Project Aims and History

The project had its genesis in discussions within the London and South East branch of the Battlefields Trust (BTLSE) in 2003. The concept developed comprised battlefields trails at Brentford and Turnham Green supported by single interpretation boards, way-markers embedded in pavements and leaflets about the battles. This idea was given provisional approval by Hounslow Council’s area planning committees in November 2003.

The Brentford battlefield walk looks on to Syon House in November 2006

The Brentford battlefield walk looks on to Syon House in November 2006

Work on a separate Battlefields Trust project (Chiswick V2) in the Hounslow area in 2004 delayed further progress of the Brentford and Turnham Green project as a key local partner, the Brentford and Chiswick Local History Society (BCLHS), was involved in the V2 project.

In November 2004, BTLSE and BCLHS commenced work again on the Brentford and Turnham Green project, amending the original project design to include three information boards for each battle. The way-marker concept was also rejected as such signage was likely to be disrupted by the need for street maintenance over the expected life of the trails.

A subsequent positive meeting to discuss the project was held with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and a final project submission was developed over 2005 and finally submitted in November that year. It included the original battlefield trails idea, but had expanded to cover education components for the local heritage guides and schools, public presentations to tell local people about the battles and the project, and a website. By this stage, the John Hampden Society, Hounslow Heritage Guides and Syon Park Estate had also agreed to support the HLF application and the former two organisations were to be actively involved in the project group.

In mid-April 2006, following amendment to the project plan at HLF request, a grant of up to £15,000 was awarded by HLF for the project. BTLSE and groups supporting the project part matched this with around a further £3,000 in cash and non-cash contributions.

Walking the battle of Turnham Green November 2006

Walking the battle of Turnham Green November 2006

Initial project analysis identified content for the information boards as the critical component and work commenced on this immediately. Planning permission issues were resolved with Ealing Council in summer 2006 and similar discussions with Hounslow Council commenced at around the same time. This was ultimately settled in mid 2007. Plans were also put in place to hold two public presentations in Brentford and Chiswick in October 2006 and for the annual walk of the battlefields on 5 November that year. The talks were subsequently attended by a total of about 80 people and the walks by just below 60.

In February 2007 a successful knowledge transfer event was held with the Hounslow Heritage Guides. Work also continued on content for the information boards and a designer, Toni Marshall, was recruited to create a look and brand for the boards. Toni was also tasked with designing the trail leaflets. Separately, a web designer, HK & Associates, was engaged to create the project web pages.

By late September 2007 the interpretation boards had been designed and feedback obtained on them from three demographically different focus groups. Effort then turned to the production of the information boards and the firm Pryorsign proved to be the most competitive in terms of price and quality. Leaflet design was also completed and 10,000 of them printed by the local Chiswick printer KallKwik. In addition, further public presentations on the project and the battles were held in Brentford and Chiswick in October 2007 which were attended by numbers similar to those in 2006.

Syon Park had agreed to host the Brentford opening ceremony and a lunch as it coincided with a civil war event it was running in parallel. John Hampden’s regiment of civil war re-enactors were happy to add some authentic colour to the proceedings and the TV military historian Richard Holmes, President of the Battlefields Trust, accepted an invitation to open the trails on 28 October 2007. Hounslow Council’s street management organisation installed the information boards the week before the opening ceremonies were due to take place, ensuring that the day went without a hitch.

The final parts of the project - distribution of leaflets to local shops, museums and libraries, design of the school education material by the Thames Explorer Trust, and the finalising of the web pages - were completed in late 2007 and early 2008. The project ended in July 2008.