diamond geezer

 Friday, February 09, 2018

London Borough of Ealing
Great Western Railway, zone 4
Hinterland: 2.5kmĀ²

Random station number 3 turns out to be the third least used station in London. Don't say I'm not taking you to all the best places. We're heading to West London's runtiest rail connection, the branch line between Greenford and West Ealing, which manages a half-hourly service during the day and shuts down completely on Sundays. It was slightly more useful when trains ran to Paddington, but Crossrail improvements have severed that, and now you can't even get to Ealing Broadway without a change. The line is an obvious candidate for Overgroundisation, apart from the fact that this would bring it to unnecessary prominence across the TfL network and basically, unless you live here, you don't care.

South Greenford station is a proper halt, essentially a couple of bleak platforms bunged in quarter of a century after the line originally opened. It's set on a viaduct, running high above the valley of the River Brent, which meanders out of sight to the south. Access is from the A40 Western Avenue, an unwelcoming spot brimming with particulates, and not ideal for the feeding in of potential passengers. New signs have been added at street level to indicate the line's recent cut back to West Ealing, but the main roadside signs still direct passengers towards stations that trains no longer stop at. On the positive side both platforms have step free access, so long as you can wheel yourself up a long tarmac ramp (currently lined with catkins and discarded bottles).

The southbound platform is the more substantial, remade from concrete rather than the original timbers opposite. Two Oyster readers have been installed, for the rush that almost never comes, plus a GWR network map in case you ever fancied a trip from here to Weston-Super-Mare. A couple of terracotta-effect planters have been added to the railings, long-since emptied, and a halo of spikes prevents anyone climbing to vandalise the loudspeakers and security cameras. Those waiting for their train can hide inside a shiny shelter, or gawp down the (very straight) tracks to see if anything is coming, or peer down through the trees (winter and early spring only) to the adjacent park and running track. On a Sunday it's a particularly forlorn spot, unless you have a sturdy thermos flask and a penchant for freight trains.

On its platform signs South Greenford station is subtitled 'West Perivale', highlighting its somewhat liminal location. A swirl of Perivale's interwar avenues can be accessed via a subway underneath the A40, whereas vehicles can only get in or out through the shopping parade on the far side of the dual carriageway. The Medway Parade on Medway Avenue features lots of shops called Medway Something (including Fish & Chips, Pharmacy and News), and has been jauntily rebranded Medway Village. Its moment of glory came when it was used as a location in the final Doctor Who story of the 1980s, Survival, as were several of the seemingly peaceful backstreets. Today's residents no longer have evil alien cats to contend with, and those with any transport nous head round the back of the sports ground to use the Central line instead.

The vast majority of South Greenford's catchment area lies to the southwest of the station, and includes the whole of the Broadway and adjacent shopping streets. Greenford Broadway is an excellent example of a major suburban parade, of late Metroland vintage, comprising two storeys of flats atop a long descending chain of retail units. Boots is one of a handful of survivors from 50 years ago, its painted logo still faintly visible high on a side wall, whereas the cinema-like building opposite has become an amalgam of bingo, slots and snooker. Hot food now makes up a substantial proportion of the Broadway's appeal, from kebabs to pierogi, and many's the schoolkid who nips here by bus at lunchtime for a boxed pizza. But what fascinated me most was an abandoned sweetshop by the main traffic lights - May's Confectionery.

This time capsule closed around ten years ago, already a leftover from a bygone age, and has somehow survived intact into 2018. The window display consists of several empty chocolate multipacks, emblazoned with long-abandoned logos for Cadbury's Snack, Twix Xtra and Freddo Caramel. The Maltesers boxes have become almost entirely colourless after a decade of sunlit leaching. Peer through the sticky glass and the interior looks much as it must have done after Mr or Mrs May retired, with half-full jars of boiled sweets stacked up on the far shelves and a ride-on coin-operated lion stabled beneath the Lemon and Lime Ice Shake dispenser. Sure, all the greetings cards have disappeared, and there are a heck of a lot of unopened envelopes piled up on a trestle table, but I could still imagine being small and staring up wide-eyed at the treasures on the counter. It's hard to say what amazed me more - that May's has never been snapped up as a takeaway, or that the lights are still switched on inside.

Things nearby which aren't shops...
The London Motorcycle Museum: A marvellous collection of powered two-wheelers, racing memorabilia and the ARP sidecar from Dad's Army. I visited in 2008. "The whole place smells of garage, and petrolheads will feel immediately at home." Open Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays.
Greenford Hall: Scandi-influenced public hall, opened in 1966 by Dame Edith Evans, and recently refurbished. If you want to host a huge wedding reception with draped ribbons and candelabra, or throw an am-dram panto, get in touch.
Perivale Park: Floodplain rec for football, cricket, bowls and golf, which you'll have yomped through on section 8 if you've ever walked the Capital Ring.
Ravenor Park: Former farmland, now a park-on-a-hill, featuring a nature reserve, an avenue of white poplars and a rose garden.
Litten Nature Reserve: One hectare of woodland, including three ponds, minibeast area and hireable classroom, watched over by conservation volunteers. They probably love it. The gate was firmly padlocked.

I walked to the farthest point of South Greenford's catchment, almost nudging into Southall - the curved parade on Allenby Road. Here were more shops than I thought a place with no name could ever need, bookended by a bathroom showroom that used to be a pub and the building where Ealing's learners check in for their driving test. The car park outside the Roman Catholic church is chained off, to be used only ten minutes before or after each examined circuit. The parade has no butchers as such, only the Rose Meat Shop which specialises in chicken and groceries. Round the bend cashiers watch over grandmothers picking through bowls of fruit, and an internet cafe lingers beside a gated staircase whose sign once said Entrance To Flats.

In the surrounding streets immigrants from Eastern Europe and the subcontinent live side by side, and front porches contain signs saying A Yorkshire Terrier Lives Here, but in Polish. Here builders hurl chunks of bathroom into the back of a van, two lads in sweatshirts joyride down the pavement on a single saddle, and the mid-estate recreation ground is used by seagulls as a landing pad. The real London lurks far from the rail network, oblivious to pop-up cocktail deals, getting by.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
our bow
ian visits
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards