Mr Young of Young’s Corner

Brentford & Chiswick Local History Journal 7 (1998)

by Shirley Seaton

Young’s Corner is where Chiswick ends and Hammersmith begins. As Chiswick High Road becomes King Street the shop on the corner of Goldhawk Road was the first shop in London, for this was the boundary between Middlesex and the old County of London. It was named ‘Young’s Corner’ in 1882 when it became a fare stage for the horse-drawn trams. Demolished when the whole area was developed, it was replaced by the present Victorian redbrick building with a commemorative plaque: ‘Rebuilt Youngs Corner 1894′ beneath its decorative tower. The shop* is now a Fullers’ off-licence, and the building has local authority conservation listing.

Grocer
In 1830 John Young, a local grocer of Westcroft Place off King Street, leased the corner “messuage or tenement with yard thereto adjoining” from the owner, George Scott of Ravenscourt, at a rent of £30 per annum. The terms of the lease were specific on its possible use. The premises must not be used for the ‘sale of beer, cider, ale, porter’, and many other trades were not permitted without special licence or consent in writing from George Scott and from the neighbouring tenants. The long list included tallow chandler, tobacco pipe maker, smith, sugar baker, farrier, coppersmith, tripe boiler and beater of flax feathers.

The building was on the corner of the newly made up New Road (now Goldhawk Road) and St Alban’s Terrace in the Great Western Road (now King Street), and here John Young ran a successful grocer’s shop which, by 1851, was also a Post Office. His three sons were also grocers but it was his youngest son, Charles Spencer Young who took over the business before John died in 1860.

Youngs Corner, from a sketch of about 1880, showing the large windows for print displays (Chiswick Local Studies Library)

Print seller
Charles Spencer Young was not just a grocer. He was a keen collector and seller of prints. This was the heyday of print collecting with wealthy collectors amassing large and expensive collections. The prints were not only of the great satirical and political cartoons of the 18th century, by people such as Hogarth, Gillray and Rowlandson, but also of famous paintings copied by artist engravers. Print quality varied considerably, and so did the price.

By 1880 Charles Spencer Young had installed new, modern shop windows, the better to display his prints, and from 1883 he is listed in Post Office directories as a print seller or picture dealer. It was said that he was on friendly terms with many of his customers, that well-known men dined with him, and that he dined with them at their houses in the West End. They included Lord Cheylesmore, one of the best-known print collectors of the 19th century, who exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exhibition and on whose death in 1902 his vast collection of 14,000 English mezzotint portraits was bequeathed to the nation.

In 1891 the new three-storey houses in Goldhawk Road opposite the little corner shop were erected. Bricks and mortar were obliterating the orchards and market gardens which had stretched away behind the old farmhouse to the north of Chiswick High Road.

Youngs Corner before rebuilding, photo 1893 (Chiswick Local Studies Library)

Man of property
Charles Spencer Young died in December 1892 at the age of 60, only a few months before his own house was demolished. His print business must have been successful since he left his wife, Eliza, and daughter, Louisa Lucy, a considerable fortune. The value of his estate was over £10,000. He owned, or held long leases on, property in St Peter’s Square, Hammersmith, Williams Terrace in Chiswick High Road, in King Street, Hammersmith, Middle Street, Acton Green and at Stonehall Kempsey in Worcestershire – in all, 26 houses, cottages, shops or messuages.

For Charles Spencer Young, grocer, print-seller and man of property, there was no obituary in the local paper, but his shop with its windows of prints was to remain a vivid memory for many a passer-by; and, as the trams became electrified, then gave way to trolleybuses followed by the diesel engine bus, the conductor’s call of “Young’s Corner” has been a continuing memorial to a great local character.

Sources used: The author thanks Lawrence Duttson for showing her The Bargain Book by C E Jerningham & L Bettany, 1911, with its intriguing information on Mr Young, print seller. Other sources: censuses, property deeds, drainage plan, rate books, Post Office directories, DNB, The Connoisseur (1902), The West London Observer and C S Young’s death certificate and will.

Shirley Seaton has lived near Young’s Corner for over 30 years. A former TV researcher, she is co-author with Reginald Coleman of Stamford Brook: an affectionate portrait Revised edn 1997.

* In 2011 the premises are empty

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