletics, boxing, etc., here, not surprisingly, it was a boat race.

(Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle 30 March 1867)

J. Farringdon of Brentford will match a novice to row T. Finn any distance in any kind of boat, for an amount; or J. F. will accommodate Finn for £50 or £100 a side. Either or both matches can be made any night at Mr. G. Collier’s, Catherine Wheel, New Brentford.

(Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle 30 March 1867)


Then there was an attempted theft at the house.

Brentford Petty Sessions Friday January 28 – TILL ROBBERY

Edwin Coburg was charged with stealing from the till at the Catherine Wheel, New Brentford, 3s. In silver and 10½ d. In coppers, the property of George Charles Collier. .

Sarah Collier said: I am the wife of George Charles Collier, landlord of the Catherine Wheel, New Brentford. The prisoner came to my house between ten and eleven last night, and called for a pint of four-and-half. My niece served him, and left the bar; I was in the bar parlour with the door partly open. I saw the prisoner leaning over the bar counter, with his hand in the till, I called my husband, and went round the front of the bar to the prisoner. I caught hold of his right hand as he was putting it in his pocket, and found he had in it two shillings and two sixpences. My husband took hold of his left hand, and we there found 10½d. In coppers. Prisoner denied having robbed the till, but said it was his own money. When the prisoner came into the house the till was shut, but afterwards it was a few inches open. When the constable came, prisoner said if I would let him he would go right away out of town.

George Charles Collier, landlord of the Catherine Wheel Yard said: I am landlord of the Catherine Wheel, New Brentford, About half past ten on Thursday night last I was sitting in the bar parlour, opposite to the door leading into the bar. The door was about six inches open. The prisoner came in and asked for a pint of four half and half, which my niece served him with. He said he had not got any money, but the man with the horse would pay. There was a man putting a horse in my stable at the time. He went to the door and called this man, who after paying the 2d. went out again, but prisoner remained at the bar, drinking the beer. My niece then left the bar, and my wife said, "Oh George, he’s taking our money." She ran out of the room and caught hold of the prisoner’s right hand; I followed and took hold of his left hand. In his right hand we found 3s. in silver, and in his left hand 10½d. in coppers. I felt in his pockets, but there was nothing in them. I asked him what he meant by it, and he made use of bad language to me. He said he had changed a sovereign, and I had robbed him of it. My niece asked him if he had changed a sovereign why he did not pay for the beer. He said if I would let him off he would leave the town.

Police Constable 339 A.R., said: at about ten minutes past eleven on Thursday night last, I was called to the Catherine Wheel, New Brentford. Prosecutor told me that the prisoner had been robbing his till. Prisoner said that instead of robbing the till, Mr. Collier had robbed him. He afterwards said that if he had robbed the till he was very sorry, and if Mr. Collier would forgive him he would go out of the town. I took him into custody, but on searching him found nothing. He told me this morning that he had come from Manchester.

The Chairman said that the prisoner was not known in Brentford, they would remand him for a week for enquiries.

(Middlesex Chronicle 4 February 1871)


Brentford Petty Sessions February 4 1871 – ROBBING A TILL

William Cooper was charged on remand with stealing from a till at the Catherine Wheel, New Brentford, 3s. In silver and 10½d. in coppers, the property of George Charles Collier.

The Chairman said there was nothing known against the prisoner, and they would sentence him to two months’ imprisonment with hard labour.

(Middlesex Chronicle 11 February 1871)



In 1871 Charles Collier was employing three family members to help run the house.

1871 Census – RG 10 1319 fo. 162, p. 15, Sch. 65.

Catherine Wheel, High Street, New Brentford.

