I live a matter of a few hundred yards from the major trunk road in question, so when I spotted this in a shop in Kew last week, I had to have it.
It’s a print commemorating the opening of the Great West Road in 1925 by George V and Queen Mary (who’d be a monarch, eh?). Made of tissue and folded like a paper napkin, it would have been dished out to the local crowds, or perhaps sold for a penny or two. It’s in really good condition, a remarkable survival.
The text badly spills over into the border decoration. This tells us, I think, that the souvenir printers made large stocks of coloured templates and then customised them for different occasions by overprinting text etc in black.
“The new Great West Road which has just been completed at a cost of £1,000,000 , will be opened by the King, accompanied by the Queen to-day.
This new arterial road, which is eight miles in length, has for the greater part a width of 120ft. It extends from the Chiswick High-road near Kew Bridge, by-passes Brentford and enables traffic to avoid the congestion bottle-neck in the town.
The road continues through Isleworth and meets the main road again at the Bath Road, just beyond the Hounslow Barracks Station, then crosses the main road and passing through Hatton Village, joins the main Staines Road at Bedfont.”
The building of the Great West Road was essential. Historically, the route to Bath and the west ran through Brentford. There was bad enough congestion during the days of horse-drawn vehicles, but once cars, buses, lorries and especially trams hit the streets, the narrow high street became all but impassable.
It didn’t take long for large businesses to realise the potential that the new thoroughfare offered. Beautiful industrial art deco buildings sprang up, giving us Brentford’s “Golden Mile”.
LH Member James Marshall wrote a book about this back in 1995. It’s out-of-print now, so available copies are very pricy. They are easily borrowed from local libraries however.