The Brentford and Chiswick area has been well served by a variety of forms of transport over the centuries:
The river Thames along our southern boundary has offered a link to parishes on the Surrey bank, to neighbouring Middlesex settlements and easy transport with the tides, downstream to the city of London or upstream along the non-tidal river. In the 19th century steam-powered pleasure boats brought the crowds to Kew Gardens while the University Boat Race brought a different crowd to the finishing line opposite Mortlake.
The Grand Junction Canal (later the Grand Union) provided a new and important trans-shipment point from the early 1800s, handling goods travelling between the London docks and the Midlands.
Ferries have provided important crossing points at Chiswick for foot passengers only and at Brentford for horse-drawn vehicles as well, until the construction of Kew Bridge in the mid 18th century provided a more convenient crossing. Chiswick Bridge was part of a new road network, built in the 1920s/30s.
The Bath Road, a major Roman road to the west, brought travellers through Brentford High Street and Turnham Green and with them, prosperity for Brentford’s market, for other traders, for inns and pubs, for blacksmiths and farriers. Later taken over by a Turnpike Trust, this road was always overloaded, and was rerp[laced by the A4, the Great West Road in the 1920s.
From 1849 the railway link on the Hounslow Loop Line provided commuter services into London, but also served local businesses and brought sportsmen out row on the river or exercise at the Polytechnic Sports Grounds. Additional lines, now part of the London Underground network, arrived as the 19th century progressed.
Public road transport – mail coaches on the road west to Bath, horse buses, trams, trolleybuses and the modern bus service – have served the area well with a handsome tram depot at Stamford Brook and a bus works and bus manufacturing north of Gunnersbury Station.
Local manufacturers have built carts and carriages, buses and motor cars, steam vessels including motor torpedo boards, electric boats and aircraft. Today the Brompton Bicycle is proudly made in Brentford!
See also the following articles:
The Tram Strike of 1909
Brentford Barge Owners
The Brentford Boatmen’s Institute
The Centenary of Kew Bridge
E C Jones & Son – Brentford Boat-builder
Harold Piffard, artist and aviator
The Bargemen of Brentford
The Brentford Turnpike 1717-1824