Southall Green is really a very small area ( in 1790 Rector of St Mary’s Church, Norwood, describes Southall Green as the Hamlet where the Manor House stands with 33 houses ) roughly surrounded by Hayes, Northcote, Norwood on the North side: North Hyde, Hayes, South side: Beaconsfield Road to the canal to the right and left-hand side of South Road to footpath ( Devil’s tunnel ) then East Glade Lane to Top Locks, Havelock Road, left-hand side and Western Road, right-hand side of the road, with the Gas Works right in the triangle to Bulls Bridge.
So you can see when the railway came in 1838 it was almost on the Green’s northern boundary. For the first 20 years there was only a level crossing – Southall Station was built in 1859. Since then the bridge and road have been widened in 1926 and re-inforced in 1962. It is now rather ironic that we still have only half an out-of-date station.
The Gas Works with its sports fields and gas factory “Straight” or road, running parallel with the railway, and its transport section with its entrance in Beaconsfield Road, take up most of the Green west of the railway.
Very outstanding is the large gasometer. This was built mostly by German engineers in 1931-32 and, due to North Sea Natural Gas, is now redundant. It is 320 ft. high. Just after it was built it helped to raise money for the Southall Hospital. By paying sixpence ( 2 ½p ) people could climb or be taken by lift to the top to see the view. Lights had to be placed around the top and other identity marks placed on it to help aircraft.
Also in the Straight were two houses known as Govenor House and Chestnut Cottage, occupied by Mr. Stephenson and the other by Mr. Neighbour. Mr. Dave Neighbour, who was Mayor or Southall, was born there.
Just at the entrance to the Straight is what we always used to call “The Water Works”, with its 105 ft. red water tower ( to us kids Southall’s Castle ) built by A. & B. Hanson in 1890 for the South Western Water Board. My memories are of Mr. Beaver in charge, nick-named “Turn Key”.
On the railway side nearly opposite Randolph Road used to be a small pub named the “Prince Albert” – W. Freemantle was landlord in 1896 – but this gave way to the “Railway Hotel” ( or glass house ) in 1900.
Randolph Road and The Crescent were built to house railway and gas works employees.
This brings us back to Beaconsfield Road. On the corner of Randolph and Beaconsfield Road used to be a small, private kindergarten, run by Miss Nedwick, whose father was an estate agent in the same premises. The two Miss Bush’s lived a little further along. Beaconsfield Road lead right down almost to the canal built on both sides with the roads of the Hamborough Estate branching off on the right-hand side , Lewis Road, Hanson Gardens, Grange Road on the left-hand side. All this property was developed between 1900 to 1926, with the exception of Hanson Gardens and Ranelagh Road.
Beaconsfield Road was meant to continue over the canal by bridge to Hayes, but the powers that be have always shied at the cost of a bridge on the rates. Several uses have been suggested , including a fire station, school and meeting hall on the allotment site on the canal side, but who knows, one day the sensible thing will be done and thus afford a much needed relief road to Hayes.
Beaconsfield Road School, built 1914-15, was used as part of the Australian Hospital attached to the St Marylebone School during the first world war. The Technical College started its development around 1928. Both of these places are just out of the area of this book.
On the corner of The Crescent and Beaconsfield Road used to be Southall Coffee Tavern -proprietor Mr. Jarvis. This was burned down 9th August 1887. The site lay derelict until 1911 when the Central Hall was built – Mr. Vinicomb was caretaker – it was in general use for concerts etc. The Brotherhood used to meet there, their orchestra became well-known under its conductor, Mr. Oliver.
Moving along The Crescent was Deacon’s Cycle Shop, they also had a garage further along and were the first firm in the district to have a Car Hire Service. Lilicials Coal Office came next and what was a very old and well kept grocery business of Scott & Taylors. Next was a block of flat-fronted flats with about 30 ft. of garden in front. These had been built in 1880 and were in a bad state of repair so, as soon as the Council could offer alternative accommodation, they were pulled down, leaving the open space now earmarked for a car park.
Then came thirteen houses built for railway workers. These used to be slate-roofed, but this has given way to red tiles.
Steps leading to the station on the left.