The ancient village of Harmondsworth, which originated as a Saxon manor and is now facing demolition if a third Heathrow runway goes ahead, will be staging an Open Day on Sunday 12th April to give the media and members of the public a chance to see what would be destroyed (1).
The focus of the event is the re-opening of the celebrated 15th-century Great Barn for the first time since the completion of major repairs by English Heritage (2). The Barn, described by poet Sir John Betjeman as “the cathedral of Middlesex”, was saved from developers by the intervention of a group of determined villagers, who will be available to talk to visitors. It will be open from 11am until 4pm.
A huge mural, especially created for the occasion, will illustrate the proposed airport boundary cutting through the heart of picturesque Harmondsworth. It will be unveiled at 1.30pm providing a photo-opportunity on the village green outside the historic Five Bells pub. This will be followed by a visit to the newly-planted trees on the Recreation Ground which demonstrates that the community intends to fight to preserve its historic roots for future generations to enjoy, rather than watch it obliterated by further expansion of the airport (3).
There will be Morris dancing at various times throughout the day (4).
SHE (Stop Heathrow Expansion) worked with the Friends of the Great Barn to organise the Open Day. Neil Keveren, the chair of SHE, said, “This is a great opportunity to see the unique village of Harmondsworth. But it is also a chance for us to show to the world that we are utterly determined to fight for our homes and our community. We will not be going anywhere else.”
He added, “We are thankful for the backing we have received from Hillingdon Council and from Harts, the community arts project”.
The Airports Commission has been examining potential sites for new runways in the South East and is expected to publish its final report in June. It will recommend either a separate third runway at Heathrow, a third runway at Heathrow added to the existing northern runway (5) or a second runway at Gatwick. The next Government will consider the recommendation but is not required to endorse it.
Notes for editors:
(1). Flyer: 12th Apr flyer complete v5
(2). The Barn is a Grade I listed building. It is essentially unaltered since it was built in 1426 and over 95% of its structural timbers are original. It is owned by English Heritage who bought it in 2011 to add to the National Heritage Collection, and is managed for them by the Friends of the Great Barn. For more details see: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/harmondsworth-barn/
(3) The tree-planting is part of a council-backed project to re-forest the villages threatened by a third runway. It is a collaborative project between SHE, Transition Heathrow and Harts, the arts network based in the villages: http://www.communityharts.org/
(4). Datchet Border Morris will be at the Great Barn at 12.00pm; outside the Crown pub at 12.45pm; outside the Five Bells pub at 14.00; and back to the Barn at 14.30pm.
(5). This runway would not require the destruction of Harmondsworth. It would mean the demolition of properties in Poyle, west of the airport.
For further information:
Neil Keveren, 07850904677
Christine Taylor 0208 564 8345; 07960490831
Justine Bayley (for info on the Barn), 020 8759 1874