Of course one could not foresee that roads that were wide enough for horses and carts would, by 1982, be filled with cars, buses and huge lorries, and that almost every house would have a car parked outside. Gone are the days of the dust carts and dust bins, and we now have the black plastic bag and huge refuse lorries – but we also have the unpleasant sight of litter being deposited all over the town. This is mainly caused by paper from ‘take-away’ food and plastic and tin containers. In fact, the filthy state of the town was highlighted by Councillor S. D. Gupta (Mr Clean) in a statement issued by the Southall Environment Project – ‘By 1979 the whole of Southall area has become sadly run down and neglected. Decay is so widespread that filth and squalor are beginning to be considered normal.’ Most of the blame for the town’s neglect was laid at the feet of the town’s new residents. They were to blame because they did not know how to live in a town. In fact, the area’s whole decline was mainly because of residents failing to take any interest in the town’s affairs. What a change there has been in how the townspeople get their entertainment. The coming of television and the decline of the cinema now keep the older generation home in the evenings – perhaps this is a good thing for, unfortunately, a great many feel that it is unsafe to be out after dark.
Another thing that makes the town so untidy is that of ‘Fly Bill Posting’. We used to see the notice ‘Bill Stickers will be prosecuted’. What a pity this does not apply today. Most of our old established businesses have gone and our new traders are making King Street and the High Street more and more like a huge market.
Maybe the most suitable place at which to end this book, is the Southall War Memorial, standing as it does almost in the centre of Old Southall Green, on what was part of the Manor House Grounds. Erected to commemorate Southall men who gave their lives for their country and town. Still serving a useful purpose, the old Manor House (what is left of it) has played a major part in the history of the town for nearly 450 years. It’s occupiers being very attentive to local needs both morally and socially. How thankful we are that it has been preserved, together with the Manor House grounds which are beautifully kept by the Parks Department, and also there is a perpetual reminder of Southall’s one claim to fame – the splendid Martinware Fountain. The grounds themselves have done their bit with a bowling green for recreation at one time and, during the last war, as emergency ARP car park.
Were it not for people who had the interest of Old Southall at heart both the Manor House and the grounds would have been destroyed, for our new Southallians have tried several times to get the grounds for a car park, and other uses for the Manor House site.
So we end up at the place from which the town spread out — let us hope that this oasis can be preserved.
O God our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come.
Thank you for Southallians past
And bless all those to come.
R. J. Meads