Although I was born and grew up only three or four miles from Hanwell I never knew this stretch of canal and its abundance of wonder existed until I moved to the area in 1991.
The waterway is part of the Grand Union Canal which joins the River Thames at Brentford a couple of miles to the south. The Grand Union Canal was built at the start of the Industrial Revolution in the18th Century to link the Capital with the industrial Midlands and North. The canal system was the super highway of its day and facilitated the rapid economic and industrial rise of Britain to its position of Global Big Boy! Hanwell Flight of locks is the highest in London and is enveloped between meadows to the West and the high wall of the old Hanwell lunatic asylum to the East. The meadow land is in turn bordered by a railway goods line thus creating a hidden haven of tranquility which despite the constant threat of encroachment by greedy property developers and the like, has retained a distinctive and unique ambience all of its own. Currently one such property developer Frendcastle are are trying to build blocks of 4,5,6,7 storey flats overlooking the canal in the midst of largely 2 story terraced housing and greenery. This is proposed development is opposed by pretty much every one and campaigned against by the Olde Hanwell Residents Association of which I'm a member, amongst others. As of 2011 the Frendcastle development went ahead despite two defeats by the residents, the Council and the Dept of the Environment. Frendcastle appealed against the decisions, eventually successfully, so the building goes ahead although on a much smaller and hopefully less obtrusive scale?The Hanwell Flight is now a part of the Brent River Park (The River Brent flows into the canal at the bottom of the flight) and one can wander all the way down the tow path to Brentford enjoying a wide array of sights from Industrial Revolution era footbridges and warehouses to Art Deco and 21st Century office blocks and much much more.