Posts Tagged ‘Duke of Northumberland's RIver’

Riverside Brentford – 2016

Tuesday, March 26th, 2024

Riverside Brentford – Saturday 26th March 2016

Riverside Brentford - 2016

As a child I grew up in Middlesex, by then a rather truncated county on the north and west of London, though once it had included the cities of London and Westminster and many of London’s Metropolitan boroughs north of the Thames and west of the River Lea. Brentford, a couple of miles from where I was born, was the nearest thing the county had to a county town, though it had few if any of the normal attributes of one, with no town-hall or other public building.

Riverside Brentford - 2016

Often on Bank Holidays our father would take us on a 237 bus from Hounslow to Kew Bridge Station, the route going through Brentford High Street where it was often held up as we gazed through the top deck windows at the sites. Under the railway bridge leading to Brentford Docks where we might see a steam hauled goods train, over the canal bridge where the locks and dock area were normally busy with barges,past the Beehive on the corner of Half Acre with its tower topped by a giant beehive and on through the noisy, smelly gas works to Kew Bridge.

Riverside Brentford - 2016

We walked across Kew Bridge and then turned down the side of Kew Green to the gate of Kew Gardens, where a penny – an old penny, 240 to the pound led us into the extensive gardens where we could wander all day. This was before the days of garden centres and my father would always have a small pair of scissors in his pocket to take the odd cutting or pick up a seed or two on our walks.

Riverside Brentford - 2016

Later, in the early and mid 1950’s I would ride my bicycle around much of Middlesex and Surrey – and that included Brentford, but I think it was only much later when I became a photographer that I really explored the area and found out what an important communication link it had been. Brentford is where the inland waterways system with the busy Grand Union Canal joined the River Thames, just a few miles upriver from the great Port of London.

In 1978 three of my photographs from Brentford were published in Creative Camera Collection: No. 5, a prestigious collection of contemporary photography published by Coo Press, the publishers of the monthly magazine Creative Camera and edited by Colin Osman and Peter Turner. It wasn’t the first time my work had been published but was great to be on the pages with some very well known photographers, including one who much later became a friend, John Benton-Harris.

Brentford has changed greatly since then, with much of the riverside now lined with expensive flats rather than commerce and industry. The gasworks site became a riverside park and an arts centre, where I took part in and helped organise a number of exhibitions. But there is still enough of the old Brentford untouched, though less each time I go there.

I first returned in the 1990s, when I was teaching a few miles down the road, bringing students to see shows there and to wander around the area taking pictures. Later I came back for walks on my own or with friends, such as this one on Saturday 26th March 2016 with my elder son. Brentford hadn’t been my first choice by railway engineering works that week end made travelling out further to the east of London impossible.

As well as making ‘normal’ pictures with lenses giving a horizontal angle of view of between 10 and 84 degrees (focal lengths 20 to 200mm) there were some pictures where I felt an even wider view was needed and I made some panoramss with a roughly 145 degree angle of view. The pictures above and below illustrate the difference.

We didn’t end our walk in Brentford, but continued on past Syon House to Isleworth where we ate our sandwiches in a relatively sheltered square before following the Duke of Northumberland’s River through Mogden Sewage Works to Kneller Park and then Whitton Station for the train home. You can see a much wider range of pictures online on My London Diary at these three links:
Syon, Isleworth & Mogden
Riverside Brentford Panoramas
Riverside Brentford

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Harmondsworth, Colnbrook & Heathrow 2014

Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

Harmondsworth, Colnbrook & Heathrow: Back in 2014 I could take a bus a short walk from my home which took me to within a few yards of what had recently been renamed the Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre on Bath Road to the north of Heathrow Airport. And since the bus only ran every half hour I arrived a while before the protest there began and had time for a short walk – and almost half an hour to wait on my way home.

Harmondsworth, Colnbrook & Heathrow

Surprising both buses had fairly clean windows and I also took a few pictures through them on my journey, and you can see a few more at Colnbrook and Heathrow. Before the protest I’d walked beside the Duke of Northumberland’s River which runs through the extensive grounds of the British Airways offices, and on the other bank is a tall fence for the Immigration Centre and BT premises.

Harmondsworth, Colnbrook & Heathrow

The river is a man-made distributary of the River Colne, dug to take water to the Isleworth flour mill and Syon House. Along with another channel, the Longford River, built to take water to Bushy Park and Hampton Court, it has been rerouted around Heathrow airport and some of the pictures from the bus show the two in their new largely concrete channels beside the perimeter road.

Harmondsworth, Colnbrook & Heathrow

There are two immigration prisons on each side of a private road leading to the BT site behind. On the left of the picture is the Harmondsworth prison block, and on its right the high-security Colnbrook centre. At the start of the month both had been taken over by Mitie, as ‘Heathrow Immigration Removal Centre’, making ‘Care and Custody’, the Mitie subsidiary running the centre the “largest single private sector provider of immigration detention services to the Home Office.”

