Hanwell and Southall Through Time by Paul Howard Lang
My job from 1982 until my retirement in 2014 was Hospital Librarian at St Bernard’s Hospital where I had dealt with many enquiries concerning the history of this establishment and had built up a store of knowledge in regard to this subject. I also collect postcards relating not only to the hospital but also to other buildings and scenes around the area. St Bernard’s is a large psychiatric hospital in West London, and although technically situated in Southall, it is only just over the border (the Brent River being the boundary) thus it is sited nearer to Hanwell than to the town centre of Southall.
The former asylum, known as the Middlesex County Asylum dates back to 1831, so a relatively early asylum. It was designed by the architect William Anderson and built by William Cubitt. The Rev. Norris, the hospital chaplain, started to write a history of the asylum, but sadly died before it was published, and only his notes remain. Therefore I felt compelled to try and put this right, and include some historical facts about the asylum in my book.
I further felt that there were many buildings of interest in Hanwell and Southall that should be better known, for example the Manor House in Southall, which dates back to the 16th century. I have given talks to various historical societies on the history of St Bernard’s and other aspects of Ealing’s history. My talk on ‘Ealing’s Private Asylums’ led me to research the Southall Park Asylum and also Featherstone Hall. Another talk I gave was on ‘The Great Fires of Ealing’ and this inspired me to research the 1914 fire at Endacott’s store in King Street, Southall. I have also detailed the fire at Southall Park Asylum in the book.
I thought Dormers Wells, originally known as Dormoteswell, was possibly not an area greatly known to the public, and was delighted to source two images that show the rural nature of this area, notably the Farm House and a view of Dormers Wells Lane.
I think there are some rare images in the book that have never been published before, for example the picture of William Vincent Taylor’s shop in the Norwood Road, also the image showing the Rev. Broadbelt outside the King’s Hall, Southall and the picture of the grocers in Norwood Green, to name but a few.
Other buildings of interest featured in the book include the Maypole Margarine Works, the largest margarine factory in Europe at the time, which opened in 1895 and closed in 1929. Also the almshouses in North Road, Southall, which were commissioned by William Welch Deloitte, who founded the famous accountancy firm.
The most remarkable contrast in the whole book in my opinion, is the view of Leggett’s Forge, which in the book is under the heading The Broadway, Southall ll. It is difficult to equate the modern view with the tranquil scene of the old forge, at all. Equally incredible is the Hanwell scene of the Boston Road. The older scene reminds one of an image straight from the pages of a Thomas Hardy novel, and in contrast the modern view shows how the urban sprawl has entirely spoilt the countryside.
Paul Howard Lang's new book Hanwell and Southall Through Time is available for purchase now.