George C. Collier, Head, married, aged 43, a Publican, born Middlesex, Brentford
Sarah Collier, Wife, married, aged 36, born Middlesex, Brentford
Rebecca Collier, daughter, unmarried, aged 19, a Barmaid, born Middlesex, Brentford
Jemima Collier, daughter, aged 12, a Scholar, born Middlesex, Brentford
Harriett Collier, daughter, aged 9, a Scholar, born Middlesex, Brentford
George H. Collier, Son, aged 8months, born Middlesex, Brentford
Susan Humphreys, Niece, unmarried, aged 21, a Barmaid, born Middlesex, Brentford
James Humphreys, Nephew, unmarried, aged 18, a Pot Boy, born Middlesex, Brentford
Sophia Pizzy, Niece, aged 4, a Scholar, born Middlesex, Brentford



In the year before March 1873, George Collier had apparently had a visit from Mr. Gregg, Inspector of Weights and Measures, who found there were deficient measures in his possession. He was fined 10s. for the offence, which could not have been that serious, as the fine was the minimum for the offence. However, at the following Licensing Sessions in March 1873, the licence was not renewed at main session, but held over to the Adjourned Sessions. He was then cautioned and allowed his license.

(Middlesex Chronicle - March 15 1873)



A public meeting to inaugurate a general movement in opposition to grocer’s licences was held at the Town Hall, Brentford, on Friday, Mr. Morris, of the White Horse, in the chair.

[There was also a discussion about the billeting of Soldiers on Licensed Houses, a system that dates back to at least Stuart times. These soldiers were often troublesome, drunk, thieving, fighting, general unruliness etc., they were obviously not popular with licensees.].

MR. COLLIER, of the Catherine Wheel, went more at length into the billeting question, urging that it was unjust to require a Licensed Victualler to feed and lodge a soldier for a merely nominal remuneration, by which he was out of pocket. Only 1s. 9d. was allowed for the keep of a horse, and yet they had to find corn, hay, and straw of the best quality, when the money did not cover the first cost of the corn alone. He thought that if grocers were put under the same disabilities in this respect, the applications for licences would soon decrease to a very appreciable extent, and the greater number of those who now held would be given up.

(Middlesex Mercury 18 March 1876)


1881 Census - (RG 11 / 1349, fo. 78v, p. 2, Sch. 10).

(The Catherine Wheel) 94 High Street, New Brentford.

George Chas. Collier, Head, married, aged 52, a Licensed Victualler, born Middlesex, Brentford
Sarah Collier, Wife, married, aged 46, born Middlesex, Brentford
George H. Collier, Son, aged 10, born Middlesex, Brentford
Jemima Collier, daughter, unmarried, aged 21, Middlesex, Brentford
Sophia Pizzy, Niece, unmarried, aged 14, a General Servant, born Middlesex, Brentford


In the mid 1880s there were two cases of unruly customers to deal with.


Brentford Police Court, Monday 30 September.

John Regan, shoemaker, of no home, was charged with being drunk and disorderly, and with refusing to quit the Catherine Wheel public house, Brentford.

The evidence of the landlord, Mr. George Collier, showed that on Saturday, at one o’clock, on returning home, he found the defendant in the bar of his house. Defendant was there with his wife, and they were both drunk. He requested them to leave, but they refused and showed a defiant attitude. He thereupon ejected them by force. The man and woman both fell to the ground, and a Police-constable arriving the defendant was taken in charge, but the female was allowed to go.

The Bench fined the defendant 20s. and costs.

(Richmond and Twickenham Times 4 October 1884)



The second case appears to be with a group who had been on a day’s holiday.

Brentford Police Court – Tuesday, 26 May – A DISGRACEFUL AFFAIR.

Alfred Jordan, 16, of 19 St. Catherine Road, Notting Hill, labourer, Frederick Morton, 16, Hunt Street, Latimer Road, a labourer, Isaac Hillier, 18, a shoeblack, of St. Catherine Road, Notting Hill, and Frederick Jones, 19, of 2 Pottery Lane, Notting Hill, were charged with being drunk and using obscene language in the Catherine Wheel, public house, Brentford; further charged with breaking four panes of glass value 20s., the property of James (Charles) Collier, the landlord.

