Monday, January 30, 2017

Ealing Broadway

Compared to the previous few stations I've visited, Ealing Broadway feels huge. Not only is it an Underground station for the District as well as the Central Line but it is also a main line station for the Great Western train service from Paddington

Soon it will also have the new East-West Elizabeth line (Crossrail) stopping here.

 I exited the station onto The Broadway.

The first thing I noticed as I crossed  the road from the station was this Estate Agency with a blue commemorative plaque on the wall to The Ealing Jazz club. It was in 1962 that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones first met Brian Jones here. Other artists who performed here include Rod Stewart and Manfred Mann.

Ealing Broadway has a busy shopping centre with numerous shops. I turned left onto the High Street in search of Pitzhanger Manor.

This is Ealing Green. In the 19th century this was the site of an annual 3 day Midsummer Fair. All kinds of wares were sold from stalls and booths and there were many weird races and competitions. Part of the Green was covered with tents and gypsy caravans.

At the side of Ealing Common is Pitzhanger Manor House. I was hoping to show you the Manor but as you can see from the photo it is being renovated. This house was designed and once owned by the British architect Sir John Soames. It is a Grade 1 listed building and the restoration is going to bring it back to its former glory. It is hoped that it will open again in 2018. 

This is a photo of the building prior to the restoration.

I walked through Walpole Park at the back of the Manor to get to Ealing Studios.

Named after the London borough in which it is situated, Ealing Studios has been making films since 1902 making it the oldest continuously working studio facility for film production in the world. . Will Barker bought the White Lodge (shown here) in 1902 as a base for film making,  The studios are probably best known for the Ealing Comedies and classic films made after the war such as The Lavender Hill Mob and the Ladykillers. The studios were used by the BBC Film Unit for forty years until 1995 with the sound stages used for everything from Porridge to Colditzz Recent films include The Theory of Everything and the Imitation Game as well as the interior scenes for the TV drama Downton Abbey.
The studios are behind the White Lodge and I went to find a side entrance to ask about studio tours. I was met by a security guard before I got that far to tell me there are no tours and photography is not allowed.

The security guard did let me take a photo of the sign with the St Trinians' figure underneath.

Across the road is The Red Lion also known as Stage Six because Ealing Studios originally had five stages. This was where the likes of Sir Alex Guinness, Sid James and other film actors would come for a drink. Apparently the inside is decorated with stills and portraits relating to the studios but it was closed when I was there so unable to have a look inside.

Walking back along Ealing Green this iron arch caught my eye. It leads to the Ealing Green Welsh Presbyterian chapel.

The chapel was opened at the beginning of 1909 with its membership reaching a peak of 241 members in 1933. A hall was added to the chapel buildings in 1952 for concerts, meetings and nurseries.

I continued walking on the Green and turned into Mattock Lane.
It was here that I stumbled across this facade  attached to the end of a building.  It had once stood as the entrance to the Walpole Picture Theatre  from July 1912 until October 1972. The theatre had 1600 seats all on one level and with a very basic interior. When it closed it was converted into a carpet store and when this closed it became a rehearsal studio for rock groups. It was demolished in 1981. Fortunately the developer saved the frontage and had it erected here against this building, a short distance from where it originally stood.

The Questors Theatre on Mattock Lane. The theatre was founded by 17 members wanting to start a local theatre group in 1929. Whilst searching for a permanent home to rehearse and perform they were given access to a prefabricated 'tin church' on Mattock Lane. Calling themselves The Questors, they eventually raised enough money to buy the site in 1952. It took more than a decade but in 1964 the new complex was opened. The theatre is now one of the largest independent community theatres in Europe.

It was inside the theatre that I discovered Pam's wonderful Vintage Tea shop 'Tea Darling' After my extended tea break I left the theatre  and walked round the block making my way onto the very busy Uxbridge Road.
Couldn't resist taking a photo of this shop window with its colourful display of Hookah pipes.

The Uxbridge road has a mixture of architecture with the Art Deco Fire station.
Modern hotels and office blocks

Ealing Police station

Longfield House with its mixture of offices and apartments is a really good example of an art deco building.

However, the building that really stands out is Ealing Town Hall. This late Victorian Gothic building was seen as a status symbol for the borough. It was opened by the future King Edward VII in 1888 and was fortunate not to be damaged during the war. One of its main features  is the decorative Victoria Hall but I was unable to see it.

The doors were open so I went inside but for the second time today I was challenged by a security guard. I assured him I was only interested in the architecture of the building and he let me take a couple of photos from the entrance hall but wouldn't allow me to go any further. During these troubled times I am pleased that security guards are on there toes.

Behind the Town Hall is Dickens Yard, once a car park and now a controversial new development of 
ridiculously expensive apartment blocks. It has been built adjacent to Ealing Town centre Conservation Area with its Grade 1 listed town hall, the 
Grade II listed Christ the Saviour church and the listed Fire Station.

I returned along the Broadway back to the station.

The original Great Western Station was demolished in 1961 and replaced with this low concrete structure with shops and a ticket hall, The new station building serves all the lines using Ealing Broadway station. This old facade is now the entrance to a variety of shops.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

West Acton

Arriving at West Acton I hoped I would find it more interesting than the previous station which I did, but with four underground stations in close proximity to each other I had to restrict my exploring to a short radius from the station.

The current station building at West Acton was built in 1940 and replaced an earlier station building of 1923. This  now listed building was built by the Great Western Railway even though it formed part of London Underground's New Works Programme which ran from 1935-1940.

The inside of the ticket hall is in a poor decorative state but maybe it is on the list for  refurbishing.

The opening of the station in 1923 was the stimulus for much housing development in the area.

West Acton is a large residential area with another tube station just 500 metres away at Ealing.

So there were plenty of mainly semi detached houses

not many apartment blocks

lots of railway lines

and a  lawn tennis club

On the approach to one of the railway bridges is this sculpture  of the Iron Duke, one of the first locomotives to ride on Brunel's Great Western railway. The artwork was commissioned by Transport for London following the replacement of two road bridges on Hanger Lane. The Iron Duke class of engine was very fast with speeds of 50-80mph in the mid to late 19th cent.

Further along Hanger Lane I was intrigued by these gates with the initials EV. There was no information near by telling me what the initials stood for but it was obviously a private housing estate.

I discovered  on the internet that EV stands for Ealing Village which was built in 1934-36. What was interesting was that it was built to create a mini Hollywood to attract the film stars working at Ealing studios. The facilities at the village included a club house, swimming pool, tennis court, bowling green and croquet lawn. However, many of the film stars still  preferred to be driven to the studios from their West End Hotels.

Many of the original features remain such as the outdoor pool, tennis court, clubhouse and gardens.

Residents of the village in more recent times have been television presenters, international models and politicians.

 Returning to the station I came across another housing estate of interest, the Hanger Hill Garden Estate. The mock Tudor estate was laid out between 1928 and 1936 . It has short terraces of houses and three storey blocks of flats. The land on which the Estate was built had been used as an aerodrome and for aircraft manufacture. It is the immaculate lawned gardens that sets it apart from other housing estates.

Apparently the estate is very popular with Japanese families, so much so that there is a Japanese school on the Estate.