Historic Brentford bridge restored with help from local community

The bridge over the river Brent in Brentford has had a facelift. Not just a lick of paint, but new artwork depicting its history.

Since Roman times there’s been a crossing point over the River Brent at Brentford. In Roman times it was a ford – hence the name Brentford. The current bridge was built in 1818 and the steel and concrete structure of the historic bridge has been fully repaired, cleaned and repainted.

Now bearing the A315 arterial route into London, the bridge provides a strategic crossing of the River Brent. In Victorian times it was a hugely important centre of trade at the point where the Grand Union Canal met the River Thames. These days the two-lane carriageway is heavily used by pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles each day.

Image above: Historic battles represented in artwork by pupils from the Green School, Newly painted Brentford Bridge; photographs Matt Smith

It’s importance as a route into London was the reason for the Battle of Brentford, which took place on and around the bridge. This key baattle in the English Civil War took place on 12 November 1642, between a detachment of the Royalist army under the command of Prince Rupert and two infantry regiments of Parliamentarians.

The Royalists won the battle, and their troops sacked Brentford, which had the contradictory effect of driving property owners to support the Parliamentarians. After the Battle of Turnham Green the King decided not to pursue an attack on London and retreated to Oxford.

Romans, Cavaliers and Roundheads and Brentford Football Club are all celebrated in the new artwork on the bridge, as is the local flora and forna.

The works are a result of a project commissioned by LB Hounslow in partnership with the London Wildlife Trust, the Canal & River Trust, Holiday Inn Brentford, JCDecaux, Hounslow Highways, Octink and The Green School Trust. Pupils from the Green School nearby created the artwork which decorates the panels.

The canal bank surrounding the bridge has been transformed from a wasteland with litter, and cleared by staff volunteers from nearby business, JCDecaux. With the support from London Wildlife Trust, invasive plant species such as Japanese knotweed, buddleia, dead trees, encroaching scrub and much litter has been removed, enabling the underlying flora and fauna to flourish, as well as clear the obstructions along the canal bank for boaters passing by.

Partners from the project gathered on the bridge on Friday 8 October and heard speeches of thanks.

Image above: Newly painted Brentford Bridge with artowrk of local flora and fauna by pupils from the Green School; photograph Matt Smith

“Crucial and historic” bridge has been preserved, says Council leader

The Leader of Hounslow, Councillor Steve Curran, said:

“A huge thank you to everyone who has helped with this fabulous project, especially the pupils whose artwork looks so impressive.  We have preserved a crucial and historic transport link, increased biodiversity in the area and made the riverbank an attractive destination for the local community and visitors.

“The bridge has never looked better and it’s a fitting tribute to its long history in the borough.”

Gordon Scorer, Chief Executive Officer of London Wildlife Trust said;

“We are delighted to have played a key role in restoring and enhancing the land by the Brentford Bridge, including helping the reedbed to recover, so it can provide an important refuge for birds in the future.  That a pair of mute swans nested in spring this year is, I believe, testimony to these improvements. We intend to complete our work here with the installation of a kingfisher nesting bank later in the autumn.”

Rob Clasper, of JCDecaux, said:

“As a long-term partner of the London Borough of Hounslow JCDecaux has had the absolute pleasure of working with the council on this regeneration project. Not only has it helped regenerate an area close to our office, it has also brought our internal teams closer together and helped strengthen the bond between JCDecaux and the council.”

Damian Frewer, General Manager, Holiday Inn opposite the bridge said:

“We are so proud of being part of the project team that resorted Brentford bridge and surrounding river banks. It looks great and we hope our guests enjoy looking at it as much as we do.”

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