Monday, 18 May 2015


On Sunday, I gave Robyn a lift to church. I'd planned to have a sleep but couldn't get a parking place.

So instead, I went for a walk round my old patch; Brentford.

Oh, how has it changed, new buildings everywhere.

I liked the coffee stall at the farmers market - it's an old French Citroen van;

It's a small food market (no farmers that I could see) on the square in front of the old magistrates court - I spent a lot of my time there, once!

Except it isn't a courthhouse any more. The cutbacks of the last few years meant that it closed and most cases will end up at Uxbridge, ending several hundred years of local justice.

The court itself was sold off and is now a block of exclusive flats. They must be very expensive - they haven't all sold yet.

Then I walked around the back of the court, past the old Probation office (long gone too) and to Brentford Lock;

As you can see - the waterways complex is still there but the warves and warehouses went a long time ago; yuppie flats now.

I remember when The British Waterways Board evicted all the long term boat residents from their waterways to enable the exploitation of these waters - some of those families had lived there for twenty years.

This is the lock itself;

50 years ago, Brentford was an industrial town.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Brentford Dock on the River Thames was handling 20% of dockwork in the country, unloading cargoes that had been split up in London's Dockland down river.

Watermen and Lightermen were still a prescence in the town in my day.

The goods were delivered to Brentford's factories or were sent by canal or by train to Southall and either delivered to the factories there or on to the factories at Hayes, Slough, Uxbridge and all points west by rail and canal.

It was a real hive of activity....all silent now. The docks shut in the mid 1960's and have also turned into luxury housing.

What's sad to me is that when I moved there in the 1990's the town had a real mixture of people from a handful of wealthy people to a large working class base.

They've all gone now - there's no real work in Brentford apart from the big offices and their workers come in and out by train.

Housing costs have shot up and with that and the lack of jobs went the people.

Where once there were factories and apprenticeships and Trades there is silence.

The long awaited regeneration of the area between the high street and the river looks like it's happening; more flats replacing the little workshops and garages that nobody wants there now.

And even The Bees want to move; Brentford Football club has a ground that is truly historic with a pub at each corner.

Soon to be replaced with more housing and a new ground (and hundreds of houses and flats) to be built where there are now factory units, workshops and little employers like the scrapyard down by the motorway.

And the club? They big plan is that "if you build it they will come". Not really a game plan.

Meanwhile the old Brentford has gone for good.


Mind you some ragamuffin residents still hang on;

In the afternoon, we went to Ashford and had an icecream;

Robyn went for Ferraro Rocher chocolate and caramel candy biscuit while I had Rum and Raisin and Peaches and Cream.

I think the Peaches and Cream was the winner!

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)


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