Film Brings Vanished Brentford Community Back to Life

John Dale says his video shows the longstanding unique spirit of the area

Brentford residents celebrate the coronation in 1953
Brentford residents celebrate the coronation in 1953. Picture: Distillery Road Facebook

June 16, 2023

Combining haunting music with black and white photos, John Dale of Brentford TV has created a film that brings back to life the vanished community of Distillery Road.

It was part of an estate of terraced houses that was built in the 1880s situated between Green Dragon Lane and the High Street. The distillery itself was demolished not long after the houses were built but they survived until the sixties.

The video includes a commentary from a TV report at the time of the redevelopment in which the well-spoken announcer says that the Brentford Riverside neighbourhood was ‘a sad area where everything has become old and derelict’ and that ‘this offers the opportunity for large scale imaginative planning.’

The demolition of the houses in Brentford was hailed as progress
The demolition of the houses in Brentford was hailed as progress. Picture: YouTube

The development of the area by Hounslow Council was to provide 4,000 new homes and was heralded as much-needed progress. Distillery Road no longer exists but its memory is retained in Distillery Walk.

However, the very high quality photos, many of which come from the street parties held in 1953 to celebrate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, show a vibrant community. John’s film lingers on the faces of many of the people in the photographs as they enjoyed themselves.

The road decked out for the coronation in 1953. Picture: Distillery Road Facebook

John said, "The Coronation of King Charles made a lot of us rummage through old photos, looking for ones of his mum being crowned Queen. That's when I saw this Brentford Facebook group, called Distillery Road. It was full of pictures from a street which was pulled down nearly 60 years ago. It was full of faces which took you straight into the past. So I asked Barry Draper, the admin, if I could use them and he agreed and I put them together.

"Brentford is changing with all the new developments. I hope this helps the newcomers understand they are joining a much older community, one with its own culture and traditions – one which deserves admiration and respect yet sometimes feels neglected and pushed aside. Brentford has a unique spirit. We all want it to thrive, with the new working with the old. I hope this helps."

The area as it is now
The area as it is now. Picture: YouTube

See the video below:

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