Brentford Chamber History
The following is a historical account of Brentford's industry and Chamber, written by local historian Janet McNamara.
The chains of office of the President and Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce both have an enamelled badge that has a picture of cranes, warehouses, water, boats, crates, train lines and a steam engine. The secretary's badge shows 1920 at the bottom and the President's 1932. These pictures give a snapshot of the town of Brentford at the time the Chamber was formed. Apart from the gasworks and the waterworks the main industries were mostly involved with transport of goods by road, rail and river. The High Street was the main road to the south west from London. It was narrow and lined with shops and there were roads running north to Ealing and Hanwell.
The road in places was extremely narrow and it was muddy in the winter and dusty in the summer. The 'History of the Great West Road' book shows that there has been constant problems in Brentford through the bottlenecks from 1670. One paragraph says:
"That ye two Bridges, ye one in ye middle of ye town and ye other at ye end thereof be made wider than now they are, for ye foot passengers to go over with safety, or els that a footway be made, we being credibly informed that divers passengers have fallen over ye said Bridges."
The industries depicted on the badges were active but major changes took place in the town between the twelve years shown on the chains.
Historically Brentford was administered by three different parishes and each area operated separately. Old Brentford had been part of Ealing, New Brentford of Hanwell and Brentford End of Isleworth. All that connected them was the road thus there was no specific town centre apart from the Market Place.
On the amalgamation of the three areas in 1874 the whole town was administered by the Brentford Local Board. This was replaced by Brentford Urban District Council in 1894 and in 1927 the Council was amalgamated to form the Brentford and Chiswick Urban District Council. This became a Municipal Borough in 1932 and that meant that it had its own mayor and aldermen.
As well as administrative changes there were also major physical changes between 1920 and 1932.
The High Street had been the main route out of London to the south west from Roman times always with the interests of through traffic at odds with local traffic but with many people locally making a living from the travellers. A by-pass to the town had been suggested before Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837 but this was not a popular idea with business people who made their living from catering for travellers and it was thought there would be a reduction in the value of property. With the coming of the trams in 1901 though delays of traffic became a major disruption to trade. The Middlesex County Council passed plans for a main road to be built to pass to the north but these were put on hold by the years of the First World War.
The building of the Great West Road then provided work for returning service men and was opened in June 1925 by King George V and Queen Mary.
With the opening of the road came many national and international companies attracted by the improvement in transport links and the use of cheap electricity when previously all industry had been dependent on coal and steam.
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