GOLDEN MEMORIES OF THE GOLDEN MILE
Some years ago I was driving along the Great West Road and, having just passed the Boston Manor Junction looking left, I could not believe my eyes!
The fine Sperry building was gone. The place where I had worked for so many years had disappeared.
Part of my life had been bulldozed away, and I felt a great sense of loss.
It set me thinking of the days when I used to cycle from my home in Feltham to this portion of what was once known as the Golden Mile.
Great factories that churned out goods which went round the world.
The Sperry Gyroscope Company was well known for its ships compasses and guidance systems.
These were tested on apparatus that swung back and forth to simulate a ship's progress through the seas.
They also made aircraft instruments, the gyro horizon and the height indicator, all based on the spinning top principle.
During the war searchlights, huge great lenses for aircraft spotting, and predictors to help fire on enemy aircraft, were also manufactured.
One of the memories I have of cycling home at night were the sights and smells of the various factories.
The wonderful facade of Firestone's and, when the blackout ended, its floodlit frontage changing colour, the slight smell of rubber pervading the air.
When I passed Coty Parfumeries (they always spelt it that way) the nostrils picked up a far more pleasant smell, but when I reached the traffic lights at the top of the hill, well, the heady aroma of port wine and sherry from the VP Winery really sent me on my way to home and tea.
A trip down the gateway to the west just before Christmas was always a delight.
The great fir trees covered with fairy lights were better than the decorations of Oxford Street.
Firestone's was like fairyland itself to young eyes, with its Santa, sleigh and the reindeer, and was always worth the detour with a car load of children.
This article is included in Looking Back: A personal look at the history of South West Middlesex, by Eddie Menday, which is available for sale at the Chronicle's offices at 93 Staines Road, Hounslow, for £5.