River Crane, London

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River Crane01.JPG
River Crane in Crane Park Whitton below the nature reserve and powder mills site
CountiesGreater London
Districts / BoroughsLondon Borough of Hillingdon, London Borough of Hounslow, London Borough of Richmond
Physical characteristics
 - locationHayes, Hillingdon
MouthRiver Thames
 - location
Length13.6 km (8.5 mi)
 - locationMarsh Farm
 - average0.54 m3/s (19 cu ft/s)
 - minimum0.00 m3/s (0 cu ft/s)5 December 1982
 - maximum13.4 m3/s (470 cu ft/s)28 December 1979
 - locationCranford Park
 - average0.51 m3/s (18 cu ft/s)
Basin features
 - leftYeading Brook, Duke of Northumberland's River

The River Crane, a tributary of the River Thames, is a river running through west London, England, It is 8.5 miles (13.6 km) long and flows entirely within Greater London. The Crane flows through three London boroughs: Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond upon Thames.


Its source is a point south of North Hyde Road in Hayes, Hillingdon, from where its course is near semi-circular to the south then east, joining the River Thames in two places: on the border of St Margarets with Isleworth and by Riverside Mill and Helene House, Isleworth. [1] [2]

Passing through Cranford, the river crosses Cranford Park, skirts the eastern side of Heathrow Airport (formerly the Heathrow Heath part of Hounslow Heath)[3][4] and Hounslow Heath where the Duke of Northumberland's River, a tributary, and distributary of the River Colne joins the Crane (which passes to the south of London Heathrow Airport before joining the Crane). From this point, the Crane turns gradually east and passes through Crane Park (in Whitton, Twickenham). In Crane Park is the site of the Hounslow Powder Mills which were built in the 16th century and continued to make gunpowder until 1927. The mills have disappeared, but the Shot Tower still stands nearby.[5] The large millpool on an island above the mills is now a Local Nature Reserve, Crane Park Island.[6] The river then turns to the north-east in Twickenham to join the Thames at Isleworth with a distributary splitting off (forming a second section of the Duke's River) running through Kneller Gardens — the Crane itself flows east through Cole Park in Twickenham on the border of St Margarets, where it forms its border with Isleworth. The Duke's River is tidal for the short distance below the weir by the bridge in Church Street, Isleworth, to its confluence with the Thames.[5] In Isleworth it has been diverted to flow through Mogden Sewage Treatment Works, where it provides coolant for the power station, but the treated effluent is not placed in it but is piped to the Thames at Isleworth Ait.[7]

The River Crane is the boundary between the London boroughs of Hillingdon and Hounslow. Around Hanworth and Twickenham, and Isleworth and St. Margarets it is also the boundary between the London boroughs of Hounslow and Richmond.[1]

When extending the Piccadilly line from Hounslow West to Heathrow Airport, the high water table of the ground beneath the river made it impractical to tunnel under the river, so the line rises from tunnels to cross over it.[1]

The Shot Tower in Crane Park


Its name is a back-formation from Cranford, London, formerly being called the Cranford River.[citation needed]


The only above ground tributaries of the Crane are:

Pollution incidents[edit]

On 4 October 2013, a local newspaper web site[9] reported

"The Environment Agency (EA) has launched an investigation into a 'pollution incident' at the River Crane in which appeared to have killed many fish. The agency was called into action following several reports from members of the public that a section of the river at Twickenham had turned black and fish were seen in distress.

The source of the pollution has been traced to an outfall pipe upstream of the A30, and EA officers are at the scene working with partners to minimise the impact of the incident."

On 7 October 2013, there appeared to be a temporary coffer dam with filled sandbags across part of the river, immediately north of the point where the London Underground Picadiily Line (and four conduits carrying unknown services) crosses the river. A bulk road tanker labelled "non hazardous product" was seen with flexible hoses connected to the pool above the dam.

The Crane Valley Partnership [10] reported that the Environment Agency have traced the source to a fractured main (probably caused by illegal ground works) carrying sewage sludge between the Mogden sewage works and Iver, Buckinghamshire. The escaping sludge found its way into the river via surface water sewers.

On 29–31 October 2011, a large but unknown quantity of raw sewage was deliberately diverted into the Crane.[11][12][13] A two-metre valve jammed shut on Saturday morning at Cranford Bridge on the A4 Bath Road while Thames Water engineers carried out routine maintenance.[14] Unable to force the valve back open, they arranged for the backed-up sewage to be taken away in tanker lorries for treatment. The volume of sewage was such that they were unable to remove it fast enough by tanker. Faced with the choice of letting the remaining sewage back up into the airport or spill to the River Crane, they opted for the latter, resulting in sewage entering the river and damaging wildlife. Sewage spilled intermittently into the river until 3 am on Monday. This resulted in the death of over 3,000 fish.[15] A full assessment of the damage caused is still ongoing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Ordnance Survey map, courtesy of English Heritage
  2. ^ Open Street Map
  3. ^ Lyson, Daniel. 1795. Heston, The Environs of London: vol. 3: County of Middlesex, pp. 22-45. british-history.ac.uk
  4. ^ Hounslow Online hounslowtw3.net Archived 14 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b Local History Notes. The River Crane and Gunpowder Mills. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2011-11-01.
  6. ^ "Crane Park". London Parks and Gardens Trust. Retrieved 24 August 2013.
  7. ^ "Mogden". Hidden London. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  8. ^ Susan Reynolds (Editor) (1962). "Twickenham: Introduction". A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3: Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 25 November 2012.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  9. ^ http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/west-london-news/pollution-incident-kills-number-fish-6139375
  10. ^ http://cranevalley.org.uk/news/post/update-on-river-crane-pollution-incident/
  11. ^ Thames Anglers Conservancy: River Crane Devastated by Raw Sewage. Rivertac.org (2011-09-23). Retrieved on 2011-11-01.
  12. ^ St.Margarets Community Site: River Crane Polluted. Stmgrts.org.uk. Retrieved on 2011-11-01.
  13. ^ Sewage spill kills fish in River Crane near Heathrow. Bbc.co.uk. 31 October 2011. Retrieved on 2011-11-01.
  14. ^ Company pledges to repair River Crane sewage spill damage
  15. ^ Pollution incident on the River Crane kills thousands of fish. Environment Agency. Retrieved on 2011-11-01.

External links[edit]

Next confluence upstream River Thames Next confluence downstream
Sudbrook (stream) (south) River Crane, London Duke of Northumberland's River (north)

Coordinates: 51°27′55″N 0°19′20″W / 51.46528°N 0.32222°W / 51.46528; -0.32222