Saturday, 19 January 2013

River Brent - Syon Lane


River Brent
The Brent flows south westwards as part of the Grand Union Canal

Post to the north Boston Manor
Post to the east Brentford

Beech Avenue
This road, and the surrounding area of streets with tree related names is part of the Syon Estate built by Brentford Urban District Council in the late 1920s
51 Sri Datta Yoga Centre. This is the sister branch of Avadhoota Datta Peetham, Mysore India. Established by Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamij. This was the Syon Mission Church founded by the Shaftesbury Society and built in 1934

Brentford End
This is the area of Brentford to the west of the river Brent. It is thus, technically, in Isleworth. 

Grand Union Canal
Clitheroe's Lock 1886, Steps associated with the lock have a date plaque of 1916,
Horse ramp – to allow horses to leave and enter the water
Clitheroe's Lock Weir Exit. The Weirs are to divert surplus water from the Brent because it is canalised. These are built on old loops of the natural river.
Boston Manor Park Footbridge
Great West Road Bridge

Grant Way
Tesco - This largely covers the area of what was the United Biscuits works.
United Biscuits were originally Macfarlane and Lang and was founded when they merged with McVitie & Price after the Second World War.  Macfarlane Lang began with a bakehouse and shop in Glasgow in 1817. A depot in London was built in 1894, and -the Imperial Biscuit Works was built in Fulham. The Osterley factory opened in 1931 and replaced the Imperial Biscuit Works in Fulham where production had doubled during the Great War.  A rail link was important and there was a line from the Great Western Railway. There were also extensive sports facilities for workers. Closed 1980
Centaurs Park Sky TV – most of the road is taken up with what seems to be called the sky Osterley Complex
Harrods Distribution Centre

