Monday, 29 June 2009

Seven minutes in Brentford

Not long enough really, but it only took about seven minutes to walk from Brentford Station to Griffin Park, home of Brentford FC. I was there this Saturday for a CRY event so couldn't really hang around, but old habits die hard and on the return trip I took a bit longer to get a few pictures of some items that had caught my eye.

New Road, Brentford - The Royal Oak For those of you that like a bit of trivia, I believe Brentford FC's ground at Griffin Park is the only ground to have a pub on each of it's four corners. This is the Royal Oak and the closest of the four to the railway station. It struck me as I was going past that I had always ignored the delivery doors traditionally found outside all pubs. This is the publican's equivalent to a coal-hole and they were the entry point for all beer destined to be stored in the cellars. Growing up in Battersea & Putney, even in the 70s and 80s it wasn't uncommon to see a horse-drawn dray pulled up outside a Young's pub, the horses with their noses in an oats bag and a couple of blokes sliding barrels down a metal cradle or dropping them onto a large foam mat in the bowels of the building. Even then it was an anachronistic sight and the cause of some early road-rage incidents from impatient drivers caught on the Wandsworth one-way system.
The thing about these trap doors was their essentially 'homely' feel. Walking over them as a chid was always a bit of a thrill as they would often give a bit in the middle. When they were open you had a glimpse into another world, along with all the accompanying aromas. I'm sure there are metal ones these days and what with the demise of the 'local' this might just spark off a mini-pub cellar door collection.

Coalholes Most of the houses that were dated seemed to come from the 1850s so nearly all of them would have had some sort of coalhole originally. Most have, of course, been buried in concrete or under tarmac or new slabs, but a few still survive.

This one looks like a fairly late and cheap replacement. Probably cut from sheet metal with a basic pattern cut into its surface to let in light, it has long since been concreted in itself
Unlike the above, this is obviously a purpose-built and cast coalhole, albeit of a plain and simple design. Functional is the word here.
Hamilton Road I couldn't help but leave the best to last. There seemed to be a couple of these in various front gardens but time was against me and I could only get the one picture. Commercial Iron Works is a new producer to me, so if I were a carp fisherman, this would be the one I would be pictured holding whilst cheesily grinning at the camera.

Old Street Road seems to have been the original name for what is currently known as Old Street in Shoreditch (as per the Underground Station). I'm guessing from the Wiki entry that it was originally known by the Anglo-Saxon name "Ealdestrate c.1200 and le Oldestrete in 1373". Calling it Oldesretete Road wouldn't have been such an oddity originally, but by splitting it into Old and Street, well that just made the 'Road' a bit redundant!

A bit of googling found a copy of Hackney Today which had an article on the original Commercial Iron Works (page 25) which tells us the the company was originally owned by Edward Wells & Co. who built their factory in 1877 but who had moved on by 1895. So it's been there at for least 114 years and still looks pretty good as this photograph from the Victorian Web shows.

New Road, Brentford Well new in the 1850s I suppose and then in 1897 up comes the Primitive Methodist Jubilee Chapel in 1897. Was this in some way to counter the 'pub on each corner' setup?? I was intrigued at the number of dedicatory plaques on this building as there seemed to be one for each teacher. Presumably they didn't have the staff turnover of more modern times. I know what you're thinking though 'What's a Primitive Methodist?'. It seems to have started as an early schism in the Methodist Church, revelling in open air meetings and maintaining an evangelical zeal
The Primitive Methodist movement can therefore be said to have started in reaction to the Wesleyan drive towards respectability and denominationalism. It was a movement led by the poor and for the poor...They were visible and noisy, they made use of revivalist techniques such as open air preaching. Their services were conducted with a fanatical zeal the Wesleyan leadership would have considered embarrassing. The hymns they sang were heavily influenced by popular culture and not considered respectable. They were often sung to popular tunes and they were full of references to heaven as a place of opulence.
By 1897 though it seems as though the Primitive Methodist were once again pretty much of a muchness with their Wesleyan brethren, although the movement survives in something like its original state in AmericaBrook Road South Any stone masons out there? I noticed this intriguing sign cut into a solid granite kerb stone as I was walking by and wondered what it signified. Was it a place that required drilling, or a charge? Was it something added later? Whatever the reason granite isn't soft so it would have taken some effort to carve this particular sign and I would be most intrigued to find out what it means. (in the Comments below M.J. has pointed out that it is a benchmark, a designated measuring point used by the Ordnance Survey!)Well not bad for a short walk, especially as there was a wall brace that I'm adding to that recent post that's not included here. Even if it's only a street or two you just never know...


Dub said...

Re 3 pling-shaped symbol. I've a feeling it's to do with a boundary, of somesort. E.g. edge of private/public footpath

M. J. said...

It's actually a benchmark, and provides a reference mark for determining height. See

There's a flickr group that's collecting benchmarks around London:

Dub said...