Colonel Clitherow’s Box & the Brentford UDC Smoke Record Book

Brentford & Chiswick Local History Journal 18, 2009

Two interesting items which shed light on the history of Brentford have found their way back home from distant parts of the country.

The first relates to Boston Manor: the Friends were delighted to receive a message from a lady in the north of England who had bought a collection of costume jewellery at an auction in Sheffield, only to discover that the box in which it had been stored carried the name of Colonel Clitherow of Boston House.

The box, in the shape of a large book bound in red leather, was lined with padded green velvet and is known to have been made to house the addresses and testimonials presented to Colonel James Clitherow on his retirement from public life in 1839. Unfortunately the testimonials were no longer in the box, but we know from Thomas Faulkner’s book on Brentford, written a few years later, that one of them was from the inhabitants of the parish of New Brentford ‘in gratitude for many public services rendered to ourselves’. There were others from the various institutions to which the Colonel had belonged, including one from representatives of the Brentford Magisterial District, which was accompanied by a handsome silver epergne with engraved panels and figures of Faith, Justice and Charity.

The owner has very kindly donated the ‘book-box’ to Boston Manor House, and it is hoped to have it on display there with copies of some of the addresses that it once contained.

The second item is the Brentford Urban District Council Smoke Record Book.

This was offered to Gunnersbury Park Museum by a 90-year-old former resident, now living in Cornwall. It had been rescued from a bonfire some 50 years ago, and he wanted it to return to where it had been compiled. The Museum passed it on to the Local Studies department at Chiswick Library.

Covering the years from 1899 to the 1920s, it records in precise detail the exact times and density of smoke emissions from the various factories and works in the area. The gas works, the breweries and the laundries are often mentioned as culprits. The worst offenders were cautioned or even taken to court; smoke pollution has been a problem for well over a century.

Carolyn Hammond

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