Prosecutor stated that the previous evening he was sitting in his bar when he heard someone call for half a pint of beer. He then saw, what he at first thought was a woman, but afterwards saw it was the prisoner Jordan, attired in female apparel. He served him with the ale, and while the man was drinking it, 3 or 4 boys came in and called for a pint of beer. On perceiving their condition, witness told them he thought they had had enough, and refused to serve them. The lads then began to make use of exceedingly disgusting language; in fact it was of such a nature, that he had to leave the bar. He had been among men of all classes, but never had he heard such language as was used by the prisoners. As they continued to swear, some customers who were in the bar at the time, took hold of them and pushed them out of the bar. When outside the prisoners took off their belts, and immediately commenced to smash in the window. He was afraid to venture out to the front of the bar, but sent a man to the rear of the premises for a policeman. The prisoners then got into a van outside, and were driving away, when they were stopped by the Police.

Joseph Robinson, carman to Mr. Collier, corroborated the last witness, and further stated that when the prisoners got outside they took off their belts and shouted "knock down anyone who comes near us.".

P. C. Green and P. C. Jacobs proved the apprehension of the prisoners, and stated that the prisoner Jones was so drunk that he was not able to stand.

In defence Jordan said he was kicked and struck in the public house by some of the men.

Mr. Hogarth : Oh, yes. But your language was of such a disgusting character that the customers put you out.

You will be fined 40s. or one month. Morton and Hiller were then fined 20s. or 14 days’ each.

(Middlesex Mercury 30 May 1885)

[There was an error by the Court reporter in naming as the landlord as James Collier instead of Charles. There are many miss-reporting of names in the Court reports, this is due to the reporters had no access to the charge sheets, and had to go by what was heard as the case proceeded; though confusing James for Charles is difficult to understand.]


George Collier’s second wife, Sarah, died in January 1890, aged about 55, and was buried 23 January at the Ealing and Old Brentford Cemetery.


1891 Census – RG 12 1032 fo. 134, p. 1, Sch. 9.

(The Catherine Wheel) 94 High Street, New Brentford.

George C. Collier, Head, Widower, aged 62, a Licensed Victualler & Lighterman, born Middlesex, Brentford
George H. Collier, Son, Single, aged 20, a Barge Lighterman, born Middlesex, Brentford


1901 Census – RG 13 / 1196, fo. 1v, p. 2, Sch. 9.

The Catherine Wheel, 94 High Street, New Brentford.

Geo. Chas. Collier, Head, Widower, aged 72, a Licensed Victualler, born Middlesex, Brentford
Georgina May, Niece, married, aged 38, Housekeeper, Domestic, born Middlesex, Brentford



George Charles Collier died on the 31 March 1905, aged 76, and was buried 6 April 1905 at the Ealing and Old Brentford Cemetery.

Probate Calendar 1905.

George Charles Collier of the Catherine Wheel, New Brentford, Middlesex, died 31 March 1905. Probate London 5 May 1905 to William Henry Collier, Licensed Victualler and Frederic William Richard Sly, ropemaker. Effects £4,198 7s. 8d.


The Funeral of the late Mr. G. C. Collier, who for twenty years had taken an active part in the government of the town, took place on Thursday afternoon at the Ealing Road Cemetery. That the deceased was held in great esteem by his fellow townsmen and towns women was shown by the large number of them who turned out to pay their last respects. There was a large crowd in the neighbourhood of his residence, and also a large gathering at the cemetery. Amongst those present at the graveside were representatives of the District Council, Board of Guardians, Brentford Swimming Club, Brentford Philanthropic Society, and the local lodge of Freemasons, with all of which he had been associated for many years of his life.

[List of mourners and those who sent wreaths – not copied.]

The funeral service was conducted by the Rev. T. Bland, M. A., vicar of New Brentford.

