Friday, June 4, 2021

Stamford Brook

Here I am at the 52nd station on the District Line. The line through Stamford Brook  was opened in January 1869 by the London and South Western Railway on a new branch line to Richmond. The station didn't open here until 1912. In the 1930s the London Electric Railway, forerunner of the London Underground began the reconstruction of the tracks to enable the Piccadilly Line to be extended from Hammersmith to Hounslow. From 1932 services on the Piccadilly Line ran through Stamford Brook but didn't stop. Currently the station only services the District Line.

I like this style of semi enclosed seating on the platforms, giving the passenger protection from the weather.

Stamford Brook was the first  tube station to have an automatic ticket barrier installed in 1964. There are still a few stations that surprisingly do not have these barriers and passengers can just walk through.  There is CCTV everywhere and it is an offence to travel without a valid ticket.
The station takes its name from Stamford Brook a tributary of the River Thames that is now predominantly underground.

The station exits onto Goldhawk Road. here you can see the viaduct carrying the railway above the streets of Stamford Brook. I turned left out of the station to look for a memorial to Lucien Pissarro.
About a five minute walk from the station is Stamford Brook Common which was enclosed as a recreation ground in around 1890. Prior to that it was common land.
In the 16th century a few cottages were built around Stamford Brook Common. By the 18th century it had grown in importance and Stamford Brook became the location for larger country houses including Stamford Brook House. When this house was built the common was an extension of Turnham Green Common . However by the 19th century the land between the two commons began to be developed.

On the other side of Stamford Brook Common is this house where Lucien Pissarro lived. The French born son of  the artist, Camille Pissarro, Lucien,  had moved to England in 1890 where he married an English girl. In 1897 Lucien suffered two strokes and Camille came to stay here with his son for a couple of months.  Whilst here he completed seven paintings of Stamford Brook. It is said that Camille painted them from a flat roof at the back of this house on Bath Road. Camille did not return to London again and died in 1903.

Lucien made a slow recovery always walking with a limp and his left hand paralysed. In 1902 Lucien and his family moved to this cottage, 'The Brook' on Stamford Brook Road where they remained for the rest of their lives. Dating back to1760, it was one of four country houses that overlooked Stamford Brook. 

I made my way back to the station along Goldhawk Road past the Oakbrook Lodge. This elaborate neo gothic house was built in the 19th century as a residence for Samuel Brandon and his family. It became a nurses' home in 1930 and then an administration block for Queen Charlotte's maternity hospital. The hospital moved in 2000 and this Grade II listed building has since been converted into apartments.

I returned back along Goldhawk Road and crossed over the High Street to follow this lane called British Grove

This interesting looking Victorian building was once the Royal Chiswick Laundry Western Dying and Cleaning Works which closed in 1968. It was constructed in 1899 with two long buildings. Part of the building is now home to the British Grove Studios, a large recording studio complex built for Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame. The studios were set up by David Stewart who sadly died last year from the Coronavirus.

Continuing down British Grove you come to a row of Victorian cottages.
Most of them still had boot scrapers outside. Perfect for cleaning the mud off your boots before entering the house.

It wasn't long before I came to the Great West Road and a subway. I didn't realise there were so many subways under this road. After travelling to and from work along here in the 70s, I never once wondered how people crossed the road!
Walking down Black Lion Lane you come to a pub of the same name which dates from the late 18th century. The pub is one of only two in the London area still to have a skittles alley. Skittles is the game of bowling at pins and used to be very popular in pubs. The pub is also said to be haunted by a bricklayer named Thomas Millwood who died in the pub. His death, in 1803, was a most unfortunate one as returning from work covered in white dust he was mistaken for a ghost by a local man, Francis Smith, and shot. Mr Smith had been trying to rid the area of the 'Hammersmith Ghost' which had been terrorising  local people.

At the end of the lane is the River Thames. On one of the walls was this old parking notice. Forty shillings in old money was two pounds. The equivalent in today's money would have been £32. Cheaper than a parking fine today which in London is usually between £80-£130.
 I turned right off Black Lion Lane onto Hammersmith Terrace, a row of 1750s Georgian houses. They all face onto the river which does not have pedestrian access along here. There are a few blue plaques on the houses relating to a variety of notable figures who lived here.

