Ruislip Lido Canal Feeder In 2013

Intro and the route to Clack Lane

One of two major GJCCo feeders in the London area, this was one of the longest ever built. It traversed the countryside between Ruislip and Hayes

The Grand Junction Canal Company built its reservoir at Park Hearn, near Ruislip in 1811. The engineer was John Rennie. The waters from the reservoir were taken by a lengthy feeder southwards to the Grand Junction canal at Hayes Gate Farm, near Southall. It was around eight miles long and completed by 1816. The location where the feeder met the canal was about 200 yards north of the current Uxbridge Road crossing in Southall at the present day Tollgate Drive.

The feeder’s long length was responsible for its eventual downfall. The drop in levels between Ruislip and Hayes was quite minimal, causing a sluggish flow of water. It silted easily and required constant maintenance. The feeder was last used in 1851 to carry water that had been retained in the reservoir for the canal. However it continued as an emergency overflow from what was now called Ruislip Lido. It also carried excess water from local drains.

Part of the feeder was rebuilt between 1928 and 1930 to continue its function as a drain between Ruislip and Lynhurst Road in North Hillingdon. In this respect it was usually referred to as the Ickenham Stream. In 1991 fears of flooding caused the Lido to be lowered somewhat, and the overflow into the feeder stream was diverted to the Canon Brook (information from Ruislip Online ). Nevertheless it still proves useful as a drain between West Ruislip and the A40.

It also doubled as a drain from Charville Lane to the Yeading Brook, which took over this role in the 1990s when the A312 by-pass was built.

One hundred years after it last fed the canal, in 1951 the Lido was sold to the Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council. In 1965 it was transferred to Hillingodon LBC. Since the early part of the 20th Century the ‘reservoir’ has been developed as a leisure amenity and known as Ruilsip Lido. This includes watersports, boating and a miniature railway that encircles much of the lido.

There is evidence the Grand Union Canal Company moved its offices to Ruislip Lido during the second world war, but it is not know where these were located.

The first part of the feeder walk from the Lido to Sussex Road, Hillingdon, is mostly fair, with occasional difficult sections and being mostly part of the Hillingdon Trail. From there to Kingshill it is mostly hard going, many sections proving to be difficult to walk, with parts of the feeder totally inaccessible. From Kingshill Avenue to Yeading it is fair to rough walking, and the final section to Hayes is entirely on street walking. One should allow a good four hours of walking at least. The Hillingdon trail misses about 40% of the feeder’s route, so should not be relied on to locate the feeder’s whereabouts.

Ruislip Lido – Priory Field

The dam at Ruislip Lido

A view of Ruislip Lido looking southwards. The water for the feeder left at the south west corner (extreme right in picture.) The water level today is kept well below what it would have been

Ruislip Lido Feeder Intake

A view of the feeder intake. Its much changed from the days when it was in use and the only crossing at this point was at the far end at what was known as the valve house – where the water drops into a tunnel and channeled down to the start of the canal feeder itself. This part of the Lido was in use as an emergency overflow until 1991.

Bury Street Ruislip

Not much can be seen for the first mile or so, as new development has encroached or destroyed the route of the feeder. However where Bury Street and Breakspear Road meet, near to Ruislip Lido, a public footpath sign indicates a route that actually runs along the mostly obliterated feeder route. Right by the junction itself, as in the picture shown, a small bit of the feeder can be seen in the trees. As one walks southwestwards, the route passes the rear of new housing, and there are few clues to the feeder’s existence

Howletts Lane

Once Howletts Lane is reached, so few clues as to the feeder’s existence makes one think they’ve taken the wrong turning. In the view (below) the brown Hillington Trail signpost can be seen (and which follows the feeder’s course for much of, but not all, its route.) Next to it by the tree are railings and these at one time protected pedestrains from falling into the canal feeder. On the opposite side of Howletts Lane (above right) a new footpath takes one through a lot of new housing estates. The feeder’s route has been virtually obliterated, and one is left with no choice but to walk along Wallington Close towards Ladygate Lane

The Canal Feeder near Howletts Lane
The Canal Feeder near Ladygate Lane

At Ladygate lane one must turn left and walk for a short distance towards the Whiteheath School. On the eastern side of the school boundary this footpath and its distinctive metal fencing can be seen. The canal feeder is clearly visible for a good distance on the left side of this path, and at least three small overbridges remain

Sandalwood Drive

The feeder’s route is now clearly seen, as is this small accommodation bridge that has been painted red for reasons unknown. It runs between Sandalwood Drive and Whiteheath Avenue

Whiteheath Avenue

This is the next accommodation bridge. In this view looking back towards the Lido, the date 1930 can be clearly seen on the bridge’s southern abutment.

Many sources tell us the feeder was improved in 1930, and this is no doubt proved by the existence of the date on visible structures. However the work was actually begun in 1928. This date can be seen on a couple of bridges which are difficult to find.

Priory Field

The feeder veers away from the pathway and one must continue for a bit until this short, but rather obscure footpath, heads off to the left. In about 20 yards one enters Priory Field, and a discernible path hugs the hedgegrow. walk along this path to the far south eastern corner where one has to duck under a what is supposed to be a stile but which is so high that it is lousy and useless. Immediately beyond is the River Pinn and one of London’s unknown canal treasures – the ‘lost’ aqueduct over the river

Canal feeder over Priory Field

Clack Lane Aqueduct to the Railway

Ruislip Aqueduct

As aqueducts go, this is a bit of an odd affair. However it did carry the Ruislip canal feeder over the River Pinn. Clearly this rather elegant ‘bridge’ was meant to be functional and the canal feeder was carried on a large embankment across the Pinn valley, the bridge forming a culvert through which the Pinn flowed. As part of the 1930’s improvements (date inscribed on the bridge) a concrete channel was substituted, and this can clearly be seen.

