This is the story of the second of our explorations of the ‘hidden’ River Brent. It took us further south and west into the valley of the Brent weaving through the West London suburbs of Greenford, Perivale and West Ealing & Hanwell. A sinuous greenbelt weaving between thirties suburban and light industrial sprawl.

Again we took a station-to-station route, from Perivale on the central Line to Boston Manor on the Piccadilly.

The Great Western Railway opened Perivale Halt on 2 May 1904 but it was closed when the current London Underground station was opened on 30 June 1947. It was designed in 1938 but completion was delayed by the Second World War. A planned tower and extended wing were never constructed, leaving the station smaller than intended. In July 2011 the station was one of 16 London Underground stations that were made a Grade II listed building. We walked left out of the station and down Horsenden Lane South, past Ealing Central Sports Ground to the pedestrian bridge crossing the Western Avenue and passing the Ancient Church of St. Mary the Virgin to the river. We walked downstream, following the river’s weaving course onto the busy Ruislip Road before entering Perivale Park.
The river then turns sharp south and falling over numerous weirs passes through the green spaces, reclaimed waste tips, of Brent Valley Park. We lost the route of the river through Brent Valley Golf Club…
…and ended up following High Lane up onto a promontory of slightly higher land surmounted by St. Marys CoE established in 958AD. The first recorded mention of a Christian church on this site was in the time of the Saxon King Edgar; the church was probably made of wattle, wood and daub. It is likely that long before this, people worshipped at a pagan shrine on this higher ground above the river valley. In the 12th century, a small thatched church was built and stood as the village church for about 600 years until 1782 when the old church was demolished and an oblong brick church with a cupola was built and opened for worship on 11 august 1782. The new Georgian church contained a clock and two bells and cost £1,402 to build. However, within 60 years the church proved too small and had to be replaced. In 1841 the present church was built to the design of Sir Gilbert Scott. It was his first church and helped to establish his reputation. Flint was used with stone and yellow brick dressings and the roof was made from slate. The path out of Brent Lodge Park and Churchfields Recreation Ground returned us to the river as it passes under the magnificent brick-built Wharncliffe Viaduct that once carried the Great Western Main Line railway across the Brent Valley. The viaduct, built in 1836–7, was the first major structural design by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the first building contract to be let on the GWR project, and the first major engineering work to be completed. It was also the first railway viaduct to be built with hollow piers, a feature appreciated by a colony of bats which has since taken up residence.
After Wharncliffe Viaduct the river passes under Hanwell Bridge carrying Uxbridge Road. The bridge is a Grade II listed monument with a 19thC parapet, 18thC arches are 18th century and possibly incorporating parts of the Medieval bridge. The river flows into the Grand Union Canal below the bottom lock of the Hanwell Flight. And follows an easterly course towards Osterley Lock, where we left the river to catch the train from Boston Manor.

Here’s the photo-story of the walk.

The long straight, Perivale Station.
The pedestrian route over the Western Avenue at the bottom of Horsenden Lane
Our first glimpse of the river…
Joe & Fin dance the wriggling river along the river route…
The balm of allotment gardening, away from the manic headlong rush and belting pace of the city…
In a city of eight million people, there are pockets of informal nature, lungs…
River and railway bridge, harmony…
Another glimpse of the same bridge…
Spent lager cans litter the margins, and garlands of plastic bags deposited a times of high water level hang from the trees and reflect colourfully into the tea-stained river…
The first weir, a concrete barrier holding up the water level… the walk across the river too tempting an option for the graffiti taggers…
The river gently ‘steps’ down and down towards the Thames…
Christmas baubles beneath hawthorn, an almost alien presence in this environment, why would someone throw away their bright collection of shining silver fancies???
Teasels in late afternoon sunshine…
Wonderful pollard willows hint at what the river must once have looked like along it’s length…
Down wooden steps in search of the next part of the river trail…
Hints of Wharncliffe Viaduct…
Standing and staring at the trains passing, trains dwarfed by the huge size of the structure spanning the Brent Valley….
The ancient pedestrian tunnel beneath Hanwell Bridge…
Giant Hogweed, an alien presence on the far bank…
A bridge carrying the towpath at the point where the River Brent becomes canalised and joins the Grand Union…
A working boat heading towards the Thames…
Boston Manor station and the end of this leg of our journey…

 

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