Beavers Farm, Hounslow
A postwar housing estate in west Hounslow (or Hounslow West as the area is often called, because of the name of the tube station)
In 1793 cavalry barracks were built on Hounslow Heath and the site is still in use today, on Beavers Lane. The stables have been converted to accommodation and are part of a conservation area.
To the north-west of the barracks, the Beavers Farm estate (also known as the Beavers estate, and shown in the photo above) was built from the early 1950s.
The ‘Beavers’ name is not related to the presence of dam-building rodents but is a folksy corruption of ‘Babers’ – Upper and Lower Babers were parcels of land here. However, the furry animal theme was taken up with a vengeance by the municipal planners, creating some of the most ridiculous street names in Greater London.
Beavers county primary school and the church of the Good Shepherd were built to meet the educational and spiritual needs of the new estate’s residents, the latter using money saved by not reconstructing the bombed church of St John of Wapping.
The estate suffered from a variety of problems around the turn of the millennium, including acts of vandalism and what police called “one of the worst and most persistent cases of fly-tipping” ever seen in the borough, which resulted in a £5,000 fine for the offender in 2003. The council’s response to the difficulties included regeneration funding, warden patrols and co-ordinated clean-ups.
At Beavers community primary school, on Arundel Road, many pupils speak English as an additional language and there is also a high proportion with special educational needs. Many pupils only stay at the school for a relatively short time because they come from military families stationed temporarily at Hounslow barracks. According to Ofsted’s February 2013 assessment, the school required improvement. With support from Lampton school and the West London teaching school alliance, among others, it was rated outstanding within two years.
The Beavers Farm estate possesses what is almost certainly the silliest set of street names in London, including Chinchilla Drive, Raccoon Way, Marmot Road, Musquash Way, Squirrel Close and Opossum Way.