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