It’s spoil Jim but not as we know it


Well you know yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the greatest day in international football when England only went and won the World Cup 4-2 against the mighty West Germany. Of course the bloody Germans have had their revenge many times over since then but nothing can take away the memory of that day. I was 14, about the same age as my eldest grandson is now, and he might have to wait until he’s my current age before he sees England win it again. Sigh. Anyway to celebrate the memory C and I went to quite a special place yesterday. It’s along the A40 just before the Target roundabout. Oooh sounds nice.

Intrigued? Well you should be because I think it’s an interesting story. Several years ago Ealing Council wanted to redevelop a large area of derelict parkland in Northolt, which had become an eyesore. They appointed architect Peter Fink, who came up with a dramatic  concept to develop the site and turn it into a fabulous facilty for local residents to enjoy. It included the creation of four man-made hills on the south side of the busy and noisy A40 carriageway. It would become a park called Northala Fields.

The architect realised that a number of huge civil engineering projects were about to get under way in west London, including the demolition and redevelopment of the crumbling Wembley stadium where that mighty victory had taken place some 30 odd years of hurt earlier. He knew the builders would need to get rid of large amounts of  spoil – vast quantities of clay, topsoil and rubble which has to be dug out to enable the builders to put in the foundations for the new stadium and other projects like the Westfield shopping centre.

For years large quantities of this spoil ended up simply being dumped in landfill sites miles outside London. But Ealing Council offered to take all this spoil, charging around £80 per lorryload, which meant the developers only had to haul it 10 miles rather than 100 miles to a landfill site. Around 60,000 lorryloads of spoil and concrete was dumped on the site, which generated so much money the council actually made a profit out of Northala Fields. Isn’t that brilliant? The spoil was used to create four hills take a look at these shots of the hills which look quite beautiful and to me remind me of something created in the Iron Age…

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All the concrete from the old Wembley was crushed and used in gabions – walls surrounded by steel cages, which provide a spiral path up the tallest hill and also all the benches and waste bins at the site like you can see in this shot…

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The park also has a visitor centre and cafe, two playgrounds – one a wonderful adventure area…
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a large number of walking trails and several ponds for fishing etc.  Yesterday the place was full of families enjoying the completely free experience, getting some exercise and taking in some relatively fresh air (the hills brilliantly muffle the noise and block pollutants from the heavy traffic on the A40). It’s just a magnificent concept don’t you think and nice to know the iconic twin towers have been put to good use after their removal.

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