The Great West Road, London

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Touted West London’s premier commercial corridor, the Great West Road has experienced many highs and lows since King George V cut the ribbon and opened the road for public use in 1925.

This stretch of road, also known as the Golden Mile, forms a part of the A4 and runs north of Brentford to the western boundary of Chiswick in London.  The A4 is a major road that runs from London to Avonmouth near Bristol and is made up of the Great West Road, Bath Road and London Road.   The Great West Road portion of the A4 had been given the accolade of being the Golden Mile because of the concentration of industry which once thrived along this otherwise short stretch of road.

Although a fair share of manufacturers and retailers have moved in and out of the area since its heyday, the Great West Road remains an important industrial centre and business travellers often base themselves near this part of the A4 to be close to the Heathrow Airport as well as the businesses they need to attend.  Because of this, there are a number of hotels in the Great West Road London area that have sprung up to serve the needs of business travellers.

Early influence on Brent and Hounslow

For those who are interested in a bit of local history, the building of this by-pass through north of Brentford and Hounslow brought significant social and economic changes to these districts in Greater London.  The impact was felt almost immediately upon the opening of the by-pass, and the fortunes of these districts remain heavily affected to this day by the happenings on the Great West Road.

Back in 1925, the Golden Mile was built to bypass the infamously congested Brentford High Street.  Since the area provided good communications as well as availability of land for new buildings, several manufacturers acted quickly to construct factories of architectural merit along this road.  With the rapid development of industry amongst this relatively small pocket around Brentford, jobs became plentiful in the area and both employers and employees enjoyed much prosperity.

Growth products and inter-war commerce

As this new industrial development became a powerful manufacturing centre, products of all kinds started to emerge from the Great West Road.  Some of the things that came off the production lines in local factories include: American cars from Hudson-Essex, Lincoln and Packard; British cars from Alvis; tyres from Firestone; windscreen wipers from Trico-Folberth; chrome-trim, fenders and fire extinguishers from Pyrene; as well as toothpaste from Macleans.

The variety of manufacturers operating from the Great West Road was simply astounding.  For example, Macfarlane Lang made confectionery and biscuits right next to the Gillette razor blade factory that was focused on churning out shaving products.

Other familiar brand names that called the Great West Road their home include Smith’s Potato Crisps and Currys.

Manufacturing moves away

Despite decades of full employment and post-war prosperity, the rest of the world began to catch up with Britain and new manufacturing centres began to appear globally at a fast rate.  The impact on Britain, particularly the Great West Road, was quick and severe – local factories began to close as they became seriously affected by the loss of market share due to imported products hitting our market shelves.

The post-war labour shortage experienced in Britain also played a part in the growing problems along the Great West Road.  Instead of being employed in the manufacturing sector, many found job opportunities in the service sector, which ultimately led to the restructuring of the national economy.

Another key development to take place around this time was the growth of London’s financial services sector.  Again, this provided more choice for those looking for work, as office staff could now decide between working for manufacturing or financial services companies.

The Great West Road today

Since those glorious days when the Golden Mile was completely occupied with manufacturers working at full capacity, many factories have closed down, moved away or their sites are awaiting redevelopment.  As a number of buildings along this road are listed buildings, any redevelopment plans are subject to approval by the Hounslow Council.

However, the Great West Road remains an important commercial centre, and its future is looking bright again with technological giant Samsung Europe choosing to base their headquarters at the Great West House, which was formerly the site of Jantzen Knitting Mills.  There are also several superstore retailing facilities that have been built on the Great West Road as components of a larger mixed development.  Additionally, it is said that furnishing company JC De Caux have recently expressed interest in restoring one of the sites and using it as its company headquarters.

Companies such as Samsung are helping to bring about more jobs to Brentford, which is helping the district to try and regain its former economic prosperity.

There is little doubt that businesses along the Great West Road is beginning to flourish once again.  For business travellers who are looking to stay in the area, Park Grand London Heathrow is one of the best hotels in the Great West Road London area.  Since it has recently been awarded a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for 2014, you can expect high quality service, comfortable rooms as well as a fantastic location for all your business needs.