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We're up the junction (14)...

Updated: 2 days ago

In August 1982, Junction 14 of the M25 at Stanwell Moor along with it's main access route Airport Way, was opened, creating some excellent road links for the village and possibly a deciding factor in newer residents choosing to move here. However, its construction caused considerable upheaval to villagers that lived through it, some of whom had to leave their family homes for good. There is certainly no doubt it changed the way of village life at Stanwell Moor forever.


This is an attempt to capture and provide some insight into how the village looked before the road was constructed and give us all a small window to the past.


There's a plethora of information on-line covering the origins of the M25, but here goes my best attempt to simplify. What exists today is one piece of the then Greater London Council's (GLC) so-called London Ringways plan. Announced in 1969 it called for the construction of concentric motorway rings around London and the proposal aimed to solve the capital city's traffic problem "once and for all".


However, as the full Ringways scheme would have required the demolition of 30,000 homes across London the GLC ran into major public opposition - some called it the birth of the NIMBY (Not-In-My-Back-Yard) - eventually forcing a public review between 1970 and 1972.


In 1973 a Conservative Government under Edward Heath, who had the final say on what happened outside the GLC's boundary, gave the go-ahead for the Outer Ringway, and the road was fully opened in 1986 as the M25 motorway, but not before the sustained public outcry had killed off the two Inner Ringways.


Having set the background, I'd like to help those unfamiliar with the "before" picture to visualise the physical part of our village lost under the tarmac, and this map from the 1950's is a great place to start.


OS 1956 Map © Ordnance Survey


The areas that would be affected by the construction works are in the top two boxes, so let's zoom in to get to the specifics....


OS 1956 Map © Ordnance Survey


The construction of junction 14 encompassed the land between lines 1 and 2 on the map, and the following pictures offer a great capture of the landscape it removed...


The first picture is taken from position A looking towards Leyland's Arch. In the distance you can see a car navigating the bend in the road corresponding with the map, and the building on the right is Laylands Farm.


Horton Road looking towards Leyland's Arch, 1979 © Mike Bovingdon


Now the same photographer, still standing in position A has turned the camera 180 degrees and pointed towards the railway bridge, known as the "4 Ton Bridge" by local residents owing to the weight restriction sign. The bridge crossed the railway tracks, and within a short distance joined Lintell's Bridge across the Wraysbury River.


The houses partially obscured by the bush to the left are Hythe End Villa and Selborne Villa, then there's a small plot of farm land, followed by the houses with the gable-end facing the camera: 1 & 2 Horton Road Cottages. There were two additional cottages immediately after, but both were demolished in the late '60's, early '70's. The bell lamp-posts, so characteristic of Stanwell Moor at the time are in evidence too.


Horton Road looking towards the railway bridge, 1979 © Mike Bovingdon


The next picture is taken from position B on the map. The lamp-post to the right of this shot is the one in the distance just ahead of the yellow car, in the previous image.


Horse riders crossing the "4-ton" railway bridge, heading towards Poyle, c.1970. Photo from Disused Stations website © Unknown


This last picture in the sequence is taken from position C on the map and shows the railway bridge from the unique perspective of a train approaching Poyle Halt. The road leading to the bridge on the right is Horton Road, the same route carrying the horse riders in the prior shot. This great picture was from the cab of a Colnbrook-bound train approaching Poyle Halt for Stanwell Moor in April 1962. You can clearly see the path leading down to the station from Horton Road, as well as that characteristic lamp-post.


Railway Bridge from Poyle Halt, looking towards Colnbrook, 28th April 1962 © Chris Leigh


And here's a great aerial shot taken in 1947 that knits it all together in reverse...


Aerial view from overhead Faulkner's, Poyle Trading Estate 1947, looking west (extract from Image EAW006945) © Historic England Archive (Aerofilms Collection)


The picture is taken from the Poyle side of the railway. Horton Road runs from the bottom right of the picture, first crossing Lintell's Bridge and the Wraysbury River, then the railway bridge and the Staines Branch Line. As the road drops down from the railway bridge you can just make out the sign for the station on the road side.


