Chiswick Then and Now

Neil McKelvie reviews a superb addition to books on Chiswick's History


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Then & Now Chiswick is available on Amazon for £9.09.

Gillian Clegg's - Chiswick Past is also available from Amazon at £15.95

If you order goods to a total value of £25 then delivery is free. Buy both these books together and you just make it

Books about Chiswick

The golden age of theatre and cinema in Chiswick

Chiswick High Road 21 years on

The Brentford and Chiswick Local History Society

A real treat for lovers of local history is now on offer, with the publication of an excellent new title commemorating Chiswick's changing street scene over the centuries.

Then & Now Chiswick has been compiled by husband and wife team Carolyn and Peter Hammond (Carolyn looks after the archives at Chiswick Public Library and is an absolute fount of wisdom on all matters historical relating to the area).

This is simply a fascinating book: over 80 images, some never previously published and drawn from a range of sources including Chiswick Library's extensive archives, Gunnersbury Park Museum and local individuals' collections, are reproduced alongside modern shots of the same scene, dramatically illustrating both how much our local area has changed in the last century or so ­ but also how much remains intriguingly the same.

The oldest picture in the book was taken in 1863, when the area around the village of old Chiswick was still mainly rural, with the main source of employment being in agriculture, particularly market gardening.

The reader is taken on a journey around the old parish, starting at the Hammersmith border by the Thames, continuing westwards to Grove Park, along the river at Strand on the Green, then east towards Turnham Green and the High Road, before continuing up Goldhawk Road to St Mary's Church and west to take in part of Bedford Park. It's a striking illustration not only of how our physical surroundings have evolved, but also our way of life.

The pairs of photographs are accompanied by concise but highly informative text, giving a thumbnail sketch of the old vista's history and the fate of original buildings.

It's particularly interesting to learn of the derivation of many familiar street names: for example, Windmill Road adjoining the High Road takes its name from the windmill which, according to a 17th century map, stood here and a there has been a Windmill pub here since the 18th century, only in recent times renamed Jack Stamp's Beerhouse.

Turnham Green Terrace

The picture on the left shows the Terrace in 1936 - no cars but there was a double decker bus. There were no restaurants on this road in 1936 - now there are 8.

Then & Now Chiswick provides a somewhat grim reminder of the consequences of the transformation of tranquil Hogarth Lane into the monster six-lane motorway that now carves its way through the heart of Chiswick, separating the High Road from the river. Many fine houses fell to the road-building schemes of the 50s and 60s and though progress is inevitable, it's hard not to regret the loss of elegant Victorian edifices such as the Feathers public house, which stood on the south side of Hogarth Lane, at the corner of Devonshire Road.

Strand on the Green

The view on the left shows the Pier House Laundry which closed in 1973. Tree planting and flood defences have changed the vista completely

In fact, browsing through the book, the overriding emotion of this reviewer was to get most of the sixties planners and architects by the throat and shake them, for some of the unimaginative concrete monstrosities they gave us in place of truly distinctive 18th and 19th century buildings!

A fascinating and informative read ­ highly recommended.

July 12, 2004

Neil Mckelvie

This article was originally published in Westside Magazine and is reproduced with kind permission

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