Acton, London

Acton, London

infobox UK place
official_name= Acton
map_type= Greater London
region= London
historic_county= Middlesex (1965)
country= England
london_borough= Ealing
constituency_westminster= Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush
post_town= LONDON
postcode_area= W
postcode_district= W3, W4
postcode_area1= NW
postcode_district1= NW10
dial_code= 020
os_grid_reference= TQ205805
latitude= 51.510519
longitude= -0.262661

Acton is a place in west London, England situated convert|6.4|mi|km|1 west of Charing Cross. At the time of the 2001 census, Acton, comprising the wards of East Acton, Acton Central, South Acton and Southfield, had a population of 53,689 people. [ [] ]

Acton means "oak farm" or "farm by oak trees", and is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "ac" (oak) and "tun" (farm). [Room, Adrian: “Dictionary of Place-Names in the British Isles”, Bloomsbury, 1988] Originally an ancient village (mentioned in the Domesday Book), as London expanded, Acton became absorbed into the city. Nowadays, Acton lies predominantly in the London Borough of Ealing, although some of East Acton lies within the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, and a small portion of South Acton within the London Borough of Hounslow.

Central Acton lies on the former main road between London and Oxford (the Uxbridge Road) and several inns along it date back several centuries as stopping places for travellers. Nowadays, the principal route linking London and Oxford (the A40 dual carriageway) bypasses central Acton, but passes through North Acton.


Towards the end of the 17th century several springs were found on the north-east side of Acton and, for a time, they became health spas. As a result of the local soft water Acton became famous for its laundries and at the end of the 19th century there were around 170 establishments in South Acton. These laundries would serve hotels and the rich in London's West End, leading to the nickname "soapsuds island".


Acton formed an urban district and, later, municipal borough of Middlesex from 1894 to 1965. Its former area was used to form part of the London Borough of Ealing in 1965.

During the 20th Century Acton was a major industrial centre employing tens of thousands of people, particularly in the motor vehicles and components industries. The industries of North Acton merged with the great industrial concentrations of Park Royal and Harlesden. Further south Acton Vale had famous names including Napier & Son (engines), H. Bronnley & Co (Soaps), Evershed & Vignoles (electrical equipment), Lucas CAV (automotive electrical), Vandervell Products (bearings), T. Wall & Son (Wall's Sausages and Wall's Ice Cream) and Wilkinson Sword (swords and razors). Acton is now principally residential, though it maintains some light industry, particularly in the northeast Park Royal area, and the south near the border with Chiswick.

Acton is home to the largest housing estate in West London, the South Acton estate, with approximately 2,000 homes and 5,800 residents. [ [ South Acton Residents Action Group] ] This area is currently in the Phase 2 of a major 15-year phased regeneration which includes near-total demolition of the existing residential units, and the construction of new and more numerous residential units.

Since World War II, Acton has had a small but notable population of Polish immigrants. In recent years, a number of Antipodean immigrants have settled there; there are several Australian and South African pubs concentrated in a small area. Other substantial immigrant groups include Iraqis and Somalis. A Japanese school has attracted a Japanese community to West Acton.

Out and about in Acton

Eating and Drinking

Acton High Street has a range of pubs which vary in theme and clientele. The Puzzle and the Redback Tavern (which is a horrible scummy australian bar) are particularly popular pubs for the many Antipodeans who live in and travel to the area. The newly opened 'Belvedere'on the High Street is the UK's first Polish pub run by a UK chain. More traditional pubs include the newly restored 'St George and the Dragon' on the High Street, which has earned's top 5-pint rating. The Red Lion & Pineapple (a Wetherspoons pub) is popular with all ages, and therefore constantly packed with underage students from the school across the road. On and around the High Street is a range of restaurants, including the Be Thai, Thai Nice, the North China and the only Nepalese restaurant in the W3/W4 area, the Tandoori Palace. The Windmill on 50 High St, is the last fuck family run independent freehouse in acton. This pub continues to live up to its legendary reputation as a Mecca for London Irish, Polish and Antipodean customers.

On Churchfield Road, which runs north of and parallel to the High Street, is a range of pubs and restaurants, from the Churchfield near the level crossing to the Rocket, a gastropub and further along the road [ Vanilla] , an organic coffee shop and deli. There are Korean, Lebanese, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish bars and various restaurants. Churchfield Road also features a florists, several specialist clothes and antique shops and many hairdressers.


The recently refurbished 'Mount' on Acton High Street hosts a weekly Farmers Market from 9 am to 1 pm (or longer) every Saturday. Visitors to the market can shop at choice of stalls selling a range of produce which includes organic & outdoor reared meat, game (when in season), dairy, fruit juice, freshly caught fish, plants, flowers, hand-made preserves, soft fruit & top fruit, herbs, free range eggs, bread and cakes from local bakeries and the freshest vegetables and salads.

