District Line
 

SOUTH ACTON - ACTON TOWN

(1905-1959)

A short spur line from South Acton to Acton Town that had through services to South Harrow and Hounslow Barracks until 1932. From then on, services terminated at Acton Town, at the now disused platform 5.

 


 

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1930s map showing the route between Acton Town and South Acton.
South Acton station is now just served by North London line trains but it once also had platforms for the District Line and for the Hammersmith & Chiswick railway.

 

 

 

Starting at the Acton Town end: a view of platform 5 and the one-car shuttle that ran between Acton Town and South Acton, seen here c. Feb 1959. The photo was taken from platform 4.

(Photo by Allan Hailstone. © 1959 )

Move your cursor over the image to see the view, photographed from a similar position, in 2012.
The partition gives an impression of more change than has actually occurred. The disused platform 5 still exists, it's just hidden from view by the partition. Needless to say, the track that served it has been removed.

 

 

 

The passageway that used to take passengers to platform 5.

(photo: 2012)

 

 

 

Platform 5 looking west. The platform edge is indicated by the join with the boarding that now covers the track area.

(photo: 2012)

 

 

 

Platform 5 looking east, toward the South Acton direction.

(photo: 2012)

 

 

 

Platform 5 looking east. The brick building beyond the bridge is the former signalling office.

(photo: 2012)

 

 

 

Acton Town looking west. The island platform that the photographer is standing on provides platforms 3 & 4 (3 being eastbound Piccadilly line, 4 being eastbound District line - usually). The missing track that led to platform 5 is indicated by the grass area on the right. The brick building on the right is the former signalling office.

(photo: 2012)

 

 

 

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The point at which the line crossed Bollo Lane. In the process of being dismantled after the line's closure, the bridge that was here collapsed into the road and had to be cut up where it lay!

 

 

 

Bollo Lane looking westward in the direction of Acton Town, showing the abutment for the bridge. The bridge skewed across the road at an angle.

(photo: 2009)

 

 

 

The shuttle just shy of South Acton station, which was just to the right of the photograph.
The embankment was removed entirely after closure.

( c. Feb 1959)

Photo by Allan Hailstone.
© 1959

 

 

 

The shuttle standing at South Acton station. The North London line platforms were to the left and at a lower level.

( c. Feb 1959)

Photo by Allan Hailstone.
© 1959

Two street level views of the station can be seen here and here.

 

 

 

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The site of the old South Acton station. The station was on an embankment at a higher level than the North London line station to its right.

(Jan 2004)

 

 

 

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South Acton station on the North London Line, looking north toward Willesden Junction.
The District Line station was to the left of the NLL station on an embankment in the area largely obscured by the red tree. The route of the track bed can still be made out south of the station site for a short distance.

(photo Apr 2003).

 

 

 

Similar view some five years later than the photo above. There is evidence of the building work about to take place on the former site.

(photo: 2008)

 

 

 

Another old station site falls to the developers. Without prior knowledge, no one would guess that the station as it is today was anything different, yet the District Line platforms were located where the large block of flats on the left is now, and the Hammersmith & Chiswick's bay platform was located on the right (see below).

A question on this site asking about the previous use of the area on the right received a detailed reply from Tony Holland, reproduced in its entirety below.

(photo: 2012)

 

The first building [on the right] is pretty much on the site of the down-side station building. In front of it is the 'bus stop' shelter that replaced it! The set-back of the fence close to the signal is roughly in the position of the bottom step of the footbridge, the stairs rising towards the camera. The bridge from which the photo was taken would seem to be a replacement on a new site. The signal box was located to the left, roughly by the base of the new footbridge.

The rest of the row of buildings follows the rear of the platform, and pretty much covers the alignment of the headshunt that once existed. A short way beyond the platform end was a trailing link to the platform road. This was the access to the Hammersmith branch hence the footbridge in the distance is wide enough for three tracks [this is line from South Action to Hammersmith and Chiswick, dealt with elsewhere on this site].

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(The footbridge mentioned in the paragraph above. Photo Jan 2004)

 

The branch paralleled the line on a rising embankment north to Acton Lane bridge, then curved sharply right and down. If you call up 'Southfield Road' on Streetmap you can see the alignment curving round behind Southfield playing fields and Hatfield Road. In my day it was freight only, but had originally carried passenger services. There was also a very small engine shed at South Acton (the only North London Railway shed apart from Bow) although there is no clear record of its location - best guess is near the junction of the Hammersmith line.

The District station was a bit higher than the NLR, and was carried over Palmerston Road, and rising on embankment towards the District main line that goes over the North London behind the camera. Although services had ceased a few months before I started work there, there were plenty of remains in situ - all they had done was close it down! There was originally a link beyond the station to the NLR line, and this was used for the construction trains for the Ealing & South Harrow, and District electrification works. It was disused from 1905, but not taken up until 1932 when the branch was singled and electrified. The junction was just this side of the Fletcher Road footbridge in the distance.

(Tony Holland)


 

Doug Barrow sent in his reminisces of the line:

 

I was born during World War 2 and lived in Ealing for a while before moving to Acton, then lived subsequently not far away in Middlesex from about 1949-50 until 1957 (when my family moved to Kent).

