SOUTHALL: A Brief History

The Physical Geography of the Southall Region


Southall is a Municipal Borough in the County of Middlesex. Its area is 2,607.762 acres. Its eastern boundary is formed by the River Brent which separates it from Hanwell in the Borough of Ealing; on the southern boundary lie Osterley Park, Heston and stretches of the Grand Union Canal beyond which lies the Borough of Heston and Isleworth; the western boundary is the Yeading Brook (sometimes called the River Crane) which divides Southall from the Urban District of Hayes and Harlington; and to the north an invisible boundary separates Southall from Greenford in the Borough of Ealing.

Much of the soil in the western half of the district is brick-earth, but a broad stretch of land around Dormers Wells and on both sides of Windmill Lane extending into Osterley Park is composed of Taplow gravel. The immediate valleys of the Brent and Yeading Brook are alluvium. There are also some deposits of London clay in the region. The brick-earth was, of course, the raw material for the principal industry in Southall during the nineteenth century. The maps of the geological survey1 show the differences and extent of the soil better than they can be described in words.

J. A. Brown in his paper2 on the mammoth (discussed later) surmises that in pre-historic times the Norwood area formed the edge of a River Thames much broader and shallower than exists today and that gravel deposits were laid down as the ground slowly rose and the water receded.

Today the whole of the region is fairly flat: nowhere does the level of the land rise much above one hundred feet and only down the course of the Brent does it fall much below that figure. Small streams flow from Dormers Wells and from the direction of Southall Park by way of the Mill Pond in Greenford Road across to the Brent, and there are other streams in the Norwood area that make their way into the chain of lakes in Osterley Park. Many of these watercourses have in recent years been channelled into subterranean pipes and are not so obvious as they would at one time have been.