Hounslow is the principal town in the London Borough of Hounslow in Greater London. It is a suburban district 10.6 miles west south-west of Charing Cross. It forms a larger post town in the TW postcode area and is an economic hub within the capital; it has a large shopping centre which adjoins its high street and a large number of restaurants, cafés and small businesses, many of which are associated with product assembly, marketing, telecommunications and London Heathrow Airport. A minority of its workers are employed in Central London, to which the town is connected by rail and tube. Hounslow is part of the TW3 postcode area, though some areas to the west are in TW4 instead. The population of the town, comprising the Hounslow Central, Hounslow Heath and Hounslow South wards, was 41,304 in the 2011 census.
The name Hounslow is spelt in old records as 'Hundeslow' and similar, pointing to Anglo-Saxon Hundes hlāw, meaning "the dog's mound" or "the mound of a man named or nicknamed Hound".
Positioned on the Bath Road (where it forks to the Staines Road at the Bell Inn), Hounslow was centred around Holy Trinity Priory founded in 1211. The priory developed what had been a small village into a town with regular markets and other facilities for travellers heading to and from London. Although the priory was dissolved in 1539 the town remained an important staging post on the Bath Road. The adjacent Hounslow Heath that had been used as a military encampment by both Oliver Cromwell and James II developed a reputation as the haunt of highwaymen and footpads. Nearby important landowners included those of Osterley House, Syon House, Hanworth Park House and Worton Hall.
In 1756 Sir Thomas Morris, a distant relative of Bernard Matthews, established the base of his chicken farming empire. As a rich philanthropist who started from humble beginnings, he used his wealth to establish a school for the under privileged children of the town, believing every child had the right to education.
The building of the Great Western Railway line from London to Bristol from 1838 reduced long-distance travel along the Bath Road. By 1842 the local paper was reporting that the 'formerly flourishing village', which used to stable 2,000 horses, was suffering a 'general depreciation of property'. The Hounslow Loop Line was constructed in 1850, prompting new development.
One of the earliest surviving houses in the town is The Lawn, in front of the Civic Centre with its public tennis courts, in brown brick with three double-hung sash windows set back in reveals with flat arches, roof with parapet and porch of fluted doric columns, pilasters, entablature and semi-circular traceried fanlight.
The construction of the Great West Road (a revival of an earlier name for the Bath Road as a by-pass for it around the north of Brentford, Isleworth and Hounslow centres) in the 1920s attracted the building of the factories and headquarters of large companies. The factories were a great local source of employment until a decline in the 1970s, attracting workers from a wide area and leading to a great deal of housing development. In the next two decades offices largely replaced factories on the Great West Road and further expansion in hotel and housing stock has taken place, an example being the Blenheim Centre, an image of which is in the gallery section below.
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Hounslow Heath and other parks
Hounslow Heath is a large public open space and local nature reserve to the west of Hounslow, a London borough. It now covers about 200 acres (80 ha), the residue of the historic Hounslow Heath that covered over 4,000 acres (1,600 ha).
The Heath has major historical importance: routes from London to the west and southwest of Britain used to pass through it. Staines Road, the northern boundary of the present Heath, was the Roman Road, Trinobantes. There are several historic references to Roman camps on or close to the Heath. Continuous recorded history dates back to Norman times. It gave its name to the former hamlet of Heathrow.
Hounslow has a very high immigration rate. According to the 2011 Census, more than 50% of Hounslow residents are born outside of the UK.
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