I was born in Chiswick, Middlesex, in 1967. Officialdom claims that Middlesex had been abolished by then, but I was born among those same Middlesex towns that had been home to generations of the Barnes family before me.
My grandfather's shop was in Chiswick High Road, his father's in Isleworth. For me these have always been Middlesex towns, whatever local government arrangements go on around them, and even if towns hide under anonymous codes like W4.
An aunt once told me Middlesex ended at the end of her road, as there the London postal district begins. It is an odd sort of county if it can be moved by the Post Office. I am happy to assert the continuance of the county.
It would take strong words to strike down a shire with 1,300 years behind it and Parliament has stayed its hand. We lost the administrative county (the 'torso' of the historic county, Betjeman called it) but the ancient county can claim to remain. Let us then stand up for our heritage. The Historic Counties Trust is here to do just that.
Middlesex is full of towns and villages that have grown together but grown individually, all full of places and memories. To lose the identities of our towns by neglect would be a grievous loss. Middlesex itself has a history of over 13 centuries, and its towns have their individual characters, despite the flattening effect of bureaucratically-imposed sameness.
The Historic Counties Trust is gathering material about Middlesex. We want to know what Middlesex means to you, and what your town means to you. What makes your town what it is, and what makes Middlesex what it is? Today's county is just as important. Heritage, after all, is not what has gone but that which we have now. We want your thoughts and your stories, your pictures of Middlesex past and present. Help us to build an idea of Middlesex today and in memory.
Some of the material will be used in an exhibition running from next year. Some will be used to build up in other ways an appreciation of the county and its places.
Middlesex is a county with a long history and vanishing traditions. It means something different to everyone.
Write to: Middlesex: What Does it Mean to You? Wise House, 38 Pinewood Drive, Potters Bar, Middlesex, EN6 2BD. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information visit www.historiccountiestrust.co.uk/middlesex or www.middlesexfederation.co.uk
Events since 1858
1858: The Chronicle launches and Hounslow's first town hall built on the site of the present WH Smith.
1862: Pears Soap first made in purpose-built factory in London Road, Isleworth, and is produced on the site until 1962.
1872: The old toll-gate at The Bell pub in Hounslow is abolished.
1875: The Urban Sanitary District of Heston and Isleworth established with Hounslow as its administrative centre.
1880: St Catherine's Church in Feltham opens, with porch, tower and spire added over the subsequent two decades.
1881: The fairs held at Bedfont on May 7 and Hatton on June 14 abolished by the Home Secretary on the representations of the Justices of the Peace.
1883: The first underground railway station opens on the site of the present bus garage, called Hounslow Town. Hounslow Barracks station, now Hounslow West, opened within a year, followed by the Heston-Hounslow stop in Lampton Road in 1886.
1889: Brentford Football Club founded by a rowing club seeking a winter sport.
1891: William Whiteley bought Butts and Glebe farms in 1891, renamed them The Hanworth Farms and used them to produce all the foodstuffs for his Bayswater department store.
1895: St Dunstan's Church in Cranford extensively restored.
1896: Brentford Union Infirmary opens and is renamed West Middlesex Hospital in 1920.
1905: The Council House, public library and swimming baths open in Treaty Road.
1912: The first bus garage opens on the site of Hounslow Town station.
1919: The first civil airline service between London and Paris started from Hounslow Aerodrome on Hounslow Heath.
1925: The Great West Road, constructed from Chiswick to Heston at a cost of £1million, is opened by George V.
1926: The gunpowder mills of Bedfont close down.
1928: Electricity supplied to Feltham for the first time.
1929: Grand Junction Canal in Brentford bought by the Regent's Canal and becomes part of the Grand Union Canal.
1931: The Graf Zeppelin Airship lands at Hanworth during the annual air garden parties, two years after Hanworth Park opened as The London Airpark.
1932: The boroughs of Brentford & Chiswick and Heston & Isleworth established, the latter with a ceremony attended by HRH The Duke of Gloucester.
1934: Osterley station is opened.
1935: Cranford House and Park sold in 1935 to Middlesex County Council, leased to Urban District Council on 999-year lease and opened as a public park.
1949: Osterley Park House and grounds given by the Earl of Jersey to the National Trust.
1943: Holy Trinity Church, which opened in High Street, Hounslow, in 1829, destroyed by fire. The present church is consecrated in 1963.
1956: Feltham Urban District Council buys the air park for £110,557 and opens it as a public space three years later.
1965: London Borough of Hounslow is established as the M4 motorway, built over Brentford and Heston while dividing Cranford in two, opens.
1966: Feltham High Street redevelopment is completed on the north side.
1969: Holy Angels Church in Cranford is destroyed by fire.
1973: The Cedars House in Cranford High Street is destroyed by fire.
1975: The Civic Centre in Lampton Road opens.
1977: Hounslow Hospital, which was built in Staines Road in 1912, is shut in the first round of health authority cuts.
1985: Hounslow Public Library and Town Hall in Treaty Road, Hounslow, is demolished and work starts on the town centre redevelopment.
1996: Hounslow High Street is pedestrianised between Douglas and Bell roads.
2006: The Centre, Feltham, is opened as a mixture of homes, shops, a library and medical centre.
2008: Britain's first 24-hour gym opens in Hounslow's new Blenheim Centre.