Great West Road
This stretch is part of The Golden Mile so called because of the industries along this stretch of road many of which had important art deco frontages. It was opened in 1925 to bypass Brentford High Street. While most road schemes at the time were built to use unemployed workers, this road was one of only two built by contractors using their own staff. The road was designmed by the Middlesex County Council Engineer and Surveyor T.H.Wakelam.   It was built with services in subways so that future works by amenity companies would not be a problem, and with a very high specification of foundations and with capacity for future expansion of road traffic.
Bridge over the Brent. For the original construction deposits of silt had to be stabilised and a sheet steel piling laid to provide a foundation for the abutments.
Railway bridge for the Brentford Dock Branch of the Great Western. Trenches were cut through the railway embankment and the tracks supported. The bridge was assembled at the trackside on a timber trestle and rolled into position on bogies. The line was closed only for 36 hours
891 Adini. Fashion wholesales, selling on line. The building is by Wallis Gilbert and had been built for Sir William Burnett. Sir William Burnett was the Inspector General of the Medical Department of the Navy who in 1838 patented chloride of line as a disinfectant and wood preservative. In 1851 a works in Millwall was owned by the 'Proprietors of Sir W. Burnett's patent for manufacturing and disinfecting timber, corded cloth, wool, etc.' and remained in Millwall until the 1970s by which time it functioned as a timber importer.  They then moved to Potters Bar where they remain in business. The facility at the Great West Road represents a splitting off of their chemical division.
928 Gillette. This had a frontage of nearly 150 metres and an enormous central tower. It was designed in 1937 by Sir Banister Fletcher. The factory is on the ground floor, with offices above and the tall clock tower it is said to be a stylised inverted contemporary safety razor. It was built to rationalise the production of American Gillette's Slough factory and the City Road works of the Valet Auto Strop Razor Company. Built on the site of Syon Hill where, Kingston Zodiac says, nine virgins tended fires in a tower. In the Second World War the company made aircraft parts in what was reckoned to be one of the best tool rooms in the country – this included a governing unit for the Rotol variable pitch propeller. The tower was used as an observation post for the area. The spur road leading to Gillette factory is called ‘Cut Throat’. Gillette stopped using this factory in 2006, moving production to Poland. It is proposed to convert the building into a hotel.
Sainsbury's Homebase. By the architect who designed the British pavilion at Seville Expo - a large shed selling DIY goods without internal supports, roofed by seven curving spans like aeroplane wings. 1987-8 by Nicholas Grimshaw. This was the site of the Isleworth Winery. Wine Industries came from Moorgate and made British wine with imported grape juice and other things and sold it by the cask – and serviced the park bench trade. The building, by Hal Williams and Co. had a frontage replicating these casks [p Vat design in concrete now gone.  They were later said to be VP Wines – who were based in Kingston and taken over by Allied Breweries in 1968
924 Pernod House. Thus has originally been a factory for Siemens Schuckert, electrical engineers, who came there from Upper Thames Street because the London building could no longer take the weight of the machine tools. Under Baron Peter Graevenitz the new site opened in January 1936 as the company HQ. In 1939, the company became British owned. After 1951 the building was known as Faraday House. It later became a bottling plant for Campbell distiller who was taken over by Pernod Ricard.
931 West London Volkswagen.  They are on the site of the works of the Brittol Syndicate, Ltd., whose factory was opened in 1933. Brittol is a stabilised ether which was made to help easy starting and rapid combustion. The factory has research facoltoes for engine testing. The substance was made in a series of tanks with a special ventilating plant. The building later became the Admiralty Oil Laboratory, set up in 1953. In 1977 it was merged with the National Gas Turbine Establishment itself closed in 2000 although the laboratory had moved to Fair mile in 1968. It is said to have been an art deco building with a tower.
941 Syon Clinic. Private hospital in the reconditioned former Coty building. Later used by Softsel Computers Products. It was designed by Wallis, Gilbert & Partners, in a restrained white with recessed entrance with by curved abstract motifs. Opened in 1932. The Syon Gate Centre industrial estate comprised part of the Coty site with eleven units.  Coty was founded by Corsican Francois Spoturno in 1904. He was the proprietor of Figaro. They originally imported French perfumes and moved here in 1932 to manufacture soap, lipstick, scents and creams. In the Second World War cosmetic production was moved to Beith and the face powder machines here made foot powder for the forces. They also made camouflage cream and anti gas ointment.
West Cross building. This is on  the site of the Firestone Tyre Company works which was Built in1928, designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners. It was the first overseas factory built by the American Company. Notoriously the building frontage was demolished during a public holiday in August 1980 just before a preservation order was due to be served, The gatehouse was demolished in 2004 to make way for more parking. Some gates, railings, and piers remain. The Firestone factory had good rail and canal connection to the docks. They did not use the canal but its water was used to cool the rubber mills.  Rubber came up river to Isleworth Dock and then by lorry, chemicals the same. A siding came from the Great Western Railway line.  West Cross house was built in 1983, by Eric Askew & Partners.
Lincoln Cars. The factory stood between Coty and the Packard works. American Lincolns were prestigious limos powerful but cheaper than the coach built Rolls. Early 1930-1967. Lincolns were a subsidiary of Ford UK and sold models like Mustang. They continued to do military work after the Second World War until around 1950. This included engines for carriers and for use in generators, landing craft, etc.
971 Leonard Williams Ltd. where were the concessionaires for Canadian Packard Cars with a central London Showroom. This site, by Wallis Gilbert, opened in 1929 and cars were assembled and serviced here. In the Second World War from 1942 they were making motor gun boat and torpedo boat engines. In 1944 the factory was hit by a V2 which completely demolished the building. A shift of 100 workers were making marine engines and 32 were killed, 102 seriously injured. The Packard factory itself was completely destroyed.  . In March 1945 a V2 rocket destroyed the factory and all that remains are the original steps to the showroom. The site is now a series of big modern stores.
981 Westlink House. Built in 1930 for Pyrene Extinguishers and car accessories, by Wallis, Gilbert & Partners. It has a central tower approached up a ceremonial flight of steps. Pyrene were another American factory who had begun British manufacturing in Stoke Newington. A testing and demonstration area lay behind the factory. The building was Tarmac headquarters but is now Carillion of which Tarmac is part, and which deals with a wide range of construction and property management projects.
991 J.C.Decaux. Curry had begun as a Leicester cycle making business which expanded and moved to London in the 1920s and cycle making ceased. This was built for Curry’s as their factory and head office in 1936 by B Simpkins in modernist style with cubes and rectangles, the central tower slightly recessed. It was requisitioned in the Second World War and used by Alltools as peat of the London aircraft production group.  Curry’s never came back after the War and the premises were used by knitwear makers, Paton and Baldwin – with neon beehive logo - and by a variety of companies subsequently.  The front office building was restored by Foster and Partners 2000 for J.C.Decaud. They are a French advertising specialist. In 1964 Jean-Claude Decaux installed advertising bus shelters in Lyon, and have gone on to provide bus shelters for the rest of the world
National Westminster Bank, by W.F. C. Holden. 1935 as the Osterley branch of the National Provincial Bank. It has a bowed brick front and was designed to complement the Gillette building.
K6 telephone kiosk outside the Bank
New Horizons, Sky TV on a site which was originally Bowater’s. Also occupied by Smith Kline Beecham.

Harlequin Avenue
Trading and industrial area, including Sky Studios
Dawe Instruments. There from the 1940s making Measuring Instruments for Industry and by 1960 electronics. Taken over by Simms and moved away

Hawthorn Road
Hawthorn Road Park. Small neighbourhood green space with play equipment
Rose Community Hall

London Road
Acton Lodge. Day centre for people with learning disabilities
Gateway - grand entrance into Syon Park, complete with iron brackets ready to receive flaming torches and a stone lion above the central section. The lion is the heraldic crest of the Percy family. Dukes of Northumberland, who have owned Syon Park since the time of Elizabeth.

