Industrial Estate Visitors & a Schooling Whip
I used to run a distribution company from an industrial unit close to Heathrow Airport. The industrial estate where I was based was just a mile or so from Heathrow Terminal Four and adjacent to the M25. This was a convenient location in many ways but not without its problems. We were frequently affected by anti-terrorism measures and so became used to a military presence and security checks. These were nothing compared to an interesting experience with some unusual visitors to the industrial estate.
The fields in the area were often taken over by groups of travellers. Their arrival was almost always followed by pallets disappearing from forecourts. I once even found two of them raking around inside my waste paper skip. The authorities seemed powerless deal with the situation or evict them from the land and when they did move on they left an unfortunate mess.
I remember one occasion when hundreds of travellers had occupied a field next to the motorway. It was close to a cycle path that I used regularly. The travellers then disappeared overnight but as I cycled past the field I was appalled to see that it looked more like a landfill site. There was rubbish everywhere and I felt sorry for the land owner.
Building no Bridges
Following this episode trenches were dug between the roads and the access points to the fields. It was then impossible for the travellers to get their vehicles onto the land. I thought that the problem would now be resolved, but I was wrong.
Livestock and a Schooling Whip
One morning I drove into the industrial estate at the usual time. I got halfway down the access road before doing something of a double take because I couldn't believe my eyes. I was sure that I had just seen several horses, a sheep and some goats grazing on the grass in front of an industrial bakery. I was used to seeing planes, trucks and even army tanks in that road but not horses, goats and a sheep!
A second look confirmed that I had indeed seen the livestock. It then dawned on me that every unit’s car park was full up with caravans. There was a large pig outside an airline catering company and someone walking a horse down the middle of the street erratically waving what looked like a schooling whip. I wasn't sure whether this guy was using the whip to guide the horse or was just carrying it as an accessory. I was tempted to get out of the car and remove that schooling whip from the gentleman but he wasn't using it on the horse and I had bigger fish to fry. I was eager to get to my property to see if I had livestock in the car park too.
Time for a Truck
I was extremely relieved to find that the travellers had yet to reach the area of the industrial estate where my company was located. My car park was empty but I had seen more caravans making their way into the estate. I contacted a local transport company and had them park an articulated lorry across the front of my property after my staff had all arrived and parked.
The industrial estate had turned into a camp site and a small holding. There were animals on every available patch of grass and some were wandering around in the road - it was quite a sight. Thankfully they weren't there for long. Clearly it was easier to evict them from commercial premises than from a field because the next day things were back to normal. Bollards where then erected everywhere to prevent a repeat visit. I love horses but they have no place being guided around an industrial estate and certainly not by a man who didn't seem to know what he was doing with a schooling whip!