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Numbers 51 - 60 High Street, Old Brentford
Southern side of the High Street, this stretch runs from Goat Wharf to Town Meadow and includes Ferry Square, the Fire Station and Brentford's first Police Station. When the first Brentford Police station was built in 1830 it was called 'Front Street' rather than 'High Street'. Behind Ferry Square lay the Thames Soap Works, marked as disused in the OS map published in 1936 but still operational in 1912.
John Figg, listed as carpenter, builder, architect and surveyor in successive censuses from 1841 - 1871 lived here. He was born in Maidstone, Kent. Mason's 1853 directory includes: 'John Figg, carpenter and builder, agent to the Conservative Land Society, and Hon. Secretary to the Literary and Scientific Society, High Street'. He later was appointed as Brentford's second surveyor - read more about his work and life.
No. 51 was also the birthplace of Victorian artist John Macallan Swan (1847 - 1910) (C50). By 1851 the artist-to-be was living on Ealing Lane, Brentford, with his parents Robert & Elizabeth, who were both born in Crossgate, Fife, Scotland.
In 1881 John Skinner, 44, florist lived here; he was born in Grove, Wantage, Bucks (now in Oxfordshire). His wife Jane, 46, was born in Brentford and was a stay and corset maker, as was Jane Eades, 'mother', widow, 73. She was also born in Brentford. There was a boarder, Alfred Sherwin, 21, a clerk born Colnbrook, Bucks.
In 1891 Alfred Littleboy, waterman. The building was uninhabited and not in occupation in 1901.
In the 1909/10 Valuation, no. 51 was described as a house and premises owned by Messrs Young & Marten Ltd of 1-5 Romford Road, Watford. They also owned no. 52. The property was a double-fronted house at the corner of Goat Wharf and was fairly old with modern drains. The frontage was 28' 9" plus 10' for a (warehouse?).
No. 51 was demolished in the 1930s (C50) and a four-storey hotel was built on this site in 2003 (L).
No definite sightings until the 1890 trade directory: John Carpenter & Co., rag and general merchant, Benjamin Gregory, metal merchant. In the following year's census this was a 'plumbers shop and yard, no dwelling house' and in 1901 'Uninhabited, in occupation, recorded elsewhere'.
No. 52 was recorded with a property in Goat Wharf and no. 51 in the 1909/10 Valuation. The whole was described as 'A range of very old and dilapidated brick buildings used as Maltings until recently. Now used as oil and colour merchants shop and yard and warehouse. Frontage to creek on river.'. The owner and occupier was Young & Marten Ltd, builders merchants, who were recorded at no. 52 in trade directories to 1940.
The Middlesex Chronicle 23 June 1994 has several planning notices including one for 'Land to east and west of Ferry Lane to include 52/56 & 57 High Street ... Demolition of some buildings, erection of 318 sq. m of offices, 2025 sq. m of retail warehouse and hot food facilities, 109 one, two and three bed flats with associated parking and access road. '
The Fire Station (53)
The Cage & later the Fire Station: it was recommended that a new 'cage' or lock-up at Old Brentford be built in 1813 (P).
In 1891 there is a note in the census that no. 53 was the 'Fire Escape Station'.
The Cage was demolished in 1897 in order to build the Fire Station. This was designed by Nowell Parr and built by James Barnes, a local builder. (There is a James Barnes, variously listed as builder/undertaker, at no. 93 from 1881 - 1901). It opened on 22 February 1898 (N). It accommodated two fire engines and had a hose tower for drying the leather hoses. The horses were stabled nearby as Brentford did not acquire a motor fire engine until 1924 (S29).
Roger S Davis wrote regarding his grandfather Frank Davis 'The Frank Davis at 276 High Street was my grandfather. He was also at 53 High Street being the chief of the Fire Brigade: my father and his younger siblings were brought up in the Fire Station.' Roger has also provided a number of photos showing the fire station over the last 100 years: see link below. More details of the Davis family.
Trade directories indicate the following chiefs:
The fire station closed in 1965 and was then used by the ambulance service for the next 20 years, then offices (S29). The building was listed in 1990 (J). It was converted to a restaurant in 2003 (L).
No. 54 lay on the corner of Cage Square (later known as Ferry Square when the Cage was demolished). A Thomas Dobson is listed here as a labourer aged 19 in 1841, in a household headed by Samuel Wood, hairdresser (see Wood family research by Peter Wood). A fishmonger of a similar name - Thomas Dobison - appears to have lived in the same property, age 36 in 1851 and remained here, age 50 in 1861 - when his surname was recorded as Dobson. John Bayliss concluded the labourer Thomas Dobson of 1841 and the fishmonger of 1851 and 1861 were different men and researched both Dobson families.