Aqueduct channel

The concrete channel is clearly seen in the above view. The top of the elegantly curved abutment can be see on the right in this view looking eastwards

Woodville Gardens Rusilip

The course of the feeder disappears after the aqueduct, but it passed the bottom of Woodville Gardens and along the top edge of a field. Hedgegrows more or less indicate the approximate course of the feeder as it heads towards Ruislip Golf Course. This is one location where the Hillington Trail signs should be ignored as they take one back to the River Pinn. Follow the headgegrow eastwards to the far end of the field and another overgrown and underused footpath crosses into the golf course area. The feeder is apparent for a short distance unti its course is obliterated by the golf course

Rusilip Golf Course

The Ruislip Golf Course has a number of streams and small lakes and deceptively simple flat fairways totalling 5753 yards. It was opened in 1922. A short distance across the fairway green an accomodation bridge can be seen. The feeder follows the line of trees in the background. The public footpath (not the Hillington Trail) follows the right hand side of the feeder and the course takes one round through a small woods to another section of the golf course where several accomdation bridges exist. At least one accomdation bridge can be seen in the undergrowth along this section. Basically the feeder traces a double inverted ‘s’ route through this part of the Ruilsip Golf Course and the numerous drains that criss cross the site only add to the confusion in determining the exact course.

Route over Ruislip Golf Course

This view shows the feeder where it crosses a large part of the golf course. Many people think the feeder heads straight across this field, but in fact only part of it does. The red line indicates the approximate course of the feeder in this view looking southwards

Copse on Ruislip Golf Course

The route passes through another small copse before hitting the third golf course fairway. There is an accomodation bridge (foreground) and on the far side a gate leads to the ‘tunnel’ which is in fact a passageway under the Marylebone – High Wycombe railway embankment

Hillingdon Trail

Above: The Hillingdon Trail signs can be reliably followed from this point southwards. The gate and the ‘tunnel’ can be seen. 

Pedestrian Tunnel

Above: View of the pedestrian tunnel. The canal feeder has its own tunnel on the left behind the fencing

Curved pedestrian tunnel

The pedestrian tunnel showing the curved alignment

Canal Feeder Tunnel

The feeder tunnel looking northwards

The two tunnels under the railway

View of the two tunnels on the southern side. Pedestrian on left and feeder on right

Greenway to West Ruislip

Greenway Ickenham

At The Greenway is a large concrete bridge of a rather interesting but austere design. Marked by Hillingdon trail signs, the route crosses the road where one can see the bridge more clearly on the south side.

The Hillingdon Trail goes north west along the Greenway, but there is an unmarked footpath that squeezes past the side of the bridge and along the Ruislip feeder. This leads eventually back to the Hillingdon Trail at what I call the ‘split bridge.’

Greenway Ickenham Bridge

Bridge on The Greenway

Greenway back gardens

This ‘concrete channel’ is actually the rear of properties south of the Greenway that have built their gardens over part of the feeder’s channel

Greenway Garden bridge

At least someone has recognised there is a water route here and have their own bridge across the feeder. The footpath actually passes on the right, but I found it so overgrown that I had to walk on the bed of the feeder itself, which at this point was fortunately dry enough!

Overgrown feeder in Ickenham

Further south there is an excellent stretch of feeder channel, showing what must be the original width and profile. The channel can be seen easily from the unmarked footpath, but one must fight through brambles and branches in order to gain a splendid perspective of the feeder like in this picture

Cracked bridge on Rusilip Canal Feeder

This view shows the ‘split bridge.’ Not a Southern Stratford affair but rather a large and slightly elaborate affair.
This must be without a doubt the largest structure on the entire route of the Ruislip feeder. which must have carried a lane of some importance at one time. It has subsided, creating a large split down the centre. Thats why I call it the ‘split bridge.’

Coming out in to Ickenham Road

Atop the bridge we can see it is substantially wide. The split in the abutment is obvious.

The ‘spilt bridge’ marks the spot the Ruilslip Feeder walk re-joins the Hillingdon Trail, which is now followed for a good distance to the junction of Austin’s Lane and Glebe Road.

The Green Ickenham

This view shows ‘The Green.’ It parallels the feeder and if one is able to force their way through the brambles and undergrowth on the right, one is rewarded with views of the canal feeder in places, such as this rubbish strewn section, shown below, near High Road

Rubbish in the feeder
Coming out near the Soliders Return pub
Nearing Ickenham Road
The Green leads onto High Road, Ickenham, just a short walk from West Ruislip station. These views show the access route and a small car park. West Ruislip tube/rail station is a short walk to the north east. The feeder route (and Hillingdon Trail) turns right along Ickenham High Road.

Further reading

This actually conculdes the route of the feeder through Ruislip as it has now moved in to Ickenham. 

To continue this amazing journey please go to London Canals via this link where you will be taken to the next leg through Ickenham and on to the A40


This is an excellent piece written for London Canals UK but has been copied here because, much like the Canal Feeder, there is a danger that tomorrow it might not be there....indeed much of the canal feeder has gone and with HS2 much more will probably vanish soon.

I do not own copyright to it nor the images.