|Location Map ( geo)|
|Distance:||2.7 miles (4.3 km)|
|Meets:||A315, A3063, A312, A316|
|Old route now:||A315|
|Route outline (key)|
Until the whole area was swallowed up in the suburban sprawl, the largest community in western Middlesex was Hounslow, on the main Roman road to the south west (now the A315 and A30). West of here, Hounslow Heath extended as far as the River Colne, its poor soil discouraging settlement.
Hounslow became a major junction, with the Bath Road (now the A4) branching off the old Roman route. But there is a third road branching off here, heading in a south westerly direction, impressively wide and straight. This is the A314. Its straightness is not the result of any Roman origin, but simply because there was nothing in the way when it was built across the Heath.
Hounslow - Hanworth
The first few hundred yards of the A314 were hijacked by the A315 when it was diverted following pedestrianisation of Hounslow High Street, and it now starts at the beginning of Hanworth Road (one of four so named in this part of Middlesex) The mysterious signs proclaiming "Gurdwara" are directing you to the local Sikh temple, away on the right.
An interesting point to note here is that the interwar-period houses, as well as being set back from the road far enough for a subsequent dualling that never happened, are set at 45 degrees to the road. This is because the grid pattern of the side streets is based on the A315, diverging from us in a westerly direction.
The first landmark we reach is the junction with the A3063 (running north to Heston) and B358 (south west to Hampton Wick). We have now left the Borough of Hounslow for the Borough of Richmond upon Thames - the only borough which straddles the river. However, without changing direction, we shall find ourselves back in Hounslow before long.
We next pass the surviving remnant of Hounslow Heath, on our right. The only gradient on the route comes next – this in order to bridge a railway line. Parkland, and a slight kink in the road, herald the arrival of the River Crane, and the end of Hanworth Road, Hounslow. From here, we are on Hounslow Road, Hanworth – but curiously are back in the Borough of Hounslow.
The next junction is with the A312, heading south to Hampton, and north to Hatton Cross, Harlington, Hayes, and distant Harrow. Shortly after we encounter the only bend on the entire route, as we cross the Longford River, an artificial channel built in the reign of Charles I to take water from the River Colne near Harmondsworth to irrigate Bushy Park and Hampton Court.
And now, a flyover looms ahead – this is the A316 Country Way, and marks the end for the A314. The only dual carriageway section of the A314 is the short length under the flyover, and this is only truly an A-road in the southbound direction as the continuation to the south is unclassified and there is access only to and from the A316 in the country direction – traffic for the other movements has to use the A312 junction a little to the east.
As built, the A314 was so straight, and with provision for dualling, it appears to have been destined for greater things. So what went wrong? Well, two major changes to the transport infrastructure in the area have reduced the importance of this road.
When the numbers were given out in 1922, the main route to the metropolis for quite a large area of Middlesex, (and also Surrey via the bridges at Chertsey and Walton and the road through Halliford) would have been via the A314 to Hounslow, to pick up the Great West Road through Hammersmith. The building of the Great Chertsey Road in the 1930s changed all that.
As for the second development – Hounslow gets an ear-splitting reminder of this passing close above it every couple of minutes. The major centre of employment in the area is now to the west, and the A314 is poorly placed to serve it – hence the much greater improvements that have been made to the A312. The buses on Route 111 that you will have met on your progress along the A314 proudly proclaim "Heathrow Airport" on the front, but the Hanworth to Hounslow section is the middle leg of their curious Z-shaped route from Kingston to Heathrow, and much more direct routes to the airport are available.
Incidentally, Middlesex seems to have more than its fair share of place names beginning with "H". There are twelve Middlesex place names in this article, and all of them start with "H".
Original Author(s): Tim Lidbetter