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The Ruislip Lido Canal Feeder, Part One, Ruislip

The section below was written by Paul Turner, no part of it may be used or reproduced without his permission. Contact is through Ruislip Online

As you are no doubt aware the Canal Feeder starts at the "dam" end of Ruislip Reservoir, where it leaves the reservoir at the South-East corner. There below the main footpath you will find a huge concrete opening, guarded by iron railings with a notice to the effect of "deep excavation" or similar. It flows through the old valve house, which controlled the flow of the Feeder as necessary when it was in operation. This can all be seen from the footpath along the top of the dam, on its "down" side.

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At one time it was possible to actually walk around the valve house (and even IN it not so long ago) but this is now almost entirely inaccessible due to overgrowth and fences that have been erected. You can however see, from the path, the old Canal Feeder snaking its way from the dam along the rear of the houses and gardens in Reservoir Road.

 


It next appears where it flows under Bury Street, just south of a works compound and just about directly opposite Breakspear Road. It proceeds at an angle under Bury Street and its tunnel exits south of Breakspear Road and runs along the field there heading in the same general direction, to the
right of the path as we follow it. As it slowly disappears into thicker and thicker undergrowth and bramble (and blackberries) it becomes difficult, but not impossible to follow until it actually comes to a dead end under the gardens of a newish housing estate. "Brickett Close". It is due to the fear of this being flooded that the "Lido" is now maintained at so low a level.

Having passed under the new housing estate its route continues underground past Howletts Lane. This area can be confusing as there is a small stream that passes under Howletts Lane a little to the East of the shops, opposite Wyteleaf Close. This however is NOT the Canal Feeder as it has flowing water in it. Anything you see with flowing water is NOT the Canal Feeder.

Between the shops and the stream is an area of derelict ground upon which there is a large manhole cover and I believe this is the course of the Canal Feeder where again it is underground. Much of the street furniture around this area shows signs of an old bridge having been there.

Still invisible the course of the Feeder continues under all the new housing through to Ladygate Lane. I was invited to look for its course by the Bowls club but found no trace North of Ladygate Lane.

The next positive place to view the Canal Feeder is after it crosses Ladygate Lane, near to the bowls club. From there it can be seen quite openly heading South, with no water and of the perfect dimensions and can be picked up almost immediately following the course of a footpath that leads between two schools. 

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It follows this footpath to the rear of the new housing development at Sandalwood Drive. There it can be seen disappearing again into two large sewer type pipes for around twenty feet and re-emerge to continue along beside this footpath, which is the Hillingdon Trail. 

The Hillingdon Trail appears to follow the Feeder fairly closely throughout its length.

 
Once again there is a stream at the junction of Glovers Grove and Sandalwood Drive which you will cross if you are approaching from that direction, but this is NOT the Canal Feeder.

 


The Hillingdon Trail is of course a public right of way, but as we near Old Clack Farm we find our way effectively blocked by a large deposit of old tree trunks and other such faunal debris. I cannot imagine who could of left this across a public footpath, where it enters Old Clack Farm; can you?

The next vantage point is the dead end road of Whiteheath Avenue where, if you bully your way through the undergrowth you will find the Feeder at the bottom of a 10 meter deep hand dug cut, trapped between the houses and Old Clack Farm, and again it disappears into impenetrable undergrowth. So we move on to Woodville Gardens and the "Aqueduct".

On reaching the end of Woodville Gardens go through the locked vehicle gate and turn sharp right. You have just crossed the line of the Canal Feeder. Follow this general direction and you will arrive at an area of undergrowth, which if you progress through, you will find yourself at the site of the famous aqueduct (Link opens new window, with more info and pictures).

The more intrepid amongst you may like to follow the line of the Feeder, against its flow, through the undergrowth back toward the Lido as further along there is an interesting feature, where the back gardens of some properties in Ravenscourt Close appear to have "spilled over" the Canal Feeder. If true this would of course have the effect of extending the property. I think. Possibly. Allegedly.

After following the course of the Canal Feeder back to the field at the end of Woodville Gardens we can pursue it along the Eastern edge of that field, through the blackberries (a feature of the Canal Feeder throughout its length, as far as I can tell) along the back of Glenhurst Avenue and down the side of the allotments, until our progress is halted by an overflow stream which leads to the right, down to the River Pinn.

We must now move into Ruislip Golf Course, which is only just beyond the point where we now stand.

 


Those amongst you who have had the pleasure of playing Ruislip Golf Course (like me), and are perhaps not the best golfer fellows in the world (like me), may well have ended up in our Canal Feeder without even realising it (like me). It enters Ruislip Golf Course about forty yards from the tee of the fifth hole, on the left of the fairway. It crosses both the fifth and sixth fairways at right angles to them both and then turns left and meanders its way along the tree line to the right of the sixth before diving into the trees and crossing "Clack Lane".

Clack Lane is a sort of gravel/cinders footpath that leads from the road into the golf clubhouse, up to the river Pinn and thence to Old Clack Farm.

Once across Clack Lane the Canal Feeder snakes through more undergrowth (and blackberries) until it appears on the Northern edge of the tenth fairway, which it crosses, followed by the fifteenth. It is all very visible at this point though I suspect the alignment is no longer its original as the demands of the golf course have made an impact.


It then loops around the back of the teeing area of the eighteenth and finally crosses the first fairway about two hundred yards from the tee.


You are now faced with the Great Western Railway.
 

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As our Canal Feeder predates the GWR by some years, the railway was built over the top, and the Feeder has its own little tunnel/bridge alongside which is a "cattle tunnel" whereby the local herdsmen could drive livestock past (or under) the railway without fear of being mown down. This is still accessible as a public footpath and exits along a small path, next to the Canal Feeder, into The Greenway, 

 

where the Feeder crosses under a road-bridge and then off towards The Green. You can walk most of this length but it becomes impassable (without a macheté) shortly before The Green.


So the next point of call is The Soldiers Return, where if you like, you can refresh yourselves, before wandering down the green path to the left of the pub. This is sandwiched between the pub and the scrap yard and if you move over toward the scrap yard you will find blackberries and the ditch of the feeder. This can be traced along its reverse flow back up to an ancient stone bridge that the feeder flows under, and which we almost reached on our passage from The Greenway.

 This bridge must date from the early nineteenth century, when the feeder was constructed.


 

This green path, I believe, runs up to the cricket club but in times gone by was probably a major thoroughfare up to Breakspear Road and Newyear's Green. Its width and stature are very impressive and it is another little known part of Ruislip.

The Canal Feeder crosses High Road Ickenham/Ickenham Road just south of the scrap dealers and then hooks right along the edge of what was the American base all the way to Austin's Lane, where it turns left and follows the lane past the Metropolitan Railway (the crossing of which is an impressive piece of engineering) all the way to the common fields of Ickenham Marsh, finally to the new A40 extension.

At this point I consider we leave Ruislip but I will probably follow up my researches this year (2005) and possibly let you know all about Cutthroat Wood, Sharville/Charville lane, the Cycle Speedway, the Yeading Lane and the Hayes Bypass at another time.

You could also visit this external site to travel along the whole length of the feeder to the canal in Hayes

 

LocationLido HistoryGallery (old)Gallery 2003Lido FeederLido main page
Important Info!Sailing ClubLido Memories1948 BrochureLow Water LevelsRuislip Online Index

Other Ruislip Online pages with connections to this section (opens new windows)
Waters Edge PubLido Postcards

External Links Below (opens new windows)
 Ruislip Lido RailwayLido Action GroupRuislip WoodsLido on WikipediaWhole Canal Feeder