diamond geezer

 Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Random borough (9): Hillingdon (part 3)

Somewhere historic: Harmondsworth
Harmondsworth is a small village located on flat meadowland just under a mile north of Heathrow airport. It's not historic in the sense that William the Conqueror built a castle here or that Henry VIII stopped by to cure the locals of dropsy, but it is still a very old village. St Mary's Church dates back to the 12th century and its Norman doorway is one of the finest in London. Nextdoor there's a golden-brown tithe barn, reputedly the largest in the country (although I grew up in a different village which also claimed the same thing, so I'd take that with a pinch of salt). Harmondsworth therefore boasts one scheduled ancient monument and several Grade II listed buildings, all gathered around a triangular village green with a couple of pubs and a few sweet asymmetrical cottages. Most historic. For now, anyway.

Because not even the giant Terminal 5 is expected to be enough to feed Heathrow Airport's future expansion, so a sixth terminal and a third runway will most likely be required. Original plans for the third runway (published in 2003) saw the wholesale destruction of Harmondsworth village. Church - razed. Tithe barn - relocated. Quaint village green - tarmacked. And all so that international business could expand, long distance freight traffic could increase and you and I could fly abroad more often. Tough decision. But then last year, after a major public outcry, BAA amended their plans slightly. They still plan to build their new runway except fractionally further east, so now only the northeastern corner of the village is scheduled for demolition. Like the areas pictured below, for example.

The first picture shows part of Harmondsworth Moor - in twenty years' time thunderous aeroplanes will be taking off on the new runway across this field. The second shows one of the many existing houses under threat - this very spot will form the western end of a new taxiway. And the third shows a field immediately to the east of Hatch Lane - the new terminal 6 is destined to be plonked right here. Not good. And not good for the rest of the village left behind either. Although all of the listed buildings will survive, noise levels beside the end of the new runway will be quite unbearable. Nobody's going to want to live here beside the perimeter fence, not quite this close to an umpteen decibel blast every couple of minutes. Every house will be blighted, so when the new runway opens BAA might as well have knocked down the whole village anyway.

It was surprisingly quiet in Harmondsworth on Saturday afternoon. The graveyard around the church was deserted, apart from the odd bumblebee. The tables outside the Five Bells pub were packed with hordes of good-natured unwashed student types with sculpted hair and piercings. An old lady in a sari sat down in the bus shelter on Holloway Lane and smiled across the street. One front lawn in Hatch Lane was busy receiving its first lawnmower trim of the season. A courting couple disappeared with intent down a heavily willowed path into Bateman's Orchard. The cattle on Harmondsworth Moor just stood and watched it all. And, in the distance, the planes taking off at the airport were clearly audible but never overly intrusive. It's strange to think that this peace could be shattered so utterly and irrevocably, and all for the benefit of people who'd never think of visiting Harmondsworth otherwise. Still, it has a better future than the neighbouring village of Sipson which is still due for complete eradication if the third runway gets the go-ahead. The last village round here which suffered a similar fate had the rather quaint name of 'Heath Row'. And who remembers that nowadays?
by bus: U3

the environmental impact of Runway 3 (FoE)
map of proposed airport expansion
local 'Five villages' campaigning blog
route of Runway 3 flightpath (bad news for Chelsea, Hammersmith and Brentford)
existing Heathrow flightpaths for takeoffs
HACAN ClearSkies - campaigning against Heathrow noise pollution

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream