Station Name: SOUTH ACTON

[Source: Nick Catford]

Date opened: 1st January 1880
Location: Along a path from the end of Palmerston Road
Company on opening: North & South Western Junction Railway
Date closed to passengers: 1.1.1917 (Bay platform only)
Date closed completely: Main line station still open
Company on closing: Main line station still open
Present state: The bay platform has been demolished. A house now stands on the site.
County: London
OS Grid Ref: TQ201793
Date of visit: Not visited

Notes: After the withdrawal of the passenger service the bay platform at South Acton was converted into a milk dock. There was another branch in the opposite direction going to Acton Town. This closed on 2 March 1959.

The North & South Western Junction Railway obtained an Act of Parliament on 28th June 1853 to build a short branch line from Acton to a terminus at Hammersmith. The line was authorised without guaranteed capital and was to run through an undeveloped area of West London with little potential for passenger traffic. The shareholders advised against building the line but despite this advice, construction went ahead with the branch opening for freight on 1st May 1857 and to passengers on 8th April 1858. The company initially considered using horse traction on the 1 1/4 mile branch but eventually bought an 0-4-0 saddle tank which was kept in their shed at Hammersmith. The line was single from the junction at Acton to Bath Road where there was a loop and sidings running into the terminus.

The junction at Acton faced away from London and this presented a problem for North London Railway trains running between their City terminus at Fenchurch Street and Kew. To overcome this, the NLR attached a brake coach to the rear of their Kew bound trains, this was detached at the junction allowing the N & SWJR's locomotive to back onto the line and take the coach on to Hammersmith. This procedure wasn't ideal and there were several derailments as the coach was sometimes released without the train coming to a stop; this was an illegal practice. On its return from Hammersmith, the coach would then be recoupled to the returning Fenchurch Street train. The journey time from Hammersmith into central London took an hour and did not prove popular with commuters.

With the opening of the Hammersmith & City Line in 1864 there was a quicker and more convenient route into London which brought a drop in passengers to a line that was already running at a loss. The 'through working' stopped in 1865 when an hourly shuttle was introduced between Acton (Acton Central from 1925) and Hammersmith.  The H&C brought growth to Hammersmith and to cater for this the London & South Western railway opened a line from Kensington to Richmond in 1869 with a station at Grove Road adjacent to the H&C's Hammersmith Station. Both these stations were more conveniently sited than the N & SWJR's Hammersmith Station which was a mile from the town centre. In 1874 the Metropolitan District Railway extended their line into a new terminus at Hammersmith as well.

In 1875 further housing development began to take place around the N & SWJR's remote terminus with the building of quality housing in the new district of Bedford Park but with the L&SWR catering for this new traffic from their Turnham Green station there was little improvement to passenger numbers on the branch where the shuttle service was still the least convenient route into London. 

In 1880, a new station was opened at South Acton, close to the junction with the Hammersmith branch.  This was provided with a bay platform for branch trains and a new line was laid from the junction into South Acton to allow branch trains to use the station without running onto the main line; this allowed the service to be increased to half hourly; there was however no increase in passenger numbers.  The terminus was renamed Hammersmith & Chiswick on 1st July 1880 in a further attempt to improve the lines fortunes but to no avail. 

By the turn of the century the lines future looked bleak. In a final attempt to attract passengers steam railmotors were introduced on the 4th January 1909 and on the 8th April 1909 three new timber halts were opened at Bath Road, Woodstock Road and Rugby Road to attract the residents of Bedford Park but there was little improvement and the line continued to lose money. In March 1913 the steam railmotors were replaced by more economical petro-electic railmotors but they came too late to save the line.  In 1912 the Metropolitan District Railway opened a new station at Stamford Brook, close to the Hammersmith & City terminus and any remaining passengers quickly deserted the branch.  The passenger service was withdrawn on 1st January 1917 as a war time economy measure and it came as no surprise when it wasn't reinstated after the war.

The branch remained open for goods with a daily freight train which continued to operate into the 1960's. The Acton Coal Depot and an asphalt plant close to the junction also continued to be served.  There were occasional passenger excursions like an RCTS railtour on 10th November 1956. The Acton coal depot closed on 4th January 1965 and freight service to Hammersmith & Chiswick was withdrawn on 3rd May 1965. The track was lifted shortly afterwards.

Sources: London Railway Record No. 8 July 1996 and No. 9 October 1996 published by Connor & Butler
Railway Magazine No 441 March 1934 and Railway World August 1961

Other web sites: Disused Railways and Eighties Rail Heaven includes photographs of the branch today and Abandoned Tube Stations

Too see other stations on the Hammersmith & Chiswick branch click on the station name: Rugby Road Halt, Woodstock Road Halt, Bath Road Halt & Hammersmith & Chiswick

North London Railway 4-4-0T arrives at the bay platform at South Acton with the Hammersmith & Chiswick shuttle in the early 20th century.
hoto from J. E. Connor collection

Acton coal depot can be seen on the left with the disused South Acton engine shed in the centre in 1934. This is a short distance along the branch from South Acton.
Photo by D. S. Barrie

South Acton station ooking towards Hammersmith & Chiswick in 1990. The bay platform was behind the fence on the right where the house is now seen.
Photo copyright David & Alan Hook




[Source: Nick Catford]

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