ACTON TOWN (Piccadilly/District Line) LONDON TUBE RAMBLES
Please note that the Museum is currently closed for a major overhaul. Further details here
Gunnersbury Park, less than ten minutes walk from the station, is full of interest. Originally it was the garden of an 18th century Palladian house. Princess Amelia, daughter of George II, purchased the estate in 1761 as a summer residence and added a number of buildings to the pleasure gardens.
Among these was a bath house - though the charming pink battlemented building visible today is not the original. It may have been built over Princess Amelia's bath in the early 19th century when the estate was divided up, the old house demolished and two new ones built. These are known (rather anonymously) as the Small Mansion and the Large Mansion. The whole estate was later bought by the Rothschild family who sold the property to the boroughs of Ealing and Acton in 1925.
At the South East end of the park, near the Potomac Lake, stands a Victorian Gothick tower. The lake itself was once a clay pit, and the tower was built as a boathouse on the foundations of a tile kiln.
If you see that there is an event taking place on the large green space to the South West, I suggest keeping away from the area, as it is possible that temporary fencing will prevent you taking a diagonal shortcut which means having to walk much further than intended.
In the Large Mansion there is an excellent local museum which includes mock-ups of shop windows showing the development of retail trading. (Waitrose supermarkets began in Acton Hill in 1904 trading as Waite, Rose and Taylor). (See note above. The Museum is scheduled to open in 2017.)
While this is a lovely park, it is undeniably in need of restoration. Details of the problems and proposed solutions can be found on the website of the Friends of Gunnersbury Park. The good news is that thanks to a Heritage Lottery grants, work is under way on both park and buildings. By the way, the 1850's Gothick 'ruins' were a picturesque feature popular in large gardens from the mid eighteenth century, so don't expect a complete building to appear after the restoration is complete!
Directions: From Acton Town Tube turn left from the station along Gunnersbury Lane - you will soon see trees ahead. At the lights go straight over the North Circular Road into Pope's Lane. The entrance to Gunnersbury Park is on left, opposite Gunnersbury Drive.
Photos (click to enlarge)
Gothick bath house
View from verandah (Small Mansion)
This is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings to be found, in the area covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the link above and see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!