Event report: Residents, artists unite to celebrate villages threatened by Heathrow

August 13, 2007

This report by one of the art activists at the Our Place weekend (11/12 August 2007):

Our Place

“An Airport is a non-place. This is Our Place.”

This weekend local residents of Harmondsworth and Sipson, villages both threatened by the proposed third runway at Heathrow, joined artists and climate change activists in a celebration of their homes and local history.

Held at the historic St. Mary’s Church Hall in Harmondsworth and in the street outside, local children made ‘Not For Sale to BAA’ signs for their houses and designed banners for the nearby Climate Camp, while others helped to build cardboard models of a house and a church to symbolise what they stand to lose if the runway goes ahead.

The organisers said, ‘The finished’ Our Place projects will be exhibited publicly, including at the Camp for Climate Action the following week. Climate change campaigners are concerned at the creation of climate refugees – people fleeing areas made uninhabitable by climate change. Christian Aid says this could make at least one billion people homeless by 2050. The Our Place project shows a common concern shared by environmentalists and local residents: the possible loss of the place we call home.’

One local resident, Mrs Francis, once Post Master with her husband in Sipson, brought a whole selection of old photographs of her home village, which stands to be entirely destroyed. ‘There’s a lot of anger,’ she said. These and other photographs will be displayed along with the cardboard structures at the Climate Camp. Other shared memories as part of an oral history project.

Songs of resistance (website) , including ‘Orchard vs Runway’ (Lyrics of the song Orchard vs Runway.pdf) inspired by the nearby grave of Mr Cox, originator of the Cox’s Orange Pippin apple variety, were sung through the day.

Local historian and author Philip Sherwood gave a talk on the history of Heathrow; he said he had first attended a meeting to oppose Third Runway proposals affecting villages North of the Bath Road (the A4) in 1946. He also showed how the proposed runway, said to be a ‘short’ runway, is actually logically to be extended in time to also destroy part of Harlington and create a five runway airport. ‘Where will it end?’ he asked.

Meanwhile ‘Mandy’ an erstwhile flight attendant handed out biscuits, including to the police forward intelligence unit that photographed and repeatedly visited the community art project throughout the Saturday.

Local women told off the police officers, saying they were violating peoples’ human rights. It was clear that residents were getting angry at the disruption with roads closed and many getting stopped and searched by police.

(Report above at http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/08/378076.html which includes photographs.

Report in Hillingdon Times ‘Camp hears community tales’ here: http://www.hillingdontimes.co.uk/news/localnews/display.var.1626943.0.camp_hears_community_tales.php

Also, post-event press release with event details here: press-release-ourplace-postevent.pdf)


Our Place leaflet, poster and press release

August 3, 2007

‘Our Place: A weekend of singing, storytelling and art-making to celebrate the place we live, and stop the third runway’

You can download and print-out the attached leaflet: ourplace-leaflet.pdf or the attached poster: ourplace- poster.pdf

The leaflet was distributed door-to-door in Harmondsworth and S ipson. The project was also announced at a second meeting of local residents, on 8 August 2007, held in Harlington at the Baptist Church by activists from the Camp for Climate Action.

Read a press release about the forthcoming event here: ourplace-press-release.pdf

Village faces being wiped off map

August 2, 2007

“There’s the church I got married in, the cottage hospital where I had my children, the primary school and the playgroup I helped set up. All of it will be under concrete.”

Linda McCutcheon, Sipson resident for nearly 40 years.

Source: BBC News 24, ‘Village faces being wiped off map”, 21 February 2006

A short essay by local historian Philip Sherwood describes some of the notable places and buildings in Sipson: Sipson Village.pdf

If Sipson were to be demolished for the airport then it’d not be the first time a settlement had made way for it. The hamlet of Heathrow was destroyed in 1944 to make way for it. You can read about it in Philip Sherwood’s essay ‘Heathrow – The Lost Hamlet’ : Heathrow – The Lost Hamlet.pdf

You can read more about the proposal for a third runway at Heathrow in this presentation given by the NoTrag local residents campaign group (requires Power Point software or similar): heathrowRunway3.ppt

Celebrate your home

August 1, 2007

This article is taken from the forthcoming Harmondsworth Parish magazine:

Celebrate your home at Our Place (11/12 August)

Residents from Hamondsworth, Sipson, Harlington and beyond are invited to take part in a community arts and history project on the weekend of Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 August at St Mary’s Church Hall in Harmondsworth (11 am – 6 pm).

The project celebrates the place we call home, at a time when our local area is under threat from the proposal to build a third runway at Heathrow. Historian and author Philip Sherwood will give a sideshow on Sunday at 2.30 pm to set things in context.

All are welcome to take part in the ‘Our Place’ arts project. To take part simply find photographs of your home (three are suggested but no more than 10 are required). These will be reproduced and attached, mosaic like, onto a large canvas which is shaped like the frontage of a house. Another copy of the photos will be archived. Photos of places other than home, like a school or elsewhere; places which we remember and cherish could also be bought to the project. A historian and journalist will listen to people’s stories of how they came to live here, whether it be 10 weeks or ten years or more, for an audio record. The project’s musician will weave the stories into a composition.

The finished ‘Our Place’ art work will be exhibited publicly including at the Camp for Climate Action (14-21 August). Climate change campaigners are concerned at the creation of ‘climate refugees’ – people fleeing areas made uninhabitable by climate change. A report for Christian Aid says this could make at least one billion people homeless by 2050. The Our Place project shows a common concern by environmentalists and local residents: the possible loss of the place we call home. For more information see: www.ourplace-arts.org.uk email: (see footnote) or phone: 07972 708 542.

A flyer inviting local residents to become involved in the project was distributed at a neighborhood meeting on 19 July 2007 at Sipson community centre, organised by activists from the Camp for Climate Action. You can see the flyer here: Flyer for Our Place project.pdf

(Footnote: please see the ‘About‘ section of the website for this detail)