Friday, 28 December 2007

Revisiting Hornsey and Holborn

On a rather wet Saturday we set off up to London to revisit some of the places associated with Frederick's family and the business.

The first stop was a building site in Hornsey Rise Gardens. The Brooks family's old home was first given permission to divide in 1978. Then it was into three flats now, in 2007, it is five. To help achieve this the earth around the basement has been removed and the whole garden re landscaped.

My Grandfather, William Vincent Brooks, recalls visiting Granny Brooks at the house and how Frederick, his grandfather, had purchased a strip of land to the rear of the garden that ran along the top of the now disused railway embankment. This was the perfect play area for Frederick's four boys. old photo 27 Hornsey Rise Gardens

Next stop on the trip was Oxford Street. Since John Brooks first started business in 1813 the buildings have of course changed and been redeveloped at least twice.

Frederick describes his Grandfather's business to have been, 'just opposite to the Western end of where Frascati’s now stands'. If our detective work is correct Frascati's was next door to the Oxford Music Hall which is now occupied by the Virgin Mega Store. This places John Brooks somewhere near the top of Soho street. Just across the road is Rathbone Place home of the future Wybrow inlaws. Oxford Street

Kings Street was left for another visit as was Chandos Place.

Moving along to Holborn we came to Parker Street. Knowing that the the firm had been bombed out during the war, we did not expect to find very much but it was worth a look. Indeed the majority of the street seems to be post war although the buildings on the south side at the western end give a taste of it's previous industrial character. Unlike the office block that stands where number 48 once was, one of the new developments pictured, shares many features with the old Brooks building.

Parker Street London48 Parker StreetJust across Kingsway we find the narrow entrance to Gate Street. This was the original home of Day & Son. Having gone into liquidation in 1868 the company was purchased by Vincent Brooks forming 'Vincent Brooks, Day & Son'.

The centre section of the building has been rebuilt, presumably after war damage, but both ends remains the same. The northern part is now Pu's Brasserie while the south section is home to the Barristers of the Holborn Chambers. An old illustration of Gate Street can be found in 'The Business' post blow. It was dark by the time we arrived late on that winter's afternoon, the narrowness of the street also made a good photograph of the whole building difficult. At least we have an excuse to return and maybe sample one of Pu's coffees.

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