Point 8: Brentford Bridge

1920 approx. Postcard of high Street near St Lawrence’s Church by kind permission of Howard Webb Collection.

1883 View of New Brentford view looking East the tower of a church visible ©The Trustees of the British Museum Thomas Colman Dibdin.

1900 Brentford Bridge was rebuilt to widen it for tram traffic.

1900 Postcard of Brentford Bridge by kind permission of Howard Webb Collection.

Circa 1903 Brentford Bridge Howard Webb collection.

Circa 1904Brentford Bridge a Wakefields postcard from Howard Webb Collection.

1904 Postcard of St Lawrence’s Church by kind permission of Howard Webb Collection.

Circa 1913. Looking West of Brentford Bridge W H Applebee postcard from Howard Webb collection.

1914 Brentford Bridge in the background-the Gauging lock. WH Applebee Postcard from Howard Webb collection.

1960s Looking back East towards Brentford Bridge from beyond the old railway bridge (geograph-1894854) by Ben Brooksbank.

1976 The Gauging lock from geograph-395631 by Dr. Neil Clifton.

2002 Brentford Lock Development taken shortly before the clearing of the site geograph-316528 by Alan Morrison.

2007 from Brentford Bridge looking East permission of geograph-678348 by Phillip Perry.

By the end of the 13th century New Brentford was gaining a reputation as a trading centre. There was access by river on the Thames and the road had been improved by the bridging of the Brent early in the century. 

Take a look at the information board on the bridge, created by the Battlefields Trust, for lots of information including the Battle of Brentford which took place here in 1642.
The English civil war had erupted earlier in the year when Charles 1st, realising how bitterly unpopular he was, left London and rallied a royalist army making Oxford their capital Thousands of them marched the 50 miles from Oxford to gather in Hounslow Heath.

A battle was fought as Parliamentarians tried to stop the King’s forces continuing to London and 70 people were killed. The parliamentarians withdrew to Turnham Green and the Royalists ransacked the town. But in Turnham Green the parliamentarians pressed many ordinary people into the fight and the royalists were outnumbered causing them to retreat West. There were no more attempts to try to retake London and Charles 1st was later beheaded, 1649, beginning the time of Oliver Cromwell’s commonwealth.

Use the bridge and St Lawrence’s Church as points to help you understand the pictures here, there were many shops and businesses lining the high street including a toffee factory on the bridge. The previous Brentford Bridge, from the 1820s, can still be seen beneath the modern bridge as support.

CHILDREN AND FAMILIES:

  • Look over the bridge to the old Gauging Lock, there’s not a lot left to tell us about the thriving canal trade and busy working lives that went on here. But the toll house opened in 1911 and is now a museum -open on Friday mornings from 10am to 1pm. TOLLHOUSE MUSEUM (Canal River Trust). Take a look inside or at the boards outside. Gauging was the old way of measuring how much cargo a boat was carrying so that the toll keeper could charge the right amount of money for using the canal.
  • This trail is just a potted history of Brentford. There’s plenty more to find out- follow some of the links in this trail to dive in. Or visit Brentford’s Library to learn more about Fred Turner who was Brentford’s first librarian in 1889. Fred Turner was a passionate historian who wrote to the Scottish American philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, requesting the £5,000 needed to build Brentford’s library, it opened in 1904 and is still there today for everyone to visit for free.