A trail to the past


In Bleak House, Charles Dickens paints a vivid picture of the 19th century brickfields as places of grinding poverty. Yet it was here, amid the mud and squalor, that the building blocks of Victorian England were made. Rapidly expanding towns and cities demanded millions of bricks every year and West London, with abundant seams of Brick Earth, became a centre for the brickmaking industry. Brickfields were established across Hillingdon, Hounslow and Ealing and brickmaking quickly replaced agriculture as the mainstay of the local economy.

At a community consultation meeting for our new development at Prologis Park West London, we discovered that our new Hillingdon site is regenerating one of these brickfields. Located next to the Grand Union Canal, bricks made here would have been transported by barge to Paddington for use in buildings such as the Royal Albert Hall.

London's Foundations

​Keen to help schools and community groups rediscover their local brickfields, Groundwork South has been running a project, known as London’s Foundations, which was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project also highlighted the connections between the brickfields and the canal network, an important means of transport during the Industrial Revolution.

As part of the project, schools and community groups were encouraged to make their own bricks in the traditional way. Some of these bricks were retained by Groundwork South and we suggested that they could be used to build a memorial to local brick workers at Prologis Park West London. Working with Groundwork, we have designed a commemorative brick wall that will be built at the southern end of the site, overlooking the canal.
The commemorative brick wall at Prologis Park West London
In front of the wall, we will install an information board that explains the London Foundations project and the history that it celebrates. This information board will form part of a local heritage trail that has been designed to relate the industrial history of the local area. We will build new information boards on the site and renovate the existing boards nearby to create an interesting and easily accessible trail.

All the heritage works will be complete by the end of 2016, at the same time as the first two buildings on site will be ready for occupation.

It was because of a chance conversation at the community consultation meeting that we discovered the history of our new site. As a result, we can commemorate the past at the same time that we build for the future.
Read the other articles in the latest Prologis Review, Summer 2016
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