The houses on the right, in order are 2 & 1 Ivy Cottages, 2 & 1 Horton Cottages, Selborne Villa & Hythe End Villa, then a short distance on, Laylands Farm. You can see the bend in the road at Leyland's Arch.


In summary, the section from the trees along the bank of the Wraysbury River, all the way to the point in the road where Leylands Lane meets Horton Road was lost to the motorway, and specifically the Junction 14 roundabout.


This picture gives some other views into the village at that time. If you follow Horton Road all the way to the left, the large structure is the Upper Mill (still standing), and if you look to the right of the Mill, peeking just above the trees are the regimented rooves of Southern Cottages. Behind those houses lies the Recreation Ground, and the large house beyond the trees is Stanwell Place Manor House which, despite considerable public outcry and a campaign to save it led by Councillor Bill Benen-Stock, was levelled in the 1960's in the never-ending pursuit of gravel.


Hopefully that's given you a good picture of what was demolished to make way for the M25 Junction 14, but who was directly affected?


This is a picture of ex-resident Mike Bovingdon who lived in Hythe End Villa at the time the motorway was announced. His father Arthur lived next door in Selborne Villa, his Auntie Vi Rhodes lived at 1 Horton Road Cottages, and her son Kenneth lived in 2 Horton Road Cottages, so this family was particularly impacted by the arrival of the M25. (Note that Ivy Cottage had already been demolished in the late 60's/early 70's)


Mike Bovingdon ploughing the land at Selborne Villa, 1950's © Mike Bovingdon


Mike's ploughing the land between Selborne Villa and Horton Road Cottages, an area that was once an orchard (you can see the orchard trees in the aerial picture from 1947). The road behind Mike is Horton Road, with the main village to the right and railway bridge to the left. Mike remembers the buildings behind him as military.


In 1977, after the route of the M25 was legally finalised, those living in the homes affected were served with compulsory purchase orders. The compensation did not represent the true impact to these families, all of whom had to start again. Mike and his family tried to challenge the situation, but when he approached the Farmer's Union they told him "you'll have your work cut out" which turned out to be the case. Mike told me that in the end they had to accept £17,000 for Hythe End Villa, and his father Arthur was given £18,000 for Selborne Villa; that small parcel of land that Mike can be seen ploughing on his tractor making the difference.


Six months after accepting the compensation it was still to be received, and Mike and his father told the agents they would not move till the money came through. As it happened, Mike had to move, so his father held out at Hythe End Villa until the compensation was transferred, but not before being threatened with legal fees for holding up the contractors. In a final twist, despite originally being told their moving costs would also be covered, when the compensation arrived they were told the amount agreed was "inclusive" of any fees.


The contractors for Junction 14 were Balfour Beatty and work started as soon as they could access the land. The Staines Branch Line was used to help ferry construction materials to the site for the early phase, but that was it's final act: the line was closed to traffic in late January 1981, and a specialist crane was deployed to lift the track & sleepers and clear the area in preparation for the motorway surface being laid. In the image below, the area to the left of the track is the site of the former 'Poyle for Stanwell Moor Halt', and was taken from the railway bridge.


M25 Junction 14 construction at the site of 'Poyle for Stanwell Moor Halt' looking towards Staines, taken from the railway bridge, 28th January 1981 © Chris Leigh




The railway bridge looking towards Colnbrook, after the track was removed in early 1981. The bridge was demolished soon after this picture was taken

(note the Concorde photo-bomb!) © Chris Leigh


There was a second element to the M25: the access road from the airport and towards the site of Heathrow's new Terminal 4, imaginatively named Airport Way.


