Fairlane Drive, RM15

Road in/near Hayes (Middlesex)

(51.517363 0.288163, 51.517 0.288) 

Fairlane Drive, RM15

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Road · * · RM15 ·

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Hayes (Middlesex)

Hayes is a suburban development situated 13 miles west of Charing Cross, developed in the late 19th and 20th centuries as an industrial locality to which residential districts were later added in order to house factory workers.

Until the end of the 19th century, Hayes was primarily an agricultural and brickmaking area. However, because of its location on the Grand Junction Canal (later called the Grand Union) and the Great Western Railway it had a number of advantages as an industrial location in the late 19th century. It was because of this proximity that the Hayes Development Company offered sites on the north side of the railway, adjacent to the canal.

Hayes has always been heavily involved with industry, both local and international, and is (or has been) the home of EMI, Nestlé and H. J. Heinz Company. Past companies include Fairey Aviation (later merged with Westland), and HMV.

During the First World War the EMI factories produced aircraft. Charles Richard Fairey was seconded there for a short time, before setting up his own company, Fairey Aviation, which relocated in 1918 to a large new factory across the railway in North Hyde Road. Over 4,500 aircraft were subsequently produced here but Fairey needed an airfield to test these aircraft and in 1928 secured a site in nearby Heathrow. This became the Great West Aerodrome, but was requisitioned by the Air Ministry in 1944, and initially developed as a heavy bomber base intended for Boeing B-29 Superfortresses but when Second World War ended in 1945, it was taken over by the Ministry of Aviation and became Heathrow Airport.
The Nestlé company located its major chocolate and instant coffee works on the canal, adjacent to the railway east of the station, and it was for many years the company's UK headquarters.

It was in Hayes in the Central Research Laboratories (generally known as "CRL") that Isaac Shoenberg developed (1934) the all-electronic 405-line television system (called the Marconi-EMI system, used by the BBC from 1936 until closedown of the Crystal Palace 405-line transmissions in 1985).

Alan Blumlein carried out his research into binaural sound and stereo gramophone recording here. Trains at Hayes Station (1935) and Walking & Talking are two notable films Blumlein shot in order to demonstrate stereo sound on film. These films are held at the Hayes EMI archive.

In 1939, working alongside the electrical firms A.C. Cossor and Pye, a 60 MHz radar was developed, and from 1941 to 1943 the H2S radar system.

From the early 1970s to 2003 McAlpine Helicopters Limited and Operational Support Services Limited (later renamed McAlpine Aviation Services Limited) operated from two purpose-built helicopter hangars in Swallowfield Way industrial estate, as the company operated on land already owned by the Sir Robert McAlpine. The land on the other side of the Grand Union Canal is called Stockley Park and its buildings were intentionally positioned to allow safe passage for helicopters into the heliport in case of an emergency. Fortunately, this was never used.

Since development, industry has been pre-eminent in Hayes. The provision of adequate housing did not begin until after World War I, with the creation of dwellings of the garden suburb type.

George Orwell, who adopted this pseudonym while living there, lived and worked in 1932-3 as a schoolmaster at The Hawthorns High School for Boys, situated on Church Road. The school has since closed. Despite returning several times, Orwell was characteristically acerbic about his time in Hayes.


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