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Not Brentford

May News

The following items have been extracted from the British Newspaper Archive, also available on findmypast. They are in date order and range from 1842 to 1896:

Notes follow some items: further research, useful links etc.

The Era 29 May 1842

ATTEMPT TO FIRE SIR F. BOOTH'S DISTILLERY AT OLD BRENTFORD. Wednesday it was reported in Brentford that during the previous night a most daring attempt had been made to set fire to the extensive distillery and premises belonging to Sir Felix Booth, Bart.

It appears that about three o'clock, as police constable James CUISHAM, T110, was proceeding round his beat, he observed smoke issuing from the bullock house at the rear of the premises. The building in question is very spacious, being upwards of 300 feet long, and on the ground floor frequently contains nearly 500 head of cattle, while the floors above are filled with ground grain to the value of from 10,000 to 12,000.

On hastening to the spot he found Mr SWAN (one of the managers), with the watchman and other persons, were already there, when by great exertions, the flames, which were found to be raging in a narrow passage leading to the feeding place, and filled with a quantity of shavings, were soon extinguished.

Had the fire remained undiscovered a few moments longer, the whole of that portion of the premises must have been burnt, and the loss of property been incalculable. No carpenters work having been done for three weeks in the building, there is no doubt the fire must have been caused by some incendiary.

Notes

The tithe enumeration took place a few years before the fire and shows Sir Felix Booth owned a block of properties between Bull Lane (later known as Pottery Road) and New North Road. The occupiers included Sir Felix BOOTH, Thomas SMITH, William TAYLOR, David FORGAN and Henry SWAN, the last presumably the manager referred to in the piece: the properties had references 229, 229a, 230 and 230a in the tithe map.

There is a good match between the occupiers recorded in the tithe and the 1841 census. The latter shows Thomas SMITH, Independent with wife Fanny, both 65 and two female servants; then Henry Swan, Distillery Brewer with his family of seven children, all but the youngest two, Elizabeth age 2 and George 4 months, born in Scotland, as were the parents; then next door but one David Forgan, a millwright, also born in Scotland as were his wife Margaret and eldest son David, age 4: it would seem the Swan and Forgan families moved to Brentford around 1837/8.

Henry HAIG, Distiller, age 30 and born Ireland, was recorded just before Thomas Smith in 1841 and shared the property with him. The house name has been transcribed as Camp House and the name appears to start Ca... but may not be Camp.

Brentford Past by Gillian Clegg confirms that Messrs Haig took over the distillery and provides more information about its history and iowners (p. 110-111).

Salisbury and Winchester Journal Saturday 1 May 1858

A fire broke out on Tuesday evening on the premises of Mr. Matthew George COLLETT, a linendraper, High-street, Brentford. Information of the disaster having been sent to the proper quarters, the engines of Brentford, Isleworth, Ealing, and London, attended, but their efforts were unavailing, and the house containing twelve rooms was totally destroyed and the contents consumed.

Notes

The site has details of the will of Matthew Bance Collett, 1835, who may be the father of Matthew George Collett. The 1851 census shows Matthew Collett lived next door to John Hinge, a farrier, on High Street (thought to be at no. 190) and on his other side were two uninhabited properties followed by Joseph MARSDEN, saddler and harness maker, thought to live at around no. 187.

The fire destroyed the property and it is not known whether it was replaced by one or more properties by 1861.

Thanks to Angela for forwarding the following item from 1878:

17 May 1878

CORONERS' INQUESTS
An inquiry was held at Brentford on Saturday, before Dr. DIPLOCK, into the circumstances attending the deaths of two men named George PIZZEY and Thomas EDMUNDS, aged respectively twenty-five and thirty-three, who were buried alive in an excavation to drain some new houses at The Butts, Old Brentford.

The two men were employed to make an excavation in front of new houses being built for Mr. James BIGNELL. Mr. W.J. BALL was forman of the works. A distance of 230 ft. had to be excavated and 50 ft. of this had been trenched to a depth of about 10 ft., there being a width of from 2 ft. to 3 ft. along it. The greater part of the earth excavated was gravel, but there was loose earth, and a vein of sand about 2 ft. down. There was some conversation about putting in timber supports or struts, and this had actually been begun.