OS 1956 Map © Ordnance Survey


On the face of it this appears to have been less disruptive for residents, but its route took it through Spout Lane, cutting off easy access to Bedfont Court, Willowslea and Burrow Hill by removing a small bridge and replacing it with an underpass. That isolation in the mid 1980's and subsequent changes to the boundaries - suspiciously timed to fall before the Terminal 5 Public Enquiry - eventually lead to what had become Spout Lane (North) and what remained of Bedfont Court being transferred into Hillingdon Borough in the early 1990's.


Some of the land acquired for the airport link had been a land-fill rubbish dump many years prior, and that necessitated the almost continuous use of pile hammers to fix the foundations. That in turn created considerable dust and noise for those living nearest to the new road, and the story goes that the then owners of Golden Lodge, Pat and Betty Tilby successfully sued and received compensation for the impact the works had on their quality of life.


Junction 14 southbound, to the A30 at Junction 13 and the M3 at Junction 12, opened in August 1982. The northbound section, accessing the M4 at Junction 15 all the way to Watford at Junction 19 opened much later, in September 1985.


I have tracked down an image of the north-west corner of the village. Taken during WWII, it is a great "before" view from the air.

As an "after" I have embedded an image from Google Maps, and you can see the significant loss of agricultural farmland to concrete, and village life to industrial development on a large scale, and if Heathrow's ambition for a 3rd runway is ever realised, what's left of the landscape will be almost completely obliterated.

Aerial view of north-west Stanwell Moor dated 4 March 1944.

(extract from Image RAF-HLA-691-3073) © Historic England Archive (Aerofilms Collection)



Aerial view of Junction 14, M25 © Google Maps


In the top image you can see the Military buildings opposite Mike Bovingdon's farm. Mike also remembered a particularly noisy gun being tested at the site. Digging back through the archives there's evidence that this was a temporary anti-aircraft gun site. You can also clearly see the craters from enemy bombs, and the one just up from the Upper Mill looks particularly fresh, but more of that in a future blog.


 © Author


The original planning for the M25 motorway included many service stations and if events had gone to plan there would have been a Stanwell Moor Services. The land ear-marked was on the northbound or clockwise section of the motorway, between the main carriageway and the Wraysbury Reservoir. Multiple reasons prevented it from going ahead, not least of all the failure to incorporate the necessary structural work for the additional carriageway when the northbound turn-off was designed and constructed, likely due to cost-cutting. So if you think the traffic is bad now, imagine how much worse it could have been!


Then again, and getting back to Heathrow's third runway, even though the runway itself is planned on the north side, the airport has considerable plans for the south side, including a multi-story car park complex on the south east corner of the roundabout villagers use on a daily basis to reach Stanwell and the Crooked Billet. With a capacity for 25,000 cars - and to put that in perspective, the current Guinness World Record for the largest car park is 20,000 cars - and along with major changes to Junction 14, all motorway traffic will be heading down Airport Way.

How to summarise? Maybe a return to the "before and after" does the trick....


This idyllic picture was taken in Horton Road outside Selborne Villa. The young man on the Shetland pony is Phillip, Mike Bovingdon's younger brother. The lad holding the horse is his cousin and neighbour, Peter Rhodes, and the toddler beaming on the back was the daughter of a family friend.

Riding a Shetland Pony outside Selborne Villa, mid 1950's © Mike Bovingdon


Selborne Villa location, M25 © Google


This is the current view, taken from roughly the same spot as the photographer that captured the children in the 1950's, and I think comparing the two is the best way to articulate the true impact of the M25 to our village. In the words of a poet that lived nearby: "Paradise Lost".

June 2024


Acknowledgment

I published this in haste, and forgot to thank the Bovingdon family. Without them agreeing to share their memories and images from their time in Stanwell Moor, this post would have been almost impossible, and certainly a lot less relatable!


Sources:

History of London's Ringways


Stanwell Moor Services


Heathrow's car park plans.


World's largest car park

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