River Crane, London
The River Crane is 8.5 miles (13.6 km) in length and entirely in Greater London. Its source is a point south of North Hyde Road in Hayes, Hillingdon, from where its course is near semi-circular to the south then east, joining the River Thames in two places: on the border of St Margarets with Isleworth and by Riverside Mill and Helene House, Isleworth. <ref name=map>Ordnance Survey map, courtesy of English Heritage</ref>
Passing through Cranford, the river crosses Cranford Park, skirts the eastern side of Heathrow Airport (formerly the Heathrow Heath part of Hounslow Heath) and Hounslow Heath where the Duke of Northumberland's River, a tributary, and distributary of the River Colne joins the Crane (which passes to the south of London Heathrow Airport before joining the Crane). From this point, the Crane turns gradually east and passes through Crane Park (in Whitton, Twickenham). In Crane Park is the site of the Hounslow Powder Mills which were built in the 16th century and continued to make gunpowder until 1927. The mills have disappeared, but the Shot Tower still stands nearby.<ref name=richmondlbc>Local History Notes. The River Crane and Gunpowder Mills. (PDF) . Retrieved on 2011-11-01.</ref> The large millpool on an island above the mills is now a Local Nature Reserve, Crane Park Island.<ref name=LGO>Template:Cite web</ref> The river then turns to the north-east in Twickenham to join the Thames at Isleworth with a distributary splitting off (forming a second section of the Duke's River) running through Kneller Gardens — the Crane itself flows east through Cole Park in Twickenham on the border of St Margarets, where it forms its border with Isleworth. The Duke's River is tidal for the short distance below the weir by the bridge in Church Street, Isleworth, to its confluence with the Thames.<ref name=richmondlbc/> In Isleworth it has been diverted to flow through Mogden Sewage Treatment Works, where it provides coolant for the power station, but the treated effluent is not placed in it but is piped to the Thames at Isleworth Ait.
The River Crane creates the boundary between the London boroughs of Hillingdon and Hounslow. Around Hanworth and Whitton, and Isleworth and St. Margarets it also creates a boundary between the London boroughs of Hounslow and Richmond.<ref name=map/>
When extending the Piccadilly Line from Hounslow West to Heathrow Airport, the high water table of the ground beneath the river made it impractical to tunnel under the river, so the line rises from tunnels to cross over it.<ref name=map/>
Its name is a back-formation from Cranford, London, formerly being called the Cranford River.Template:Citation needed
The only above ground tributaries of the Crane are:
- Duke of Northumberland's River 8.5 miles (13.6 km): this is in two sections, from the River Colne, Hertfordshire to Hounslow; and Whitton to Isleworth, who built a short offshoot to supply his lake at Syon Park. It is a man-made watercourse which draws a similar amount of water from the Crane catchment basin by taking some water from it at Baber Bridge by Hounslow Heath Golf Course.<ref name=map/>
- The Yeading Brook is the Crane's upper reach and is 16 miles (25.8 km) long, (before the 19th century also referred to as the River Fishbourne) rises in the ground between the northwest London suburbs of Pinner and Harrow rises (in part) from Headstone Manor moat, and follows a meandering course through North Harrow, southern parts of Ruislip then through Ickenham Marsh nature reserve, skirts Northolt Aerodrome west of Northolt — at the south of the aerodrome the Roxbourne Brook joins it, also seen in maps as the Yeading Brook (East Arm) from Roxeth, South Harrow. Here the Hillingdon Trail runs through parkland which separates Yeading from Hayes as the river travels ESE south through and finally turns south in the east of the towns to pass through Bulls Brook Business Park which is its final stretch before becoming the Crane directly west of the A312 "The Parkway" and of the Bull's Bridge junction of arms of the Grand Union Canal. This junction is the tripoint of Hayes/Harlington/Cranford.<ref name=map/>
On 4 October 2013, a local newspaper web site reported
"The Environment Agency (EA) has launched an investigation into a 'pollution incident' at the River Crane in which appeared to have killed many fish. The agency was called into action following several reports from members of the public that a section of the river at Twickenham had turned black and fish were seen in distress.
The source of the pollution has been traced to an outfall pipe upstream of the A30, and EA officers are at the scene working with partners to minimise the impact of the incident."
On 7 October 2013, there appeared to be a temporary coffer dam with filled sandbags across part of the river, immediately north of the point where the London Underground Picadiily Line (and four conduits carrying unknown services) crosses the river. A bulk road tanker labelled "non hazardous product" was seen with flexible hoses connected to the pool above the dam.
The Crane Valley Partnership reported that the Environment Agency have traced the source to a fractured main (probably caused by illegal ground works) carrying sewage sludge between the Mogden sewage works and Iver, Buckinghamshire. The escaping sludge found its way into the river via surface water sewers.
On 29–31 October 2011, a large but unknown quantity of raw sewage was deliberately diverted into the Crane. A two-metre valve jammed shut on Saturday morning at Cranford Bridge on the A4 Bath Road while Thames Water engineers carried out routine maintenance. Unable to force the valve back open, they arranged for the backed-up sewage to be taken away in tanker lorries for treatment. The volume of sewage was such that they were unable to remove it fast enough by tanker. Faced with the choice of letting the remaining sewage back up into the airport or spill to the River Crane, they opted for the latter, resulting in sewage entering the river and damaging wildlife. Sewage spilled intermittently into the river until 3am on Monday. This resulted in the death of over 3,000 fish. A full assessment of the damage caused is still ongoing.
- Tributaries of the River Thames
- List of rivers in England
- London Biodiversity Audit includes "The Tidal Thames" — from which part of the information in this article is taken
- Environment Agency Flood Report: upper Crane
- Environment Agency Flood Report: lower Crane
- Friends of the River Crane Environment
- Thames Anglers Conservancy