The coffin, which was of oak with brass fittings, bore the inscription : --
Born May 7th 1828
Died March 31st 1905.

(Richmond and Twickenham Times – 8 April 1905)


George Henry Collier – April 1905 to 31 December 1909

The house was then run by his son George Henry Collier until its closure in 1909, after his father's very long tenure, sadly he was there when the brewery decided to close the house for the rebuilding of a house in Southall.



The Catherine Wheel, 94 High Street, New Brentford was owned by Fullers, Smith & Turners, the Chiswick Brewery. Around 1908/9 Fullers decided to rebuild the Havelock Arms, Southall, but for this they needed the agreement of the Brentford Magistrates. For the previous thirty years the magistrates only licensed new premises or allowed old houses to be rebuilt with far better accommodation, when there was a "Sweetener." This was the closure of between one and three existing houses which were surrendered by the Brewers to allow the new house to get a licence. In 1896 for the building of the new Duke of York, York Road, the brewers had to surrender the licenses of the "Standard," "Patriot" and the "Hope & Anchor," all in Old Brentford.

The Catherine Wheel was the "Sweetener," for the rebuilding of the Havelock Arms.

CLOSED – 31 December 1909 on the rebuilding of the Havelock Arms, Southall.

(Brentford Licensing Records 1907- 1925, Chiswick Library)


Between 1883 and 1937 many pubs in Brentford were closed for the licensing of new houses or rebuilding of older houses, 35 houses in Brentford were surrendered in this way. There was also a scheme were houses that were deemed redundant were closed, with compensation paid to the owners (almost invariably breweries) and the licensee, with most of the money going to the owners. As a cruel twist the compensation money was raised by a levy on the publicans. 11 houses in Brentford were closed by this means between 1905 and 1920. It resulted in the number houses in Brentford being reduced from 74 in 1879 to 25 in 1940, two thirds of the houses being closed !

In New Brentford the decline was the most dramatic, from 20 licensed houses in 1870, with all but two of the beer houses being closed, to only 5 by 1940: --

Six Bells
Magpie and Crown
White Horse
Magnet Beerhouse
Brewery Tap Beerhouse

To the present day (December 2017) only the Magnet has since closed.




Thomas Gower . . . . . . . . . . . 1726 – 1732
Ann Gower . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1737
George Hall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1743
Mary Hall . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1746 – 1751
Thomas Bartlett . . . . . . . . . . . 1760 – 1776
John Dean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1776 – 1779
Ann Dean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1780 – 1797
Robert Morton . . . . . . . . . . . . 1797
William Bland . . . . . . . . . . . . 1798
John Ward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1798 -1809
Michael Sims . . . . . . . . . . . .1810 – 1828
William Mantle . . . . . . . . . . by 1830 – c1840
Henry Girard . . . . . . . . . . . c. 1840 – October 1853
Henry Baker . . . . . . . . . . . . October 1853 – March 1855
John George Gibbs . . . . . . . March 1855 – March 1858
James Hunt . . . . . . . . . . . . . March 1858 – c. 1860
George Charles Collier . . . . c. 1860 – May 1905
George Henry Collier . . . . . . May 1905 – 31 December 1909

18 Licensees in 181 years.



OLD BAILEY – 8 July 1830.

Sarah Pepperill, Theft from a Specified place.

Second Middlesex Jury – Before Mr. Sergeant Arabin.

Sarah Pepperill was indicted for stealing, on the 14th April, 9 sovereigns, the monies of William Mantle, in his dwelling house.

