East Acton

East Acton, Ealing/Hammersmith & Fulham

With Wormwood Scrubs to the north-east and White City to the east, this is one of the less prestigious corners of Acton

East Acton station waiting room

East Acton had taken shape as an agri­cul­tural village as early as 1294. Some rural retreats started to appear here from the late 16th century, slowly eroding the village green. In 1654 a goldsmith named John Perryn settled in East Acton, subse­quently bequeathing his estate to the Worshipful Company of Gold­smiths.

Over the following centuries the Gold­smiths’ 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.

The Roman Catholic parish of Acton East was created in 1922 and its church of St Aidan of Lind­is­farne was built on Old Oak Common Lane in 1961. Parish priest Fr James Ethrington commis­sioned several works of art for the new church, including Graham Suther­land’s The Cruci­fixion (1963), which hangs above the high altar.

Like Neasden and Cheam, something about East Acton’s character (or perhaps just the sound of its name) 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 episode 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.

Postal districts: W3 and W12
Population: 18,706 (Ealing’s East Acton ward, 2011 census)
Stations: Central Line (East Acton, Zone 2) and London Overground (Acton Central, Zone 2)
Further reading: Averil and Thomas Harper Smith, East Acton Village, Harper Smith, 1993