Hidden London

East Acton

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Ealing/Hammersmith & Fulham

With Wormwood Scrubs to the north-east and White City to the east, this is now one of the less prestigious corners of Acton but it was a distinct farming village as early as 1294. Some rural retreats started to appear from the late sixteenth century, slowly eroding the village green. In 1654 a goldsmith named John Perryn settled here, subsequently bequeathing his estate to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. Over the following centuries the company acquired additional land, put up twenty almshouses, promoted the building of a station (now Acton Central) and – after several failed attempts – instigated East Acton’s suburbanisation in the 1920s, following the arrival of the Western Avenue. Several streets were named after eminent goldsmiths such as Thomas Vyner and Martyn Bowes. The homes were relatively highly priced and were popular with civil servants and other middle class professionals. At the same time the council built the East Acton estate on land that had been Acton Wells farm (and latterly a golf course). Several of the village’s fields were preserved as sports grounds, most of which now belong to the Park Club, a 27-acre private facility off East Acton Lane.

Like Neasden and Cheam, something about East Acton’s character has made it a butt of anti-suburban humour. In George and Weedon Grossmith’s Diary of a Nobody Mr Pooter regrets visiting such an out-of-the-way place to attend the East Acton Volunteer Ball. A 1955 Goon Show lamented the dearth of earthquakes in East Acton. And in the BBC sitcom Sykes, Eric Sykes and Hattie Jacques played the bumbling brother and long-suffering sister who lived at the fictional 24 Sebastopol Terrace, East Acton.

click for area map (opens in a new window)
Quaint platform buildings at East Acton station

Postal districts: W3 and W12
Population: 14,448 (Ealing’s East Acton ward)
Stations: Central Line (East Acton, Zone 2) and Silverlink Metro (Acton Central, Zone 2)
Further reading: Averil and Thomas Harper Smith, East Acton Village, Harper Smith, 1993

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

 
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