Brentford Chamber History

 

Through 1942 to 1943 social events were all cancelled and talks at meetings were entitled 'Road Transport in Wartime', 'Fire Watching Arrangements', The Essential Work Orders' and 'The Training of Juvenile Labour'. The usual contact had been kept with the various Ministries and a sub-committee had been set up to consider the position of the High Street widening scheme.

That year it seems Gillette Industries had contested the right of the Performing Rights Society to charge a fee to broadcast the 'Music While You Work' programme through the factory. The subject had been brought up in Parliament, the Minister of Production had promised to look into the position and the local MP, Col Harold Mitchell MA had asked the Chamber to take up the question too. Unfortunately there's no mention of how this was resolved.

Part of Mr Garratt's conclusion in his final report at the end of term of office expresses the difficulties of the time:

'The Council appreciate to the full the difficulties under which trade and commerce are being carried on, especially the exceptional circumstances affecting the retail trades. Unfortunately, as the war proceeds it must be obvious to us all that these difficulties will tend to increase as the gigantic struggle in which we are engaged is no respecter of persons, and touches every member of the community and every phase of life. We feel, however, that the tide has turned, and the proverbial silver lining is more clearly defined. We hope and trust that before we report again the victory in which we are confident will have been won and our thoughts will be once again to more peaceful pursuits.'

By April 1944 when Mr R F C Crowther, the new President, reported that the membership stood at 125 and there were still many restrictions to trade and commerce. He was looking forward to the lifting of rationing and the use of ration books with points and coupons. 'The nightmare of both buyer and seller' as he described it.

The High Street had been a preoccupation through the year. The Chamber, believing it would be better for the trade and the prestige of the town had, as mentioned before, pressed for a wider High Street. The Middlesex County Council had taken over responsibility shortly before the war but all plans had been postponed. The Chamber, it would seem with the aim of saving time after the war had Mr Lobb's plans to help the authorities when hostilities ceased. These were more ambitious than originally planned and aimed for the widening of the High Street, the reconstruction of a large part of the old town, the opening up of the riverside and provision of adequate new shopping and housing facilities.

The plan had its critics apparently but the Borough Council had granted funds to publicise the scheme (copies of Mr Lobb's plans are in Chiswick Library with pictures of the models).

By March 1945 the Chamber was in the 25th year of its existence and the attendance at meetings was increasing although there had been no social functions due to the war and rationing. Through the year there had been a number of discussions about the post war world including trade, the re-conversion of industry and the resettlement of returning of ex-servicemen.

It was pointed out that for a number of years most of the membership had been in the retail trade but at the time of the report most were drawn from industry. This was put down to the industrial expansion of the town with the reduction in retail members put down to the closure or demolition of premises along the High Street in preparation for its widening. This had led to reduced rating income and shopping facilities which 'are inconvenient to the public and disastrous to the shopkeepers who remain'.

The total membership at the time was 125 but members were being asked to stress the importance of membership and encourage others to join and by March 1946 it had risen to 129.

 

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