London Wildlife Trust
A fantastic variety of habitats including woodland, reedbed, ditches, ponds and river can be found on a site formerly used for gunpowder production
Surrounded by the river in Crane Park, at Whitton near Twickenham, the reserve is a mosaic of woodland, scrub, ditches, ponds and reedbed that has grown up since it stopped being used as an industrial area in the mid-20th century. Crane Park Island now provides a home for many important and rare species and is an important place to learn about the River Crane as it flows downstream towards Isleworth.
At the entrance to the reserve is the Shot Tower, a Grade II listed building formerly used for lead manufacture, that was restored by the Trust in 2004 as a visitor centre. It currently opens to the public every Sunday.
Crane Park Island is a multiple Green Flag award winner.
Species you can see at Crane Park Island
Invertebrates: Ruddy darter
Mammals: Water vole
History of Crane Park Island
Crane Park is the site of the once notorious Hounslow Gunpowder Mills, built where the island is today. There were other mills along the river as far back as 1066, producing swords, oil and flour. After the mills closed, and a brief period as an ornamental boating pond before it became derelict, the pond was drained to create the reserve in the 1981. London Wildlife Trust has managed it since 1986.
The site has been surveyed by English Heritage under a project aimed at discovering, recording and managing the archeological remains left in the park. Further investigations into Crane Park's history are due to be undertaken as part of a new London Wildlife Trust project called Explosive Histories, which started in November 2016.
Management of Crane Park Island
Riverside willow and osier are regularly coppiced, reedbeds are cut on rotation, and invasive species management is undertaken regularly.
Facilities at Crane Park Island
There is a visitor centre at the Shot Tower which contains a permanent exhibition, information displays, toilets, a classroom, and viewing area. The building is currently open every Sunday, 1.30pm-4.30pm.
How to get to Crane Park Island
There are entrances by footpath via Ellerman Avenue or Great Chertsey Road. Bus 110 stops in Powder Mill Lane, and bus 111 in Hounslow Road, both near the Ellerman Avenue entrance; buses 481 and H22 stop in Hospital Bridge Road, near Great Chertsey Road. The nearest railway station is Whitton, a 15-minute walk away.
Opening times for Crane Park Island
The reserve is open at all times, while the Shot Tower is currently open Sundays 1.30-4.30pm, and for special events.
Accessibility at Crane Park Island
Most of the island is accessible by wheelchair, but one footpath has steps. Paths range from smooth to dirt. There are a number of bridges providing access to the island, without steps. Along the guided walk there is a bench, and seating by the river-dipping platform. The Shot Tower is accessible at ground floor level only, where there are toilets. Limited parking is available on nearby roads.
Status of Crane Park Island
Part of a Site of Metropolitan Importance; Local Nature Reserve
Get involved at Crane Park Island
- Volunteer with Crane Park Island's team
- Record species you've spotted at Crane Park Island
- Take part in Crane Park Island's events
- Book a school trip to Crane Park Island
Family learning at Crane Park Island
Crane Park Island hosts a programme of family learning opportunities aimed at the Richmond and Hounslow community. Courses include:
- Archaeology: Focusing on the amazing industrial archaeology of Crane Park
- Art Goes Wild: A chance to develop art skills including drawing, painting, printmaking and 3D work mosaics
- Wildlife Discovery: Exploring and understanding the natural world
- Tailored programmes for English language learners.
- Tailored programmes for children under five years
The courses are all based at the Shot Tower and use the park and nature reserve as a stimulus. Contact Alex Robb for more details on email@example.com
Crane Valley maps
The Trust has produced a range of illustrated maps showcasing all the reserves managed in the Crane Valley area: