A MARRIAGE OF CIRCUMSTANCE
(FELTHAM HOUSE TO FELTHAM GARRISON)
1760 - to present day
BY Angela Parton
Thanks to MOD for supplying info and Feltham History Group (Feltham Notes), Local Studies Dept, Feltham Library.
Part of parcel 88 of Sector F as shown on the Enclosure Map of Feltham 1802. Was one of many old allotments. It stretched from the old track way known as (sheep Lane later Lovers Lane) in the north to Feltham Brook (now culverted) and consisted of approx 15 acres and was known as 'Fish Pond Close' named due to a sausage shaped pond (now filled).
Was first thought of as a potential 'Des Res' as the estate agents of today would have put it.
London businessmen were convinced that here, on what was the every edge of this tiny village was the perfect spot for their home in the suburbs.
All along the 'Red Lion' sprang up beautiful houses from Elm cottage, next to red Lion inn atthe High St end to the Grange at hanworth end. All now demolished part from one (Feltham House), situated at the Northern extremity of the parcel 88.
1770-1841 (Feltham Place)
FRANCES VILLEBOIS (nee MISS READ)
It is nor known whether the 'Villebois' family built Feltham Place, but they was the first owners of it and was residents for over 30 years. Frances and William villebois was (Huguenot refugees). Parish Registers shed a little light on the family, as they show the baptisms of their children between 1771 & 1782. Mrs villebois became a widow shortly after that date. Land tax record of 1785 she is recorded as the proprietor of the sizeable estate, and other houses and land in Feltham. the marriage of two of the villbois daughters is recorded in 1793 of Jane Maria and in 1815 of Charlotte. Frances died before seeing her last daughter married.
Before his death William had a carriage road made through his property, which stretched fromthe Feltham Brook in the south to (what is now) Hanworth road inthe north. In order that he would not be forced to use the badly kept main road through the High St.
This meant that he had to build the Villebois Bridge overthe Longford River, and that Bridge was still in existence early this 20th century. some of the original 1770's foundations can be found today. Frances Villebois was a great benefactor tothe local community and gave a substantial amount towards the rebuilding of St Dunstan's church in 1801, amoungst other good causes. The youngerst son Frederic bequeathed the house, as he is recorded as the owner in 1819, although the house is occupied by the Cooper family.
Occupied by Sir William Cooper for 5 years still owned by 'Villebois'.
1825 - Not occupied
George Thackrah was a builder. Maybe Been responsible for extensive alterations. Like the 'new' storey. George and Harriet lived there until land and house was sold by 'Villebois' in 1841.
After auction it was known as 'Feltham House' owned by Mr John Peisley estate agents of Hounslow.
Mr Augustus Frederick Westmacott ownedthe house and turned it into a boading school for budding young sculpturists.
Honorable Charles Peel esquire (Secretary of the Red Sea Telegraph Co), plus wife and six children was residents.
Charles Morice esquire. Member of Stock Exchange in the city.
1886 - Major Browell came to Feltham, looking for possible Military land.
Fowler family, Robert Fowler and two sons were Solicitors. Oldest Son was a 'Stud Farm Manager' relating extensive stabling facilities. Described in an auction notice 1903.
Alfred William Smith (A.W), Felthams most famous Market Gardener. Nick named 'Cabbage King' because he produced 1 million cabbages per year. With Anne his wife and 9 children.
A.W Smith / Market Gardener (Cabbage King)
Gate into gardens of Feltham House. Narrow lane from Feltham High St towards Hanworth Park c1920.
View from Browells Lane.
Feltham House c1903
The entrance gates to Feltham House from Browells Lane c1920.
Major Browells is suggested that he was the link to acquisition for Feltham House and surrounding land by the military. So in 1914 was taken over by R.A.O.C (Royal Army Ordnance Corps). Feltham House became the officer mess.
In that year the No.3 Motor transport Corps were stationed at the site.
As well as its stores depot which handled about 800,000 different items from Tanks to clothing repair units and training for drivers. Other corps involved with the site were the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), Royal Army Service Corps (RASC) and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME).
REME - was originally station at the site but shortly after were moved to a camp at Feltham HIll, Ashford where a vehicle depot was formed to assemble the DUKW for the D-Day landings. After 'the wars' the Headquarters returned to the Feltham site (Directorate buildings).
RFC - the airfield was built by Whitehead Aircraft Ltd. In 1917, the company built planes for the RFC - a notable production was of the Spitfires built and tersted at the site. The RFC ferried them to other bases until the end of WW2.
