Ramble nr 14. 10th June 2019
(Green Gym and Little Park Farm Hanworth)
The reason for the undertaking of this particular ramble was through an invitation from Members of Green Gym to join them with regards their weekly monitoring [care and maintenance] and conservation of the flora and fauna on the site known as Pevensey Road Nature Reserve.
It is a very diverse site with regard wild life and continuance of their work is essential
The ramble began at the entrance to the ‘reserve’ which sits adjacent the entrance to South West Middlesex Crematorium. We were met by a number of members of the Green Gym and in particular Roger and Hilary Parritt who were to be our guides. Additionally there were two members of staff from Lampton Green Space 360 - Hounslow’s Ranger Service.
Before commencing those there assembled were informed as to a little of the history of the area and in particular the ownership and names of those who farmed the particular area.........
‘Why Little Park you may ask’ quite simply to differentiate between the much larger sections southwest of Uxbridge Road ‘Hanworth Great Park’
Further historical information concerned early ownership of the area but mainly that which related to the Duke of St Albans;’ the title ‘Dukes of St Albans’ was created by Charles 11 in 1684 in due relation to his associations with one Eleanor Gwynn – that ‘association’ was 14 year old Charles Beauclerk the 1st Duke of St Albans’.
‘It is not ‘however’ until the third Duke, George Beauclerk,1720–1786 that modern traceable evidence is found of the area known as ‘Little Park’ the evidence is through an Estate Map dated 1738 - on which is noted Hanworth and indeed Hanworth Little Park as being in his possession’
‘Later the name with the word farm attached ‘Little Park Farm’ is mentioned with regard the Tollemache family - a description at the time says “opposite the Gun Powder Mills” and “accessed from Hounslow Road”.
‘The farm and house, being part of the whole estate was left by Louisa the widow of 6th Duke of St Albans to one Laura Dalrymple who, on her death in 1834, left it to her brothers youngest daughter’ Lady Ailsbury on condition that ‘her mother’ the Countess of Dysart, lived there for her “natural life”. On her death it was sold to the Southwark Brewer one Henry Perkins, ‘Barclay and Perkins later to become Courage Barclay and Simmond’s and others along the way such as Ashby’s of Staines’
Here we walked on to what remains of the sewage works; whilst walking we were told a little of the flora and fauna of the Nature Reserve
‘Little Park Farm was of some 300 acres in extent and comprised a large house ‘adjacent’ to the farm (half mile distance) this is the house where Countess Dysart lived. This house was destroyed by fire in 1806 being replaced by a smaller version called ‘Hanworth Lodge’ this can be seen on the O/S Map of 1864 and is where we have dwellings in the form of Mill Farm Crescent’
There is much anecdotal evidence recorded one of which concerned that of General Peel, the brother of Sir Robert Peel, who often would come shooting here, his visits were through his associations with the Dysarts/Tollemache family’
The Duke of St Albans under the enclosure Act ofFeltham 1802 purchased much land, a great part of it being open and untouched ‘Common land’ – this was adjacent to land he already held in Hanworth [Little Park Farm] and is delineated, on the Feltham Enclosure Map, ‘shepherds crook’ like in shape - his purpose would have been to incorporate it into his existing Estate.
Our next stop was the mound overlooking the remaining sewage circles and De-Brome ‘Open Space’ again members of the Green Gym imparted very interesting horticultural facts associated with their work.
‘In 1848 the railway struck though the centre of the farm and in 1916 further reduction took place via the Marshalling Yards being built, this very act severed the farmlands ‘north and south’. Under one of a number of conditions ‘ancient rites of passage etc’ that were to be respected was an installation of a ‘Sheep crossing gate’ - this did not pass off without incident as we read (Mx Chron) “ of an accident concerning sheep on the line – a number of which were killed. The farmers at that time were Mssrs Vincent and Daws.’
‘Around the periphery of the Southern (Hounslow Rd) and western sections, houses were built and at or around the same time late 1920’s -1930’s’ an estate of houses called The Greenmore Estate was developed – this is the area enclosed by Uxbridge Road and Hounslow Road – the roads being ‘Little Park Drive’ ‘Pevensey ’Road’ ‘Oak Avenue’ ‘Amesbury Rd’ ‘Westbury Rd’ and parts of Eastborne Rd so diminishing the size of Little Park Farm’.
‘The northern section, beyond the railway, was built on in 1953 and Sparrow Farm Estate was borne’.
