During the First World War social activities were necessarily curtailed. Belgian refugees were housed on the estate - and even overflowed into the cricket pavilion. The sports grounds were used for military drilling. The Brentham Club remained open, and convalescent soldiers from local hospitals were invited to become honorary members.
Many Brentham men served in the 1914-18 war. Those who did not return are commemorated by the war memorial on the corner of Denison Road and Pitshanger Lane. John Nopppen, who lived at 24 Ludlow Road, served in France and Flanders with the Grenadier Guards. His recently discovered war diary, full of moving and fascinating detail, can be read in full.
After the war, social activities were renewed and extended - with increasing emphasis on the social rather than the educational side of the Club. In 1922 tenants were demanding that the planned extensions to the Institute should be completed to mark the twenty-first anniversary of the estate. The directors promised that this would be seriously considered "when the Estate was fully developed" - but this day never came! As the character of the Club changed, pressure increased for a relaxation of the ban on alcohol and Sunday games. The sports veto was lifted in 1922 (when the LCC parks first permitted the playing of games on Sunday), but the battle over alcohol lasted until 1935. The rules of the Club were then revised to give more power to the committee and to reduce the control of Ealing Tenants Ltd. A separate company, the Brentham Club and Institute Ltd, was formed; membership was extended to certain non-residents and, following a plebiscite of residents, a licence for the sale of intoxicants was obtained in February 1936.
This departure from the teetotal principles of the early garden suburb movement was perhaps a symptom of larger social changes. The increase in council-house building after the war, together with high interest rates in the open market and a general return to nineteenth-century laissez faire, brought great difficulties for the voluntary, fixed-dividend societies, which were, in addition, handicapped by rent-control legislation. By 1930 Ealing Tenants had so far abandoned the pure doctrine of co-partnership that they were offering houses for sale as well as to rent, a trend which was accelerated from 1936 when the Liverpool Trust Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bradford Property Trust, acquired the controlling interest in Ealing Tenants Ltd.
Despite the change in ownership and the fact that by now the surrounding district was almost completely built up, there were few changes to the appearance of the estate. The only additions were numbers 72-78 Brentham Way (1926), a new estate office (1936) in Fowlers Walk and a two-storey block of flats in Brentham Way. Adjacent to Ealing Tenants' property and comparing unfavourably with it were Pitshanger Court, Holyoake Court and Winscombe Court, all built in the 1930s and similar to countless other brick box constructions of their time.
Continued - Brentham in War and Peace: 1939-1969
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