diamond geezer

 Thursday, September 30, 2010

THE LOST RIVERS OF LONDON
Stamford Brook
tributary 3
- The Stamford Brook


The easternmost branch of the Stamford Brook was the straightest, and the longest. It rose on Old Oak Common, which might sound quaint and rural but these days is anything but. The source now lies within an industrial estate to the south of Willesden Junction station, whose sole redeeming feature is the Grand Union Canal snaking by. Just don't look beyond the shrubbery, not unless you like ash-scattered clearings full of abandoned supermarket trolleys and rotting mattresses. And rail depots. The depot at Old Oak Common is an absolute whopper, with sheds and sidings everywhere, and weedy plants growing up between the tracks and sleepers. It must have been unutterably lovelier when a stream trickled through.

You'd imagine Wormwood Scrubs to be even uglier, but that's not the case. It remains a broad expanse of open heathland, ideal for rambling or brambling, and you'd never notice the prison so long as you hang around the western end [photo]. My OS map told me there was a boundary stone part way along the rail embankment, which undoubtedly would have marked the passage of the Stamford Brook as well as the dividing line between London and Middlesex, but I couldn't find it. Nor the boundary stone beside the canal, for that matter. But the borough/ex-river is extremely obvious for the next mile because it precisely follows the route of Old Oak Common Lane, then Old Oak Road, through East Acton. The East Acton Estate is certainly more characterful than its South Acton counterpart, filled with brick cottagey terraces of a very distinct interwar municipal style.

Any hint of peace is shattered by the not-yet-elevated Westway, which sweeps across the former riverbed with four-lane disdain. Alongside is Claydon Gardens, a miserable patch of greenspace decked out with cider-swilling benches, followed by a series of 1970s council blocks that only a talentless architect could love [photo]. Don't worry, that's the lowpoint. It's swiftly back to sturdy family piles and faux-timbered semis on the journey down to Acton Vale. And look, there on the corner with the Uxbridge Road it's the holy grail of lost-river-searchers - the stinkpipe. A rusty green tube rises up from the pavement to release sewer-vent whiff well above top floor window level [photo]. Somewhere below ground the waters of the Stamford Brook continue to flow, although it's probably best not to imagine quite how.

Next up, Askew Road (which is indeed a skew road, suggesting a sinuous rivery past). There's a proper parade-of-shops feel here, all laundrettes and bistrocaffs, plus a Victorian tavern which has yet to realise that Setanta Sports have gone bust. Watch out if you own a cat round here, I've never seen quite so many Lost Pet notices attached to lampposts. And I'm embarrassed to say that this part of London has a name I'd never ever heard of before - Starch Green. It must be true, it says so on the maps in the bus shelters. Used to be a small open space on the Goldhawk Road, apparently, and was originally called Gaggle Goose Green courtesy of a former pond, now long filled-in. But one water feature has survived close by, in the park where the Stamford Brook's three tributaries finally come together. Half a mile to go.

» An approximate map of the Stamford Brook's course (my best Google map attempt)
» 20 photos altogether in my Stamford Brook gallery (of varying degrees of thrillingness)
» Read all my Stamford Brook posts on one page, in the right order


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
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