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Hidden architectural gems

Vast steam engines used to pump drinking water around north London, a school’s otherworldly playground and a Jacobean mansion house are among Hounslow’s treasures being opened up to the public during Open House Weekend which takes places this weekend, 19 and 20 September.

Built in 1897, the triple expansion engines at Kempton Park, which pumped 86million gallons of water daily from the Thames to reservoirs in north London until their decommission in 1980, needed a dedicated train line to feed coal to their ravenous furnaces.

The Kempton Park water treatment works, in Snakey Lane, Hanworth, will be open to the public from 10.30am until 4pm on both Saturday 19 September and Sunday 20 September.

It promises to be a highlight of Open House Weekend, which is held annually to show off the capital’s rich architectural heritage, with many buildings closed to the public for the rest of the year.

This year, Hounslow Heath Primary School’s innovative playground, with its “adobe village” and lunar landscape of structures designed to fire young imaginations, will be shown off to visitors from 10am until 5pm on Saturday 19 September.

Boston Manor House and Gunnersbury Park and Museum stand as testimony to the borough’s past grandeur while Hogarth’s House is one of London’s finest 18th Century homes. Open House Weekend will be the last chance for people to view Gunnersbury House before it closes for major refurbishment.

And for those undecided about which architectural wonders to visit in Hounslow, there is a free two-hour guided bike ride leaving from Brentford Market Place at 12.30pm on Saturday 19 September and led by the Hounslow Cycle Campaign. The ride is for all over the age of eight. But children under 16 must be accompanied by adults. The pace will be gentle and suitable for riders of all abilities.

Councillor Ed Mayne, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Leisure, Hounslow Council, said: “Open House weekend is a chance for Hounslow to show off its rich architectural heritage to visitors from across the globe, especially those visiting west London because of Rugby World Cup 2015. Whether you want to marvel at the extraordinary engineering feats of the Victorian industrialists; or take in some of the borough’s rich historic tapestry, there is something for everyone.

“It’s great that visitors can come to Hounslow to enjoy the weekend but it is also a good opportunity for Hounslow residents to learn more about the neighbourhood on their doorsteps.”

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