Friday, 10 November 2017

An Urban Wander around Brentford, London

Every time I think I'll devote some time to writing a new blog post I seem to get sidetracked. Most of the distractions are good and generally related to some of my favourite past times like mountain biking, walking, going to gigs, searching for vinyl records and reading ... which reminds me that I should mention my latest read before launching into today's post. Based on my enjoyment of Concretopia: A Journey Around the Rebuilding of Postwar Britain, by John Grindrod, and also based on my own childhood of growing up on the outskirts of London in the 1970's living on the edge of the greenbelt, I ordered another of his books, Outskirts: Living Life on the Edge of the Green Belt

The pictures in this post were taken a couple of months ago when I was staying up in London for work. My usual hotel near the office was priced well beyond the reach of any reasonable expenses policy, so I ended up staying a bit further out of the centre, in Brentford. I have driven past Brentford on the way into London in the past, but have never stopped and don't really know much about it, other than their football team has an annoying habit of beating my football team, but let's not dwell on that.

As I walked from the bus stop to my hotel for the night, I already suspected a different experience than my usual London overnight stay. The lane I took from the main road towards the hotel quickly became a footpath and cycle path, leaving the noise of the road behind and opening out into park land. As I approached the hotel I could see the dome of the Great Conservatory of Syon House, architected by Charles Fowler in the 1880s and restored to its former glory in the 1980s.

Great Conservatory, Syon House 
Great Conservatory, Syon House 

I'm assuming the turreted building was some sort of gate, or guard house, for the main house.


The actual house of Syon House, London home of the Duke of Northumberland, with grounds re-designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown, looked wonderful in the late evening sun. Just a shame that there was a transit van parked outside to spoil the view.

Syon House in the late evening sun
Syon House in the late evening sun

The late evening sun and a liberal spread of light cloud, made for some great views and photo opportunities.

Late evening sun in Syon Park
Late evening sun in Syon Park

After my evening stroll around Syon Park I headed into Brentford in search of dinner. I knew the Grand Union canal went through Brentford, but was not quite sure what to expect. Being a keen walker, and having walked on parts of the London Loop, the Grand Union Canal Walk, and the Capital Ring I was impressed by the available options on this sign ... almost a walker's paradise.

Walker's paradise signpost , Brentford Lock
Walker's paradise signpost , Brentford Lock

Brentford lock itself remains an impressive engineering feature, but the residential areas around it left me a little cold.

Brentford lock
Brentford lock

Brentford lock
Brentford lock

There was however still some sign of industry of days-gone-by further down the canal.


I'm not quite sure what this building is, or was, or whether the ornate, floral metalwork was original, restored or new. Either way it made a pleasant change to the canal side flats.





This was not the first time I'd seen a mile post for Braunston. I had seen one previously during a Suburban Wander from Harefield to Moor Park following the London Loop where I had suggested it was "in the middle of nowhere" but was quickly and quite rightly corrected by a reader saying otherwise, so I won't make that mistake again.

Mile post for Braunston
Mile post for Braunston

The grade II former toll house is now a museum.

Former toll house, Brentford Lock
Former toll house, Brentford Lock

These next 2 photos were taken the following morning as I made my way back to the bus stop. I had seen the former railway bridge the previous night but it was too dark for a photo. These former railway arches used to carry the Brentford Branch Line, or Brentford Dock Line, from the GWR line at Southall down to Brentford Dock. The bridge across the road is long since gone, but the railway arches still remain, although a bit too orange for my liking. A bit of internet research suggests this line could be re-opened.

Railway arches carrying the former Brentford Dock line
Railway arches carrying the former Brentford Dock line

Railway arches carrying the former Brentford Dock line
Railway arches carrying the former Brentford Dock line

Here are a few links to some of the books and walks I referenced earlier on in the blog post.

    

Thanks for reading. Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. Hopefully my future posts will not be so few are far between.

2 comments:

  1. I live in Brentford up to a year and a half ago. The structure by/over the canal is a barge shed - presumably a shelter for barges and their cargo?

    The leaves are recent, I believe a local artist made them. Last time I was there the roof was still on it though - I'm not sure if they're restoring it still or the money ran out and its falling into disrepair again.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the additional info Tristan. Good to have some local insight.

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