Northwood Gravel Pits

From being the source of an essential material for road repairs to a public amenity open space

Where are the Gravel Pits?

The area in question starts at the junction of Copse Wood Way with Rickmansworth Road and runs through to Ducks Hill Road with access points at Rickmansworth Road near the Green Lane traffic lights, in Copse Wood Way near Sevenoaks Court, at the end of Butts Mead and on Ducks Hill Road opposite Denville Hall.

A brief history of the Gravel Pits

Early years

Pre 20th century

The Northwood Gravel Pits were a major source of gravel for mending local roads.

1806 to 1814

Under the Enclosures Act, most common fields were divided into plots and allocated or sold to individuals, but the Gravel Pits were not enclosed and so were allowed to continue as a source of gravel.


The gravel was described as “worked out”. The area was saved from development by being designated a public amenity in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee of 1897.


The site was formally conveyed to the Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council.

Intervening years

The area became rather neglected, but was enjoyed by children riding their bikes over the “ups and downs” of the gravel pits themselves. The varied trees and undergrowth provided a haven for wildlife; it is said that nightingales sang there both day and night in the early 1900s.

The NRA gets involved


Early 2004

The Environment sub-committee of the NRA met members of the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV) to identify areas of Northwood in need of improvement. The Gravel Pits met the criteria.

Spring 2004

Talks took place with the London Borough of Hillingdon (LBH) and Groundworks, the enabling organisation. A plan for the Gravel Pits was formulated; to open up the area and make good pathways through the woods suitable for wheelchair use, improve the entrances, revamp picnic areas, and to create a Nature Trail.

Summer 2004

A grant in excess of £40,000 was promised by April 2005. It was funded jointly by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Green Spaces and LBH.

December 2004

The work began. NRA executive members, family, friends, BTCV members with Alan Preece, the LBH Conservation Officer, joined forces to spend two days clearing the nature trail, building fences, making stag beetle pits, reducing the amount of laurel and gathering and removing quantities of litter.

Early 2005

Oak marker posts were set in place for the nature trail and steps cut into the steeper parts of the trail.

Summer 2005

The old horse trough on the corner of Rickmansworth Road and Copse Wood Way was spruced up and planted with flowers. The tarmac paths were laid, picnic tables and benches were installed and notice boards sited at each entrance. Project complete!


Jan 2007. A volunteer’s work is never done

Simon Varnals of the NRA established the “Friends of Northwood Gravel Pits”, a team of volunteers who help to maintain the area. When Simon moved away from Northwood his place was taken by Richard Plume.Volunteers meet from time to time to clear litter, sweep leaves from the paths, remove fallen trees from the paths and so on. If you would like to get involved with work at the Gravel Pits please send a message to

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