The busy town centre has seen better days, but the local council is working with the local community on a new leisure centre, library and community facilities in the former Edwardian town hall complex.
Acton means oak farm in Anglo-Saxon and the motif is everywhere; from the Oaks Shopping Centre to a huge mural of oak trees in the high street.
In the nineteenth century and early twentieth century Acton was the centre of London’s laundry trade. In 1899 there were 178 laundries, possibly more, many one-woman enterprises, and the town was nicknamed Soapsuds Island or the washtub of London.
What there is to buy in Acton
According to Ricky Bajwa of the local branch of estate agents Townends, Acton has an abundance of Victorian terraced houses, some converted into flats. The poets roads, close to Acton Town station, have three and four-bedroom terraced houses with a strong community spirit and its own shopping street in Churchfield Road.
Houses in Shakespeare Road have sold recently for between £428,000 and £792,000. In the Mill Hill conservation area around Mill Hill Road, there are pretty early Victorian flat-fronted cottages and houses, which have sold recently for between £375,000 and £785,000. And in Acton Green around Chiswick Park Tube station there are later bow-fronted Victorian houses which sell for between £600,000 and £850,000.
The Hanger Hill Gardens Estate conservation area is a well cared for estate of 1930s mock-Tudor semi-detached houses and purpose-built blocks of flats. Houses here sell for between £510,000 and £615,000, and flats for between £350,000 and £400,000. Around Twyford Avenue there are large semi-detached Edwardian houses which have sold over the last year for between £650,000 and £1.06 million.
The area attracts: young professional first-time buyers as well as couples and families.
Postcodes: W3 is the Acton postcode, although around Chiswick Park Tube station the streets are in the more desirable W4 Chiswick postcode.
Best roads: The most expensive roads are around Twyford Avenue, where there are large Edwardian houses very similar to those found more commonly in Ealing. The Poets roads — Shakespeare, Chaucer, Cowper, Milton and Goldsmith roads — are very popular because of the village-like feel, the quaint level crossing and proximity to Acton Park.
What’s new in Acton: The South Acton Estate is one of London’s largest council estates. It is being regenerated as Acton Gardens in a joint venture with housing association L&Q and developer Countryside. A masterplan has recently received outline planning permission for more than 2,350 new homes, of which half will be affordable (020 8993 6923; actongardens.co.uk).
A parkside development in Palmerston Grove, off Bollo Bridge Road, is a taster of what is to come. Outside the masterplan area, these 106 one- and two-bedroom flats will be ready early next year. Prices start at £235,000.
Napier at West 3 (020 8811 2336) is the latest phase of Berkeley Homes’ development in Bromyard Avenue. Berkeley Homes is building 24 three- and four-bedroom town houses for completion in spring 2013; prices from £975,000.
Up and coming: The Poets roads still offer value for money.
Getting an education
Acton has a good choice of primary schools. The following schools are judged ‘good’ by Ofsted: Derwentwater in Shakespeare Road, Berrymede Infant in Castle Close, St Vincent’s RC in Pierrepoint Road and West Acton in Noel Road. Berrymede Junior in Osborne Road is ‘outstanding’.
A shortage of primary school places has forced many of these schools to add extra places, and a new Roman Catholic primary school — The Holy Family — has opened in West Acton. Another, Priory, will open on the site of the Priory Community centre in Acton Lane in September 2013.
The Falcons School (girls ages two to 11) and World One (co-ed ages three to 11) in Stanley Gardens (with a Montessori nursery in nearby Brook Green) are the two local private prep schools.
The best performing local comprehensive is Twyford CofE (co-ed, ages three to 18) in Twyford Crescent; it is judged ‘outstanding’. The Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls (ages 11 to 18) gets above average results at GCSE and is judged ‘good’. The other comprehensive, Acton High School in Gunnersbury Lane, is judged ‘good’ but gets below average results at GCSE.
The Barbara Speake Stage School (co-ed ages three to 16) boasts supermodel Naomi Campbell and writer/actor Kwame Kwei-Armah among its former pupils.
Shops and restaurants
Acton’s shops are centred around the High Street, where it meets Steyne Road, Uxbridge Road and Gunnersbury Lane, and there is a secondary shopping street along Churchfield Road, which runs parallel to the High Street. Good floral displays and attractive banners lift an otherwise drab series of shops dominated by cheap takeaways.
The Oaks Shopping Centre has a Boots, Peacocks and a branch of Iceland. There is a large Morrisons supermarket on King Street. There are plans to redevelop the Oaks Shopping Centre but these are running into stiff local opposition and planning approval has not yet been granted. There is a market in The Mount, the square off the High Street in front of St Mary’s Church, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The section of Churchfield Road near Acton Central station has a butcher - La Viande, a baker - Laveli, Angela Malik’s café and cookery school, and The Village Trading Store, a shop selling an interesting mix of gifts, second-hand clothes, homewares, coffee and cakes. It is owned by Bruce Forsyth’s daughter Laura.
On the High Street, the George & Dragon is an atmospheric pub; Pinto Thai Kitchen is a cheap and cheerful Thai Café and growing pub group Antic is reopening the Redback as The Acton Arms. On Churchfield Road, Si Chuan is a Chinese restaurant specialising in Sichuanese food and The Rocket is a popular local gastro pub.
Open space: Acton Park, a popular local park close to the poets roads is overlooked by the characterful Goldsmiths almshouses. The much larger Gunnersbury Park has recently been awarded a Lottery grant to start working on a feasibility study for the restoration of the park.
Leisure and the arts: There is a Vue multiplex cinema and ten pin bowling at the Royale Leisure Centre in Kendal Avenue, close to Park Royal station. The Acton Pool is being rebuilt, but there are swimming pools at two private gyms and sports clubs: Virgin Active in Bromyard Avenue and the Park Club in East Acton Lane.
* MORE ON THE BOROUGH OF EALING:
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Travel: Acton probably has more stations than anywhere else in London. South Acton and Acton Central are on the Overground with useful trains to Richmond. Acton is on the main line to Paddington. Hanger Lane, West Acton, North Acton and East Acton are all on the Central Line. Acton Town is on the Piccadilly and District lines and Chiswick Park on the District line. Most are in Zone 3; annual travel card £1,368; North Acton and East Acton are in Zone 2; annual travel card £1,168.
Council: Ealing (Labour controlled); Band D council tax for the 2012/2013 year £1,366.65
Buying in Acton
One-bedroom flat £234,000
Two-bedroom flat £320,000
Two-bedroom house £439,000
Three-bedroom house £553,000
Four-bedroom house £762,000
Renting in Acton
One-bedroom flat £900 to £1,150 a week
Two-bedroom flat £1,100 to £1,450 a week
Two-bedroom house £1,500 to £1,800 a week
Three-bedroom house £1,800 to £2,500 a week
Four-bedroom house £2,200 to £3,000 a week
Five-bedroom house £3,000+ a month
Photographs: Graham Hussey