William Mantle, I keep the Catherine Wheel public house, at New Brentford. The prisoner was about two months in my service – I had no other servant; this money was in a purse which was locked up in a drawer in my bedroom – the key of the drawer hung in a cupboard in the bar; nobody could get to it but my wife and myself – the cupboard was not locked; we never left the bat together – the prisoner had access to it; on going upstairs on the 14th of April I missed nine sovereigns out of the purse – the drawer was still locked; I had seen the money safe a fortnight or three weeks before – I told my wife, and about four days after the prisoner had every thing on new that she wore; I had not mentioned my loss to her – I then asked how she got these new clothes, and after some hesitation, she said she found £5 in silver and two sovereigns by Captain Thompson’s step in a purse; his house is twenty or thirty yards from mine – I asked when she found them; she said one afternoon when she went out with the child – we sent for her mother, who said we might feel satisfied that she had found the money, but she had more than £7 for she had given her £1 besides what she bought the clothes with; she was backwards and forwards while her mother said this – her wages were £5 a year; we paid her 4s. 6d. a fortnight or three weeks before, as she asked for money to buy a pair of shoes – Her mother said she knew a Mrs. Carrington had lost a purse of money; I have been to Mrs. Carrington and found there is no foundation for that; nobody but the prisoner ever went into the bed-room - there was only one child; the beadle tried the key of her box to my drawer, and it opened and locked it quite well as mine – they are both alike; I did not lose the purse.

William Duran, I am constable of Brentford. I took the prisoner in charge and tried the key of her box, which opened the prosecutor’s drawer; she gave a purse up to Mr. Clayton, the Magistrate – there was no money in it; I cried the purse, and a gentleman named Powell informed me that about Lady-day he lost a purse with about £9 in it; he lives at Brentford Butts, not far from Mr. Thompson’s – he is not here; I have known the prisoner for five years, and never knew any harm of her.

William Mantle, The purse was tried before the Magistrate, and will not hold £5 in silver and two sovereigns.

Prisoner’s Defence. I found the purse on Lady-day as I was going to my mother’s; there was £8 7s. In it – I gave my mother £7 2s. and kept 25s., and bought some new things; on the 17th April, my master had said I had torn a shirt – I asked if he could prove his words; he asked if I could prove how I came by my new clothes - I told him I found the money; my mother asked if he had lost anything – he said No, that he had suspicion of my being dishonest; I left the place as my mistress was always throwing this in my face. I asked master to search my box, he would not, and said he would give me a character. On Wednesday he had me apprehended; I can prove he said he did not know whether he had lost any money or not. The people would come forward if they knew when I was to be tried; a letter was sent abroad to a gentleman who had lost some money, and master said if he could not hurt me for that, he would for damage I had done, that he had not lost money but would swear he had for spite. He takes in tramps of all sorts to lodge there, and his keys are always about.

William Mantle. We have had no quarrel whatever; I was continually losing things while she was in my house.

Jury to William Durban. Q. Did the prosecutor give any contradictory statement before the Magistrate ?.

A. I do not recollect that he did.

Guilty (of stealing, to the value of 99s. Only ) Aged 18.

Sentence – Transported for seven years.





Saturday forenoon an inquest was held at the Catherine Wheel Inn, Brentford, for the purpose of investigating the circumstances attending the death of Elizabeth Cornish, a fine young girl, aged 14, who was found drowned in the Thames, at Brentford, under circumstances of a very afflicting and mysterious nature.

Benjamin Cole, a labouring man, residing at Brentford, deposed that he was passing along the strand of some cuts of water which flow from the Thames at Brentford, on Wednesday morning last, when he observed a bonnet floating on the surface of the water; and a short distance off, also in the river, a pail, which was turned upside down. Being of opinion that some person was in the water, he obtained the drags, and the spot where the bonnet floated was searched, when the body of the deceased was discovered. It was removed to the above house, where a surgeon promptly attended, and endeavoured to restore animation, but life was quite extinct. In answer to questions from the Jury, the witness stated that the spot where the body was found was rather lonely.

It appeared from further evidence that the deceased was seen on Wednesday morning going in the direction of the Cuts. Some friends of the deceased represented her to have been an excellent girl, and as far as was known to them, not in habits of intimacy with any male acquaintance; and also that she was off a lively, happy disposition, and had experienced nothing to annoy her mind.

