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Brentford Families - Hockaday

Quentin Pickard writes

My great grandfather was James Hockaday (born 1829), who moved from north London in the 1880s when he became the landlord of the Half Moon and Crown in London Road. (James Hockaday is recorded in 1894 and 1899 trade directories as landlord of the Half Moon & Crown at 55, London Road, Isleworth) His wife was Charlotte E P Carnell, born 1835.

They had 4 children, and my grandfather was Arthur James Hockaday (1876-1967). In 1902 he married Elizabeth Skilton (1876-1928), daughter of Richard Skilton (a baker, born 1846) and Mary Barnett (1845-1916) who lived at 21 London Road.

Their marriage photograph of 1902 shows the yard area of the Half Moon and Crown, and there is also a Hockaday family photo (probably taken in the late 1890s) showing a similar view. Unfortunately, I have no photos of either the exterior of the pub, or of 21 London Road. The Half Moon and Crown still existed in a virtually derelict condition in the early 1960s, as I remember my grandfather showing me the exterior, but it was demolished by c1970.

I do not know the exact location of 21 London Road, but the Duke of Northumberland pub was no. 11, and the George & Dragon was no. 29 (taken from census returns). (By checking the Alan Godfrey map 'Brentford 1894', London Sheet 83, it was possible to see no. 21, the fifth building on the left of London Road after the railway bridge, travelling out of Brentford; a larger building than its neighbours, but not marked on the map as a 'PH'. Nearby was the Green Dragon at 29 London Road, which was marked 'PH'.)

I have never understood how my grandfather managed to work his way up from a young man with little education (and who presumably left school at 14 or thereabouts, that is around 1890), to become a skilled engineer; he obviously did not want to become a publican!


After his marriage he bought a new house for several hundred pounds at 3 Ealing Park Gardens, where he lived until his death in 1967 (and where I lived until I was 18) - I have often wondered where he got the money to buy this house - or perhaps property at the turn of the 20th century was very affordable?

AJH worked at the Science Museum until July 1915, when he transferred to the National Physical Laboratory Teddington as a skilled mechanic (a gauge and tool maker). He stayed at the NPL from July 1915 until his retirement during WW2.

I remember only a few stories about his boyhood in Brentford. On one occasion at the pub (or it could have been the bakery) in Brentford he remembers a servant leading a horse through the bar/shop (to the stables at the rear), and his father (or father in law), not surprisingly, being extremely annoyed.

Another story AJH told was that a local merchant called Underwood was found to have fiddled the hay he was supplying to the army for the South African war.(More about Underwood item on Hansard

There is a fine story of their wedding, when the vicar was late and eventually turned up drunk! The parish church was All Saints, Isleworth, not Brentford. I have a copy of the article from the local newspaper (titled 'bliss delayed'!) which tactfully mentions the 'bad management of the church', and that the bride had to wait in the church porch for over an hour, until the replacement vicar was summoned from New Brentford.

A local artist J T Fairs used to give painting lessons to my great grandmother (Mary Skilton nee Barnett); one painting is of the canal, looking south (St Lawrence's church is in the background) including Mary S and her easel. I also have the painting that Mary S was painting at the time - but it is of very poor quality.