Once known as Jackass Common because an annual pony race was held there in the early 1800s, the Ealing Dean Allotments at the top of Northfield Avenue were founded in 1832 by the Bishop of London at the time, Charles James Blomfield, and are the oldest allotments in London! The 141 plotholders of the allotments are currently fiercely fighting a proposal to build flats on part of the site. They are keen to protect this last patch of green space after the Sherwood Close estate was built on allotments on the other side of the road in the 1970s. The Sherwood Close estate, with its main buildings named Target, Archer and Crossbow House, has in recent years been the location of criminal activity reminiscent of Robin Hood and is currently being redeveloped as part of Ealing Council's masterplan to improve the sink estates in the area.
West Ealing station started life in 1871 as Castle Hill station to serve the mainline railway that had passed through the area into Paddington since 1838. Frustratingly, the modern West Ealing station's main entrance is a standard domestic door which makes it rather difficult for commuters to enter and exit the station at the same time, and the station is closed on Sundays, which is a real rarity in London. Fortunately, work is currently in progress to transform this interchange by building a new station on Manor Road to serve the Elizabeth Line, which will whisk travellers from West Ealing to Bond Street in just 13 minutes and Heathrow Airport in 11 minutes, thereby halving current journey times.
Between 1871 and the turn of the 20th century, many houses were built north of West Ealing station to house workers using the railway to commute. Grand Victorian double fronted and semi-detached villas were constructed on streets leading off The Avenue, and smaller terraces were built in the area west of Argyle Road known as the Draytons. These properties have survived and prospered, now largely intact as family homes, and houses in these tree lined streets are much in demand by those looking for a balance of quiet, leafy surroundings, good access to transport, amenities and excellent schools.
The West Ealing Kinema was built on the site of Ealing Dean Cottage Hospital in 1913, and was remodelled and renamed in 1928 as the Lido Cinema. Later known as the Star Cinema, Cannon, ABC, Belle Vue and Gosai Cimena, the building housed a bingo hall, snooker rooms and Bollywood film screenings, but was eventually demolished in 2004 to be replaced with Lido House, a block of apartments overlooking Dean Gardens.
King Edward Memorial Hospital was built in 1911 on Mattock Lane to replace Ealing Dean Cottage Hospital, and served as one of Ealing's principal hospitals until it closed in 1979. The current Ealing Hospital on the borders of Hanwell and Southall replaced numerous local healthcare providers, such as Perivale Maternity Hospital, Clayponds Hospital and the King Edward Memorial Hospital. The site of King Edward's has since been redeveloped into a health centre and starter homes in Pursewardens Close.
Two old coaching inns in West Ealing served as stopping points for those travelling out from central London. One survives as the Diamond Hotel, formerly the Halfway House, whilst the other, The Green Man, was replaced by the Iceland supermarket but gave its name to the Green Man Lane housing estate behind it. The Green Man Lane estate was built in the 1970s on the site of the Stevens Town slums to give poor families decent living conditions after putting up with outside toilets and ramshackle cold, damp houses. Having been a hotspot for antisocial behaviour, the majority of the estate has been demolished over the last five years and replaced with upmarket higher density, mixed ownership apartments.
One of West Ealing's lesser known facts is that the early working career of Ho Chi Minh, the revolutionary Communist leader who successfully fought for Vietnam's independence, surprisingly began in West Ealing! Ho Chi Minh worked as a cleaner in the kitchens of the Drayton Court Hotel on The Avenue in 1914 before becoming a politician. These days the Drayton Court Hotel, which underwent a comprehensive refurbishment programme in 2016, is better known for having one of West London's largest beer gardens.
Interestingly there are places of worship in West Ealing for a range of religious denominations. The Amman Hindu Temple in Chapel Road is adorned with glorious gold decorations and is the hub of the annual Terotsava Festival and street parade attended by hundreds of London's Sri Lankan Tamil community. On Drayton Bridge Road is the London Sikh Centre and nearby on Lynton Road there is an original tin tabernacle church, now used as a Jewish Synagogue. Finally, the West London Islamic Centre in Brownlow Road hosts a range of community events to debunk popular myths about the Muslim faith.
Just like many high streets across the country, West Ealing's high street on Uxbridge Road has seen a decline in traditional shopping habits over the last thirty years. Branches of Woolworths, Marks and Spencer and BHS as well as local department stores Daniel, FH Rowse and Abernethie & Son have given way to handy discount retailers and charity shops full of vintage curios, whilst a large branch of Waitrose, a farmers market and smart eateries such as the Orchard Cafe have maintained an air of class in the area.
Generally properties in West Ealing tend to be around 10% cheaper than in neighbouring Ealing Broadway therefore buyers and tenants are able to find a more affordable home still with good local amenities. With the combination of Crossrail and comprehensive council-led regeneration, West Ealing is set to improve dramatically over the next five years and as such the area is attracting significant interest from investors and families seeking to capitalise on long term price growth. Savvy renters, meanwhile, can take advantage of the short term improvements at relatively sensible prices which are predicted to increase once the transport links and local improvements are fully established.