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The 'Brook' In Stamford Brook

The area of Stamford Brook derives its name from the waterway that ran between Acton and the River Thames in Hammersmith.  The Brook actually divided into three streams as it passed from Acton and down into Chiswick, with the main stream following the line dividing Emlyn Road from Bedford Park. The land on this line was later used to run the old South Acton Railway down to Chiswick High Road, and now hosts the Emlyn Gardens allotments.

There are many unmapped rivulets and no consensus on the number of branches that make up the Stamford Brook.  Maps of the area show three main streams of Stamford brook, the middle, main branch flowing  through Stamford Brook across meadowland from Acton, to cross Stamford Brook Road west of St Mary’s Court, along the parish boundary on eastern side of The Brook cottage, crossing towards Ravenscourt south of Oakbrook, to converge east of Ravenscourt Park with the East branch and join the Thames at Hammersmith Creek.
One of the other streams that came together to make up Stamford Brook cut across Acton Common and ran down what is now the Bath Road, creating ponds at Turnham Green, at Stamford Brook Common and at Starch Green.   A third stream followed a line near Askew Road.  The availability of all this water led to the growth of many laundries in the area at the end of the 18th century (from where the 'starch' in Starch Green is derived). The three streams came together near where Ravenscourt Park now sits and made its way, as a now much stronger stream, towards the Thames.

At the point where the Brook met the Thames, it opened out into a wide watercourse, creating what was known as Hammersmith Creek. The Creek was sufficiently navigable in ancient times to house boatyards and wharfs up to the point where Hammersmith Town Hall now sits. 

By mid nineteenth century, it had become a sewer, stagnant and foul smelling for residents of Stamford Brook to Ravenscourt, who kept their windows shut in the summer, fearful of cholera and typhus and petitioning for action. In 1865-6 this area of the brook was at last diverted and culverted as part of Joseph Bazalgette’s main drainage scheme. The Brook was diverted and submerged all the way from Acton to the Thames. Hammersmith Creek was covered over and the land was reclaimed to create Furnivall Gardens.

However, if you look over the river wall near the Pier in Furnivall Gardens, you can see Stamford Brook emptying out into the Thames. (Editor's Note: There are now plans afoot to bring Stamford Brook back to the surface!  See the News&Info section of the web site here).

Published on October 10