History unlocked in Cranford

A Victorian lock up for ‘rogues and villains’ in Hounslow has been unveiled.

Published: Thursday, 7th December 2017

Image of the restored lock up in Cranford, Hounslow.

Hounslow Council and the Heritage of London Trust yesterday (6 December 2017) unveiled the restored Cranford Village Lock Up, near the Bath Road in Hounslow. 

The lock up was used for the temporary detention of thieves and drunks in the 19th century. The village of Cranford was on the main route leading into London from the west - now the A4 - and as a result, had particular problems with robbers preying on wealthy travellers. 

Locals called the lock up ‘The Highwaymen’s Cage’ on account of the ‘cut-throats and plunderers’ who were believed to have targeted passing coaches. Any offenders caught would spend a night in the lock up before being taken in front of a magistrate.

The Cranford Lock Up fell out of use by the mid-19th Century. After the expansion of the Metropolitan Police in 1839, stations were built with their own holding cells. In 1939, Cranford’s Village Lock Up was recognised as a piece of history in London and preserved under the Town and Country Planning Act. It was listed Grade II in 1973. 

Councillor Amrit Mann, Deputy Leader of Hounslow Council and Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “Our borough is steeped in history.

“With the restoration of the lock up, we have uncovered a wealth of information which gives us an idea of what life was like then, particularly for those who found themselves, unfortunately, on the wrong side of the law.

“It is great to have it open, especially for our younger residents and visitors, who can learn so much more by paying a visit and getting a real sense of what it was like back then.”

Over the last two decades, the building has been covered with ivy, which was damaging its structure. The Council has worked with the Heritage of London Trust to restore the historic building.

Dr Nicola Stacey, Heritage of London Trust Director, said: “This has been a fantastic project to be involved with. The lock up is an amazing survival from the old village of Cranford. 

“It was in very bad condition with big cracks in the mortar and roof and no one passing it would have known what it was used for. It has now been perfectly restored with an information panel as well. Hounslow Council has been great to work with this whole summer and really got behind the project.”