Point 3: Fire Station / Ferry Lane

The Fire Station is one of the few noticeable landmarks still in existence today that can be seen in old photographs of Brentford High St. It was built in the late 19th Century on the site of the Brentford ‘Cage’.
Cages were lock-ups where drunks, vagrants, and those accused of crimes were confined or punished before they appeared before the magistrates. The cage that was here – built in 1753 (8 feet square and 7 feet high)  “the stocks and whipping post to be affixed and a penthouse over them”-was still in use in the 1870s.
In 1897 the fire station replaced the cage – designed by surveyor Mr Nowell Parr who also probably designed the pub in Ferry Lane as well as many other buildings in the town.

Originally fire trucks were pulled by horses which gave way to a motorised Leyland Fire Engine in 1924.

High Street, Brentford, postcard image, undated, Hounslow local studies archive.

circa late 1800s. High Ground shops. Fire Station & Ferry Lane are out of sight on the left of the image, by permission Howard Webb collection.

Early 1900s Fire Station Postcard.

Around 1905. The shops on the North Side of the High Street, West of Ealing Road By Kind Permission of Howard Webb collection.

1950s-60s Albany Parade, view from Charlton House, Holman, Hounslow local studies archive.

Early 1900s, 290-295 High street by permission of Howard Webb Collection.

Early 1900s High Ground, Brentford Cinema visible in background Howard Webb Collection.

1905.Ferry Lane, John Tavenor Perry drawing, Hounslow local studies archive.

1940s-50s , 275-289 & 56-57 High Street, Fire station on right, Holman, Hounslow local studies archive.

1950s-60s 275-288 High Street, Brentford, view from West, by Holman, Hounslow local studies archive.

1950s-60s 275+ High Street, Brentford, view from West, Holman, Hounslow local studies archive.

1956s-60s. 297-306 High Street, view from East, Holman, Hounslow local studies archive

1950s-60s 298-303 High Street, view from East, Holman, Hounslow local studies archive

1950s-60s. 281-290 High Street, Holman, Hounslow local studies archive

1950s-1960s 276-290 High Street, view from West, Holman, Hounslow local studies archive

1950s-60s 279 High Street, view from West, Holman, Hounslow local studies archive

1962 the former twin towers of the Coronet cinema. Ron Kneelarge.

1990s the former Coronet cinema Located on the right of this view, prior to demolition from cinematreasures.org.

CHILDREN AND FAMILIES: All these photos are of the Eastern end of the Brentford High Street. From Ealing Road- including the Drum/Red Lion Pub where McDonalds now stands, down to the Old Fire Station. Find the Fire Station in some photos to help you understand the views. There is very little to see that has not been built in the last 60 years- see if you can match any of the remaining buildings.

If we turn off the high street down Ferry Lane, we pass The Watermans Arms. This pub was established since at least the middle of the 18th century. It was rebuilt in the early 20th century. The pub sign shows the coat of arms of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen.

Back to the East, at Goat Wharf, is Lots Ait– the next island along from Brentford Ait.

Down Ferry Lane leads to Ferry Quays. Brentford had a Ferry in operation for hundreds of years- to take people and goods, even horses and vehicles to the south side of the river.
In 1536 there is record that residents of old Brentford travelled free on the Brentford Ferry.
A competing ferry at Kew had arrived by 1659 run by the Tunstall family. By 1726 The Tunstalls had also taken over the Brentford Ferry and in 1759 they built Kew Bridge which you had to pay a toll to cross. It was then that Brentford’s Ferry found its way to this spot, it was operating right up until 1939. A toll to cross Kew Bridge continued to be charged until 1873.

In this area was also The Rowe soap works– another of the long running industries of Brentford : active from 1799 until 1934.  You can see the Rowes’ home – the big 18th century house at the end of ferry lane -which still stands and appears in some of the photographs on this trail you can also see the tower of the soap works that once stood here.

There is an information board at Ferry Quays created by Brentford Voice & The Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society take a look- you will also find one later on at Market Place.

1900s early . Brentford Ferry kind permission of Howard Webb Collection.

1905 Hog Hole, You can see the gas works in the background between the Aits John Tavenor Perry Drawing, Hounslow local studies archive.

1905 The Bunch of Grapes Pub and the Brentford Ferry kindly provided by Vincent O’Loughlin.

1910-15 the Brentford Monument in its original position by the Ferry Young and Co postcard Howard Webb Collection.

1984 Brentford Dock, canal entrance, point wharf, Ferry wharf, Hounslow local studies archive.

1906 Town Meadow flood Howard Webb collection.


  • Down Ferry Lane take a look at the photo of the Ferry Hotel- which was once known as the Bunch of Grapes pub– it closed in 1922 but stood empty for a long time – only getting knocked down when Brentford Docks were redeveloped into homes. Can you work out where the pub once stood?
  • When you come back out onto the high street from Ferry Point you might see the old Alexandra Health Centre . A distinctive 1930s building with blue railings opposite Pump Alley. It’s now part of St Pauls school but was built in 1938 when it was surrounded by slum housing. This was 10 years before the National Health Service was set up, so a health centre was very much needed here and really helped to transform peoples’ lives.  Share this link with your family if they’d like to learn about this early health centre. (it is by local historian David Shailes) https://www.bhsproject.co.uk/prop_healthcentre.shtml