While the men were at dinner some of the loose earth fell, which the witness thought amounted to about two barrow loads. When the men returned from dinner, one of them began to hammer the wooden strut, when about two tons of earth gave way on one side of the excavation. and entombed Edmunds and Pizzey. Assistance was sent for, and on the men being extracted, one was found to be dead, and the other died soon after. Mr. W.J. Ball, foreman of the works, said neither he nor Edmunds had had any experience of excavation of this description, but the man having been employed in building work satisfactorily, it was though safe to trust the deceased, who was a very sober steady man. In reply to a juryman, witness said he told Edmunds to be sure and let him know if any loose earth gave way. Immediately after the accident, he had more struts.

The jury expressed themselves as of opinion that at a depth of 10 ft. the excavations ought to have been properly protected by timber struts. A verdict of accidental death was returned.

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Notes

In the second quarter of 1878 the death of George Pizzy age 24 was registered at Brentford. In the 1871 census taken around seven years before his death he was living at Town Meadow, age 16, 'out of employ (Laborer)' with his father William, a carter aged 51, Brentford-born, and mother Ann age 52, born Hereford. Ten years previously the family lived at Mill Bridge, Isleworth and William, 40, a labourer, gave his birthplace as Alperton, Ann's as Langley, and George's, Chiswick. A younger son William, 18 months old, was born in Isleworth.

George Pizzy was buried at South Ealing Cemetery on May 14th, his age this time recorded as 23. Buried in the same grave prior to him were William Pizzey, 31 Jan 1869 age 26; later Jane Pizzy, age one and a half, 20 Jan 1880. (Also buried in the same grave, but later - 1889, 1890 and 1891 - three people named WARD). Returning to the Pizz(e)y burials, as they shared a grave they must have been related - but how?

William Pizzey who died in 1869, was born around 1842/3 and there is a good match in the 1851 census at The Ham, age 9, born New Brentford. His parents William and Ann Pizzy, who were 31 and 30, were also New Brentford-born and William senior was a labourer. This fits, in most respects the family found in 1861 and 1871, although birthplaces vary from census to census. However no death registration was made at Brentford in this name, the best match being a William Pizzey at Lambeth, aged 25. Perhaps he was working there but his parents buried him in their local cemetery.

The new GRO search facility shows a William Pizzy birth registered at Brentford in the second quarter of 1842, his mother formerly FREEMAN. A search for George Pizzy found an entry from the last quarter of 1854, mother also Freeman - so William was the elder brother to George. The marriage of Ann Freeman to William Percy registered at Brentford in the first quarter of 1842, not many months before son William was born, fits - perhaps William could not write and 'Percy' was the best the clerk could come up with when he heard 'Pizzey'.

This leaves a minor niggle: the 1861 census included William Pizzey, age 18 months. Did the couple name a second son William even though he was still alive? Or did the census enumerator record 18 months instead of 18 years? A check on the ancestry website shows a note by this entry suggesting Ms Logan has concluded William's age should be 18 years not months.

As for Jane Pizzy who was buried in 1880 - the GRO index shows her birth was registered in the last quarter of 1878 and that her mother was formerly WEST. Further searches showed the marriage of George Pizzy to Jane West took place at Fulham in the last quarter of 1875 and the ancestry website includes further details: his father was William Pizzy and they married at St Paul's Hammersmith on Boxing Day. Jane was the daughter of Richard West. The birth of their first child, William George Pizzy, took place in the third quarter of 1876.

So when George died in May 1878 he left a young widow Jane who was pregnant, a son William George under 2 (and another child - see later). In such circumstances a remarriage was likely and this is what happened - Jane Pizzy married Thomas WARD on 19 January 1879 at Fulham. This explains the presence of the three Ward burials in the Pizzy grave at South Ealing Cemetery.

The 1881 census shows Thomas and Jane Ward living at 18 New North Road, Old Brentford. Thomas was a stoker age 22 born Brentford and Jane was 24, born Acton, with children Ann Pizzey, age 6, William Pizzey 5, and Ellen Ward age 1. Ann Pizzey may have been born before her parents George and Jane married. I have not checked later censuses to find out what subsequently happened to the couple.

Locating Thomas Edmunds proved more of a challenge. There was no death in this name registered at Brentford in the second quarter of 1878 and a search for any Thomas Edmunds who died in 1878 found only a couple in Middlesex; but on examination these deaths were recorded in the January-March quarter, before the accident.