The Coroner remarked upon the circumstances of the pail being in the water near where the body of the poor girl was found, and inquired of the Jury generally, whether there were aware of persons fetching water from the Cuts ? Some Jury said, that it was customary, and it was very probable that the deceased had gone there for that purpose, and, overbalancing herself, fell in and was drowned. The Jury after some consultation, returned a verdict of "Accidental Death.".

(Windsor and Eton Express – 28 November 1835)




(Bell’s Weekly Messenger, Saturday 23 January 1841)

At 12 o’clock on Wednesday a jury, composed of 13 respectable householders residing in New Brentford, was empanelled at the Catherine Wheel public house, before Mr. T. Baker, one of the coroners for Middlesex, to inquire into the circumstances attendant upon the death of William Spruce, aged 19 years, who was drowned during the late inundation.

The jury having been sworn, and Mr. Brown having appointed a foreman, the coroner said the enquiry upon which they were about to enter appeared to him to be one which could not properly be brought to a conclusion without in some measure entering into the causes which led to the calamity, to ascertain which it would probably be necessary to adjourn the inquiry to another day. He would therefore suggest to the jury that they should view the body, and also the spot where the occurrence took place, and on their return receive evidence as to the identity of the deceased, and then adjourn for a week.

The foreman said, it had been the intention of himself and others of the jury to suggest such a course to the coroner, as a strong feeling existed in the town that the calamity had been in a great measure caused by the breaking loose of the timber floats which were moored in the stream.

The coroner and jury then proceeded to a room where the body of the deceased was deposited, and thence to the spot where the deceased was found. They then went on the Boar’s Head Yard, and took a view of the state of the wrecks, and lastly over Brentford Bridge, and over the lock bridge to the spot where the timber floats had been fastened, which occupied a considerable time. On their return to the inquest room, the coroner said from the view they had taken, there was no doubt in his mind that on the removal of the wrecks other bodies would be found. He would, as he had previously said, take the evidence of persons as to the identity of the deceased, and leave the primary cause and the liability of parties, should any be blameable, to another time, as in that case the jury would require the report of a person scientifically competent to determine those points.

The Rev. Dr. Stoddard (who, with Messrs. Bunting and Hopkins, the churchwardens, has come into the room during the absence of the coroner and jury) observed that as the clergyman of the township, he had attended with the churchwardens for the purpose of stating to the coroner and jury that several applications had been made to them by the inhabitants that a full inquiry into the cause of the calamity should be gone into. There was no doubt the flood had been the primary cause, but if the gates were not opened to allow the water to pass off, and if therefore any person should be to blame, an important question would arise as to the liability of parties. He therefore hoped the inquiry would be adjourned, that the fullest evidence would be adduced.

The Coroner asked if the magisterial authorities of the town of the town had instituted any inquiry on the subject, and after being informed in the negative, after some evidence was adduced, the inquest on Spruce was adjourned for a week.




The adjourned inquest was held the following Wednesday, when the heard the evidence that that a breach had taken place in the walls of the Kingsbury Reservoir belonging to the Regent’s Canal Company, through which a vast body of water was poured into the Brent. The reservoir itself, as it was stated, covers upwards of 140 acres of ground, and the walls by which it is enclosed being insufficient to resist so immense a pressure as that thrown upon them by the thaw and consequent influx of water from the country, the flood both overtopped the walls, and forced a passage through one part, by which a considerable volume reached the Brent, and, as it is supposed, tended in a great measure to produce the calamity at Brentford. The inquiry continued until nearly eight o’clock, and the jury being then bound over in the usual recognizances, the inquest was adjourned until Wednesday, the 3rd of February.

(Bell’s Weekly Messenger, Sunday 31 January)




Brentford Petty Sessions Saturday, 23 February.


