Notes on Heathrow

In the 19th century much brickearth-type land in west Middlesex, including in Heathrow, was used for orchards, often several sorts of fruit trees mixed in one orchard. Soft fruit, vegetables and flowere were grown under the fruit trees. An author in 1907 reported “thousands and thousands” of plum, cherry, apple, pear, and damson trees, and innumerable currant and gooseberry bushes, round Harmondsworth and Sipson and Harlington and Heathrow. After WWI the amount of fruit growing in the area decreased due to competition from imports and demand for more market-gardening land, and by 1939 less than 10% of the orchard area was left.

Produce was taken to the Covent Garden, or by smaller growers to Brentford market, which was nearer but less profitable. Heathrow to Covent Garden is 14 miles by road, which was about 6 hours at laden horse-and-wagon speed, so goods to market had to set off at 10 pm to reach the market when it opened, until motor trucks came.

The Middlesex Agricultural & Growers’ Association held annual ploughing matches in Heathrow, until the last, the 99th, was held on 28 September 1937; the 100th match (in 1938) was postponed to 1939 due to severe drought, in 1939 it was cancelled due to WWII.

The Royal Commission on Historic Monuments listed 28 significant buildings in the parish of Harmondsworth, a third in Heathrow. Notable buildings included Heathrow Hall, an 18th-century farmhouse, which was on Heathrow Road, and Perry Oaks farm, which was Elizabethan.

Responsibility for the evictees was passed between the Air Ministry and the Ministry of Health. Most of them were moved to Air Ministry property near RAF Heston.

In addition to ‘Caesar’s Camp, Fern Hill was another ramparted prehistoric site, represented in 1944 by a roughly circular cropmark about 250 feet diameter, near Hatton Cross. The site is now partly under an aircraft hangar.

Construction of the London Heathrow Terminal 5 began in September 2002, on the place of the Perry Oaks sewage works, with earthworks for the construction of the buildings’ foundation. The long delay caused by planning discussions allowed a long thorough preparatory archaeological dig at the site, which found more than 80,000 artefacts.