Joseph Hopkins, tailor, was here by 1871.
In 1881 Mrs Emma Gaunt and Mrs Emma Fleetwood, both dressmakers, shared the house. More about the Fleetwood family.
The 1909/10 Valuation describe no. 54 as a brick built cottage on 3 floors, old and dilapidates with one room on each floor and a High Street frontage of 11' 4". Numbers 54, 55 and 56 and numbers 1 - 10 Ferry Square were valued together at £1262. The owner of these properties was John B Jamieson.
London born William Swatton, shoemaker and his Irish wife Eleanor were recorded at no. 55 in 1851. He continued living at this address in 1861 and 1871. By 1881 William was 73, widowed and he gave his birthplace as 'Tabernacle Walk, London'.
Caleb Davis, gardener, had moved here by 1891 with his wife and son. Local James French 'odd man' , aged 16, completed the household.
In 1901 William Mason, brewer's labourer lived here.
The 1909/10 Valuation described no. 55 as a cottage, frontage 11' 4" and details as no. 54.
The property was occupied until at least 1933: by James George Hicks (1913), George Victor King (1920, 1933). No ref. in the 1940 trade directory.
Mrs Anne Beck owned this 'house and yard' at the time of the tithe apportionment in 1839 and the occupier was Richard Brown, greengrocer. He is recorded at this address in the 1841 and 1851 censuses, by which time he was 48 and had 5 children. He was born in Hanwell.
By 1861 George Hyde, fishmonger lived here. He was succeeded by 1871 by Henry Hatherall, labourer; 1881 William Dickinson, labourer; 1891 John Brain, hairdresser; 1901 Edward Brown brickmaker.
In the 1909/10 Valuation this property was valued with others, see no. 54. It was an old, brick built shop and house on 3 floors, with one room on the top floor, two rooms on the second floor and shop, kitchen scullery & WC on the ground floor. It had a frontage of 15' 6" to the High Street.
H & W Jamieson, plumbers were recorded at no. 56 in trade directories for 1913, 1920, 1928, 1833 and 1940 and the family owned several properties in this area.
James Chitty owned two houses and premises at the time of the tithe enumeration, 1839 and lived in one. I think they became numbers 57 & 58. The two properties were occupied in 1841 by Richard Tilbury, a wheelwright (no. 57) and James Chitty, who was a coachbuilder (no. 58).
Charles Begley was a confectioner who ran his business from no. 306 in 1861. By 1871 he had moved into no. 57, where he remained in 1881. In the 1891 census this was described as an empty shop and house. A 1896 directory lists William Foord & Sons, builders here until 1898 (Foord were at numbers 62 & 63 until 1891).
When the 1909/10 Valuation took place no. 57 was described as a 'well built brick and slate building in good order'. It had 4 rooms on the second floor, 5 on the first floor and a stable and shed in the yard. Its frontage to the High Street was 36' and the plot depth was 120'. There was a chaff cutting room with a gas engine and a gateway entrance. The property was sold in 1901 for £2039 including solicitors' costs and the current owner was Clarke, Nicholls and Coombe Ltd: better known as the sweet manufacturers 'Clarnico'. The building was called Clarnico House (K122).
The Middlesex Chronicle 23 June 1994 has several planning notices including one for the Peerless Pumps site, Ferry Lane and 56/57 High Street : Change of use of Peerless Pumps to hot food on ground and 1st floor, s/c manager flat on 2nd floor & ext. alts. Retail use of 57 on grnd floor & offices on 1st and 2nd flrs. Use of 56 as offices with ext. alterations.'
It is difficult to trace details prior to 1881 as there were a lot of changes of people & property use in this stretch. However James Chitty (see no. 57) appears to have owned and lived in this property in 1839 / 1841.
In 1881 the occupier was Joseph Barrett, carpenter, in 1891 Myer Grossman, a musician from London. In 1901 Samuel Dunkley, baby carriage maker from Stratford on Avon was living here, heading a household of eight.
Shortly after, numbers 58 and 59 were offered for sale by auction, noting 'Both shops are at present let to excellent tenants at the moderate rental of £40 per annum' (Ealing Gazette and West Middlesex Observer 15 June 1901). Advertisments subsequently were placed from 1903 to 1905 by J B Jamieson, plumber and decorator, at 58 High Street Brentford.
According to a Bohee descendant the Henry R Bohee business was founded in 1906 at this address and continued until 1969 (L). See link below to a photo.
