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The Good Yarn

In the 18th century Uxbridge had more than 40 licensed alehouses!

132 High Street, Uxbridge, London, UB8 1JX
For more than 25 years, this building was Pearson’s menswear shop. Pearson’s moved to this address in 1968, having been elsewhere on High Street since around 1920. The firm was originally founded as a tailor’s, in 1837, making suits from cloth which started as good yarn.

A photograph and text about linking the town to London.

The text reads: In June 1904, the completion of the extension of the Metropolitan Line from Harrow provided the town with a fast and frequent service to the City. Steam trains were used at first, but one year later the line was electrified.

The extension of the tram line and the opening of the High Street station by the Great Western Railway, meant that the town was well and truly connected to the capital.

In 1938, a new Metropolitan and Piccadilly Line station was opened in Uxbridge. The extension of the Piccadilly Line – from Finsbury Park to Cockfosters in the north, and from Hammersmith to Uxbridge in the west – gave the architect Charles Holden the opportunity to produce some radical new designs.

In the Victorian period the Metropolitan and District Railways gave little consideration to architecture and design. Its recognisable house style was first developed with the creation of the Underground stations in the early 1900s.

In 1930, Pick and Holden went on a study tour of Northern Europe. Holden’s subsequent designs were clearly influenced by the new commercial architecture he had seen. His Piccadilly Line work is now recognised as one of the most important contributions to modern British architecture in the inter-war years.

An illustration and text about passing through Uxbridge.

The text reads: In the mid-18th century anyone who wanted a drink in Uxbridge was spoilt for choice. The town had more than 40 licensed alehouses which were well supplied by the two local breweries. The largest and the oldest of the inns – The Crown, The George, The White Horse and The King’s Arms – were all posting inns.

Uxbridge was the first overnight stop on the journey from London to Oxford. It was 15 miles from Marble Arch – then known as Tyburn – which was as far as a team of horses could be expected to pull a coach laden with passengers without stopping.

By the 1930s the Oxford Road has become a very busy road indeed. More than 80 stage coaches a day passed through Uxbridge, as well as a host of other smaller coaches and all manner of waggons and carts.

Some were drawn by as many as eight horses in stark contrast to some small carts pulled by dogs – a practice outlawed in 1839. To ass to the congestion cattle and sheep were also driven through the town.

The passing of the Turnpike Acts transferred the responsibility of maintaining roads from the Parish to a Board of Trustees. The first Act authorising much needed repairs and improvements to the Uxbridge road, was passed in 1714.

The 69 local trustees recouped their £162 outlay – and much more besides – by charging tolls. A coach drawn by six horses paid a toll of 6 old pence; a waggon pulled by only one horse was charged two pence, and 5 pence was payable for every 20 calves, hogs, sheep or lambs that passed through the turnpike gates situated at each end of the town.

In due course the Act was amended several times, and each time the number of trustees and the charges were increased. It seems that high prices and difficult journeys are not just a modern problem.

Illustrations and text about the Market House.

The text reads: For hundreds of years Uxbridge was the market town of the ancient manor of Colham, and the centre of an agricultural area covering much of West Middlesex and South Buckinghamshire. Although there was a market there was no market house. The first one was probably the two storey structure erected in 1561.

The building remained the property of successive Lords of the Manor until 1695, when the township of Uxbridge was purchased by seven local inhabitants. In 1729 the two surviving purchasers put the “manor of Uxbridge” into the hands of trustees, who then assumed control of the market house.

During the 18th century, the steady expansion of the corn market and the increase in traffic caused great congestion in the High Street. Permission was obtained for improvements so that the High Street was wide enough “for several carriages to pass abreast”.

The old Market House was demolished, and a new one built in 1788, at a cost of £3,000. The rooms above the Market House, reached by an external staircase, were intended to store room.

However, they soon had a variety of other uses which included housing by the Boys’ Free School, the Girls’ School of Industry and the Bible Society.

The market house was an obvious focal point for activities in Uxbridge, even after the Town Hall was built. During the celebrations for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897, the building was lit up by thousands of pin lights supplied by the local gas company.

In 1914, it almost went up in flames when the suffragettes threatened to burn it down after the local MP refused to support their cause.

The ground floor of the market house has since been converted into shops. The original clock mechanism, made in 1789, still ticks away although it is now driven by electricity and no longer wound up.

The Market House was once the largest building in Uxbridge but clearly times have changed.

A photograph of the Park Lodge, Uxbridge, c1905.

A photograph of Swakeleys, Uxbridge, c1907.

A photograph of High Street, Uxbridge, c1908.

A photograph of Ellen Terry’s house, Uxbridge, c1930.

A photograph of High Street, Uxbridge, c1908.

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