thames discovery programme

Brentford Riverside FHL10/ Brentford Aits FRM22
This key site extends across two zones, one lying in the London borough of Hounslow, and the other in Richmond Upon Thames (the Brentford Aits). Access to the foreshore is via the stairs adjacent to the Waterman’s Art Centre. The ground conditions on the site are generally firm (gravels), however there is a considerable silt build up on the Aits, and while it is possible to access these islands at low tide, it is easy to become cut off.

archaeological and historical background
prehistoric Excavations in the area have suggested human activity from the Mesolithic period onwards. Large quantities of Bronze and Iron Age artefacts, along with pits, post holes and ditches, have been found in the Brentford area including a ceremonial chariot fitting (the Brentford horn-cap). roman It may be that Brentford was the first point on the Thames which was easily fordable on foot, and it has been suggested to be the location where Julius Caesar made his crossing and defeated the Britons under their leader Cassivellaunus in 54BC. Caesar’s description of the battle claimed that the British fortified the river bank with stakes; a large number of which were discovered during the construction of Brentford Dock. It would appear that the preRoman settlement continued in use into this period, pottery and features having been found dating to the later 1st century AD, sealed by deposits containing later Roman pottery. early medieval Brentford is first documented in a charter of AD705 as Breguntford, meaning the ford over the Brent. Bregunt is Celtic in origin, either meaning ‘holy river’ or possibly reflecting an association with the goddess Brigant, and, therefore, may indicate some continuity of occupation in the area from the Roman period. In 780-1 a council at Brentford resolved a dispute between King Offa of Mercia and the Bishop of Worcester. Viking raids in the area are recorded in AD 871 and again in AD 999. In 1016, Edmund Ironside chased a Danish army from London to Brentford where they were slaughtered. late medieval A bridge had been built over the river Brent by 1281, when a toll was granted, and in 1307 Brentford received a charter to hold a market. In 1431 Syon Abbey was relocated to the area from Twickenham; a friary and hospital administered by the Abbey was founded on the west side of Brentford Bridge in 1446 and the bridge was also rebuilt in stone at this time. During the late 16th century, Brentford became known to Elizabethan literary society, with the Three Pigeons Inn reputed to be a favourite meeting place. post-medieval In 1642 yet another battle took place, this time between the armies of Charles I and Parliament. While the Royalists won the battle and sacked the town, the dogged resistance of the Parliamentarians allowed time for the London trained bands to be assembled at Turnham Green, outnumbering the Royalists and effectively ending their march on the capital. Handily placed on the main road west out of London, Brentford became an important coaching station, its prosperity reflected in some splendid 17th century buildings. By this period a number of wharves had been developed here, while by the later 18th century, Brentford had a thriving soap industry along with a number of market gardens, tanneries, malthouses, breweries and distilleries. It’s position on the west road and the Thames also led to it becoming a centre of the corn trade, and the wealth this brought to the town manifested itself in the construction of Kew Bridge (first built 1759 and rebuilt in 1789), and the first church to

be built in old Brentford (1760s). The completion, in 1805, of the Grand Junction Canal, increased the prosperity of the area, allowing the import of manufactured goods and coal from the midlands. This prosperity was further enhanced by the building of Brentford Dock in 1859 which linked imports from the Port of London with the Great Western Railway. A vibrant service industry grew up to service the vessels that there constantly moving in and out of Brentford. These dock yards provided essential repairs for the barges of both the Thames and the canal. During the 20th century Brentford has suffered the fate of many industrial areas that relied on the Thames. As the larger vessels were moved down stream and container trade began to dominate Brentford lost trade. The canal system closed and with it the docks. There have been recent refurbishments to the riverside area but of a limited scale.


A103 A104 A105 A106 A107 A108 A109 A110 A111 A112 A113 A114 A101 A102 A103 A104 A105 A106 A107 A108 A109 A110 A111 A112 A113 A114 A115 A116 A117 A118 A119 A120

Standing building Access Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Timber Deposit Timber Drain Timber Drain Drain Timber Deposit Deposit Timber Deposit Deposit Timber Artefact scatter Deposit Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel

Shipyard building. Corrugated iron. Containing machinery Slipway. Timber and iron. Boat. Clinker built. Barge. Hulk Narrow boat? Used as hard for barge Boat. Large fragments used as hard for barge. Probably more than one vessel. Barge. Complete. 'Trilby Rochester' Stern post and other fragments used as hard. Cherokee'. Complete Boat. Hulk Barge. Hull section used as hard for boat. Moored vessels Stake. 50mm diam with bark. Angled. Peat/organic clay. 2 patches of peat and clay nodule. Mooring post? Post 378mm x 180mm. c. 140mm high. Pipe. Held in place by timber shuttering. Stake. 300mm x 140mm. Pipe. 800mm diam. Held in place by timber shuttering. Pipe. Caste iron 650mm diam. Tree trunk. Modern? Sand. Silty sand with organic and mollusc inclusions. Peat? Sand. Silty sand with organic and mollusc inclusions. Peat? Mooring post? 280mm x 170mm. Sand. Silty sand with organic and mollusc inclusions. Peat? Silt. Sandy silt with organic and wood fragments lying horizontally. Forest and peat? Boat. 3.0m x 0.05m. Animal bone Several pieces. Silt. Sandy silt. Peat? Boat. Timbers. with logs A122 Boat. Timbers. Boat. Timbers. Barge. Small. Double diagonal.


A121 A122 A123 A124 A125 A126 A127 A128 A129 A130 A131 A132 A133 A134 A135 A136

VOID Timbers Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Vessel Artefact scatter

VOID Logs. with boat A117. Driftwood or boatyard waste? Boat. Boat. Boat. Launch. Double skin. Carvel. Boat. Boat. Boat. Hull appears largely complete but in several pieces Boat. Boat. Large dark timber with pegholes. At low water. Boat. Inc. keel Boat. Plywood Boat. Boat. Metal hulled Boat. Hull. Clinker-built. 3.0m x 1.50m. Industrial. Kiln waste. Delft?

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