Saturday, May 20, 2017

Central: Greenford


The first thing I noticed as I arrived at Greenford Underground station was the absence of high rise buildings. No large office blocks or blocks of flats. Now that the tube is no longer travelling underground I can actually see the surrounding area before alighting from the train.
The station is not only an Underground station but also the  terminus for the National Rail  Greenford Branch line.

I took particular pleasure looking at this sign as I have visited all the stations Eastbound and just have another four to visit Westbound to complete my tour of the Central Line.
I didn't expect such a large, spacious ticket hall. The present station was built during the Central Line extension works between 1935-40 and was finally opened in June 1947 after WW2. It was the first London Underground station to have an escalator up to platforms at street level. Up until 2014 it still had the original wooden tread escalators. All other escalators had been converted to metal treads or been removed after the fatal fire at King's Cross station in 1987.

There are a few useful shops next to the station including this greengrocer's and a Polish delicatessen.
An unusual sign on the wall. Can only assume this is where the Post Office used to be and obviously not replaced.





I walked down Oldfield  Lane South to Western Avenue which splits Greenford in half. The main shopping area is South of the road whilst the industrial parks are North of Western Avenue. Fortunately there was a subway to take me across the road.

Just beyond the road is the Holy Cross Church. The church dates from around 1157 but the earliest remaining parts of the church only date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. The wooden tower is from the 16th C and the flint covered walls are 19th C. In the 1920s and 30s the population in Greenford greatly increased as more factories were built in the area. As a consequence the church was too small to seat the congregation.


In 1943 a new, much larger church was built next to the old one. The original church is now only used for special occasions

There were a couple of interesting gravestones in the church yard from the mid 1700s. Notice the skull and crossbones, a common symbol at that time denoting death and mortality.


Across from the church is the Greenford branch of The Royal British Legion. The Royal British Legion is the UK's leading Armed Forces charity. Founded in 1921, the Legion is not just about those who fought in the two World Wars but about all conflicts since 1945. Most towns and large villages have a branch of the Legion where members can get together for social, fundraising and welfare activities.




Most of the houses in this area were built in the 1930s and range from semi-detached to maisonettes.
However, prior to the expansion of Greenford there were a number of large mansions scattered around what was a rural village. The mansions were owned by families that had done well in their profession or trade and had decided to move into the country, yet be close enough to London.
The only one that still exists is Greenford Hall which is now the Greenford Community Centre. The Hall had a number of interesting owners including Thomas Earnshaw(1749-1829), a watchmaker who tried to find an accurate way of measuring longitude at sea. Although not successful he did improve chronometers making them available to the general public. He changed the name of the house to Longitude House. In the 1830s the house was occupied by Thomas Wakely who was a surgeon and coroner and founded the medical journal, The Lancet. Once Greenford was no longer the village in the country, owners sold their mansions  to developers and moved elsewhere.






Further along the road is the London Motorcycle Museum. It is only open at weekends so I was unable to have a look inside. This is the only motorcycle museum in the London area so I feel I should make the effort to return when it is open.
At the end of Oldfield lane is the police station. It looks like a converted house but at least it still has the blue lamp outside.

 Around the corner on The Broadway is Greenford Hall (not to be confused with the old Greenford hall which is now Greenford Community Centre). Opened in 1966, it had taken a 12 year campaign by the people of Greenford to obtain a public hall for the community. It was refurbished in 2011 and can apparently accommodate up to 500 guests making it a useful local venue for all kinds of events.
I was now on The Broadway,the main shopping street. It had a lot of food shops and fast food outlets. No high end shops here.




It is interesting to see how shops and buildings have changed. This art deco building looks as though it might have been Burton's menswear shop originally.












I wondered if the Tesco Metro was a converted cinema. After quite a bit of research I discovered that the building had been a theatre. The thin vertical tower featured the theatre's name in neon lettering.It was built in 1937 as part of the Granada theatre circuit and had a large stage. It seems it was used for live performances as well as being a cinema. It closed in September 1966. Tesco was going to demolish the theatre in 2009 and rebuild a much larger supermarket but that doesn't seem to have happened. I wonder how much of the theatre remains behind the shelves of food.

I couldn't find a cafe that appealed to me so I walked through Perivale Park back to the station.

Part of the Brent River Park, it has a variety of uses with its football pitches, children's playground and a hay meadow set aside for nature conservation.




I had to cross back over the Great Western Road


Walking North of the station The road took me through the industrial park area with factories on either side of the road. With a railway and canal Greenford attracted a number of factories such as Lyons, the tea makers; Rockware Glass syndicate, Glaxo laboratories to name a few.


In the midst of the Industrial estate is The Black Horse pub. Dating back to the mid 1800s it must have seen a huge number of changes. It is built alongside the canal and would have been a popular spot for the barge workers to have a drink.

It still has a large outdoor seating area attracting walkers and cyclists from the tow path as well as factory workers. It may not be the most attractive spot along the canal but you can still hear the bird song and see the occasional narrow boat gliding past.

I made my way back to the station and the long journey home.


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