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Coordinates: 51°30′38″N 0°15′46″W / 51.510519°N 0.262661°W / 51.510519; -0.262661

Acton Town Hall, built for Acton Urban District and opened 10 March 1910
Acton is located in Greater London

 Acton shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ205805
    - Charing Cross 6.4 mi (10.3 km)  E
London borough Ealing
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district W3,W4
Postcode district NW10
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush
London Assembly Ealing and Hillingdon
List of places: UK • England • London

Acton is a place in west London, United Kingdom situated 6.4 miles (10.3 km) 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.[1]

North Acton, West Acton, East Acton, South Acton, Acton Green, Acton Town 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).[2] Originally an ancient village (mentioned in the Domesday Book), 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 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".

The Braybrook Street area of Acton attained notoriety on 12 August 1966 when three policemen were shot dead after they apprehended three men inside a Standard Vanguard car which was parked in the street after realising it had no tax disc. Exactly four months later, Harry Roberts, Jack Witney and John Duddy were found guilty on three charges of murder at the Old Bailey and sentenced to life imprisonment. Duddy remained in prison until he died in 1981 at the age of 52. Witney was paroled in 1991 after serving 25 years in prison, and died in 1999 at the age of 69 after being attacked at his home in Bristol. Roberts is still in prison more than 40 years after being captured, and is now one of the longest serving prisoners in England and Wales.

The parish of Acton formed a local board of health in 1865; becoming an urban district in 1894. The town became 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 opeing in Churchfield road in 1913[3].

Acton is home to the largest housing estate in West London, the South Acton estate, with approximately 2,000 homes and 5,800 residents.[4] 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.

Out and about in Acton

Eating and Drinking

Acton High Street has a range of pubs which vary in theme and clientele. The Redback Tavern (which is an Australian bar) is a particularly popular pub for the many Antipodeans who live in and travel to the area. The newly opened 'Belvedere' on the High Street is the UK's first Polish pub run by a UK chain. More traditional pubs include the newly restored 'St George and the Dragon' on the High Street, which has earned's top 5-pint rating. The Red Lion & Pineapple (a Wetherspoons pub) is popular with all ages. On and around the High Street is a range of restaurants, Thai Nice, the North China and Pinto's.

On Churchfield Road, which runs north of and parallel to the High Street, is a range of pubs and restaurants, from the Churchfield near the level crossing to the Rocket, a gastropub and Lavelli's, a recently opened cafe and bread shop. Angela Malik has recently opened a cook school and deli and the Village Trading Shop offers coffee, cakes and a range of gifts. There are Lebanese, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish bars and various restaurants including Kalinka and l'Oriental. Churchfield Road also features a florist, a fishmonger, several specialist clothes and antique shops and many hairdressers.


Pilot of Acton Farmers' Market on 2 December 2006.

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

Acton's library, swimming baths (Acton swimming pool was built in 1904) and Town Hall are examples of tall Victorian municipal buildings that can be found along the High Street (a conservation area).

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

Acton in popular culture

  • Home of rapper Podgy Fingers
  • Home of rapper Crusada
  • Home of rapper PaRappa
  • 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 Central.
  • 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.
  • In the episode of Alan Partridge Towering Alan, the character Mike Sampson is from Acton. He is an odd character who describes Acton as having "a few too many blacks."
  • 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 Parde mentions Acton in their song Henry from 1993.
  • In the TV series Minder, a vacant site (now flats in Churchfield Road) was the location for Arthur Daley's car lot with the door of the Winchester Club a hundred yards away. The lock up was the rear part of a warehouse in North Acton. These locations were for the last series only.
  • Harlech Tower, on the South Acton estate, was a stand-in for the fictional Nelson Mandela House, the home of Del Boy in the popular sitcom Only Fools and Horses. It is Harlech Tower which is seen in the opening credits of that programme.
  • Acton Park often hosted filming for programmes such as Rose & Macaulay and The Deal. Other parts of Acton were used for The Sweeney and early episodes of The Bill.
  • The first Waitrose store 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.
  • The band Art of Noise featured a track entitled "Acton Art" as a B-Side to their 12" Single release of "Dragnet".
  • Sarah Jane Smith, the main character in Children's BBC Doctor Who spinoff The Sarah Jane Adventures, lives in the fictional Bannerman Road, in Acton.
  • Actresses Emilia Fox and Anna Chancellor and columnist and author Toby Young are among current (2010) prominent local residents.


Acton has seven railway stations, namely North, East, South, West, Central, Mainline and Town. Four of these are on the London Underground and three on national rail. Acton is the only town in London to have all four of the points of the compass as Stations.


Tube stations

Level Crossing at Acton Central Station

Railway stations

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 Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed that the long-awaited Crossrail would go ahead in October 2007.

Neighbouring places



  1. ^
  2. ^ Room, Adrian: “Dictionary of Place-Names in the British Isles”, Bloomsbury, 1988
  3. ^ Waitrose: seeking to attain perfection by Janet Appleyard-Hobbs 2009 Acton History Society
  4. ^ South Acton Residents Action Group
  5. ^ The Bob Rogers Show, Radio 2CH, 10:31:30 AEST 31 July 2008.

External links


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