This name caught my eye as Edward Johnston worked with Charles Holden (an architect who designed many London Underground stations during the 1920s and 1930s) and Frank Pick (managing director of London Underground in the 1920s who helped evolve the bar and circle logo known as the 'roundel') on the new underground concept. Johnston, a master calligrapher was commissioned by Pick to design a unique London Underground font which is used on all posters and signage. The Johnston font has been the corporate font since its introduction in 1916, making its use one of the world's longest lasting examples of corporate branding. It was the copyrighted property of Transport for London Transport until 2015.

I continued along Hammersmith Terrace onto Chiswick Mall where the houses are separated from their gardens by the street. With its multi million pound houses the mall is one of the most expensive addresses in the area. The current appearance of Chiswick Mall with private gardens between the road and the river has remained the same since the 1880s. when the gardens were created. It was during that decade that the borders of the tidal Thames in London were embanked for the installation of mains water and sewage. 

Having walked past the houses on Hammersmith Terrace I now have a view of the Thames again. In front of me I can see the small 3 acre island in the river known as Chiswick Eyot (pronounced as eight). The tide is out at the moment and gives me the perfect opportunity to walk out to this uninhabited island. At one time willows were grown here and harvested to use in basket weaving. It was declared as a nature reserve in 1993.

As I walked across the channel to the island I was grateful to see that I would have plenty of time before the incoming tide would fill this channel. With a flow of five miles an hour and a tidal range of seven metres (23 feet), the power of the Thames should not be taken lightly.
There was plenty of muddy paths on the island and I didn't really have appropriate footwear so it really was just a fleeting look at the island.
Looking back towards Chiswick Mall

This is the view of the Thames from the other side of the island.

In the past Chiswick was an industrial area with a dock for loading and unloading barges carrying cargo for the breweries, fitting out warships and other industries. Since the late 19th century this part of the river has been mainly residential and has had residential houseboats moored here since WW2. Originally they were created as affordable homes for returning servicemen. 
Returning to Chiswick Mall I had a good view of Fuller's Griffin Brewery. Beer has  been brewed on this site for 350 years. The original brewery was founded in 1701 in the gardens of Bedford House on Chiswick Mall.
This is Said house, built in the 18th century but enlarged in the 1930s when the curved glass window was created along with the niche and urn. It is probably more well known for being rented out to the BBC in 2005 for use of the contestants taking part in the first series of 'The Apprentice'.

This is Bedford House and below is Eynham House. The houses were built as one house in the middle of the 17th century by the Russell family who later became the Dukes of Bedford. It is thought the house was split into two during the 18th century.

On the other side of the road are the private gardens leading down to the river.

This is Walpole House, one of the finest on the Mall. Parts of it date back to the 16th and 17th centuries. It is named after one of its former residents, Thomas Walpole (1727-1803), an MP and nephew of Sir Horace Walpole, England's first prime minister. Walpole and his family lived here from 1799 until his death. In 1817 the house was used as a school for young gentlemen and one of its students was William Makepeace Thackery, author of Vanity Fair. It is thought that Thackery used Walpole House as the setting for Miss Pinkerton's Seminary for Young Ladies.

 I  left Chiswick Mall behind and went onto Church street to the church of St Nicholas. The current building dates from the 1880s but the tower is from the 15th century. There has been a place of Christian worship on this site for over a thousand years. St Nicholas is the patron saint of sailors and fishermen and was a common name for a place of worship near water.  Churches that have a history going back hundreds of years are a great source of information for historians. Here in the archives they have complete registers of baptisms, marriages and burials from 1678 to the present day. 

There are 30 listed graves in the churchyard including the artist J.M.Whistler, actor David Garrick, Frederick Hitch,VC in the Zulu war and the artist William Hogarth
William Hogarth (1697-1764) was an artist  known for his life-like portraits and his 'Modern Moral Subjects'. His most famous works were The Rake's Progress and Marriage-a-la-mode.  His satirical works feature the seedy and debauched side of urban society. He also published prints of his work but the images were pirated by other print sellers, so he campaigned for a copyright law which was passed in 1735. Hogarth was also concerned about the welfare of children and was governor of London's Foundling hospital. 


