Local History

HistoryBrentford sits on the north bank of the River Thames, close enough to the sea to have twice-daily tides, so this stretch is called the Tideway. It is under the control of the Port of London Authority.

Before bridges were built, Brentford was one of the lowest points on the Thames, and you could wade across the river at low tide. Caesar probably crossed with his legions in 54BC on his way to conquer Britain, and presumably King Edmund Ironside would have done so in 1016 to fight the Vikings who were threatening London.

Prince Rupert also crossed here in 1642, during the Civil War, trying to occupy London. He fought two battles against the City apprentice boys (Syon Park – draw; Turnham Green – defeat) and was chased away. The town was so ruined that many of the residents emigrated; even today, many families in Brantford, New England, can trace their ancestry back to this migration.

From around 1690 a local publican, William Parish, started to develop the Butts Square with its fine houses. The square was used in the 18th century to hold the County of Middlesex Parliamentary Elections, the nearest Brentford came to becoming the county town.

Later that century the canal was built, first to Uxbridge and then all the way to Birmingham, eventually becoming the Grand Union Canal we know today. Brentford has always sat astride London’s main western artery; the old Roman Road was found under Morrison’s car park and today we have the M4, A4 and rail links passing through. It’s the constant renewal of our community that keeps it so lively – welcome!

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