Located just a few metres away from Heathrow’s northern runway, Huckerby’s Meadows in Cranford is not your usual nature reserve.
A mixture of traditional grazing pastures, an old orchard and new meadows created on the site of an airport car park, the reserve borders the River Crane and is now open to the public after years of restoration work.
Huckerby’s Meadows provides 13 hectares of precious wild habitat for butterflies, birds and even the endangered water vole. The nature reserve is free to visit, providing an opportunity to explore and enjoy a remarkable, wildlife-friendly setting, where birdsong complements the rumble of international flights as they soar overhead.
The official opening of Huckerby’s Meadows follows decades of consultation and conservation work. London Wildlife Trust acquired the southern section of the reserve in the mid-1990s, with work starting on the northern section, at the time an airport car park, in 2009. The name of the nature reserve honours the Huckerby family, who had a smallholding and grazed horses on the site for many years.
The creation of the nature reserve by London Wildlife Trust staff and volunteers received significant support from the London boroughs of Hillingdon and Hounslow, Heathrow and Heathrow Community Fund. The Environment Agency has assisted with work on the River Crane, while Mace has helped the Trust with recent conservation work and public access. Visitors can now enjoy the sight of colourful kingfisher, buzzard and green woodpecker. Come summer the reserve will buzz with life as butterflies, bees and dragonflies take to the air.
Mayor of Hillingdon, Councillor Carol Melvin, officially opened Huckerby’s Meadows on Friday 16th March with a toast, a short speech, and a guided tour of the nature reserve. She said afterwards: “It is a fantastic, wonderful space. I hope people will come here and enjoy the wildlife. It just goes to show you can have a nature reserve anywhere, even next to an airport! For children it is so important that they have outdoor spaces like this and not just stay indoors playing video games. This is a perfect place for them to explore.”
Gordon Scorer, Chief Executive of London Wildlife Trust, said: “Huckerby’s Meadows provides a wild glimpse of the pastoral past in Cranford, an area that has much changed but where – among the hedgerows – a certain timelessness flourishes. Through the support of our partners Mace, Heathrow and Hillingdon Council, we are pleased to formally open this reserve to the public so that local people can enjoy a delightful sense of nature on their doorstep.”
Nigel Cole, Infrastructure and Aviation Director, Mace Group, said: “Huckerby’s Meadows has given us the chance to give something back to the local community, which will last for years to come. We have worked with our colleagues from Heathrow and London Wildlife Trust to provide a fabulous space for those that live and work in the area. And we had great fun doing it!”