By Janet McNamara
Brentford and Chiswick Local History Journal 10 (2001)
The history of Brentford has been immortalised in a new mural on the wall of the childrens’ playground in St Paul’s recreation ground. It was commissioned from artist Nic Boothby by the Brentford Regeneration Partnership and is colourful, informative and amusing.
Prehistoric Brentford is depicted by the animals that used to roam the area (although these look suspiciously like the Iron Age Bronze figurines found in a field in Hounslow!) Next, the events commemorated on the monument outside the county court are pictured: there is a statue of Julius Caesar, who some people think forded the Thames at Brentford in 54 BC (the butterfly perched on his head apparently reflects modem day scepticism that Caesar was ever in Brentford); the church synod meeting held by King Offa in AD780 is shown and King Edmund Ironside and King Canute, who did battle across the Thames here in 1016, are there head-to-head. The last event mentioned on the monument is shown by helmets of Roundhead and Cavalier soldiers. The Cavaliers routed the Roundheads at the Battle of Brentford 1642; this left the town devastated.
The long expanse of the middle wall has a map of Brentford with the River Brent winding up its side to curl into the title BRENTFORD. Minute bees are shown flying up from the football ground, getting bigger and bigger as they fly towards the sun. On the right hand side are 19th and 20th-century images – the gasometers, the Wurlitzer from the Musical Museum, sacks and baskets commemorating Brentford Market (which was transferred to the Western International Market in 1974), and the Cornish Beam Engine belonging to the waterworks (now the Living Steam Museum). The mural is rounded off with a picture of a rather startled fish swimming from the waterworks into the Thames at Kew Bridge!
If you haven’t seen this mural, do take a look. It is a great improvement to the Park.