The Brentford Griffin is a cryptid reportedly witnessed in the area around Brentford in West London. It is said to resemble a large winged dog with a beak.
In 1984, Kevin Chippendale was walking along Braemar Road, a street of terraced houses in Brentford, when he observed a strange creature in the skies near the Green Dragon tower blocks. He claimed that the beast resembled a dog but with wings, having a long muzzle and four legs with what looked like paws. It flapped its wings very slowly, as if in slow-motion. Mr Chippendale saw the creature again in February 1985 and said that the apparition bore some resemblance to the creature painted on the sign of the Griffin Public House.12
Angela Keyhoe, an acquaintance of Mr Chippendale's, also claimed to have seen the griffin. Whilst on a bus journey she saw it sitting on the gasometer next to the Waterman's Art Centre and claimed that it resembled a giant black bird. Several passengers on the bus also allegedly saw the creature, as did psychologist John Olssen, one morning whilst he was jogging near to the river.34
Many claim that the entire 'Griffin' episode was a hoax. Many of the reports were undoubtedly spurious; Robert Rankin successfully hoaxed author Andrew Collins over many of the alleged sightings as is detailed in Collins's 1985 booklet The Brentford Griffin.
The Griffin in Context
The arms of Brentford and Chiswick feature a pair of griffins. The ground of Brentford Football Club is called Griffin Park. The Griffin Arms public house stands on the corner of Braemar Road and the Griffin Brewery is based at nearby Chiswick.5
The story goes that around 1670, King Charles II bought a pet griffin for his mistress Nell Gwyn, which she kept at her house on the Butts Estate in Brentford. One day the griffin fell into the River Brent, was washed down to the Thames where it was presumed drowned. The griffin however had managed to clamber ashore on Brentford Eyot (opposite the Waterman’s Art Centre).
Later, in 1771, when Joseph Banks returned to Britain from Australia with Captain Cook aboard the ‘Endeavor’ he brought with him a griffin that he had found on an island in the Pacific. As no other suitable home was found, the griffin was housed in the newly built Pagoda in Kew Gardens just opposite Brentford Eyot. The two griffins are said to have got together and produced a whole colony of griffins.6