This house next to the church has its origins in a 16th century cottage which has been extended and built up over the centuries. The wrought iron gate with its scroll patterns contains the letters T, E and M referring to Thomas and Elizabeth  Mawson, parents of Thomas who was baptised in the church in 1684.

This half timbered building, known as the Old Burlington is probably the oldest building on Church Street ( other than St Nicholas's tower) dating from at least the sixteenth century. By the 1730s it had become a pub called the Burlington Arms. Outside the pub was a cupboard where they reportedly locked up drunks until they sobered up.

Towering above the other buildings in Church Street is the Lamb's Brewery brick tower. It isn't that clear about the origins of the brewery but it is thought that the Sich family began brewing beer in a brewhouse at the back of Bedford House, Chiswick Mall in the late 17th century. In 1819 the Lamb brewery was founded on this site by Sich and Co Ltd. Beer was produced here until 1920.  
The pink building at the front of the photo was The Lamb Tap. This pub was established in 1732 and was the brewery tap for Sich's brewery. It closed in 1909 and is now a residential property. ( A brewery tap is the nearest outlet for a brewery's beer.)

This small alley off Church Street has houses dating as far back as the 1700s.  Some of them were tied to Lamb's Brewery and lived in by some of the workers.

Around the corner is the last pub still trading in what was Chiswick Village.

Old Chiswick was the village that grew up around the church. The residents of the village would have been fishermen and farmers. The barley grown in Chiswick was said to be 'exceptionally fine' and was used for malting and brewing. It was also an important ferry point as there were no bridges over the Thames between London Bridge and Kingston Bridge throughout the Middle Ages. Although I am familiar with many parts of London I had no idea that Old Chiswick existed. I have walked the 187 miles of the Thames Path but that was on the South side of the river so this section has been new to me. There was just one more surprise for me before returning to the tube station. As I am reading this information about the pub, the noise of traffic behind me is deafening as I am now back on the Great Western Road next to the Hogarth roundabout where two of the major roads taking traffic into and out of central London meet. I walked just a few metres on and came to Chiswick Square. I had no idea that there were any houses facing one of the busiest traffic interchanges in London.

Here was possibly the smallest square in London. A paved square overlooked by houses of 1680 on two sides with Boston House facing outwards.

 I read that the large house had been  named after the Earl of Grantham, also Lord Boston but it's not clear whether he actually lived there. It was extended in the middle of the 18th century and in the early 19th century it was a school for girls. In 1889 it became St Veronica's retreat, a home for drunken women. In the 20th century the house was divided into apartments and part of the gardens sold for development. 

Looking out from the square you can see the flyover and the roundabout. I must have rode across there hundreds of times and never realised this square was here.

I returned to the station via the subway fascinated about what I had seen today and keen to find out more about this area. I will be back to see a little more of  old Chiswick when I visit the next station.


  1. I've never seen boot scrapers, mind you, you would have alot more of them there than here due to your history but I think farmers would appreciate them since they wear gumboots.

  2. Bravo,Bravo,Bravo for another one of your wel documented talks about a part of Londen that is for a lot of your viewers unkown but very interesting.

  3. It sure was an interesting walk on this day. The square built in the 1600's is amazing. Loved all the stories about the lovely buildings and houses. You must do loads of research. Well done!

  4. What an interesting and mixed area with your post full of fascinating detail. I had to check on a map where Stamford Brook is, even though I know we are travelling west. I don't like these English private and fenced gardens that look like public gardens, available to a select few. I hope they pay for the maintenance themselves.

  5. oh so fascinating ~ what a lovely place and great photos ~ Xo

    Live in the moment,

    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  6. I would love to see the apartments of the old nurses’ home. The exterior is beautifully restored.
    What was Mr Smith thinking. Everyone knows you can’t shoot a ghost!
    I’m glad you mentioned that Hogarth was a governor of the Foundlings Home in London as I was just searching my brain for where I “knew him” from.
    I love these posts and happy that you are able to get back to your project.

  7. A whole lot of history in this place.

  8. That is impressive to have walked 187 miles on the Thames towpath - and the areas you have discovered have been impressive, as you said who knew they were there some of them until you get out on foot... like the home for drunken ladies!
    A lovely wander thank you!
    Wren x

  9. Another fascinating walk with great commentary and pictures.


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