In 1837, a few months after Victoria became Queen, a piece of land between Brook Lane and Drum Lane (now Ealing Road) was for sale. It was described as 4 acres of partly walled Market Garden Ground and it contained ‘Three Respectable, residences, a cottage and numerous outbuildings’.
The map with the notice of sale shows that the buildings were near the present site of the Griffin. There’s a bend in Brook Lane to the left which is still there and the brook runs as an open stream along the west side of the road.
The Market Garden Ground was a strip of land to the east of the buildings and another further north that took up about half the area of the present football ground. On two sides of the northern section the was land owned by Mr Storey
Shortly after that time one of the market gardeners in the area was Thomas William Beach. He won awards for his strawberries at the Great Exhibition in 1851 and later built a jam factory between Walnut Tree and Cressage Roads. He was one of the first people to make jam with whole fruit in glass jars. He had a theatre at the factory to provide entertainment for his employees. It’s said this was to try to keep them out of the local pubs.
His house called, appropriately, Strawberry Villa stood where the large willow tree now grows opposite Albany Road.
In 1872 the land between Albany Road and the railway was divided in to 21 separate lots. The maps issued for the sale seem to show that the modern roads running east to west follow the boundaries of the pieces of land owned by different people. There were some houses but it was mostly market gardens filled with fruit trees and bushes.
These grounds were very fertile using the ‘night soil’ that came from the cesspits in London and the sweepings from the Market as fertiliser.
The area was advertised as ‘building ground now used as market garden and fruit plantations’.
The only buildings in Brook Road were still the four cottages on the southern bend called Brook Terrace, the remains of those sold in 1837 and a large house with grounds called Brook House at the western end of the football ground site. Across the road the Brook was still an open waterway that disappeared underground just before New Road and must have run along the back of Phoenix Cottages. These 12 cottages ran in a single row from what is now the rear of the hairdressers on the corner of Hamilton Road to the railway.
Each cottage contained four rooms, a wash house and a yard. There was a right of way through an archway to the pump at the rear. Presumably the water came from the brook which must have run under the back yards.
The census of 1881 shows the tenants of the cottages were watermen and lightermen, a soap maker, a bricklayer, a sawyer, a carman, a boiler stoker, a labourer and a gaslighter. The gaslighter was married and had 8 children. This must have been the most crowded property but others had a couple with 3 or 4 children and 2 couples had 2 children and a lodger.
It seems these cottages were badly damaged on March 14th 1944 during a night of widespread bombing in the Brentford area and ceased to be occupied after 1964.
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