Acton, London

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Template:Infobox UK place Acton is a district of west London, England, located in the London Borough of Ealing. It is situated Template:Convert 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. North Acton, West Acton, East Acton, South Acton, Acton Green, Acton Town, Acton Vale and Acton Central are all parts of Acton.

Acton means "oak farm" or "farm by oak trees", and is derived from the Anglo-Saxon ac (oak) and tun (farm). Originally an ancient village, 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. Acton is home to more railway stations than any other area of London; seven stations in the locality feature Acton in their name.

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 East Acton and North Acton.


St Mary's Church, King Street, Acton Central

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" or "Soap Sud City". At least 600 different laundries operated within South Acton; the last laundry closed in the late 1970s and is now a low redbrick block of flats.

The parish of Acton formed a local board of health in 1865 and became an urban district in 1894. The town was incorporated as the Municipal Borough of Acton in 1921. This authority combined with the municipal boroughs of Ealing and Southall to form the London Borough of Ealing, within Greater London, in 1965.


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. Waitrose started in Acton, as Waite, Rose and Taylor - on the High Street near the police station - with its second branch opening in Churchfield Road in 1913.

Acton is home to the largest housing estate in West London, the South Acton estate, with approximately 2,000 homes and 5,800 residents. 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. A Japanese school has also attracted a Japanese community to West Acton. The Somali community is concentrated around Church Road, and there are two mosques near the High Street. In addition, the Irish community has diminished somewhat in recent years, but there are still a number of well-supported Irish pubs in the area.

Acton will host the starting point of the 25 kilometre Thames Tideway Tunnel (also known as the "Super Sewer") at the Acton Storm Tanks in Canham Road. This will be built to avoid the discharge of sewage from Combined Sewer Overflow into the River Thames.


The Acton High Street has a range of pubs which vary in theme and clientele.

File:Acton Farmers Market.JPG
Pilot of Acton Farmers' Market, December 2006

The recently refurbished 'Mount' on Acton High Street hosts a Market on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Visitors can shop at stalls selling a range of produce, many stalls offering food to eat there or take away and many offering fruit, clothes, books and gifts.

Acton's library, swimming baths (built in 1904) and Town Hall are examples of tall Victorian municipal buildings that can be found along the High Street. Acton Swimming Baths closed in December 2011 for a three year development project, replacing the existing pools with a 25m 8-lane pool and a smaller teaching pool. The site will reopen in spring 2014.

On the east end of Acton High Street is Acton Park, which features bowls facilities, a children’s play area, tennis courts, a basket/football court, a pond 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.


Secondary schools

Acton has four secondary high schools, Acton High School, Twyford Church of England High School, The Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls and Barbara Speake Stage School. Acton was also once home to the school of Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls before they changed their site to Elstree, the site becoming the Cardinal Newman Roman Catholic High School. Acton also hosts the King Fahed Academy - a Muslim school.

Also John Perryn secondary Modern schoolTemplate:Fact

International schools

The Japanese School in London is located in Acton.

