The neighbourhood



Our area was purely residential, but there were quite a number of facilities in the neighbourhood which grew up to serve the rapidly increasing population.

The Shops


Kelly's 1911 Directory for Ealing shows that there were a considerable number and variety of shops in the immediate vicinity. The first shop listed in Southfield Road, at number 1, just past the entrance to Speldhurst Road, was a fruiterer, H.J. Budd. Next door was Chas. White, fishmonger, and next to him Edward J. Roff, grocer. On the other corner of Brookfield Road, at numbers 7 and 9, was Herbert Wright, draper and post office. On the other side of Southfield Road, conveniently next door to the Council School, at number 60, was George Le Page, confectioner. Next door was Grimes and Pyne, Laundry, and above them, William Seton, a tailor. William Henry Gale, butcher, was round the corner, with Evans and Sons, bootmakers, and Hieronim Doberschutz, hairdresser on the corner of Latterbarrow Road - which was to be renamed Hamilton Road in 1911, at its residents' request. (Mr Doberschutz, his wife and six-year old son, lived over the shop, with their two assistant hairdressers, brothers Bruno and Alfred Goeppert. All except six-year old Sygmund have their place of birth given as Germany, but Hieronim and Sofie's nationality is given as "Pole (German subject)"). On the other corner, Trevor Hamilton Wilkins, MRCS, LRCP Lond, physician and surgeon, had his surgery.

Further on, on Southfield Road's second east-west running stretch, at the corner of Bonheur Road, at 75, was George Cox's dairy, and on either corner of Strauss Road were Henry Egerton, baker, and Charles Henry Tracy, MPS, chemist. Like the Doberschutzs, most people lived over their shops. Number 66 must have been crowded, since it housed Evan Evans, 63-year old bootmaker and repairer, from Denbighshire, his wife of 42 years, Hannah, "assisting in the business", their two daughters, Lucy, 28, housekeeper, Margaret, 16, dressmaker's apprentice, the three "and Sons" of the business's name, George, Percival and William, 26, 22, and 20, and John Carless, 25, a fifth bootmaker and repairer.

The School


The site of Southfield School was purchased in 1903 for £2,350. The building cost £22,587.15, and the caretaker's house and cookery centre £920 and £41 respectively, and the architects were Messrs Monson. The Infant Department opened in on 24 September 1906 with an acting headteacher and three uncertificated teachers for 236 children. In time there were three departments, Infants, Junior Mixed and Senior Mixed, each with seven classrooms and with places for 378 children. In 1907 one of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools wrote "This school serves an abnormally migratory population".

The following is taken from W. King Baker's "Acton, Middlesex", self-published in 1912. He wrote that the Infants School was "full of well directed and well controlled activity: the children are bright, happy and responsive. The material is good, for the children are well cared for at home, and the Head Mistress and her Staff have taken full advantage of their opportunities in every direction. In the Junior Mixed School the bearing of the children is smart and alert: their attitude towards their teachers and lessons leaves little to be desired, while the readiness and good sense shown in oral response and the excellence of the written and manual work deserve great commendation.

"This [Senior Mixed] School is providing a really excellent training for a number of industrious and well-mannered children. The curriculum is comprehensive and the instruction must thorough and intelligent. As a result the children are keenly interested in their work and are most responsive and pleasant to deal with. The time and trouble cheerfully given by the Staff to promote games and sports have largely conduced to the success of the school."

In 1930 the school was reorganised into senior boys, junior mixed and and infants, and since 1987 it has been a first and middle school.

The Park


In 1908 Acton Urban District Council purchased twelve acres of land which had previously been a brickfield from the Wilkinson Sword Company to create the public recreation ground. It is said that in very dry weather large rings appear in the grass marking the sites of the brick kilns. King Baker, writing in 1912, describes it as "a valuable lung in this rapidly developing neighbourhood."

The Churches


St Peter's Church of England Church on Southfield Road began as a tent in 1906. The Acton Gazette of 6 May that year reported:

"The growth of what may be termed the south east of Acton has been so rapid of recent years that it has been decided by the London Diocesan Missionary Board ... to form a new ecclesiastical district to be called St Peter's which shall comprise the Southfield Estate. Already that part of the district has a population of close on five thousand people... The services for the present will be conducted in a large tent erected on a piece of ground adjoining Southfield Road as it was found impossible to procure suitable rooms for the purpose. A site is however being sought on which to erect a temporary mission chapel, and in due course a church and vicarage will be built."

In 1907 the first permanent building opened, the Parish Hall, which was used as a church until the current church building was opened. The Gazette of 5 April 1908 described it as a "pretty little building for public worship capable of seating about 350 people". Several months the Gazette reported on the First Sunday School outing to Bushey Park, held on 24 July, comprising 150 children, teachers, parents and friends. "Hampton Court Palace was visited by a large number of the party and games were indulged in in the park."

The following is taken from the Church guide:

“Described by Pevsner as "plain and reasonable, an Early Christian basilica" (some have identified San Clemente in Rome as the inspiration), S.Peter's was built during the First World War.
The Parish began as a tent mission in 1906 and by the next year a dual-purpose hall by Morley Horder had been built. This was used for eight years and is still our church hall.
S.Peter's foundation stone was laid in March 1914. There was then a building strike and nothing happened from the end of March until August. Despite that delay, the church was ready for consecration on 24th April 1915. It was built in nine months and cost £9,500.
The architect was W.A.Pite FRIBA.”

An image of the church around 1914 and a plan can be found on the Church plans online site.

The streets form part of the parish of the Catholic church on Chiswick High Road, Our Lady of Grace and St Edward's. It was first built in 1864, but replaced by a much larger Italianate structure in 1886. The Catholic church in Acton, Our Lady of Lourdes, opened on Acton High Street in 1902.

Transport


For a brief period, from 1909 to 1917, the area had its own railway station, Rugby Road Halt, on the Hammersmith Branch of N&SWJR (the North and South West Junction Railway). The branch line ran from Stamford Brook, just behind King Street, to join the main line of the railway, now the North London Line, but the branch was very short-lived. You can read more about the station and the branch line, and see a map and photographs on the Disused Stations website (thanks to Graham Coult).