In its former days, the house stood in a picturesque and salubrious situation with market gardens and fields along its eastern bank, away from the more industrial side of town.
Opposite, though shielded by the ait in the middle of the Thames, was Kew with its neat row of houses along the north side of the green and the royal palace.
‘I give and devise unto my said son Henry West all that passage or way between the houses … down to the water side opposite to the aforesaid Ayte whereon I now dwell…’Will of Henry West senior mentioning the passageway to the Steps 
Sadly, the encroaching progress of the gas works moved ever closer to the little house by the Swan Steps.
At the age of eighty-seven, Henrietta West, my 3rd great grandmother having been widowed for many years and nursed by the not much younger sixty-five year old Alice Hunt, would have watched the expansion with horror and unease. 
The gas works had brought about improvements: lamps were installed along the Brentford High Street, much sooner than in other metropolitan areas, and the whole area was fully paved. However, the burden on the company to produce more and more gas for the Metropolis meant fumes, dirt, smoke, and inevitably, expansion.
Over the years Henrietta had amassed a few possessions. Some were practical: a tea caddy, china, some lovely linen for the beds finished with a chintz counterpane, a mahogany bureau and an India cabinet; some were decorative: china ornaments, pictures (including one of a dead bird) and most importantly a pair of silhouettes of her parents. There was also her needlework picture (though she doesn’t say if she was the creator), her husband’s drawing books and of some value, a large prayer book. 
All that she treasured was in that house and it was all at the mercy of the smoke from the gas works blown by the breeze through the opened windows and doors or creeping through the cracks in the wall.
John Burford and the Commissioners Report
After her death in 1843, her husband’s cousin John Burford complained about the problem when the gas company proposed expanding eastwards:
‘When I came here first it was a complete nuisance; I have been passing my neighbour’s-house when it has been completely enveloped in smoke and if the doors and windows were opened, the house must be completely filled.’Reports from the Commissioners 
He had seen gentlemen pass in their carriages, and as soon as they came within a certain distance, put handkerchiefs to their mouths.
John’s objection to the expansion of the gas works was not solely based on the pollution problem; he knew some of his properties would be demolished in the process.  Ordnance survey maps indicate the house by the Swan Steps was torn down when the gas company got their way. This would therefore suggest, though unconfirmed, that he took over the freehold of Henrietta’s house after her death.
Using a combination of land tax records, wills, 1841 Census, tithe maps and ordnance survey map overlays, it’s possible to postulate where the property was – that research will be covered in part 2 of this story.
(c) 2022 Mish J Holman. No reuse without permission.
 Testamentary records. England. 12 April 1784 . WEST, Henry. Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers. PROB 11/1116. The National Archives, Kew, England. Collection: England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. www. ancestry.co.uk : accessed 22 January 2022.
 Census records. England. 1841. Brentford, [Middlesex]. 6 June. WEST, Henrietta. HO107/689. Bk 5. F.11v. p. 15. www. ancestry.co.uk : accessed 22 January 2022.
 Testamentary records. England. 9 December 1843. WEST, Henrietta. Prerogative Court of Canterbury and Related Probate Jurisdictions: Will Registers. PROB 11/1990. The National Archives, Kew, England. Collection: England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. www. ancestry.co.uk : accessed 22 January 2022.
 Great Britain. Commissioners on the Public Records of the Kingdom. Reports from the Commissioners. (1848). United Kingdom: (n.p.). Vol. 30. p. 7. https://tinyurl.com/5bs8retx : accessed 22 January 2022.