In the 1909/10 Valuation, this 'house, shop and premises', a terrace of 3 floors was owned by a Mrs M A Merriman and comprised:
The 1911 census shows the Bohee family lived over the business; the household was headed by Henry Richard Bohee, letterpress printer, age 42, born Egham. His wife Mary Elizabeth 38 and their children Lawrence (10) and May Hilda (5) were all born in Brentford. Mother-in-law Mary Gilpin Utting, widow, 74, born Ibberton Dorset, completed the family. Henry Richard had been married 15 years and his home had 6 rooms. The marriage of Henry Richard to Mary Elizabeth Bailey took place at St Paul's church, Brentford 18 Sep 1895, and the certificate (ancestry) shows he was a widower, age 27, son of Jonathan Bohee, a shoeing smith. His second wife was the daughter of Charles Bailey, farrier: probably the man of this name who lived at 43 High Street.
Henry R Bohee, printer is listed at number 58 in 1913 and by 1920 he was also using number 59. By 1928 the business was 'Henry R Bohee & Son' & this listing continued in 1933 & 1940.
Henry Richard Bohee died on the 5th August 1938, he was of 58 High Street; probate was granted to Laurence Henry Bohee, printer (son) and Francis William Dorey, accountant and his effects amounted to £640 8s.
Laurence Henry continued running the business He died on 5 March 1950 at the Hospital Brentford and was of 58 High High Street. Probate was granted to Amelia Bohee, widow, and Francis William Dovey (should be Dorey), company secretary. He left £3,515 4s 11d. A photo of 58 High Street from 1964 shows the Bohee name (L). The business continued to operate until 1969, according to a descendant of the family.
The Coventry Evening Telegraph 16 April 1974 reported that Autobar Vending Supplies of 58 High Street were experimenting with recycling plastic, specifically egg-packs and drinking cups.
The Middlesex Chronicle 23 June 1994 has several planning notices including one for the demolition of all existing derelict and other buildings at rear of Nos 56, 57 & 58 High Street.
58 & 59 were London Borough of Hounslow Offices (Hounslow Homes) in 2003 (L).
Number 59 can be picked out in the tithe enumeration: described as a house and premises it is on a large plot with a space to the west between it and its neighbour at no. 60. The Access to Archives web site suggest there are several documents relating to this property, or the land it was built on, dating back to 1801.
In 1820 it was described as a 'messuage with carthouse, stable, outhouses, yard, premises and appurts. on south side of High Road, Old Brentford'.
It was owned and occupied by William Kilsby, and he is recorded here in the 1841 census, shortly after the tithe enumeration, as an 'appraiser' aged 42.
By 1851 William Kilsby had moved to Chiswick.
In 1855 William Kilsby, described as an auctioneer of Chiswick, surrendered his copyhold premises, namely two shops and gateway with room over now used as an auction room on south side of High Street, Old Brentford; three cottages at rear of above with yards, outhouses and appurts.. The 1865 OS map shows the gap to the west of no. 59 now occupied by a property and also shows three small buildings to the rear of no. 59.
Occupancy of no. 59 in 1851, 1861 and 1871 censuses is uncertain. In 1861 Kilsby Cottages and in 1871 Kilsby's Building are recorded in this area.
In 1881 Richard Harris, surgeon, age 40 and unmarried shared his home with his housemaid, Ellen Warner, 29 and an errand boy, Arthur E Oldland, age 14. The Medical Times and Gazette for July 1882 reported the death of Richard Harris, MRCS, at High Street, Old Brentford on June 25, age 41.
By 1891 George J Pope, waterman, lived here with his family. He was born in Colchester, his wife Sarah in Bath, but the seven children at home were born in Brentford. His in-laws, John and Jane Davis, completed the household.
A lighterman, John Litson, lived at no. 58 in 1901, with his wife Kate and six children aged 14 to 24. Two of his sons were commercial clerks. All of the family was born in London or Essex. William Hitchman, a 20 year old carman born Oxford, was visiting the family.
A 1907 trade directory shows Mrs Kate Litson at this address; also the public call office for the National Telephone Company Ltd.
The 1909/10 Valuation covered numbers 58 and 59 together and notes that 'part of side wall (of 59) used as an advertising station'.
The 1911 census shows no. 59 shared by two small households, one headed by John Baker, a soap stamper and packer (wife Clara, visitor Reginald Hargreaves, age 8), the other headed by Harry Lewis, a tobacconist, who had two boarders: Thomas Maughan Riddell, an agent for a road contractor, and his wife May. The first household occupied two rooms, the second 5 rooms. The summary list shows John Baker was a lodger and that no, 59 was a shop. A trade directory for the same year lists Harry Lewis, tobacconist at this address.
