30th May 1925. ‘Pray Sir, Have You Seen Brentford?'(1)
The Golden Mile of the Great West Road, seemed to offer a bright new future for Brentford, Middlesex, lined as it was with its new industries, in their inter-war Art-Deco buildings.
Art-Decoratif was the result of the influence of the 1925 Paris Exhibition. It was architecture in the neo-classical style with Egyptian influences.
It was Today in 1925 that King George V and Queen Mary, opened the Brentford by-pass, the building of which had been delayed by WWI.
The photo shows George V and Queen May, with not a barrier in sight, Caps are waved and in the distance are firemen aloft 50 feet ladders, holding a banner saying Heston and Isleworth.
The Golden Mile represented all that was new and glossy in inter-war Britain, with the new light industries settling in the south. As well as Hoover there were Smiths Crisps (1930), Trico Products (1928), Coty (Cosmetics), Macleans (toothpaste), Gillette, Currys and Firestone (tyres).
The Old Vinyl Factory originally built for the Gramophone and Typewriter Company and designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, employed 7,500 in 1929.(2)
Brentwood lies on a route going west, and in Roman times ended at Silchester which followed a line now including Shepherds Bush, Chiswick and Staines.
The site of present Brentwood, would have been a Roman staging post, as archaeological digs have discovered on its High Street.
Later in medieval times, a 13thc Act enforced the cutting down of trees and bushes within 200ft of the road, to deter ambushes on travellers.
By Tudor times, the road, as so many, had got so poor that local Justices of the Peace (JPs), were obliged by a 1555 Act, to appoint a surveyor who had to ensure that the local people supplied labour to mend the surfaces, all free of charge.
Later travellers had to contribute to the road’s upkeep resulting from the 1717 Turnpike Trusts, no doubt the King was excused, as it was the favoured route of George II, on route from London to Windsor.
By this time, with increased road travel, the road was a muddy quagmire, especially as Brentford had become one of the busiest market towns in Middlesex.(3)
Tar(macadam) Tarmac, named after the Scot’s road-builder (Macadam), had to await another century.
(1) Dr Johnson’s reply after Adam Smith, the economist, had extolled the virtues of Glasgow. Boswell’s Life of Johnson 1791.
(2) It was used in WWI/II for munitions and domestic radios. The site was bombed on 7th July 1944 killing 37.
(3) George Farquhar’s, Beaux Stratagem (1707): ‘The roads are consumed deep. I’m as dirty as old Brentford at Christmas.’