Mitie’s track record in running such centres should have disqualified them from running and government services. At Campsfield there had been three mass hunger strikes, a suicide and a disastrous major fire – perhaps why they had become one of the government’s favourite contractors.

Harmondsworth, Colnbrook & Heathrow

The name ‘Immigration Removal Centre’ reflects the government’s racist policies towards asylum centres. It wants to remove immigrants, whether or not they have a sound case for asylum. Such centres lock up people making it harder for them to pursue their case to remain in the UK and easier for them to be deported. The great majority of those imprisoned will eventually be given the right to remain in the UK, but may be held in centres like this for many months or even more than two years before being released so they can continue their lives – and make the positive contribution they will to UK society and our economy.

At previous protests here the protesters had been allowed to march down the private road between the two prisons and continue alongside the 20 foot fence around the Harmondsworth site back to the front. But now – perhaps due to the new management – police refused to allow them access, restricting the protest to a pen in front of the centre’s administrative block.

The protest was one of a number here organised by the Movement for Justice, and supported by many other organisation and the protesters argued for some time to be allowed to march down the roadway and around the Harmondsworth centre as usual but without success. Eventually the around a hundred protesters who had travelled out to the western edge of London moved into the pen provided.

The majority of those attending the protest were immigrants, many of whom had been held in this centre or others around the country. Harmondsworth imprisons male detainees, and many of the women at the protest had spent time in Yarl’s Wood near Bedford. Later MfJ would concentrate their protests at that centre.

The protest was a very noisy one, with loud shouting and drumming and a great deal of dancing between the speeches. Phone calls from inside told the protesters that they could be heard inside the cell blocks.

Most of those who spoke were former asylum speakers and told of the suffering they had endured in our immigration detention. As some said, it was worse than prison, as the detention was indefinite. They had no release date to look forward too, and could have been deported at any time back to the countries which they had fled in fear of their lives.

Speakers also called for an end to the ‘Detained Fast Track’ system, deliberately set up when Labour where in power to make it impossible for many asylum claimants to defend themselves against deportation and remove them from the country before they are able to do so. It’s a shameful system that no country that believes in the proper rule of law, fair play and human decency could support.

Various legal challenges to ‘Detained Fast Track’ led to the High Court declaring in January 2017 that DFT had denied justice to asylum seekers for the previous ten years, with thousands being deported without a lawful hearing of their cases.

A friend of the family of Rubel Ahmed who described how he died in Morton Hall immigration detention centre in Lincolnshire on September 5th 2014 after having been refused refused medical treatment for his chest pains. Fellow prisoners heard him screaming for help, and had rioted after his death, taking control of the detention centre until brutally suppressed. One who contacted the press was brutally beaten by prison guards.

Many more pictures from the protest on My London Diary at Close UK Immigration Prisons.

Kew, Brentford, Syon & Isleworth Walk

Thursday, September 29th, 2022

Part 2 Syon and Isleworth

Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon & Isleworth

A public footpath, now also on the Thames Path, leads from Brentford across Syon Park to Isleworth. Its a longish stroll with parkland on one side and at times just a high wall on the other, but does pass several historic buildings, though you would need to pay the entrance fee to the gardens and great conservatory to see most of them well. The estate is still privately owned and permission is needed for any filming and photography within the park.

Entry is free to the garden centre, and we went in to look at some of the buildings inside as well as to use the toilets. They also have a cafe and restaurant but we didn’t stop. Much of the garden centre was once the Riding School.

I wasn’t feeling well as we walked though here – still perhaps suffering from the virus which I’d had a couple of weeks earlier. So I didn’t feel much like taking pictures as we walked though. But I hadn’t found much I thought worth photographing on previous walks through here, expect for the view of Zion House. This is on the flight path into Heathrow, and there is an aircraft in my picture coming in to land there.

Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon & Isleworth

In my teens I was a Sea Scout in Isleworth, or rather a Senior Scout, and we theoretically went boating in the Thames here, though I think rather rarely. But this was also another route into Kew Gardens, with Church Ferry going across the names from by the corner of Parke Street and Church St. I also remember coming here to paddle and possibly even swim in the river, though it was pretty polluted back in the 1950s.

Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon & Isleworth

Isleworth was also the place where I drank my first pint of beer, which I think cost 1s/5d or around 7p. Not at the London Apprentice, which we thought of as a rather snooty place for the nobs, but at a small pub further down Church Street which had few problems with serving under-age drinkers. It’s no longer there.

Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon & Isleworth

We made it into the London Apprentice, sitting outside by the river for a drink, though still feeling ill I stuck to tonic. One of my colleagues found an excellent real ale, which I looked at longingly. It was a very pleasant place with a good atmosphere and friendly bar staff, so we stayed for another, and then thought the menu seemed fine and had a meal.

Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon & Isleworth

Finally we made it out of the pub and continued along Church St to the Duke of Northumberland’s River, perviously known as the Isleworth Mill Stream. There were several mills which relied on the stream, including one close to here said in 1845 (by which time there were also a couple of steam engines on site) to be the largest flour mill in England, Kidd’s Mill. This section of the river was built in the late 15th century for Syon Abbey, before the Northumberland’s built their house on the abbey site, and brought water from the River Crane at Whitton to augment a small stream which ran into the Thames at Isleworth.

Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon & Isleworth

But the River Crane couldn’t provide a sufficient and reliable supply of water, and in 1530 a new section of the river was dug from Longford to take water from the River Colne. This merges with the Crane close to Baber Bridge on the edge of Feltham, though there are then separate channels across Hounslow Heath and through Crane Park before the eastern section of the river diverges. I played around, paddled and fished in much of this as a boy.

Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon & Isleworth

The walkway beside this small river on its last few yards into the Thames was closed, but a nearby alley took us to to the riverside opposite Isleworth Ait. At Swan Street we made a brief detour to admire the Grade II listed Old Blue School built in 1842 and now converted into expensive flats, before returning to the riverside. The tide was low and there was almost no water in places here, and we watched as a man left work at the boatyard and walked across the mud to his works van parked by the river.

Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon & Isleworth

We continued through a small park area, once part of the grounds of the Catholic Convent Nazareth House, until the Thames Path we had been following took us out onto Richmond Road. Here we left the Path, turning right onto Richmond Road and then going down Queen’s Terrace to Kings Terrace, walking north to turn down Byfield Road.

Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon & Isleworth

Where this turns to the left we stopped to admire the small 1885 Elizabeth Butler almshouses, almost missing behind us the finely decorated May Villas from a similar era before taking the alley to Twickenham Road. Here next to the bus stop where our walk ended was the house with its blue plaque informing us ‘VINCENT VAN GOGH the famous painter lived here in 1876.” The bus came before I had time to make a photograph. It will still be there the next time I’m in Isleworth.

Brentford to Whitton – 2016

Friday, March 26th, 2021

The River Brent flows over a weir from the Grand Union towards the Thames

Saturday 26 March 2016 was Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Day which many people nowadays call Easter Saturday. My older son had taken a few days off work and had come home for Easter and we decided to go out for a walk, taking a train to Kew Bridge. I’d hoped to go somewhere considerably further away on the far edge of London, but engineering works taking place on the railways made that impracticable.

Boats moored where Brentford gas workswas and Isleworth Ait

Our plan was to follow the Thames through Brentford to Isleworth and then the Duke of Northumberland’s River to Whitton and take the train home from there, taking a few detours on the way to explore wherever looked interesting. Both of us were carrying cameras, though while I had a bag with a couple of camera bodies and several more lenses, Sam made do with his only camera, a fixed lens Fuji X-100. I expect he took some interesting pictures, but his web site at seems currently to be off-line.

Dockside flats at Brentford

I grew up a couple of miles away, but didn’t know most of the parts we were going to walk in particularly well, though I had gone back a few times since both on my own and with groups of sixth-form students to take photographs in Brentford.

Boatyard at Brentford

My father took us to Brentford when I was young, though mainly we just went through the town on the top deck of the bus on our way to Kew Gardens, as he was a keen gardener and then it was only a penny (one of the old 240 to the pound ones) to get in and I think children like us probably got in free. Decimalisation resulted in huge rise to 1p, but now it costs £11 for adults. Fortunately Sam and I had no desire to go there, and apart from the train fares our walk cost us nothing, though we did buy some drinks and snacks to go with our sandwiches.

Brentford Lock and flats on the former canal dock

You can save your legs and follow our walk in fairly full detail from the many pictures I put on My London Diary, though we wandered around rather a lot in Brentford taking pictures. From there on our walk was more straightforward, though it isn’t possible to walk beside the Thames on the Middlesex bank between Brentford and Isleworth as the Duke of Northumberland put Syon House there. A footpath does take you in a direct route out of sight of the river through his estate.

The pond below where Kidd’s Flour mill stood on teh Duke of Northumberland’s River in Isleworth

Isleworth was just a little disappointing, not least because of the light drizzle that made sitting on a bench to eat our sandwiches a little uncomfortable. But parts of the riverside development there are unfortunate.

Footpath and Duke of Northumberland’s River in Mogden Sewage Works

Isleworth boasts what when built was I think the largest sewage works in the country at Mogden, and a footpath runs beside the Duke of Northumberland’s River – a man-made river to run the bringing water to run the flour mill at Isleworth. This section of the river was built by monks who ran the area before the Duke took over to bring water from the River Crane – he added a section to the west to bring more water from the River Colne. And yes, Mogden does smell, though not as strongly or unpleasantly as you might expect, though this perhaps depends on the weather and the direction of the wind.


Twickenham makes its presence felt with two large rugby stadia, but fortunately it wasn’t a match day at either and they were very quiet – and there were no inebriated spectators staggering in our way. It’s a place best avoided when internationals are taking place even though drunken rugby fans are generally less violent than soccer supporters. And then were were in Kneller Park and walking by the River Crane through it before leaving to take a path to Whitton station.

Many more pictures on My London Diary:
Syon, Isleworth & Mogden
Riverside Brentford Panoramas
Riverside Brentford

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.