|Cuckoo Avenue and Cuckoo Park||Ealing|
Cuckoo Avenue is an avenue of horse chestnuts planted as the approach to the Central London District Schools, built in 1856/7 on the north-east part of the once extensive Hanwell Park estate, whose remaining land and mansion were sold off from 1884. The school housed up to 1,000 disadvantaged children; Charlie Chaplin was once a pupil. By 1900 it covered 140 acres, with its own well, sewage and gas works, supplied with produce farmed on the land. It closed in 1933 and most buildings were demolished apart from the central block, later converted into Hanwell Community Centre. The LCC Cuckoo Estate was built in 1933-39 on former school land with houses along Cuckoo Avenue, which became a double carriageway. Land behind the Community Centre became Cuckoo Park providing recreational facilities for the estate, with a small rest garden in front of the building that was restored in 1991.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/10/2010
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Cuckoo Avenue is a fine avenue of horse chestnut trees planted in the mid-C19th as the approach to the Central London District Schools, which were built here in 1856/7 on an elevated site overlooking the Brent valley, and which eventually closed in 1933. The remaining school buildings are now Hanwell Community Centre. The School was established by the Poor Law Unions of the City of London, East London and St Saviour's following the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, which enabled Poor Law Unions to combine in order to provide schools for disadvantaged children in their parishes. The Central London District School was originally run from a school in Norwood, but when this became overcrowded a site was sought to build a new school. As a result 50-60 acres of the grounds of Hanwell Park were purchased for the purpose in June 1855, for which the Unions offered the sum of £12,000. An architectural competition was held and the winning design by architects Tress & Chambers then proceeded to be built, estimated to cost c.£35,000.
The school opened in October 1857, its main block an Italianate style building with columns along the front, its clock tower added in 1880. The school was designed to house up to 1,000 disadvantaged and orphaned children, among whom was Charlie Chaplin who attended from 1896 to 1898. The school buildings included classrooms and living accommodation, and had a separate infirmary, its own well, sewage and gas works. It was surrounded by open land until into the C20th. It was nicknamed the Cuckoo School, as Cuckoo Farm was located near the river Brent to the north, and an old track called Cuckoo Lane led south from the farm along the school boundary, with a lodge to the west of the main school buildings. The tenant of Cuckoo Farm also farmed the school's land to provide produce for the school, which by 1900 covered 140 acres.
In the C16th and C17th the Hanwell Park estate was owned by the Millett family. By the C18th the area was fashionable and Hanwell Park was in the ownership of Sir Archibald Macdonald, Chief Baron of the Exchequer in the time of George III. In 1848 Benjamin Sharpe bought the property and sold the north-east portion for the Central London District Schools. Sharpe had died in 1883 and the remaining estate land and mansion passed to his son Sir Montagu Sharpe, who sold it in 1884. The south-east area of the estate was developed between 1894 and 1914 and Elthorne Heights was built over the north-west corner by 1935. The early C19th Neo-classical mansion was eventually demolished c.1928 and Drayton Manor School was built on its site. In 1936 81 acres in the south-west were reserved for Brent Valley Golf Course.
Following the abolition of the Poor Law Unions in 1929, all homes and schools controlled by the London Board of Guardians were transferred to the London County Council in 1930. As part of a process of rationalisation the LCC then closed a number of its properties including Central London District School whose numbers were falling and the nature of the school buildings were becoming obsolete. The school finally closed in 1933 and most of the buildings were demolished by the 1940s. However the central administrative block with the dining hall was retained and this was later converted into Hanwell Community Centre, which was administered by LB Ealing and leased to Hanwell Community Association.
The Cuckoo Estate was built by the LCC between 1933 and 1939 on 140 acres of land attached to the school and consisted of 'garden suburb' type housing, with Cuckoo Avenue housing laid out on the former drive. This became a double carriageway with a central gravel path running between the avenue of trees set in grass verges. To the west of the Community Centre is Cuckoo Park Rest Garden, a small, walled and railed garden that was restored in 1991 by Cuckoo Estate Tenants and Residents Association; a plaque records its re-opening in July 1991 and lists all those who supported the project, as well as the many people who were commemorated by plants donated by the Estate tenants and residents. Also in the garden is a drinking fountain with a plaque set into the wall that records it was erected in January 1901 to commemorate a past Superintendent of the school. The Rest Garden has a number of mature trees, perimeter shrubs, lawn and a structure resembling a well. Behind the Community Centre Cuckoo Park opens up as a larger open space providing recreational area for the estate.
Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 3: North West' (Penguin, 1999 ed) p184; Richard Essen, 'Ealing, Hanwell and Greenford', Sutton, 1997; Middlesex County Times, 22 June 1957; Peter Hounsell, 'Ealing and Hanwell Past' (Historical Publications, 1991) pp59-63.