22 November, 2008

Brentford and Chiswick

I went to Brentford and Chiswick - they were shut!

Brentford is the county town of Middlesex until the county ceased to exist in 1965. However the County Hall, the Middlesex Guildhall, was and still is in Parliament Square Westminster, so it does not have grand civic buildings to captivate the eye.

Leaving the station I came to a civic group comprising a library and public baths. The Public baths foundation stone was covered in graffiti but the baths seemed to have been declared open in the 1890s. Needless to say they were closed and boarded up now. The Brentford library was a shadow of what it had been but was warm and had some books on the subject of Brentford although not very many. Turning off the street where the library was I came to The Butts, a village green of eighteenth century houses, where archers once practiced although long before the eighteenth century. More a car park now than a village green and it was hard to imagine a cattle
market there as there once was. The Butts led into the high street. There were very few shops, people in Brentford seem to want Fibreglass - really there was a fibreglass shop- furniture new and secondhand and tyres. Most of the other shops were shut - on Saturday morning too!

From Travels around London

St Lawrences church at the top of the High Street was surrounded by an insecurity fence and looking very delapidated when I called. The Grand Union Canal joins the River Brent here, many miles from Braunston and there is a guaging lock where tolls were charged using a special guage to ascertain how low the boat was in the water. Needless to say the historical display about this was closed, with no signs of opening hours.
From Travels around London

George III used to drive slowly through the town's high street because it reminded him of Hanover. Whether it would remind anyone of Hanover now would depend on whether Hanover has a row of 1960s shops, a Somerfield supermarket and a block or three of flats, oh and most shops deserted or closed on a saturday morning. I decided to hasten a carriage to Chiswick and took a bus along the rural looking thames past an old church with eighteenth century school and the very modern looking musical museum. In Chiswick there were plenty of shops including a second hand bookshop. It is also rather near Bedford Park. Bedford Park is the first Garden Suburb, laid out by Norman Shaw with its church (St Michael and All Angels) and its inn, the Tabard all adjacent to the village green. Although Turnham Green is the station nearest Bedford Park, Turnham green is actually north of Chiswick. There are some long streets in Chiswick, and I could not find Chiswick church that must be a lot older than Christ Church Turnham Green.

From Travels around London

Chiswick contains Chiswick House and grounds and Hogarth's House where the painter of scenes such as the Rake's Progress lived and worked. A "County of Middlesex" plaque marks where he lived and worked but the house is closed to the public until 2009, with no warning on the leaflets displayed in the library. Rubbish service from Hounslow Council. As I couldn't see Hogarth's House I decided to go and see Chiswick House. This was also undergoing refurbishment, including most of the park, until 2010. Again no indication until arrival. To get to both these buildings it is necessary to cross the Westway, a major motorway out of London - thankfully by way of a subway.

From Travels around London

This bizarre house was near the Westway but in a much quieter road.

Naturally I was frustrated at this point and caught a bus to go on to another appointment. I should have stayed on the bus to Turnham Green Station where there were more trains, instead of Chiswick Park.

Brentford and Chiswick - don't bother until 2010!