Woodlands, Hounslow

A triangular-shaped group of tree-lined streets in west Isleworth, bounded by the Duke of Northumberland’s river to the east, the railway to the west and Worton and Bridge Roads to the south

Hidden London: St John the Baptist, Woodlands, by John Salmon

Wood­lands’ name was first record­ed in 1485 and refers to arable strips of land beside a wood. Until the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry the only struc­tures on what was then known as Houn­slow Field were some farm build­ings and a moat­ed house, both near the south­ern extrem­i­ty of the mod­ern local­i­ty.

The land was enclosed in 1818 and most of it went to the duke of Northum­ber­land. Enclo­sure came rel­a­tive­ly late here, prob­a­bly because the soil was already being worked effi­cient­ly and inten­sive­ly by the many mar­ket gar­dens.

The arrival of the Houn­slow loop rail­way in 1850 brought the first sub­ur­ban vil­las to the north­ern tip of the tri­an­gle, in what the Vic­to­ria Coun­ty His­to­ry calls “a slight­ly hum­bler ver­sion of Spring Grove.” Build­ing plots were divid­ed by sub­stan­tial yel­low brick walls, many of which still sur­vive to show the for­mer pat­tern of field divi­sion.

St John’s Church (shown in the pho­to­graph at the top) and the Wood­lands Tav­ern served the Wood­lan­ders’ spir­i­tu­al and tem­po­ral needs. Shown in the pho­to below, Far­nel­l’s almshous­es were built behind the church in 1858.

Stim­u­lat­ed by the devel­op­ment of the Great West Road, the souther­ly expan­sion of Wood­lands accel­er­at­ed after 1925 with the con­struc­tion of the War­ren estate, named after devel­op­er RT War­ren, a local builder. Hous­es and bun­ga­lows were built, first along exist­ing thor­ough­fares and then on new­ly laid out streets, with a cen­tral plot that was lat­er bought by the res­i­dents’ asso­ci­a­tion for use as a park and recre­ation ground. The coun­cil facil­i­tat­ed mort­gages for would-be res­i­dents in an ear­ly encour­age­ment of own­er occu­pa­tion.

The last phase of Wood­lands’ orig­i­nal devel­op­ment came after the Sec­ond World War, with the build­ing up of Bridge Road and Wor­ton Road, the cre­ation of Gib­son Close and the open­ing of Oak­lands school on Wood­lands Road (ear­li­er called Houn­slow Field Road). Oak­lands now caters exclu­sive­ly for 11- to 19-year-olds with severe learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, pro­found or mul­ti­ple learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties and autis­tic spec­trum dis­or­ders.

The res­i­dents’ asso­ci­a­tion built a new pavil­ion in the park in 1973. The Vic­to­ri­an part of Wood­lands was des­ig­nat­ed a con­ser­va­tion area in 1999.

Postcode area: Isleworth TW7
Website: Woodlands Estate Residents & Freeholders Association
Further reading: Stuart Bagnall, The Woodlands, Isleworth: Continuity and Change in One Suburban District, unpublished University of Liverpool thesis (available at Hounslow local studies service), 1998
* The picture of the church of St John the Baptist, at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright John Salmon, and the picture of Farnell’s almshouses, is modified from an original photograph, copyright Marathon, both at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.