Monday, July 10, 2017

Northolt

This is the 46th station on the Central line that I have visited. The Underground station was opened here in 1948 when the Central line was extended.




The station consists of an island platform with the lines running on either side.













A recent addition to the platform is this shelter. No doubt very welcome in the wet weather.




Leaving the station I was surprised by the volume of traffic on the road outside. I had heard of Northolt village so had imagined a much quieter environment.



Almost next to the station is a leisure centre complex comprising of a gym, swimming pool, library, cafe and police station. Always useful places for a visitor when in need of toilet facilities.














I crossed the busy A312 and within five minutes I had found the village green with its well maintained grass and flower beds.
This section of the green is Mandeville Green.  The old village green is just a little further down the road. Mandeville Road was built in the 1930s to link Northolt village to the new Western Avenue. Where it joined the old Ealing Road a triangular space was created which became the Mandeville Green.
Dominating the green is the Clock Tower. Erected in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI.

It has a splendid copper weather vane on top of the clock tower but I couldn't find out why it was in the shape of a ship.


Walking on you arrive at the older part of the village green. A small stream meanders through the green which looks very picturesque until you get a bit closer and notice the litter that has just been casually thrown into it! Overlooking this part of the green is a group of older cottages.




 In the older part of the village is The Crown public house. There has been a drinking establishment on this site since the early 18th cent. The original building and stables were extended and modified during the Victorian and Edwardian periods.






Next to the pub is this K6 telephone box. Eight kiosk types were introduced by the GPO (General Post Office) between 1926 and 1983. The K6 was designed by Sir Giles Scott to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935. Some 60,000 were installed around Britain which is why this design has come to represent the red telephone box. Despite the decline in need for public telephone boxes  over 11,000 K6s still remain.


The centre of the old village is overlooked by the parish church. Northolt Village Green was designated a Conservation area in 1969.







St Mary's church and the Memorial Hall is reached from the green up a lime tree-lined path.

A church has been on this site since 1140. The present church is mainly from the fourteenth century but has remnants from the thirteenth century.


The door was firmly locked so I had to be content with admiring the outside of the church.




Surrounding the church is the graveyard with its assortment of aging gravestones. A pathway through the graveyard takes you out onto open parkland.


I followed the path through the countryside park to the back of the church and it led me to the site of an old moated manor house.




 There is nothing left of the manor house but its history. The manor of Northolt was given by William the Conqueror to Geoffrey de Mandeville after the conquest in 1066. A stone Manor house was built here in 1231. A moat was also dug and this survived as a feature long after the buildings had been pulled down. The land was purchased by Ealing Borough Council in 1928 from a developer who wanted to build over the moated site. Instead the council turned the land into a park. The site was excavated between 1950 and 1970 and the finds removed to a local museum.


There are markers laid out to show the plan of the medieval manor.




Next to the church is the Memorial Hall. There have been many buildings on this site including a half timbered building used as a poor house until the 1830s. It was replaced by a schoolhouse in 1840 and then rebuilt in 1868. The building became inadequate as a school and in 1907 a new Northolt primary school was built in West End Lane. Since 1927 the building has been used as the Memorial Hall, run by the Village Green Trust.


Walking back from the Church and the Hall I passed the Northolt Village rest garden


Beyond the garden you can see the Crown Public House. Looking in the opposite direction you see the Willow Cottages.


There used to be three cottages here but these two have been left as a reminder of the spartan living conditions of the agricultural labourers from the early 1800s, They were occupied until 1930. The cottages became run down and condemned for their lack of sanitary facilities but have been preserved as part of the rest garden. Eventually they will become an interpretation centre with displays relating to the local manor house site and other places of interest. The door was open so I had a peep inside. Currently they appear to be used to store the gardeners' tools.


The garden is well tended with a number of seats to enjoy the scents and sights of the flower beds. After a short rest I walked back into the village.

This is the Northolt Village Community Centre complete with its model railway track running through the grounds.

There was one more place I had heard about and wanted to visit and that was the Northala fields. Four large mounds, rising from the countryside park like ancient burial grounds can be seen at the other side of Western Avenue.
I crossed the very busy A40 (Western Avenue) to have a closer look at the mounds.
The four conical mounds were created from rubble from the original Wembley Stadium when it was demolished.They were built to help reduce visual and noise pollution from the A40.
The tallest mound has a spiral path leading to the top.
From here you have a panoramic view of the area as well as the tall iconic buildings of central London. Unfortunately there was also a lot of rubbish on the wall despite there being litter bins!!!!












Behind the mounds are six fishing lakes as well as a large children's playground and other facilities.















Bridges and subways took me back along the High Street to the station and home.


The modern side of the village

It was an interesting visit to Northolt to see the old and the newer parts of the village. The local council and Residents Association  seem to be doing an excellent job of maintaining the green areas and preserving what is left of the old village. It is a great pity that some sections of the community do not have the same respect for their area and are content to leave litter everywhere.