The airfield was then closed between 1919-1929, when it ws reopened by the General Aircraft Company/London Air Park.
Extensive use was made of the site by the corps from 1935-1940, specifically by the No.5 Elementary Flying Training Corps.
At the end of WW2 the company was responsible for the conversion of bombers to civilian transport planes. As a consequence of the opening of Heathrow in 1946 the airpark closed once again, the land was purchased by Feltham Urban District Council and committed to open space in 1959.
Pre WW2 the army introduced a light railway. Which extended from the main line across the High Street (where Barclays Bank is presently) along Browells Lane through the depot to an area which is now the 'Brookside' estate. The railway was used by the Smith Business, the Garrison for stores and the Aircraft company for the supply of raw materials. The Garrison was and still is an ancillary to the barrracks of Hounslow Heath.
There was a considerable amount of local protest to the 'tramway' as it also passed the pond/Green - 'A monstrous sight'.
Talking of annoyances - the only Bridle path in Feltham (Lovers Lane) which ran from the High Street to Hanworth Park. Was once blocked by a wall erected by the military for security purposes. On Saturday 17th April 1920, but first held a meeting of some 2,000 persons on the Green.
The assembly then moved off toward the footpath, carying with them a scoffold polde from James Parker's timber yard. This they used as a ram rod to break down sufficient of the wall to enable pedestrians to pass through. The "Battle of the bridle path" had been won, but arrangements were perhaps not so secret after all, for the whole incident was filmed by the Gaumont company and much publicicised, the film being shown on cinema newsreels all over London.
'Sheep Lane' or 'Lovers Lane' 1900
A section of 'Lovers Lane' wall still exist, Elmwood Ave.
Christening of Elmwood Ave Army personnel was built.
the unit consisted of 'some hundreds of cvilian tradesmen'. Involved in connection with the Army Motor transport Corps. the RASC (The Royal Service Corp) consisted of two large vehicle reserve sheds, reserve depot and workshops, six stores sheds served by the railway sput and a barrack living complex. They also employed civilians.
Relationships between the two parties improved as the site was the location of considerable social activity, the sorts field had its own grandstand and many a ball were held below what was ACSM.
The first munitions were manufactured for WW2. Feltham area generally had been a prime target for the bombers of the Luftwaffe containing not only Central Ordnance Depot (COD) but the railway marshalling yards, the largest in South East England until their closure in the 60's. The bomber 'Drome at LAP (Heathrow) and the fighter base on Hanworth Air Park.
COD - Feltham
On July 19-20 1944 a VI (Doodlebug) hit RAOC depot. Drtums of paint and fuel exploded. Residents thought they was in a middle of a concentrated bomb raid.
the unit was used as a clearance area for mechanical stores, all the equipment which was returned from the war was sent to Feltham to be unpacked, checked, catalogued (Shed D - Redman building, dont exist now) and then sent for further shipment throughtout the UK.
The light Military railway disappeared.
The survey production Group moved to Feltham. The site was described as a 'miscellaneous collection of buildings including garages, barrack blocks and modern special purpose buildings'. Now the whole area has taken on a new lease of life with the erection of custom built industrial units.
1970 - SPC (Survey Production Centre) named MCE
1971 - The depot ceased its main activities, continuing in a much reduced form as the DG Information Centre.
Barring the canteen building and Elmwood House, all of the other structures south of Elmwood Avenue are long gone. The Metropolitan Police used to carry out riot training in the derelict REME buildings for a short while in the mid seventies.
The Southern half of the former RASC depot was redeveloped as Feltham Corporate Centre and adjacent Industrial Estate, along Plane Tree Crescent and Poplar Way, residential development around Roebuck Close and Sycamore Close occured at the same time. Felthambrook Way and Felthambrook Industrial Estate are name for a nearby stream.
Training Dept moved to the Canteen Building (previously the FGSSA)
Thirty years on from the arrival of the Survey Production Centre has seen a transition through MCE RE to the current Mil Svy DSA nomenclature.
2000 - present day
DGC (Defence Geographic Centre)
The site will be closing in 2023-24 and sold for housing development. Partial land Reach Academy will take over to extend their school. The fate of Grade 2 listed building Feltham House has still to be decided, the second oldest building in Feltham. The first is the vestery of St Dunstans church and Red Lion Pub.
A few Interior photos (by Bill Cole) Feltham House
Civil Defence Mobility Exercise going past the Red Lion pub 1956. Photo from Paul Williams (Grandfather councilor Edgar Williams last chairman of Feltham Urban District Council before changing to London Borough of Hounslow).