‘Feltham Council constructed a Sewage farm here in 1928 but by 1934 it had been superseded, or bypassed, by a new and much larger Sewer that linked with Mogden Sewage at Isleworth. In addition to the ‘circles’ here evidenced, but not seen, was a concrete rectangular holding chamber some 40feet in length and 20 feet in width with a depth of 15feet or so. The concrete structure was further divided ‘internally’ into 5 sediment chambers. All are now either covered by the mound upon which ‘we’ are standing or were removed.
As children (1960) we would ‘funambulist style’ walk along the 15inch width concrete strips that divided the chambers’.
‘Standing here and looking westward in the early 1930’s towards Hanworth Air Park [it had other names] a glimpse of the Airship the Zeppelin would have been afforded.’
A vast area close up to the Marshalling Yards was developed for a Girls and a Boys school – Lafone school for girls, Alfred Lafone was an MP who resided at the Hanworth Park House and De Brome school for boys, he being the founder and first Rector of Oriel College Oxford in 1326. (Adam De Brome died 16th June 1332 - 625 years ago). He was also rector of Hanworth Church (St Georges) in 1315. The area today is known as De-Brome Open Space’
Here again there was much discussion on the wild life and certain strains of grass and herbaceous wild plants. Roger informed us that the meadows between the Holly arch and the’ rise’ is dry acid grassland indicated by the presence of 'pig nuts' ‘Conopodium’ majus, while at the raised section nettles indicate ground of a higher fertility.
‘Amongst the many who lived and farmed was a non conformist Benjamin Emmett who was born at Heston in 1845, in addition to being a farmer he was also a Butcher whose residence, and place of purveyance was High Street Feltham’.
‘The last person to occupy the farm area ‘the farm house being removed in 1953’ for the building of the Wigley Road Estate, were the Reynolds family but their [his] stewardship was mainly the stabling of horses – the stables were up against the Marshalling Yard fence. The youngest of the Reynolds family (the last heard) was living somewhere near Southampton’
Our walk or the circuit that the Green Gym practices is but a small section of the 300 acres that was Little Park and Farm but a delight all the same
It is integral of the Crane Valley Walk Way, which is a legally recognised walk which connects the Thames to the source of the Crane River high up on Headstone Manor; where it has the occasional name of the Roxbourne Brook whilst at Hayes it is generally known as Yeading Brook - only half of which ‘we’ (Roger Cowing and myself) have walked.
Here the historical nature of the walk was lessened to a degree as the conversation now concerned Fruit trees both old and new. We were shown many old varieties which must have originally formed large Fruit Orchards (see map) of the Nineteenth century, examples being ‘Lord Derby’ a traditional large English cooking apple’ also Keswick ‘codling’ additionally there were Conference and Perry Pears, the tree of the Conference being an enormous specimen.
Part of our walk also took in the new pedestrian bridge across the Crane which is close up to the imposing Marshalling Yards concrete wall, upon which steel brackets of old were in position – these held electric cabling, ‘another piece of anecdotal information concerned such cabling - around 1970 two local men, Alan Raggett and Sydney Hillier [Burglar Sid] met with an unfortunate accident – it would seem that during essential maintenance work they were using an oxyacetylene gun to cut the cabling ‘unbeknown to them the cabling was still live’ both suffered bad burns!
‘pedestrian bridge being positioned’
The question posed with regard the ‘bridge’ was “do we cross or does the Green Gym walk take another course” - it was the latter and we were treated to further horticultural delights.
Lastly an inspection took place of a long porcelain pipe that was lain horizontal on the surface and sealed or topped by concrete and appeared to come from the direction of the Crematorium but more likely part of a water balancing contrivance of the long since gone sewage works. The O/S Map of 1934 shows no indication as to a pipe leading from the sewage works but on a map of 1974 it is not just shown but is given the qualification “outfall” and that a “drain” from Hounslow Road [crematorium entrance] connects to it. *it would appear that this is now blocked and could be the reason why that at the crematorium entrance flooding occasionally occurs.
At this juncture ‘13-30’ Tea was served from the back of the Rangers truck and good tea it was too!
Following further discussion of the site which included the purpose of ‘several’ parallel ‘runs’, i.e. channels set some four feet apart and nine inches deep. These appear to have been flood prevention measures of old.
The aspirations for the future of the reserve by members of Green Gym are admirable and one that should be supported. The group began as a TCV Green Gym about 4 to 5years ago and since and since November last has been running with help from the countryside team of Lampton Greenspace the Parks & Open Spaces operational arm of Hounslow Council.
Our ramble ended at ‘14-14’ and although blighted throughout by persistent pluvial activity it was a thoroughly enjoyable day.
Adam De Brome
Sixth Duke of St Albans
Tollemache Coat of Arms
Feltham History Group