George Collier, landlord of the Catherine Wheel, New Brentford, formerly a lighterman, was summoned by James Burrows, a waterman, for having used abusive and threatening language to him on Friday, the 15th of February. Mr. Woodbridge appeared for the complainant, and Mr. Merriman for the defendant.

Mr. Woodbridge said, the complainant was on a barge coming up the creek towards Brentford, and while passing under a bridge, on which there was a number of persons, a large clod of turf was thrown down on him. Fortunately, he was enabled to get out of its way, so as to partially avoid the force , or it might have knocked him into the canal, and he might have been drowned.

Mr. Merriman now interrupted and said, he considered that Mr. Woodbridge was endeavouring to make a great deal out of very little.

Mr. Woodbridge desired Mr. Merriman not to interrupt him, and after a little legal sparring between the two advocates, the former gentleman called Thomas Sangster, who said he was a free waterman, and worked for Mrs. Winter. On the 15th February he was coming up the Brentford creek a little in advance of Burrow’s barge, and could therefore see what occurred. Saw a turf of grass fall on Burrows’s head off the bridge. Should think it weighed about 7lb. If it had fallen directly upon him witness believed it would have knocked him overboard. Should think there were about 20 on the bridge. When passing under the bridge turfs were thrown at him. Did not see Collier on the bridge.

James Burrows next stated, that on the 15th he was going up the creek, towards the canal, when, n going under the bridge, he was struck on the head with a turf of grass. He at once went ashore, and was surrounded by a great number of persons, among them was the defendant, and he said, "I’ll chuck you over the bridge !" and kept urging others on to a disturbance; in fact, he appeared to be the ringleader of the row. I was not afraid of Collier, but I feared the others, urged on by him, might do me some injury. I have given him no offence, only in not joining the society he is connected with.

On being cross-examined by Mr. Merriman, witness said : I have no doubt the weight of the turf thrown on me was 7lb or 8lb. It struck me on the head, and then fell in the barge. I did not bring the turf here today, for I chucked it overboard. It must have been the weight I stated, for it nearly knocked me overboard. I ran up the bank, and spoke to Pearce. I said, "I think that was you Mr. Pearce;" and he at once took off his coat to fight me. My reason for accusing Pearce was because he had insulted me as I was coming up the creek I did not use any offensive word to him at first, but an ugly word might have slipped out afterwards. I shoved him when I accused him, and he took off his coat to fight. Pearce told me he was the one who had thrown the turf, on which we had a fight, two rounds, but they were all onto me, and therefore it was not a fair fight : it was like 25 to one. Mr. Collier was on the bridge when the turf was thrown, and all the time the fight was going on. I don’t believe the others would have gone on to the extent they did had it not been for Mr. Collier being present, and urging them on.

William Cole, a labourer, was next examined, and said : I was on the railway bridge over the creek on the 15th, when I saw a mob, and when Burrows was passing with his barge a turf was thrown on his head, and someone called out, "Chuck the b----- over." After this there was a fight and a great disturbance on the shore. Heard Collier say he ought to be pelted with stones. Burrows was in the ordinary discharge of his duty at the time he was interfered with, and he did not interfere with, molest, or speak a word to anyone. I should think the turf weighed about 6lbs. or 7lbs. When Burrows went out of the barge he went direct to Pearce took off his coat, as if the fight, and he halloed, "Chuck the b----- over the bridge." Witness heard these words used both before and after the fight.

Mr. Woodbridge said he would only call one more witness.

William Coleman, a labourer, who said he saw what passed when the barge came up the creek. Collier was at that time on the bridge, and he heard him say, "Throw him over the bridge." A large turf, weighing 6lbs. or 7lbs., was thrown over the bridge. It struck Burrows. Collier was on the bridge at the time. This being the case.

