West Londoners have said a building “standing its ground” as apartment blocks and cranes tower over it is “a message of resilience”. The building on Brentford High Street is part of an old factory and dates back to around 1920. Around it, work on The Brentford Project, which will create 876 new homes and retail opportunities, is progressing.
Posting on a local Facebook group, one Brentford resident who walks daily on the high street shared a photo of the the building with the caption: “Stand your ground ‘little’ house”. She said the house is slowly getting overshadowed by the construction around it, making it look smaller and smaller.
“People in Brentford walk past every day and can see the landscape changing,” she said. “First everything was flattened and stayed like that for a while, except for that house, then floors started to rise, with the house still standing strong in the middle. I feel it is a message of resilience to all people facing difficulties.”
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Other residents were quick to comment “leave it alone” and “flats, flats, flats … and more flats”.
One went further to say the “demolition and destruction of our once beautiful town” is “enough to make you weep in despair”. He commented that developers and Hounslow Council “must keep something of Brentford’s heritage”, as he says if the various developments across the town continue, the town will be “unrecognisable” and “one big concrete jungle”.
Instead of The Brentford Project which is rising around the Grinding Workshop, some residents called for investment in services for residents such as hospitals, community places, schools, and green space.
The ‘tiny house’ was quickly identified as the old Wilson & Kyle Grinding Workshop. One resident commented: “It’s very old building stood in W&K factory. Ground floor machines and first floor was canteen. Worked there as Precision Grinder. It was an engineering firm licensed salvation contractors for Royal Marine ships.”
The Grinding Workshop dates back to around 1920 and was taken on by Wilson & Kyle in the 1950s until the company closed in 1998. The Wilson & Kyle factory employed 160 people to make prototypes for tank parts as well as anti-aircraft gun equipment and assembly jigs for aeroplanes. The business proved very useful during the Second World War when it specialised in fuel-injection equipment for ships’ diesel engines. English Heritage has said it ‘contributes significantly to the distinctive character of area’, according to Brentford History.
Rising around the Grinding Workshop is Ballymore’s The Brentford Project which will bring 876 homes, dozens of retailers, a supermarket, cinema, eateries, a leisure centre, and more. The Brentford Project website says in retaining several heritage buildings the development will “offer a sensitive and inspiring interplay of old and new that injects new energy into a wonderful stretch of waterside London”. The development is expected to finish in 2027.
Peter Matthew, Executive Director of Housing Planning and Communities at Hounslow Council, said The Brentford Project is “an important element of our plans for the regeneration of Brentford, which forms part of our wider goal to make our town centres, high streets and local parades the economic, cultural and social hubs of the borough”.
He added: “We recognise Brentford’s rich cultural heritage, and we are committed to ensuring this heritage is retained – while creating much-needed homes and job opportunities.”
Mr Matthew said the council has worked closely with the developer over the years to ensure they have “actively engaged with and responded to the views of local residents” and that the council themselves will “continue to collaborate with local residents, businesses and partners, including Ballymore, in pursuing our aim of making Brentford a thriving hub of cultural and economic activity”.
A Ballymore spokesperson said The Brentford Project is “designed with the local community at its heart”.
They added: “We undertook extensive consultations over a number of years with local residents, and specialist stakeholders including Historic England, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, and the Diocese of London. We will continue to work hard to ensure our projects meet the needs of our local communities.”
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Seren is a reporter covering the whole capital with a specific patch for Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea. She is particularly interested in human interest stories on topics such as health, housing, and refugees, as well as covering breaking news and crime.
In the past month she has written stories on a woman who blames her emphysema and losing part of her right lung on living in a council house in Islington with ‘unsafe levels of damp’ and ‘inadequate’ repairs, a sexual assault victim who chose to waive her anonymity to raise awareness, and a breakdown of a damning report which outlines how one Black teenager was ‘driven’ to fearing the police after more than 60 stop and searches in two years.
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