The Early 19th century
After a century Merrick’s market was still functioning but without its initial vigour. J. Norris Brewer chronicles the next stage of its history in his Topographical account of London and Middlesex (1816):
‘A lease of [Merrick’s] Charter was purchased by Mr. William Welch in the year 1805, at which time there were weekly markets of some consequence for the show of cattle at Beaconsfield, Hayes, Hounslow and Knightsbridge. Mr. William Welch, immediately on acquiring posession of the lease, constructed a market place at a cost of £1,277 at Southall, peculiarly well adapted for showing cattle and accommodating the dealers. He has also, in other respects, acted with so much spirit and judgement that the neighbouring markets are now almost discontinued, whilst this at Southall has become inferior only to Smithfield in regard to the sale of fat catle in Middlesex’.
Welch had leased the market from the Earl of Jersey and presumably made an adequate living out of it since he was able to buy the Manor House from the Awsiters in 1821 after which date we hear no more of the Awsiters at all. Alfred Welch, probably William’s son, lived at Featherstone Hall, an old farmhouse in Southall Green. He enlarged it extensively in 1876 and surrounded it by a high wall with windows in it. It seems that he had originally intended filling these windows with stained-glass representations of Irish patriots, but even without this dubious embelishment the wall earned the local nickname Welch’s Folly. About 1880 the house became a private mental hospital and was ultimately demolished in 1935 to make room for the Dominion Cinema.
In 1809 a local act was passed authorising the enclosure of common and other lands in the parish of Hayes. Surveyors and comissioners were appointed to undertake the work of allotting remaining common fields. Most of the precinct had already been enclosed during the previous century, and only a few remaining outlying fields were now to be dealt with. Much of the unenclosed land already belonged to men who had enclosed fields as well, and the surveyors tidied up the plots so that one man’s land could be conveniently together. This was arranged by exchange or sale according to circumstances. Ecclesiastical tithes were also abolished and so were manorial rates, and instead plots of land were given to the clergy and the lord of the manor so that they could receive an annual income equivalent to what the old system would have yielded. The commissioners’ decisions were set out in the Inclosure Award authorised in 1816.