Mr. Merriman addressed the Bench. He said both complainant and defendant were excitable individuals and by no means indisposed to fighting when occasion offered. A row had taken place, and Mr. Collier, instead of being the promoter, tried to be the pacifier, by interfering to stop the fight. It was a matter to be regretted that the turf was thrown, and no one regretted more than his client that such an act should have been done; but he had no control over these men.. He certainly did what any right-minded person would do, and that was to stop a fight going on between a powerful man, such as Burrows, and a mere boy, like Pearce.

After some further observations, Mr. Merriman called Charles Pearce, who said he went with three others down to the bridge to look after employment, that being a place where watermen mustered for such a purpose. Threw no turf, neither did he see any turf thrown. Burrows ran up the bank and said, "Oh, that was you, Mr. b------ Pearce." I held out my hands and said, "Do they look as if I had been throwing turf ?" He then struck me twice, and we fought one round, when I pulled my coat off, and we had a second round; but by this time I found he was too heavy for me, and I got away from him and would not fight anymore.

The Chairman here asked if Mr. Merriman wished to carry the case any further, after what they had just heard; to which he replied, "Certainly, sir, for I have the fullest confidence in my defence.

Witness continued : Mr. Millard came up while the fight was going on, and said, speaking to Collier, "Part them, George," on which Collier went up and said the Burrows, "Why don’t you get on to a man, and not a boy." I don’t believe Collier did anything to me. On being cross-examined by Mr. Woodbridge, witness said : I went to that bridge to seek employment. It is not a place watermen are hired from. I did not say I had thrown the turf down.

By the Bench : On my oath, I swear that I was on the bridge and saw Burrows, but did not see any turf thrown or dropped; neither did I see Collier there.

The Chairman requested this witness to stand down.

Thomas Farrington next said : I went up to the bridge with Collier, and, as we were going up the dock, I saw Borrows run up the bank, and, when we got to the bridge, Burrows and Pearce were fighting. They had two rounds, and then let off, because Pearce said he was not man enough for Burrows. On which, Collier said to Burrows, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself to fight a boy like that. If he was a boy of mine, I would throw you over the bridge." The barge was on the move when Burrows jumped on the bank. Did not hear Collier say, "Chuck the b----- over the bridge." I cannot swear such words were not used, but I certainly did not hear them. Heard Mr. Millard say, "Part them George, and don’t let them fight anymore."

The last witness’s brother having corroborated his statement.

John Jordan was called, and he said : I am a waterman. On the 15th I was on the bridge in question, and saw a turf thrown, and I know who threw it. It was neither Pearce nor Collier. The turf was just a bit of grass, with bits of gravel in it, and the weight of it may have been about 1lb., but I don’t think it was so much. I saw Burrows run up and pitch into Pearce, at the same time saying "It was you, Mr. b----- Pearce, who did that." Pearce said, do my hands look as if I had been throwing turf." After this, he was slipped into, and they had a round; after which Pearce pulled his coat off, and had another round. I consider they were very unequally matched. When Collier came up, Millard said, "Part them George, he is too much for him." After which Burrows went to his barge, during which there was a bit of a scrimmage.

Thomas Howell also proved seeing a scrimmage, and hearing someone say, "You ought to be thrown over the bridge."

There was a summons taken out by Pearce against Burrows, but at this point, Mr. Merriman intimated that he should withdraw it.

The Chairman remarked, that this was just one of those cases in the hearing of which a great deal of public time was often wasted. It seemed there had been a great deal of ill-feeling and excitement, but by the evidence it appeared neither Collier nor Pearce threw the turf; and Burrow, smarting from the effects of it being thrown upon him, rushed up the bank, and immediately attacked the wrong man, viz., Pearce. Now, if Pearce had acted prudently, he would at once gone and taken a summons out upon Burrows; instead of which he fights with him until he finds that he is not good enough a man for him, and he then resolves upon seeking redress in another way.

The summons was dismissed.

(Windsor & Eton Express 2 March 1867)



Page published February 2018