On the 8th of October 2021, I introduced you to the branch line operated by Great Western Railway (GWR) from Greenford to West Ealing. Today, I’m at the other end of this branch line to complete the journey.
When the station opened in 1871, it was named Castle Hill, and a few years later, Castle Hill Ealing Dean. The station was finally named West Ealing in 1899.
The station has undergone many changes since its early days. TfL manages it as part of the Crossrail/Elizabeth Line developments. The track layout has been modified so that the GWR branch service to Greenford is on a new/separate platform to accommodate more TfL trains passing through to and from Paddington.
There’s also one quirky Parliamentary Train service operated by Chiltern Railways. Rail companies introduce these to keep a line open to avoid the need to consult and the extensive cost of closing them. The daily weekday service runs from South Ruislip to High Wycombe via West Ealing, and you can read about it here.
Later than planned, the new station layout was completed in 2021, with a new entrance, ticket hall, and step-free access to all the platforms via lifts and a wide, covered bridge across the railway lines.
There’s also a quiet corner along platform four just behind the stairwell and lift access area with a ‘Hands of Support’ TfL banner promoting the station’s staff and local community groups who look after this calming spot.
The trains operated by GWR along the branch line are a Class 165 Networker diesel push-pull. No 132, seen in this photo, is one of only 20 built in 1992 by BREL York for service on the GWR network, and this one has also served some time on the Weymouth and Gloucester route. It’s good to know that rail stock is reused to keep the older engines working.
West Ealing lies about halfway between Ealing and Hanwell on Uxbridge Road. A road popular in the 19th century as a widely used stagecoach route from London to Banbury and Oxford.
The name Ealing derived from the name of a man called Gilla and was bastardised by the Normans who couldn’t pronounce the name. But, as with many places that end in ‘ing’, it references a place where family and followers lived.
Thankfully, there are many travelling enthusiasts who share their stories across the internet. So I’m grateful to Stephen Benton for his London Postcodes Walk Blog, from which I’ve drawn some of today’s information. For more up to date information about West Ealing, you’re best to follow the West Ealing Neighbours Blog.
This former Depository and Furniture warehouse is just a step away from the station. The store name no longer lives on in Ealing, but there’s a good account of the store’s history on the John Saunders of Ruislip’s website. The warehouse has been converted into an elegant and imposing shared housing location.
The area surrounding the station and along the way to Uxbridge Road is very residential with what I would describe as typical London terraced properties along narrow roads. Well, narrow by today’s car-hungry standards with just enough passing space for a car with cars parked on both sides of the road. Something developers of the day would not have considered when building houses in the early part of the 20th century.
The demand for social housing is ever-present, and Ealing Council has done much to raise the standard of its buildings. However, there is still work to do as it’s hard to say whether this building is empty and primed for regeneration, as outlined in Ealing Council’s plans for Green Man Lane, or it has yet to make it onto the plans. Either way, it’s rather unsightly and an undesirable des-res.
It would be wrong to say that the walk along Uxbridge Road is like any other London suburb. Buildings and shops mix old and modern designs influenced by architectural fashion. But it’s the people and communities that make the difference. Here are a couple of examples:
Window Display – Even an ordinary dry cleaner has a story to tell. As I walked past Panache Dry Cleaners on Broadway, the sun cast a shadow of the window lettering on the side of a washing machine.
¡Hola Ealing! – There are many varied eateries along Broadway, but this Mexican take-away just grabbed my attention with its vibrant colours. It seemed pretty popular, too, judging by the flow of diners who visited whilst I took this shot.
Of course, an area is also defined by its history, but you have to look for it more and more these days as communities change. Thank goodness for the internet and other archive material that makes searching a little easier.
I mentioned Uxbridge Road as a coaching route from London to Oxford and Banbury. This former Halfway coaching house and pub is now the Diamond Hotel & Banqueting Suite. Its architectural beauty is above eye level, so look at it from the other side of the road to get the best view.
I carry on walking along Uxbridge Road as far as Hanwell Cemetery, formerly the City Of Westminster Cemetery, on the south side of the road. There’s an interesting mid-1980s scandal surrounding the sale of Hanwell Cemetery. You can read it here.
I decide to cross the road and head back towards West Ealing and go into the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Cemetery on the north side of the road. The cemetery was designed by Thomas Allom, who also worked on The Houses of Parliament. The cemetery opened here in 1855 to ease the burial pressures and perceived health risks in Central London. Its layout is classically Victorian with many curved paths and many different types of trees that, now in full maturity, provide shaded cover as you walk around.
Besides the disused chapel, these gothic arches are at the centre of the cemetery. They are built from Kentish ragstone. The sunshine seeping through the tree canopy adds to the mottled effect of the arches’ stonework.
I end my day heading north through Cleveland Park and then through the outskirts of Pitshanger Park en route to Alperton. I have to admit I jumped on a bus for the last part of my journey as my legs were weary by now. But not weary enough to stop me from walking along the Paddington Branch of the Grand Union Canal between Ealing Road Bridge (11) and Piggery Bridge (12). As with many of London’s waterways, the canal sides are a prime development target. And here are two contrasting buildings, almost side by side, representing this changing landscape.
Picture of the Day – Not Forgotten
No matter what your views on war (of any kind) are, spare a thought for those whose lives have been cut short and those they leave behind.
This view inside the Royal Kensington and Chelsea Cemetery is a small plot cared for and managed by Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). Their work is truly remarkable.
Since its establishment in 1917, the Imperial War Graves Commission (IWGC) and now the CWGC is responsible for the continued commemoration of 1.7 million deceased Commonwealth military service members in 153 countries. In addition, it has constructed approximately 2,500 war cemeteries and numerous memorials. It is also responsible for caring for the war dead at over 23,000 separate burial sites and maintaining more than 200 memorials worldwide.
- Location: Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Cemetery, Uxbridge Road, Hanwell
- Date/Time: Tuesday 01/02/2022 12:41 pm
- Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture – ƒ4; Shutter Speed – 1/100; Focal Length – 18mm; Film Speed – ISO100