A sprawling town on the edge of the centre, you could say it’s where the westerly suburbs begin, a mix of the urban and the very suburban. To me it has a really special charm, probably like your home town does to you. I don’t think you can really seperate place and memory, it’s always “where was I when…”, or going back to a place having all the memories come flooding back. We’ll get back to this…
What does Acton have to tempt the interested visitor? Er, well apart from the well documented seven railway stations, not an awful lot. There’s the tram depot, the police station, the way the roads rise and fall due to Acton’s hilliness. The Redback pub, a homing beacon for Aussies and South Africans. Some history to do with the Earl of Derwentwater, acorns and laundries. St Dunstans church is haunted by monks. And there’s always the Uxbridge Road, the great through road, get a 207 in Shepherd’s Bush and take a trip to Uxbridge some time, you’ll see a lot of what I call London – gritty high streets, estates, tree lined commons, bustling shopping centres, ugly buildings like Ealing Hospital directly opposite great architecture like the Viaduct, Southall, the lonely strecth of Hayes…It’s all there.
So, what does Acton mean to me? Well, it’s all the childhood memories like collecting conkers from the four great Horse Chestnut trees in Acton Park, and leaving them to rot in the back yard all through the winter. Getting stupidly excited about diesels transporting cars past the back of my house, and running around shouting “Car train! Car train!”. Buying those polystyrene toy aeroplanes with the little plastic propellers at the annual fete (what were they called? can you still get them). Walking to school with my pal Nav, and sometimes meeting Harchie and Omar too, buying penny sweets from the tuck shop on the way home (Cola bottles -yay!). The green grocer who spent half his time in the betting shop, the newsagent who kept my copy of Transformers back for me…Oh, this is so whimsical, of course Acton does have bad memories for me too, but it’s the happy childhood ones that spring to mind first.