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Acton Park Ealing

Summary

In medieval times this was commonland. The southern part was used for brick-earth extraction in the 1870s, and there was a market garden in the south-east. In 1886 Acton Local Board began to purchase land for a public park from various owners, including the Goldsmiths' Company whose almshouses overlook the park. It was opened to the public in 1888 to commemorate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. It was laid out with radiating avenues of mature trees enclosing large grassed open spaces, with a sunken garden of rhododendrons and shrubs. Some of the trees may predate the municipal planting. By the early C20th there was a bandstand, now a circular flower bed, and other facilities were added, including the bowling green and cafe. In the early C21st a new community garden was created.

Basic Details

Site location:
Uxbridge Road/The Vale/East Churchfield Road/East Acton Avenue, Acton

Postcode:
W3 7JT ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Public Park

Date(s):
1888

Designer(s):
Landscaping of park by the Cheal family of Gatwick

Listed structures:
LBII: James Radcliffe Memorial Obelisk

Borough:
Ealing

Site ownership:
LB Ealing

Site management:
Leisure & Parks Service/Friends of Acton Park. East Ranger Team based at Acton Park Lodge

Open to public?
Yes

Opening times:
7.30am - dusk

Special conditions:

Facilities:
Bowling green, tennis courts, multi-use games area, basketball/football court, climbing block, playground, Apple Art Block, café (check for opening times)

Events:
Heritage Trail, Acton Extravaganza, Fun Fair, Circus and other events

Public transport:
London Overground: Acton Central. Tube: Turnham Green (District/Piccadilly) then walk. Bus: 70, 207, 266, E3

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/10/2010
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.ealing.gov.uk/services/environment/parks_and_open_spaces

Further Information

Grid ref:
TQ208801

Size in hectares:
11.05

Green Flag:
No

On EH National Register :
No

EH grade:
None

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
No

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No

In Conservation Area:
Yes

Conservation Area name:
Acton Park

Tree Preservation Order:
Not known

Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Local Importance

Green Belt:
No

Metropolitan Open Land:
Yes

Special Policy Area:
No

Other LA designation:
None

Fuller information

Acton Park, described as 'an excellent example of a Victorian urban park' (LB Ealing Conservation Area Appraisal), was created on land that had been used in part for brick-earth extraction in the 1870s, the evidence for which remains in the uneven ground at the south of the park. In medieval times, part of the site had been Church Field, one of four medieval common fields in Acton. In 1886-88 the land for the park was assembled and purchased by Acton Local Board from various owners, including the Dean and Chapter of St Paul's, but chiefly from the Goldsmiths' Company, which had been left properties in the area by London goldsmith and alderman John Perryn, after whom a local street is named. The Goldsmiths' Almshouses (q.v.) overlook the park from Churchfield Road, which had existed as an ancient track across the Church Field from Acton to East Acton Lane, and remained unpaved until 1860. The eastern section of the parkland had been owned by the Perryn Charity, and in the south-east corner had been a Mr Reeve's market garden. The park was opened in 1888 for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee.

Numerous mature trees are found in the park, including London planes and oaks, some of which may predate the municipal layout and early photographs suggest that they were mainly hedgerow trees; the 1842 tithe map shows regular enclosures. It is conceivable that the plane trees were planted to ornament the view across the level land from the Goldsmiths' Almshouses built in 1811. The municipal layout has radiating avenues of mature trees enclosing large grassed open spaces, and slopes southwards from East Churchfield Road giving views towards central London to the east. Tree-planting included clumps and groups of beech, hornbeam, horse chestnuts and lime, with walks lined with London plane, horse chestnut and lime. A sunken garden to the north of the Centre Avenue was laid out with rhododendrons and other shrubs. Near the main entrance one of the last elms in the borough, which died of Dutch Elm disease, has been carved to form a 28-foot sculpture called the Twilight Tree. The northern half of the park was formerly Pond Field and contained two ponds, the dry remains of which became part of a layout of walks.

By the early C20th the park had a bandstand, its site now a circular bed with ornamental planting, which had been used for popular entertainment in the early C20th, attracting large audiences. Other features dating from the mid 1930s include the bowling pavilion and café, and the brick piers and ironwork railings at the entrances on East Churchfield Road and The Vale. In the north, opposite Goldsmiths' Almshouses, stands an Obelisk created as a memorial to James Radcliffe, Earl of Derwentwater. The plaque records that he was one of the leaders of the Rebellion of 1715; he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Preston, tried and beheaded on Tower Hill in 1716. The obelisk was originally erected by Lady Derwentwater in the grounds of Derwentwater House, Horn Lane, Acton (demolished before WWI). It was given to the Acton UDC by Messrs F A and C J Kerven, then owners, and erected in the present site in 1904.

During WWII prefabs were constructed for ex-servicemen on the north boundary of the park where there were allotments. When the pre-fabs were removed a sloping bank was also taken out and an extension to the park was created on a bomb crater formed after a flying bomb destroyed Nos. 4, 6, 8 and 10 Churchfields Road. Acton Park Lodge on The Vale has been restored and is now the East Ranger Base; around this a Community Garden has been created. In the south of the park a new wildlife garden was developed c.2001 by LB Ealing's Parks Service in conjunction with the Friends of Acton Park.

Sources consulted:

Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed); Victoria County History. Candidate for Register information also lists Acton Parish tithe map, 1842; P Jolliffe, Acton and its History, 1910; OS Middlesex Sheet XVI.10 and XVI.14, 1914.

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