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Wormwood Scrubs including Old Oak Common Hammersmith & Fulham
   

Wormwood Scrubs including Old Oak Common

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Wormwood Scrubs is common land, but since 1872 the military have had rights to use it under the Military Forces Location Act and part of the Scrubs had been leased to the Army since 1812. In the past this use was extensive and at times access was limited. Wormwood Scrubs now merges imperceptibly with Old Oak Common, which is in fact located in LB Ealing. Originally the division between the two commons and borough boundary was one of the several small streams that joined to form Stamford Brook. The military finally released the last land that it held in 1962. Sports facilities, including the Linford Christie Stadium, have been built on this area.
   
Previous / Other name:
Site location: Scrubs Lane
Postcode: W12
Type of site: Public Open Land 
Date(s):
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
Borough: Hammersmith & Fulham
Site ownership: LB Hammersmith & Fulham (Wormwood Scrubs); LB Ealing (Old Oak Common)
Site management: Environment Department, Parks Service; Hammersmith and Fulham Amenity Trust
Open to public? Yes
Opening times: unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities: play equipment
Events:
Public transport: Tube: White City (Central). Bus: 7, 70, 220
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2004
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.lbhf.gov.uk

Fuller information:

When the land was given over to the London County Council it was on condition that the army maintained rights to exercise here, and these rights, enshrined in the Wormwood Scrubs Act of 1879, are still upheld, but only for practising ceremonial and display activities by the King's Troop, although an area is kept as open land as an emergency landing strip. Wormwood Scrubs now merges imperceptibly with Old Oak Common, which is in fact located in LB Ealing. Old Oak Common was transferred by Deed in 1914 from the Great Western Railway Board in exchange for part of Wormwood Scrubs. Originally the division between the two commons and borough boundary was one of the several small streams that joined to form Stamford Brook. Because of changes to the local drainage caused mainly by the building of railway embankments the stream is no longer there and the borough boundary has been straightened. The path of the stream is not discernible, but two clumps of trees and bushes are probably a remnant of those that were planted on its banks. The large embankment of spoil from the railway has altered the drainage and a small pond and a boggy area of grass about 15m in diameter has formed just to the west of the bank.

The Scrubs, for long managed as unobstructed open space for use by the military, had previously been more wooded. Over the years much of the original common land was covered by first the canal and then the railway. There was a canal type bridge probably near the modern footbridge and the area was covered by engine sheds. There were considerable trees, but in recent times it has been described as 'treeless' and Wormwood Scrubs is now predominantly grassland. To the west the grass is rough with many perennial herbs. In the east it is managed as playing fields and the vegetation is almost pure grass. There is an interesting area of crop marks, where rectangular areas of Agrostis are marked out by narrow strips of lush pasture grasses. The most likely explanation of these is the use of the Scrubs by the military aviation in the World Wars. Along the north and eastern edges there is an area of woodland. The sharp edge of this as shown on the 1890s map suggests that the origins of this was deliberate planting to screen the Scrubs from the railway. The range of species and the even spacing of some of the trees show that the basis for this was deliberate planting. The row of horse chestnut trees was probably planted in the latter part of the C20th. More recent planting is naturalistic. There is some regeneration, especially of the elms that were cut to the ground during the Dutch Elm Disease epidemic. Some clumps of trees scattered about the Scrubs probably have their origin in deliberate planting, but have been allowed to become very dense by natural regeneration and seeding. The extent of the largest two clumps is only obvious from the air.

The military finally released the last land that it held in 1962. Sports facilities, including the Linford Christie Stadium, have been built on this area and there is some formal tree and shrub planting here and near the Old Oak Estate (q.v.). Under the GLC, planting around the perimeter was carried out as a softening measure. In the woods to the east a brick path connects the two gates onto Scrubs Lane, continues through the trees, and is well used. The Scrubs is the highest land in the borough and to the south the view is dominated by Wormwood Scrubs Prison (built in 1874) and its modern security wall. Hammersmith Hospital and schools and their playing fields complete the southern view. The best views are to the east where the Trellick Tower by Erno Goldfinger in 1972 is the most noticeable building, but views extend across London.

Sources consulted:

LB Hammersmith & Fulham Archives Dept, 'A note on the open spaces of Fulham and Hammersmith', 1974 p25; John Archer, Daniel Keech 'Nature Conservation in Hammersmith & Fulham', Ecology Handbook 25, London Ecology Unit, 1993
Grid ref: TQ225818 / TQ215816
Size in hectares: 68.36 (part in LB Ealing)
   
On EH National Register : No
EH grade :
Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
Registered common or village green
on Commons Registration Act 1965:
Yes: Common (Wormwood Scrubs CL34 & Old Oak CL35)
Protected under London Squares
Preservation Act 1931:
No
 
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
On Local List:
In Conservation Area: No
Conservation Area name:
Tree Preservation Order: No
Nature Conservation Area: Yes - Borough Importance I
Green Belt: No
Metropolitan Open Land: Yes
Special Policy Area: No
Other LA designation: Metropolitan Park; Open Space of Borough-wide Importance
   

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