Ealing and Brentford: Introduction

Pages 100-101

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 7, Acton, Chiswick, Ealing and Brentford, West Twyford, Willesden. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1982.

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Ealing, (fn. 1) which in 1904 claimed to be the 'queen of the suburbs', (fn. 2) was a roughly rectangular parish whose centre lay 10 km. west of Hyde Park Corner. (fn. 3) Its southern part, formerly called Lower Side in contrast with Upper Side or the northern part, included Old Brentford, containing most of the township of Brentford and constituting a chapelry from the 1760s and a parish from 1828. New Brentford, to the west, was a medieval chapelry formed out of the southern end of Hanwell parish and had its own government by the early 17th century. Ealing local board district was formed in 1863 without Old Brentford, which joined New Brentford to form a separate district in 1874. (fn. 4) The present account includes both Old and New Brentford but excludes a small detached portion of Ealing, south-east of Acton and known as Stamford Brook grounds, which was transferred in 1878 to Chiswick.

The southern boundary of the old parish followed the Thames eastward from Lot's meadow, east of Town meadow, to include Lot's Ait but not Brentford Ait (Surr.). From a point slightly east of Kew bridge it turned inland to Chiswick High Road, which it followed eastward before turning north and then east to Bollo Bridge Lane. The eastern boundary, with Acton, ran along Bollo Bridge Lane and east of Ealing common and Hanger Lane to a detached part of Hanwell, included in the present account, northeast of Hanger Hill. Thence it turned westward almost to Hanger Lane and followed it to the river Brent, which formed the northern boundary with Harrow, Perivale, and Greenford. The western boundary, with Hanwell, ran southward to the west of the modern Argyle Road and Northfield Avenue to meet Boston Manor Road near Boston House, whence it continued to the Half Acre, Brentford High Street, and the Thames. New Brentford consisted of a narrow strip between the Brent on the west and the Half Acre and Boston Lane on the east, except where the boundary curved east of the lane to include Boston Farm. The division between New Brentford and the rest of Hanwell lay roughly along the line of the railway west of Boston Manor station.

Ealing parish, with Old Brentford, contained 3,821 a. in 1881, (fn. 5) after the loss of 29 a. at Stamford Brook grounds. New Brentford then contained 216 a. In 1901 Ealing M.B. contained 2,947 a. and Brentford U.D. 1,091 a. During the 1920s Ealing M.B. was enlarged to 9,133 a. by the addition of neighbouring areas to the north and west, and from 1927 Brentford formed three wards of Brentford and Chiswick U.D., later M.B. In 1965 Ealing M.B. joined Acton and Southall M.B.s to form Ealing L.B., and Brentford and Chiswick became part of Hounslow L.B.

Much of the land is flat, rising gently from the Thames to reach 23 m. at the centre of the parish and 30 m. near Uxbridge Road. North of the road it rises more steeply before sloping down towards the Brent. The ridge of high ground, with Castlebar Hill at its western end, reaches c. 60 m. at Hanger Hill in the north-eastern corner of the parish. (fn. 6)

In the north part some alluvium, bordered by flood plain gravel, lies along the Brent. Most of the higher ground is covered by London Clay, with Claygate Beds on the slopes of Hanger Hill and Boyn Hill gravel on the east side of Castlebar Hill. Brickearth lies along Uxbridge Road, except where a band of Taplow gravel stretches north across the road east of Ealing common and east of Ealing Dean. The Taplow gravel extends across the parish north of Gunnersbury park from Acton to the Brent except at Little Ealing, where a tongue of brickearth runs from Uxbridge Road. Farther south is more brickearth, with flood-plain gravel at Old Brentford and a strip of alluvium along the Thames and at the mouth of the Brent. (fn. 7)

Two streams, later hidden by housing, ran southward on either side of Ealing village in the mid 19th century. The easterly one, from water in the grounds of Elm Grove, fed some small ponds in the fields east of South Ealing Road and larger ones near Clayponds Lane before flowing under Brentford High Street to the Thames. The westerly stream ran from Castlebar Hill east of Northfield Avenue to Little Ealing, where it fed ponds at Ealing Park; farther south it followed the line of Brook Road before passing under Brentford High Street and entering the Thames near Ferry Lane. (fn. 8)


  • 1. The article was written in 1979. Any references to later events are dated. The help of Mr. J. M. Lee and Mr. P. Hounsell in commenting on parts of the article is gratefully acknowledged.
  • 2. Ealing, Country Town Near Lond. (1904), 1.
  • 3. First 2 paras. based on O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. XV. NE., SE., XVI. NW., SW., XX. NE., XXI. NW. (1873 and later edns.).
  • 4. Below, local govt.
  • 5. Para. based on Census, 1881-1951.
  • 6. O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. XV. NE., SE., XVI. NW., SW., XX. NE., XXI. NW. (1873 and later edns.).
  • 7. Geol. Surv. Maps 1", drift, sheets 256, 270 (1951 edn.).
  • 8. O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. XV. NE., SE., XVI. NW., SW., XX. NE., XXI. NW. (1873 and later edns.); Bacon, Atlas of Lond. (1886); Gtr. Ealing Local Hist. Soc. Broadsheet, 10 Oct. 1960.