Macfarlane Lane
Rail line to McFarlane Lang factory. The siding came from the line going southwards; the northern end of the lane appears to follows its route.
McFarlane Lang Sports Field.
Grasshoppers Rugby Club ground, The Club was founded in 1950 with 6 players. In 1956 they had a ground off Greenford Avenue but left in 1959 due to vandalism. They then went to the Dysart Arms in Richmond and pitches in Richmond Park. In 1973/4 they were asked to leave and went to the Pyrene Club in Osterley and in 1987 came to their present site,
Goals Soccer Centre. This was Centaurs Rugby Club. Concrete sports pavilion was built in 1935. It has a tiered spectator stand beneath a cantilever roof with a clubhouse underneath.
Folding Boats manufactory

Marlborough Road
Amenity building at the peak of the curve, apparently electricity supply. 1930s

Northumberland Avenue
A stretch of wall on the north side adjacent to Syon Lane is conjectured to be a relic of Syon Farm

Railway
The line which runs thtrough this area is the Southall Brentford line built in 1859 by a subsidiary of the Great Western Railway.   It was a three and a half mile branch line from Southall to Brentford Docks for carrying coal. Passenger services began in 1860 and ended in 1942 and the line to the dock closed in 1964. However the track still goes to the Brentford's West London Waste Terminal to Southall for freight traffic only. There were Sidings to Macfarlane Lang and Firestone factories
Railway embankment can be seen from the Firestone site. There are storage containers on it and some railway loading hoppers remain.
Goods depot. This was named Brentford Town and opened in 1930.  It was in fact just south of the Piccadilly Line. It was served by a signal box entitled 'Firestone' because of its closeness to the Firestone works.  There was a Charrington’s depot there dealing with coal.  Charrington’s staff loaded and unloaded the coal. Vegetables were also brought in from the south west for sale at Brentford Market. Also at the yard were depots for Parry Scrap Metal and Day’s crushed stone from Westbury. This is now the site of the Solid Waste Transfer Station

Shield Road
West Cross Industrial Estate

Syon Lane
An old road. The Kingston Zodiac says that it curves round Capricorn, the scapegoat.
Marlborough Cottage. This stood on the east side of the road and had been built by a Duchess of Marlborough as a ‘place of retirement’.  It was later the home of George Field a 19th colour manufacturer
Syon Lane Station.  This is on the Hounslow Loop Line operated by South West Trains and lies between Brentford and Isleworth stations. It opened in 1931 to serve the industrial estate opened up by the Great West Road in the 1920s. It has no buildings apart from a passenger shelter on each platform and these platforms are accessed by separate steps from the Syon Lane bridge. Land on either side of the line land was sold to Wimpey and Warren in the 1930s.

Transport Avenue
This road partly follows the line of rail sidings which served the Firestone factory
Solid Waste Refuse Transfer Station. On the site of the old Brentford Town Goods Yard, Transport Avenue transfer station handles 158,000 tonnes of waste a year which comes from the London Boroughs of Richmond, Hounslow and Ealing. It is loaded on to trains to go to a landfill site in Oxfordshire. The transfer station was built in 1975 by the Greater London Council and is one of only three with rail access.
Day Group. Day & Sons Ltd, were established John Day, from Hanworth who delivered coal to London's power stations. In 1955 the Company moved to the British Rail Goods Yard at Brentford. In 1974 limestone could be railed into London from Foster Yeoman's Torr Works quarry in Somerset.
Pisani. Deals in imported marble
European Metal Recycling. This was Parry’s Metals who operated here when it was a railway goods yard
Stoneville. Importing marble
Holloway and Sons. Scrap metal.
London Concrete. Ready Mixed concrete. This was established in 1997 by the Day Group together with other partners

Sources
Brentford Walk B
Clunn. The Face of London
Day Group. Web site
Dog and Deco. Web site.
Field. London place names,
GLIAS Newsletter
Graces Guide. Web site
Grasshoppers Rugby Club. Web site.
Kingston Zodiac
London Railway Record
Marshall. History of the Great West Road
McCarthy. London North of the Thames
Middlesex Churches,
Mills. The Early London Gas Industry and its waste products
Pevsner and Cherry.  North West London
Simmonds
Skinner. Form and Fancy
Stevenson, Middlesex
West London Waste. Web site
Willment. Brentford Dock and Railway

This square, and the next, rely partly on a series of walks and a book researched and written by Diana Willment. Diana lost a battle with cancer a few weeks ago and it thus appropriate to draw attention to her work and to her memory.

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