By 1914 no. 59 had been subsumed into Henry R Bohee's printing business: just no. 58 and 60 are recorded in a trade directory. The business continued at this address until at least 1940.
Former Police Station (60)
First Brentford Police Station on the eastern corner of Town Meadow. 'The building is early C18, with 3 bays' (E). Prior to its use by the Police, Lawrence Rowe, who ran a local soapworks business, bought this property (complete with its own wharf) in 1799 (Q113). In the 1839/41 tithe return the owner is Thomas & L Rowe and it is described as a 'house, stable & yard'.
'On 10th May 1830 the 16th Company of the newly formed Metropolitan Police came into existence when men of Kensington or 'T' Division matched into the parishes of Chiswick and Brentford. Station houses were established at Front Street, Old Brentford and Market Place.'(W)
In 1841 Inspector Henry Manquard & 5 PCs lived here, two having small families living with them; in 1851 William Brown was the inspector and also living here were 2 sergeants and 3 PCs. Len Cox's great grandfather Charles Cox started working here in 1862. The station moved to number 42 in 1869.
By 1901 it was being used as a dairy: Elizabeth Thorp, a widow and dairy keeper, lived here with her daughter (also Elizabeth) and son Thomas, a dairy assistant. Susan Broad, a widow 'living on own means' completed the household.
The 1909/10 Valuation describes no. 60 as a shop, house & premises with a 21' 9" frontage, owned by Mrs M A Merriman, c/o Garner & Sons, Solicitors, Hounslow (she is also recorded as the owner of numbers 58 & 59). It had
There was a covered passage way, washhouse at extreme rear, WC; 3 store sheds at rear; side gateway entrance; 1 cellar in basement. The shop front projects beyond the main building. Part of side wall used as advertising station. The property is now old and dirty. It was valued at £680 and there is a pencil addition Premises were originally a Police Station.
The 1911 census records no. 60 as having six rooms. Elizabeth Thorp was a widow, age 72, occupation 'dairy stores' and living with her were her unmarried children, daughter Amy 45 and son Thomas 37. Elizabeth was born in St George's Borough, the children in St George, Hanover Square.
In 1913 Thomas Thorp, the son, was running the dairy. The OS map, revised in 1912 and published in 1915, shows number 60 was a post office at the time - thanks to Jim Sutton for spotting this. He adds that the wall letter box embedded in the front wall of no. 60 is a GR one, which dates it to 1910 to 1936 (it is not marked in the 1915 map but does appear on the OS map published in 1936) . The 1920-1 street directory shows Thomas Thorp was still running a dairy from here; part of the building was occupied by a Telephone Call Centre, but there is no reference to the post office.
No. 60 remained in use as a dairy until at least 1964, when it was the 'Meadow Dairy', names from trade directories: Thomas Thorp (1926), Joseph Goddard (1928), William Christopher Evered (1933) and Alfred T Andrews (1940). Dave Dean adds 'my grandmother Emily Humphries, was living at number 60 High St Brentford at the time of her marriage to Thomas Young in Oct 1926': perhaps there was a flat over the dairy?
No. 60 was listed in 1987 (J). It still has the old police cells in the basement (Q39) and in 2003 was a solicitors' office (L).
Links are included below to some photos, ephemera or maps accessible on this site. There may be additional photos on the site - suggest you check the Properties - photos link (the navigation area to the left). There are several that include the fire station.
References such as '1899 (X11)' indicate the date of a photo (1899) and where it is published (X11). Details of 'X' are available: see Mainly paper sources page; '11' refers to the page no, or photo no. in the publication.
Goat Wharf photos and history - see link in Roads Off below.
51 & entrance to Goat Wharf 1900 (C50)
51 - 55: pre WWI photo (A41)
53 The Cage: photos (A40), (Q39), (C49) not long before demolition in 1897; Liz Bryant's photo, 1890s; picture of proposed fire station in 1896 (Q40); photo early 1900s (S29); photo 2006 (S29)
53 - 57: postcard early 1900s
56 - 57: 1964 (L)
58 - 59: Bohee frontage, 1920s
58: 1964 (L)
60: 1945/6 photo(H)
1894 Ordnance Survey Map annotated with house numbers 51 - 60
Goat Wharf between numbers 50 & 51
The Square between numbers 52 & 53
Ferry Lane between numbers 53 & 54
Kilsby Cottages / Kilsby's Buildings behind no. 59
Town Meadow Road between numbers 60 & 61
Published 2005; last updated June 2023