A History of Our Area

History of our area

Over the coming months we will be adding more details about the history of our area.

To start this, we have gathered a few sources of old photographs of the area.

The first of these is this site (https://www.francisfrith.com/osterley ). This provides some photos of the Osterley area from circa 1955, showing Osterley Park, Thornbury Road (with noticeably less traffic than nowadays …) and Jersey Gardens. They also have a number of old maps. These show that

  • In 1894 the whole area of shops and houses in Osterley and Wyke Green was open land – even the major roads (The Great West Road, Syon Lane, Jersey Road, Thornbury Road, etc.) were not there. Wood Lane was just that – a lane with a farm on it (Wood Lane Farm) and a Training College (now the site of the Wyke Estate).
  • By 1920 development was coming to the area, with the Great West Road appearing on the map.
  • By 1945 urbanization was well underway, with most of the roads in place and urban development along them.

If you are interested in buying an old map of the area, the Osterley Bookshop on Thornbury Road stock several of them.

Another is this website

(https://britainfromabove.org.uk/en/search?keywords=osterley&country=global&year=all). This shows a number of aerial photos of the area. In particular it shows the progress of a number of the major commercial buildings in the area

  • In 1930 the MacFarlane Lang and Co Imperial Biscuit Works was under construction (now the site of Tesco Osterley).

MacFarlane Lang was one of the largest manufacturers of biscuits in Britain in the early 1900’s, and merged with McVitie & Price in 1948 to form United Biscuits.

  • The Firestone factory (visible in the distance) was already there. This magnificent old building was a local landmark for many years until Firestone closed down operations.

Further details of what happened to it can be found here (https://www.loupdargent.info/2013/01/demise-of-firestone-building.html).

The only parts remaining now are the gates, grass and original boundary wall on the Great West Road (now listed). It is now the site of a trading estate, PC World and several Sky channel offices.

  • By 1931 housing was visible along the Northern side of the Great West Road, the beginning of Syon Lane (at the junction with the Great West Road), Wood Lane (south of the Great West Road) and much of Wood Lane (North). Wyke House (now the site of the Wyke estate) was still visible.
  • By 1936 the Gillette Factory has been built.
  • By 1938 the whole network of residential streets, with completed houses, is in place.

Great West Road

The Great West Road from Gillette Corner used to be called the “Golden Mile”. A number of striking landmark buildings were erected along this road in keeping with its unofficial title.

A fascinating history of the buildings along this road can also be found here  (http://edithsstreets.blogspot.com/2013/01/river-brent-syon-lane.html ) – part-way down the page, under “Great West Road”.

Some of them still survive (and in most cases with listing protection) and a good pictorial summary of them can be found here (https://londonist.com/london/history/on-brentford-s-art-deco-golden-mile ). If you have the time, try and walk past the Art-Deco JC Decaux building (formerly the HQ of Currys), built in 1936, at night, when it looks particularly impressive. Its interior has been completely modernised but in such a way that it enhances the style of the outside, resulting in a visually impressive building.