A series celebrating the unsung quarters of London. This time: Acton.
Visit Churchfield Road
Churchfield Road runs from Acton Central station to the centre of Acton. It's possibly one of the friendliest communities we've ever stumbled upon. We felt we were stepping into an alternate reality, completely divorced from a city which has been called 'a place run by people who don't like people'.
The drag is home to dozens of independent cafés, antique stores, even a fishing shop. As we enjoyed a tasty hot chocolate in one of said cafés, it was clear everyone knew each other. The owner was happy to leave the joint with just customers inside, popping out to talk to one of her friends.
A spot worth seeking out is the English Butchers. It's run by an Australian named Tim English, who gives the store its name and brims with character. It's got a throne outside with a crown — maybe these should be permanent additions to all butchers. Tim then gave us a private look around Shotgun Studios next door, an arts space for young creatives living in the area. We were already falling in love with Acton.
Microcosm of London
It's a truism that London is diverse. However, as diverse as these communities and their cultures may be, a lot of them are sectioned off into their own corners of London. Stockwell is incredibly Portuguese, Southall has a massive Punjabi population and Green Lanes is very Turkish.
Acton seems to have just a little bit of everything. There's Greek cafés, Polish fishing stores, Lebanese restaurants and a Japanese estate agents, to tick off a few corners of the globe (and one rather niche activity). They all exist harmoniously side by side. Acton is London's real melting pot.
Incredibly well connected
Acton has seven stations; that's the most any area appears in a station name in London. The Overground has Acton Central and South Acton. The tube has four stops bearing the name Acton: East Acton, North Acton and West Acton on the Central line and Acton Town on the District and Piccadilly lines. Finally, on National Rail there's Acton Main Line. (Chiswick Park on the District line was formerly known as Acton Green.) This multitude of transport options is a reason to go to Acton in itself — there's no excuse for not getting there.
Oh yes, there's also this little railway at Acton Depot (more of which later). Although in fairness, it won't get your far:
Gunnersbury Park is great. Usually. Right now it's being torn up a little bit, as the park and its museum get some much needed refurbishment. When the museum, you can delve into Ealing's history, alongside tokens of the past belonging to the house's former owners, the Rothschild family.
So the market in Acton no longer sells medieval goods; sorry if you were looking for some strabery rype. But there is evidence that there's been a market in the area since medieval times. There's still a lot on offer between Wednesday and Saturdays in the centre of Acton, especially a great range of food — fresh fish, cheap falafel, Thai stir fry. After you've visited, pop by the George & Dragon for a pint. The pub dates to 1759 (and possibly further), but its microbrewery makes sure this place keeps pace with the 21st century.
Free jumping or London Transport Museum Depot
Bounce on down to the Oxygen Freejumping centre if you want a day out with kids. Or without kids, come to mention it.
If your idea of a family adventure is a little less active, there's another great alternative: the London Transport Museum Depot. If you've visited the London Transport Museum and come out screaming: 'NOT ENOUGH', this is the sequel you demanded. It hosts thousands of exhibits they can't squeeze into the main museum, including a library of old roundels, and old tube stock you can climb aboard. Book onto a guided tour or go to an open weekend.