diamond geezer

 Tuesday, September 28, 2010

THE LOST RIVERS OF LONDON
Stamford Brook
tributary 1
- Bollo Brook


Yes, there's a lost river in London called the Bollo Brook. If that comes as a surprise, you clearly don't live or work in South Acton, because the name's everywhere. There are roads named after the Bollo, and workplaces, and a gastropub, even a youth centre. It's one of those words that works well as a geographical brand name, because how would you ever mistake it for something else.

The Bollo Brook is the westernmost of Stamford Brook's three headwaters. It kicked off roughly where Birch Grove meets the Uxbridge Road, a few doors down from Carpet Right and suspiciously close to the "Brookford" launderette. The nearest station is Ealing Common, which is highly relevant because this old river hugs the railway for almost the entirety of its length. Or rather the other way round. The District line from Ealing Common round to Turnham Green, laid in the late 1870s, followed fairly closely the line of the old Bollo Brook. I can't locate any evidence to suggest the railway precisely replaced the river, but presumably its undeveloped 'valley' provided the line of least resistance.

So there's a distinctly Underground flavour to the now-underground river. The Bollo Brook once ran across what's now Ealing Common Depot. It ran beside, or maybe through, the London Transport Museum Depot at Acton (next open in two weeks time) [photo]. It passed Acton Town station [photo], more precisely through the very obvious dip where the Acton Town Hotel now sits. And then it followed Bollo Lane for about half a mile - lost rivers don't get much more blatant than this. There's even a Bollo Bridge Road stretching off into Acton Proper, although no sign of any bridge beneath the apartment blocks. Across the railway is Bollo House, from which the western end of the Piccadilly line is managed. Then at Bollo Lane Junction a pair of level crossings - a rare sight in central London - but only one of which is still in regular (Overground) use [photo]. And finally the gastropub - The Bollo - which for some reason is represented on its sign by a pineapple. A complete load of Bollos, the lot of them.

At Chiswick Park (the tube station, not the park), the river's supposed to have swung east [photo]. It divided Acton Green Common from Chiswick Common, just as the railway does now, before edging away from the District/Piccadilly at Turnham Green. We'll rejoin the river here tomorrow. And we'll visit Chiswick House too, because that's both relevant and exquisite.


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