Saturday, May 20, 2017

Greenford


The first thing I noticed as I arrived at Greenford Underground station was the absence of high rise buildings. No large office blocks or blocks of flats. Now that the tube is no longer travelling underground I can actually see the surrounding area before alighting from the train.
The station is not only an Underground station but also the  terminus for the National Rail  Greenford Branch line.

I took particular pleasure looking at this sign as I have visited all the stations Eastbound and just have another four to visit Westbound to complete my tour of the Central Line.
I didn't expect such a large, spacious ticket hall. The present station was built during the Central Line extension works between 1935-40 and was finally opened in June 1947 after WW2. It was the first London Underground station to have an escalator up to platforms at street level. Up until 2014 it still had the original wooden tread escalators. All other escalators had been converted to metal treads or been removed after the fatal fire at King's Cross station in 1987.

There are a few useful shops next to the station including this greengrocer's and a Polish delicatessen.
An unusual sign on the wall. Can only assume this is where the Post Office used to be and obviously not replaced.





I walked down Oldfield  Lane South to Western Avenue which splits Greenford in half. The main shopping area is South of the road whilst the industrial parks are North of Western Avenue. Fortunately there was a subway to take me across the road.

Just beyond the road is the Holy Cross Church. The church dates from around 1157 but the earliest remaining parts of the church only date back to the 13th and 14th centuries. The wooden tower is from the 16th C and the flint covered walls are 19th C. In the 1920s and 30s the population in Greenford greatly increased as more factories were built in the area. As a consequence the church was too small to seat the congregation.


In 1943 a new, much larger church was built next to the old one. The original church is now only used for special occasions

There were a couple of interesting gravestones in the church yard from the mid 1700s. Notice the skull and crossbones, a common symbol at that time denoting death and mortality.


Across from the church is the Greenford branch of The Royal British Legion. The Royal British Legion is the UK's leading Armed Forces charity. Founded in 1921, the Legion is not just about those who fought in the two World Wars but about all conflicts since 1945. Most towns and large villages have a branch of the Legion where members can get together for social, fundraising and welfare activities.




Most of the houses in this area were built in the 1930s and range from semi-detached to maisonettes.
However, prior to the expansion of Greenford there were a number of large mansions scattered around what was a rural village. The mansions were owned by families that had done well in their profession or trade and had decided to move into the country, yet be close enough to London.
The only one that still exists is Greenford Hall which is now the Greenford Community Centre. The Hall had a number of interesting owners including Thomas Earnshaw(1749-1829), a watchmaker who tried to find an accurate way of measuring longitude at sea. Although not successful he did improve chronometers making them available to the general public. He changed the name of the house to Longitude House. In the 1830s the house was occupied by Thomas Wakely who was a surgeon and coroner and founded the medical journal, The Lancet. Once Greenford was no longer the village in the country, owners sold their mansions  to developers and moved elsewhere.






Further along the road is the London Motorcycle Museum. It is only open at weekends so I was unable to have a look inside. This is the only motorcycle museum in the London area so I feel I should make the effort to return when it is open.
At the end of Oldfield lane is the police station. It looks like a converted house but at least it still has the blue lamp outside.

 Around the corner on The Broadway is Greenford Hall (not to be confused with the old Greenford hall which is now Greenford Community Centre). Opened in 1966, it had taken a 12 year campaign by the people of Greenford to obtain a public hall for the community. It was refurbished in 2011 and can apparently accommodate up to 500 guests making it a useful local venue for all kinds of events.
I was now on The Broadway,the main shopping street. It had a lot of food shops and fast food outlets. No high end shops here.




It is interesting to see how shops and buildings have changed. This art deco building looks as though it might have been Burton's menswear shop originally.












I wondered if the Tesco Metro was a converted cinema. After quite a bit of research I discovered that the building had been a theatre. The thin vertical tower featured the theatre's name in neon lettering.It was built in 1937 as part of the Granada theatre circuit and had a large stage. It seems it was used for live performances as well as being a cinema. It closed in September 1966. Tesco was going to demolish the theatre in 2009 and rebuild a much larger supermarket but that doesn't seem to have happened. I wonder how much of the theatre remains behind the shelves of food.

I couldn't find a cafe that appealed to me so I walked through Perivale Park back to the station.

Part of the Brent River Park, it has a variety of uses with its football pitches, children's playground and a hay meadow set aside for nature conservation.




I had to cross back over the Great Western Road


Walking North of the station The road took me through the industrial park area with factories on either side of the road. With a railway and canal Greenford attracted a number of factories such as Lyons, the tea makers; Rockware Glass syndicate, Glaxo laboratories to name a few.


In the midst of the Industrial estate is The Black Horse pub. Dating back to the mid 1800s it must have seen a huge number of changes. It is built alongside the canal and would have been a popular spot for the barge workers to have a drink.

It still has a large outdoor seating area attracting walkers and cyclists from the tow path as well as factory workers. It may not be the most attractive spot along the canal but you can still hear the bird song and see the occasional narrow boat gliding past.

I made my way back to the station and the long journey home.


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