After passing the 11+ Examination I attended Acton County Grammar School - my First Choice in the three "would like to attend" schools we had to nominate in connection with that examination, before sitting the exam, from 1954 until early 1957. Acton County Grammar School was near Acton Town Station and adjacent to part of the Underground's Ealing Common Depot. Some of the School's classrooms were alongside the Ealing Common Depot's storage sidings, and I well remember seeing C, D and E Class former District Railway stock stabled in those sidings (where I also saw a newly-modified equipment-wise, from Metadyne O and P Class stock) set of COP Class arrive and stable. The sidings also had regular visits by former Metropolitan Locomotive No. 9, which I think was stabled at the Depot if not at the nearby Acton Works; at that time this locomotive still wore the grey livery in which the locomotives of this class were painted during the wartime.

I was very pleased to see your website as I've always been nterested in the London Underground system (other railways, too - and I've been a working member on a heritage railway for 23 years, and since 2003 I've also been working on the restoration of the Class 37 locomotive which my oldest son bought that year).

My Father was born in Bollo Lane, in a house not far from the overbridge, and when we lived in Acton my family's houses (we started off at a house not far from the one in which my Father was born, and later on moved a few doors along) were in Bollo Lane. All of the houses concerned, along with many others, were demolished around 1960 but I haven't yet researched this aspect during my writing-up of our Family History.

My choice of Acton County Grammar School was due to my feeling for the Acton area and the opportunity to visit my Grandmother and Aunts living in Bollo Lane. Many were the times I visited South Acton Station during the years I lived in Acton and then in Middlesex, and having revisited the station during 2005, I noticed that the former footbridge had been replaced and the two North London Line platforms shortened to 3-coach lengths (trains, in the "old"days, were 6 coaches long).

I can still visualise the road approach on the northern side of South Acton Station when the District Line Branch operated, and how the District Line track continued for a short distance beyond the Stop Lamp (with the former rail connection's ramp down to the level of the North London Line's Up Track). The Branch services were normally operated by one of the two G (latterly Q23) Class motor coaches - 4167 & 4176 - which were modified to become double-ended (cab each end) for these services; I recall seeing other Q-Class stock, in the form of a pair of motor coaches running back-to-back, working these services if 4167 & 4176 weren't available.

North London Line services through South Acton Station were worked by Oerlikon stock but I remember seeing a set of LMS Compartment EMU stock working a Richmond-bound service (one of the very few photographs I took in those days: must find the photograph!) on one occasion and it's possible that either type of stock was used (as was the case on the DC Lines from Euston to Watford). Other South Acton memories include -

(1) A "Black 5" locomotive-hauled passenger train of maroon-liveried corridor stock heading westwards over Bollo Lane South Level Crossing (i.e. the Richmond line, not the Kew and Feltham freight line), but I saw it from a distance as I was walking along Bollo Lane so didn't record the working.

(2) The regular steam-hauled coal train which ran through South Acton station then took the freight-only curve, close to Chiswick Park Station but at a different level, from the NLL to join up with the District Line track between Turnham Green and Stamford Brook Stations (the District Line track was accessed via the Piccadilly Line eastbound track between Chiswick Park and Turnham Green Stations then a long link from the Piccadilly to the District; and on the last occasion I travelled along this section of the Piccadilly Line the remains of the underbridge which the coal workings used to access the Piccadilly's eastbound line, by passing under the westbound track, were still visible). These coal trains ran to the Coal Depot behind West Kensington Station, and on the return trip used the District Line's Richmond-direction track back to the South Acton curve's junction close to Chiswick Park Station.

(3) The friendly Signalman at Bollo Lane South Level Crossing who showed me how the signalbox worked and who kindly gave a young me an interesting old railway book which 50+ years on is still in my possession.

(4) Regular coal and other freight trains passing through South Acton Station and using the Kew and Feltham route via Bollo Lane North Level Crossing. In those days there was an Express Dairy Depot, and a side entrance to Chiswick Bus Works, between the two level crossings; and there was a road access, to the Underground's Acton Works, on the south side of and adjacent to the west-side overbridge abutment where the South Acton Branch cossed Bollo Lane.

I now have an answer to why in the 1950's my Grandmother referred to the South Acton Branch Line service as "The Ginny" - there was a steam railmotor service, from South Acton to a Hammersmith & Chiswick Station (where I recall seeing, many years after passenger services ceased, a BR steam locomotive shunting at the coal depot) and the steam railmotor was known locally as "Little Jenny" and the name seems to have lived on since that steam railmotor and the replacement petrol-powered version finished in 1916.



Doug Barrow. 19/10/2007.


 

Ann Thomas sent in her recollections of the area:

 

I remember the Ginny shuttle in late 1950s. My aunt and uncle had a fish and chip shop at 213 Bollo Lane from WW2 until 1966 and London Transport staff would enjoy lunch in their cafe. Acton Town was my station (from Hounslow East) but I sometimes walked from Turnham Green having travelled from home by 657 Trolley bus, passing the level crossing and Express dairies. I was very interested in watching all the trains from their upstairs sitting room. Silver (aluminium?) carriages gradually replaced red. I think there were allotments next to the tracks. A lady who ran the newsagents at Acton Town station used to collect autographs for me, including Sid James and Arthur Haynes!


Ann Thomas. 6/11/2014.


 



South Kensington (District / Piccadilly lines)

 

 

Photos taken between 1977 and 1981, except where stated.