Acton History

Acton's Parks

Acton’s parks – Acton Park

The Goldsmiths' Company  had grand plans for the laying out of roads, and the construction of large houses on the land bounded by Churchfield Road East, East Acton Lane and Uxbridge Road. However after only building a few houses, the plan was dropped, and sold the  site to the local board for Acton park. In 1888 the local board bought 21 acres from the Goldsmiths' Company and 4 acres from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and laid out Acton park, between Churchfield Road East and Uxbridge Road including with sports facilities. The grounds were landscaped  in a rustic style by the Cheal family of Gatwick.

The Bandstand (which can now be located by a circular flower bed) is reputed to be the site of one of a number of windmills – this one being sited just beyond the Church Field – one of the common fields of Acton.

One of the features of the new park was the memorial removed from Derwentwater House, installed in 1904.

Whilst the wording on the label sounds a great story, the connection of James Radcliffe with Acton is probably only a legend, and the Monument is nothing more than a decorative garden ornament from Derwentwater House.

Derwentwater House Gates

At the west end of Chaucer Road alongside the garden of the last house, are some large iron gates. Legend ascribes them to Derwentwater House in 1715. The story relates that after the execution of James Radcliffe, Earl of Derwentwater for his part in the 1715 Rebellion, his body was brought from the Tower to Acton secretly by night through the gates which were never opened again. Alas, Derwentwater House was not built until 18O4 and James Radcliffe's body was taken north via Dagenham in Essex.

They are not gates in any true sense since they never opened on to a road or path. Outside was the Church Field. A drawing by J.C.D. Engleheart of 1822 which shows the path to East Acton, but no gate in the Derwentwater House wall.

Nicholas Selby bought Acton House in 18O3. It was surrounded by a long wall. In the Garden to the north, he immediately built Derwentwater House, The Manor Court Books described plots in the Church Field on the other side of the wall by reference to "the iron gates of Mr Selby" (1843 - 1859).

The gates would have been roughly opposite the garden windows of Derwentwater House, probably of the principal rooms. It is most likely, that the ornamental gates were they placed there in the early 19th century to provide a break in the high wall to give a view of the countryside beyond.

Acton’s Parks – Woodlands Park

The original pond that was rebuilt in 2006. (DK)

Edwardian view.

Views of the icehouse and the newly restored park taken in 2006 and 2007. (DK)

The former Woodlands House which fronted the High Street opposite the Steyne, together with about 6 acres of land was purchased by the local council in 1903 for the county school (most of the buildings of which still stand in the grounds of the college) and for the laying out of Woodlands Park. The grounds were restored in 2006, the icehouse excavated, and the former pond restored.

The former grounds of Woodlands House were restored in 2006 This shows the Icehouse, and the restored pond.

The Icehouse has been cleaned out and the ice well is now clearly visible.

Acton’s Parks – Springfield Park

Springfield Park was the area north of the town along Horn Lane. This may have been on Horn Lane opposite the present day Springfield Gardens. (DK)

Springfield Gardens was formed during the 1930s by the filling in of former gravel and brick clay pits with the soil excavated fron the Acton Northern Relief Sewer. The park was opened to the public by the Mayor (W Atkinson) in June 1935. (DK)

This park was built in the 1920's on the site of a gravel pit, and filled with the spoil from the construction of local sewers!

The flats in the background were built on the site of the Co-op Jam factory.

Acton’s Parks – Gunnersbury Park

Gunnersbury Park was formerly the home of the Rothschild Family, who were great benefactors to Acton. The Park not in the old parish of Acton, but was bought jointly by the councils of Acton, Ealing and later Brentford, for the benefit of the public. More details about the park are to be found here.

Most of the postcard images on this page have been provided courtesy of Mr Paul Lang. It is believed that all the images of old postcards on this page are out of copyright.  

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