Village under threat celebrates its heritage
Harmondsworth village, which is under threat from a third runway, celebrated its heritage and showed why its destruction would be a crime, when it opened up to visitors during London’s Open House weekend on Sunday 23rd September
To promote an appreciation of architecture, buildings across London open their doors to the general public for one weekend a year, The Great Barn in Harmondsworth is a gem that has been featured in the Open House catalogue for the past two years.
This year Harmondsworth looked amazing with many months of planning coming together, just in time for the commemoration of the centenary of the ending of the First World War. The village has been festooned with big red poppies, each one is a tribute to or by a local villager.
The poppies were purchased from the Royal British Legion by residents who wanted to remember men who fought and died in conflicts. Some residents wanted to also remember those who lived through the war and have died in the years since - particularly, though not exclusively, having served in the military or other wartime services.
Walking down the avenue of poppies that leads to St Mary’s Church and the Great Barn prompts thoughts of the men who fought in wars believing that their sacrifice would mean future generations could live in peace.
At a previous event it was noted that if the men who fought in WWI came back to Harmondsworth now they would still recognise their village, the centre of which is largely unchanged. What would they think when told that the village they fought to preserve is under threat of total destruction by the British government. Worst still, there is no good reason to destroy the villages of Harmondsworth and Longford or ruin the surrounding area. Bulldozing the homes of thousands of people for the benefit of an airport, and a foreign-owned one at that, cannot be justified.
One of the key people who gave everyone a day to remember was farmer Roy Barwick, whose family has worked the land around Harmondsworth for many generations. In his commentary during the demonstration of WWI vehicles he explained that his grandfather fought in the Battle of the Somme in 2016.
Roy Barwick’s family has a long history in the area and a passion to bring its heritage alive. He even bought and restored the old Harmondsworth fire engine when he spotted it at auction many years ago. Heathrow claims to “save” some of the historic buildings in its proposals but by destroying the homes of the people who keep Harmondsworth alive - from volunteers to customers for the businesses - the airport is condemning the whole village to death.