Point 2: Watermans Park / St. George’s

The Friends of Watermans Park have produced a lovely video to tell you about this trail point.

Watermans Park used to be a huge gas works, begun in 1820, it spread across both sides of the road.
There are still visible signs of the gas works in the park: pipes in the north wall, blocked entrances to tunnels under the road. The last gasometer was demolished in 1986.
Watermans Park provides ever-changing views of the tidal river and the Brentford Ait – the island opposite what is now Watermans Park is home to magnificent trees – many were planted to obscure the view of the gas works from Kew and its Royal residents.

In the 18th century the Brentford Ait was also home to the notorious Three Swans Tavern. Only reachable by boat, the pub was said to be where the future George IV secretly met with one of his Mistresses,  the actress Mary “Perdita” Robinson (from 1780).

There are a number of Aits or islands along the trail. Basket makers once picked the willows that grew there to weave baskets.

Up on the high street can be seen St George’s Tower, now it’s become flats, but it was built as a church in 1887 to replace an original chapel built in 1762 by the Trimmer family.
Next door was St George’s church hall -built as a schoolhouse in 1786 where Sarah Trimmer ran a Sunday school. The building still stands and there is a plaque there, take a read.

St George’s later became the Musical Museum (before the museum moved to its current location further towards the Steam Museum)- take a visit, it’s full of treasures.

To read a resident’s letter , Mr Wheatley- born in 1806, click this link to the fantastic Brentford High Street Project.

1908 to 1911 Looking east from Ealing Road by kind permission of Howard Webb Collection.

Late 1800s or early 1900s, 346 High Street, Brentford, Prince of Wales Pub, undated Hounslow local studies archive.

Before 1900 High Street, Brentford, looking West from Gas Show Rooms, Fred Turner photo from Hounslow local studies archive

Early 1900s St Georges church tinted postcard.

Early 1900s Brewery tap of the Royal Brewery at the East End of the  High St. Old Brentford. By kind permission of Howard Webb collection.

Pre 1907-05 The Bull Inn, High Street,  Miss Croxford, Hounslow local studies archive.

Circa 1913  W H Applebee postcard of End of Ealing Road by kind permission of Howard Webb collection.

1936 Brentford, from near Kew Bridge; Brentford Ait warehouses and a gas works HERBERT GEROGE HAMPTON.

1970 Gas Works By permission of LMW&S.

circa 1970s Gas works and Brentford Ait.

1970s Red Lion Pub cleared for McDonalds in 1990s.

 1970s The New Red Lion Pub where McDonalds now stands – once a major stop on band gig circuit.

2000s Evidence of old Gas works permission the Friends of Watermans Park

2000s Evidence of old Gas works permission the Friends of Watermans Park.

CHILDREN AND FAMILIES:

  • See if you can find the evidence of the old Gas Works tunnels and pipes in Waterman’s Park.
  • Take a look at the Brentford Ait and see what birds you can spot, or use the back of the map to draw, or a phone camera to zoom into something you can see on the Ait- it is a refuge for many different kinds of wildlife.
  • Waterman’s Park is the only London Park to have its own theme tune- take a listen. Maybe you fancy making up your own Brentford theme tune? Share it with us info@gideonreeling.co.uk
  • This is a great film to watch to see what once stood, and who once lived in this area between St Georges Church and the corner of Ealing Road. John Dale’s Brentford TV Distillery Walk Film.
  • The road names here still give a good idea of the industries that took place here and the jobs people had in Old Brentford: including Pottery Road and Distillery Walk.