Acton in popular culture

  • South Acton is the site of actual housing estate featured in long running BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses - although the script described the Trotters as living in Peckham. The tower block where Rodney and Delboy were supposed to be living is the real life Harlech Tower.
  • The 1971 film Villain starring Richard Burton and Ian McShane clearly features Acton Central railway station in one of its sequences. Similarly another sequence in the same film shows the characters Danny and Inspector Matthews talking while on a train which they caught at Acton
  • Episode 1 of How the Other Half Lives, a Channel 4 documentary, shows the poverty of one family on the South Acton estate compared to living in the wealthy part of the country.
  • 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 a socially inept character who describes Acton as having "a few too many blacks."
  • An episode of Chris Morris's spoof news program The Day Today featured a segment called 'The Pool', a documentary about "St. Lamb's Pool in Acton". The scene was shot in the Acton Swimming Baths.
  • 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.
  • The English indiepop act The Hit Parade mentions Acton in their song Henry from 1993.
  • Leo Sayer's 1983 single Orchard Road in reality refers to Acton's Churchfield Road.
  • In the TV series Minder, Arthur Daley's car lot was by the railway bridge in The Vale with the door of the Winchester Club in Newburgh Road off Churchfield Road. The lock up was on the Bush Industrial Estate. Minder locations in Acton featured throughout series 7 to 10.
  • Acton Park often hosted filming for programmes such as Rose & Macaulay and The Deal.Template:Disambiguation needed Other parts of Acton were used for The Sweeney and early episodes of The Bill.
  • The first Waitrose store in the UK 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 filmed 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. ( incorrect- 47 Maple Avenue, Acton early 1950-1960 )
  • 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 15 November 2002 at Acton Old Town Hall, and Mick Jones joined Strummer on stage, marking the first time they performed together since Jones's departure from The Clash.
  • Clash drummer Topper Headon as a solo artist recorded a song called 'DuCane Road', named after a road in East Acton
  • 1970's footballer Robin Friday who played for Reading and Cardiff City was born in Acton. The cover of the Super Furry Animals' single "The Man Don't Give a Fuck" featured a famous picture of him showing a V sign to Luton Town goalkeeper Milija Aleksic while playing for Cardiff City.
  • Actresses Emilia Fox and Anna Chancellor and columnist and author Toby Young and co-producer Benjamin Rimmer are among current (2010) prominent local residents.
  • The family terraced home in which Jimmy Cooper, the lead character in The Who's film version of Quadrophenia lived, was located in Wells House Road, Acton. When left derelict, the house was stripped of fixtures and fittings by devotees of the cult movie.
  • Playwright/Composer Lionel Bart lived the latter part of his life in an apartment on Churchfield Road, citing the area as the closest thing he could find to the community feel of the East London "of old".
  • Sandra and Samantha Lawrence The Wee Papa Girl Rappers were a British female rap duo, who came from Acton & lived in one of the tower blocks next to Acton Police Station, the picture on the back cover of their album was taken out side their block.
  • Writer John Muckle's novel of motorcycle despatch riders 'London Brakes'(2010) is partly set and was largely written in Moreton Tower, Acton, in the 1980s. East Acton is the setting for the comedy series Sykes
  • "My Street" an award-winning documentary by director Sue Bourne was made in Goldsmith Avenue, Acton and featured twelve households there. Soon after transmission Abu Qatada's family moved into one of the featured houses and he spent some months out on bail living in the house.
  • The film Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009) was partly set in the Talbot pub on Mill Hill road, Acton.
  • Many scenes of TV series Silent Witness are filmed around Acton and Park Royal. The Silent Witness production offices and sets are located at BBC Park Western in North Acton.



Stations in the area are:

  • Acton Central railway station (North London Line)
  • Acton Main Line railway station (First Great Western)
  • Acton Town tube station (District Line and Picadilly Line)
  • East Acton tube station (Central Line)
  • North Acton tube station (Central Line)
  • South Acton railway station (North London Line, and formerly District Line)
  • West Acton tube station (Central Line)

Acton is the only place in London to have seven railway stations bearing its name, and the only place name in the United Kingdom with that distinction, other than London itself. Acton is also the only place in London to have stations named after all four of the cardinal points, north, south, east, and west. The widespread provision of train services reflects a long railway history, particularly associated (historically) with London Transport and the Great Western Railway.

North Acton has a large Great Western Railway housing estate (now privately owned), and the Old Oak Common TMD railway depot is located nearby. Acton Main Line station has a busy freight yard (operating ballast and container trains). Acton is also the location of the London Transport Museum Depot which houses an extensive collection of historic and heritage rolling stock.


London Buses routes 7, 70, 72, 207, 228, 260, 266, 272, 283, 427, 440, 487, 607, E3, N7, N11 and N207 serve Acton.

Shelved tram proposals

Transport for London, led by then 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 resulted in strong differences in opinion between TfL, who supported the scheme, and local councils throughout the proposed route, who all took a 'no tram' stance.

The West London Tram was finally scrapped when former Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed that the long-awaited Crossrail would go ahead in October 2007. Acton Main Line railway station is to be part of the Crossrail network once it is completed.

Neighbouring places

  • Ealing
  • Harlesden
  • Park Royal
  • Shepherds Bush




External links


Template:LB Ealing Template:London Districts