Posted on Friday 18 September 2009 by John Aizlewood
Fuzz always leads unusual rides, particularly in West London which he knows so well, and I always learn something new. The theme of this was the villages surrounding the airport, and it’s effect on communities, particularly with further planned expansion.
I met the train at Staines, and there were several new riders including an Airnimal and Brompton in the group. We set off along an interesting combination of tracks and bridleways through the reservoirs and under the M25 junction 14 to Horton church. It was quiet today with planes taking off to the east and landing on the Northern runway. Fuzz pointed out the separate Gipsy cemetery which had impressive monuments and was beautifully maintained.
Then off road along the Colne valley walk through fields to the west of the airport, and underneath the flight path. Planes were landing directly overhead, and so close that you could wave to the passengers, though I didn’t notice any waving back. Lunch was at Colnbrook, but not in the expensive old Bath Road coaching inn there. Across the M25 was Longford with a fine village inn, but not the place for a quiet drink outside: good for plane spotting though.
North of the A4 is the now peaceful village of Harmondsworth, with a fine church, impressive Tithe barn, and village pub. They will be next to the proposed third runway with continuous takeoffs or landings. Further along Sipson village will be demolished for the sixth terminal.
We rode through Heston, the site of the original West London airport where Neville Chamberlin arrived in 1939 announcing “peace in our time”, and on to Osterley park for tea in the stables. This fine Robert Adam mansion and landscaped grounds will be directly under the new flight path: perhaps the National Trust will need to double glaze the house, and issue noise cancelling headphones for a walk in the park — oh and a pair for the dog please.
Some of us remember that Terminal 4 was to be the last with a cap on flight numbers, then Terminal 5 with yet more flights was promised as the final expansion and no additional runway. Now a third runway and Terminal 6: will anyone believe BAA and its Spanish owners again? When I asked airport representatives at one of the recent consultation exercises what the effect would be on cyclists and cycle routes, their answer was “we haven’t got around to that yet”.
We rode on to Syon Lane station where some caught the train, whilst Fuzz led the rest of us back through Brentford and along the riverside through Chiswick and Hammersmith. It was quiet for once, but not if they scrap runway alternation for mixed mode operation as planned.