Acton's library, swimming baths (Acton swimming pool was built in 1904) and Town Hall are examples of tall Victorian municipal buildings that can be found along the High Street (a conservation area).

On the east end of Acton High Street, is Acton Park, which features bowls facilities, a children’s play area, tennis courts and an art block. There is a cafe next to the bowling green selling meals as well as tea/coffee and cakes and ice cream.

Acton in popular culture

*Acton was the birthplace of The Who, of which all members except Keith Moon went to Acton High School (then named Acton County Grammar School).

*Pete Townshend's 1982 solo album, "All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes", contained the track "Stardom in Acton" in reference to his home town, while the accompanying video was filmed on and around Acton High Street.

*In the episode of Alan Partridge "Towering Alan", the character Mike Sampson is from Acton. He is an odd character who describes Acton as having "a few too many blacks."

*The Monty Python sketch 'Bicycle Repair Man' was shot on Churchfield Road; part of the sketch 'Hell's Grannies' was shot on Acton High Street.

*Leo Sayer's 1983 single Orchard Road in reality refers to Acton's Churchfield Road. [The Bob Rogers Show, Radio 2CH, 10:31:30 AEST 31 July 2008.]

*In the TV series Minder, a vacant site (now flats in Churchfield Road) was the location for Arthur Daley's car lot with the door of the Winchester Club a hundred yards away. The lock up was the rear part of a warehouse in North Acton. These locations were for the last series only.

*Corfe Tower, on the South Acton estate, was a stand-in for the fictional Nelson Mandela House, the home of Del Boy in the popular sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It is Corfe Tower which is seen in the opening credits of that programme.

*Acton Park often hosted filming for programmes such as "Rose & Macaulay" and "The Deal". Other parts of Acton were used for "The Sweeney" and early episodes of "The Bill".

*The first Waitrose store was in Acton. Originally called "Waite, Rose and Taylor", it opened in 1904, at number 263 Acton Hill. A metal plate commemorating this has been inserted into the pavement outside these premises as it was not possible to obtain permission from the current owners of the building to affix a plaque onto it.

*Scenes from the 1986 movie "Aliens" and the 1989 movie "Batman" were shot inside the disused Acton Power Station.

*The Ken Loach film Ladybird Ladybird was film at many sites around Acton including The Mount, the Town Hall, Vyner Road, Cumberland Park and parts of South Acton.

*Musician M.I.A in interviews has hinted one of the meanings of her stage name is "Missing in Acton", with Acton being the place she grew up.

*Adam Faith the pop singer, first lived at 4 Churchfield Road, from 1940, until about 1960.

*The band Art of Noise featured a track entitled "Acton Art" as a B-Side to their 12" Single release of "Dragnet".

* The band Carbon/Silicon recorded a track called "Acton Zulus" for their album, The Last Post

* Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros played a gig in support of striking firefighters on November 15th, 2002; And Mick Jones joined Strummer on stage, marking the first time they performed together since Jones's departure from The Clash.


Acton has seven railway stations, namely North, East, South, West, Central, Mainline and Town. Four of these are on the London Underground and three on national rail. Acton is the only town in London to have all four of the points of the compass as Stations.

Tube stations

* Acton Town tube station, Piccadilly Line, District Line
* North Acton tube station, Central Line
* East Acton tube station, Central Line
* West Acton tube station, Central Line

Railway stations

* Acton Central railway station, London Overground
* South Acton railway station, London Overground
* Acton Main Line railway station, First Great Western

Transport for London, led by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, proposed to build a West London Tram between Shepherd's Bush and Uxbridge town centre. It would have run along the A4020, the Uxbridge Road, through Acton, Ealing, West Ealing, Hanwell, Southall and Hayes End. This proposed scheme was highly controversial and has resulted in strong differences in opinion between TfL, who support the scheme, and local councils throughout the proposed route, who have all taken a 'no tram' stance. The scheme was recently shelved.

The West London Tram was finally scrapped when PM Gordon Brown agreed that the long-awaited Crossrail would go ahead in October 2007.

Neighbouring places

* Chiswick
* Gunnersbury
* Ealing
* Park Royal
* Harlesden
* Shepherds Bush



External links

* [ Acton community website]
* [ Residents' association for South Acton]
* [ Moosehead Acton Triva Quiz site]
* [ Stardom in Acton video on YouTube]
* [ Transport for London: Official site for West London Tram scheme]
* [ History of Acton website]
* [ British History Online - Acton]
* [ Acton Farmers' Market Website]
* [ Council Tax charges in 2007/08]

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