The names of London Underground and Railway Stations are a fascinating study.
Often they are related to obscure pieces of London history, and sometimes they relate to the different groups of people who immigrated to London to work here.
In the 19th and 20th centuries, driven mainly by poverty at home, Irish immigrants rushed to London and became its builders – by building its tunnels, roads and skyscrapers.
Many of them settled in the West London areas of Greenford, Alperton, Acton and Harrow, and it is of course only right and proper that they took much of their heritage with them.
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A particular London Underground station has a lovely connection with their old homeland.
What is now West Ealing station first opened way back in 1871 with the picturesque name Castle Hill & Ealing Dene.
Castle Hill itself was named after Castlebar Road in Ealing – which is taken from the same name in Ireland.
Castlebar is a small town in a lovely rural part of the west of Ireland and guess what – it once had a castle. In fact, it had a great deal!
Back in the days after the Norman conquest in 1066, a knight named Odo was a very important assistant to William the Conqueror in his attempt to take over England.
His reward was to be given huge amounts of land in Wales and from here members of his family later played a major role in the Norman invasions of Ireland – in a largely unsuccessful attempt to keep the provinces under control.
The family was named after Barry Island in Wales, which was part of one of the countries they got and became known as the De Barrie family.
One of Odo’s descendants, Philip De Barrie, played a key role in the invasions of Ireland and was rewarded by King John when he gave many lands in Western Ireland to his son William de Barrie.
He founded a castle – Barry Castle – at what is now the town of Castlebar.
The castle was called Barry’s Castle, (Caislean a ‘Bharraig).
The castle and its lands are mentioned in Connacht’s annals as having been burnt down in 1412.
This was because the castle was the focus of much factional struggle between various Irish clans and Norman families such as O’Connors, Fitzgeralds the de Burgos and de Cogans among others through the late Middle Ages.
Today it is a cozy historic town full of tradition with music festivals, art centers and museums.
Back in London, Castle Hill station was just a cute little station on the famous Great Western Railway line, which at the time ran from Paddington to Maidenhead.
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It would have been surrounded by open green at this point!
From 1883, the station saw District Railway services on the line between Mansion House and Windsor.
This was technically part of a line that completed the inner circle underground route that served London, so technically, West Ealing made for a time part of an underground line.
But the Ealing expansion was soon closed (1885), as it did not prove profitable.
Believe it or not, at the time the station was right next to the London Cooperative Society’s main cream factory – where milk and other dairy products were produced.
The station itself had a dedicated platform for an actual milk train from the mid-20th century.
And it seems that butter and cheese would have been made from the milk that was transported here.
But the heyday of London’s underground milk should not last here.
The creamery eventually closed and the station was extensively remodeled.
Only above-ground services stop there now, but West Ealing is still a thriving station nonetheless.
The former LCS milk train bay platform was converted into an additional bay “Platform 5” at the station to serve Great Western Railway services.
When the Crossrail is fully open, the Elizabeth line will run from the station across central London.
A new station building has been erected on Manor Road, providing a larger entrance with stepless access to the platform.
This new station building opened in March 2021, and the existing station building on Drayton Green Road was permanently closed.
Large oak trees from small acorns grow as they say!
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