However as George's burial took place on May 14th at the South Ealing Cemetery it seemed possible that Thomas Edmunds was also buried there - and this was the case. A William Edmonds, age 33, was buried in the unconsecrated area, also on May 14th. There is a death registration at Brentford that exactly matches this name and age - so either he was known as Thomas or the newspaper report got his forename wrong.

Mr James Bignell, owner of the new houses, may be related to councillor Robert Richard Bignell.

The foreman, Mr W.J. Ball could be William J Ball, recorded as a builder, aged 36 living in The Butts in 1881. He was born in Southwark and he and wife Melah had six children aged from one month to 12 years old, showing the family moved from Wimbledon to Walburton in Sussex, then back to Wimbledon, then to Chiswick and finally to Brentford. They had a nurse for the new baby - Sarah Green, 52, born Stamford Hill - and a locally-born servant girl of 16 Annie Collett.

The Coroners' Inquest appears in several newspaper and the Leigh Chronicle and Weekly District Advertiser published on May 18th includes the witness's name : John POWELL. The reports focus on the circumstances of the men's deaths and do not mention their family circumstances; perhaps a local paper has more details.

As an aside, a search for Dr DIPLOCK, the coroner, found a book titled The seven secrets by William le Queux, first published in 1903 - 'a timeless whodunit' available to read free online. It has one chapter set in Brentford, which notes 'we walked together into the narrow, rather dirty High Street of Brentford, the county town of Middlesex' - probably worth further investigation!

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Morning Post Friday 15 May 1885

THE BRENTFORD AND DISTRICT TRAMWAYS BILL
- This bill, which yesterday passed the Committee stage of
the House of Commons without opposition, incorporates a
company to construct additional tramways from Kew
Bridge, passing along High Street, Brentford, the London
Road, Bath Road and Staines Road to Isleworth and
Twickenham and to Hounslow and Hounslow Barracks.

Notes

Although the bill was passed the plans were not implemented until 15 years later. Janet McNamara's 'History from Roman to Modern Times' has more details, see a photo of the works at the Half Acre / High Street junction, ca 1899 and a local newspaper article about the work.

Gillian Clegg's 'Brentford Past' notes 'trams ran first from Shepherds Bush to Kew Bridge in April 1901, with an extension to Brentford and Hounslow opening in July of that year'.

There are several postcards featuring trams on this site (search for 'tram', top right on the home page), also a photo of a Brentford tram which was undergoing restoration at Crich Tramway Museum in 2010, hopefully it is in use by now.

Daily Telegraph & Courier (London) 12 May 1896

An ambitious little boy of Brentford named William COLE, ten years of age, had early given up all hope of setting the Thames on fire, but resolved to imitate Nero on a small scale by starting a conflagration in the home of the celebrated two Kings.

He and two or three others like unto himself went out for a walk, and, as is customary among the rising generation there, they lighted cigarettes and trudged gaily along. Cole, however, is rather short-winded, and he soon allowed his weed to go out. With a borrowed match he relighted it, and then applied the remainder of the flaming lucifer to a hedge by the roadway, remarking to his friends," We'll set the show on fire and have some fun." The flames were soon extinguished by a constable, and the fun took place at the Brentford Petty Sessions yesterday morning, where Cole appeared to answer for his misdeeds.

The magistrates adopted the principle which underlies the homoeopathic course of treatment - like by the like is cured: and after receiving six strokes with the birch the youth became convinced that more cold water would be required to restore a certain part of his corpus to its normal temperature than was necessary to extinguish the burning hedge.

Notes

William Cole may be William Charles Coles, who was living at 28 Cressage Road in the 1891 census, age 5 (which fits with the age noted in 1896). He was the son of a general labourer, age 48, of the same name, born in Northampton, and Eliza, age 36, a dressmaker born Brentford. His elder brothers (Henry 13, Thomas 7) and a younger sister, Emma, age 1, were all born in Brentford.

Alternatively, William Cole, age 6, a step son of Edward BROWN, 45, bricklayer and his wife Ann, 38 at 24 Devonshire Street, Chiswick, may be the young smoker.

The third option, a William G Cole, was 3 in 1891, born and living in Hanwell; perhaps too young to be smoking in 1896?

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Published May 2012; updated April 2018