Brentford

Photo: Hydar Dewachi

E C Jones & MSO Marine

The earliest records of boat building in Brentford date back to 1659, with Brentford sitting on the important junction of the Thames and the River Brent, and the canal systems to and from London. In 1890, Edward Charles Jones set up his business at Staffordshire Wharf in Brentford transferring cargo up the Thames, referred to as lighterage.

By 1915, E C Jones had moved location to Brentside Wharf. The land at this site was originally a tidal mud flat, and was ideal for berthing barges for repair. While originally building in wood, in 1923 the company built the first steel barge on the River Thames, named Success. Known for their innovations, they became famous for designing and building the Bantam tug boats at Brentford in the 1940s and 50s. Edward Charles Jones retired in 1979 but the company continued under the new ownership of Edward Harris. Despite building a 300 tonne hopper barge in the mid-1980s, the largest on the river at that time, the business went into decline, and closed in 1992.

Between 1994 and 1996 the E C Jones site was revived when MSO Marine moved to Brentford. MSO was originally formed as partnership between Jake Oliver and Mark Montgomery Smith, but later Oliver continued the business. They provide a range of services including boat building, repairs and maintenance, and also civil engineering on the Thames. The yard is one of the few on the still regularly building houseboats, and is protected as a boatyard from re-development by the Canal and Rivers Trust. 

Explore the archive photography

  • © Pam Vernon Roberts & Chiswick Local Studies Archives
  • © Pam Vernon Roberts & Chiswick Local Studies Archives
  • © Pam Vernon Roberts & Chiswick Local Studies Archives
  • © Pam Vernon Roberts & Chiswick Local Studies Archives
  • MSO Marine, Eel Pie Island © Mark & Helen Montgomery Smith