The history of Northfields station


Northfield Avenue in 1903 with a cart going south towards the bridge over the railway line

In his second post on local history David Shailes gives a brief history of  Northfields station.

The stretch of line from Acton Town (then called Mill Hill Park) to Hounslow was opened in 1883 by the Hounslow and Metropolitan Railway. The motivation behind its opening was property speculation in the Spring Grove area of Isleworth and the line passed through open countryside. At the time what we know as Northfields was farm land, so no station was provided and the nearest being at South Ealing and Boston Road (Boston Manor).

The line was a sleepy steam-hauled branch line, which was electrified in June 1905 as part of the modernisation of the Metropolitan District Railway (MDR). By the time a station was provided in April 1908 housing development in Northfields had been underway for some time. In 1911 it was renamed Northfields & Little Ealing. The station was on the opposite side of the road to the current station and at platform level the canopies and fixtures were of a similar style to those that remain at Boston Manor today.

By now the MDR was part of the Underground Group (UG) and the District Line with its many branches was becoming severely taxed in terms of line capacity. So the UG resolved to extend the Piccadilly line from Hammersmith to Acton Town and for the Hounslow and South Harrow services to be transferred to the Piccadilly Line. This was funded by a cheap loan provided in 1929 by the Government for the purpose of alleviating unemployment.

Northfields was chosen as the site of a ‘Car Shed’ which required considerable earth moving. Work started in 1931 and the four tracks from Acton Town to Northfields along with the new Northfields Station, in the handsome ‘Adams, Holden & Pearson’ style on its current site, opened in December 1932. Piccadilly Line trains had reached Hounslow West in February 1932 and took over all services (sharing peak hours with the District) in March 1933. As part of further service changes in October 1964 the last District Line train ran to Hounslow West and the line became exclusively used by the Piccadilly services.

David Shailes

3 Replies to “The history of Northfields station”

  1. Originally there was also an additional entrance to the station from Weymouth Avenue and walkways along the track embankment to get to a footbridge to access the platforms at the east end of the platforms. This is why the platforms are longer than needed at the east end. The remains of the walkways can still clearly be seen on the north side of the tracks between Northfields and the Weymouth Avenue bridge. Not sure when this was closed.

  2. It was good that David should remind me of the little known entrance in Weymouth Ave and I can answer his questions.

    If you recall when the railway was built originally, there was no station at Northfields, just stations at South Ealing and Boston Manor. The facility at Northfields opened to serve housing development and originally had it platforms on the other side of Northfield Ave.

    When the upgrading of the Piccadilly line was planned and undertaken in the 1930’s, the need to provide an enlarged car shed at the western end of the line, saw Northfields depot being created which meant that the station had to be moved to the other side of the road. As result the end of the platforms were only 200 yards from the end of South Ealing Station’s platforms. As part of the upgrading works it was originally envisaged that a new station would be built between South Ealing and Acton Town at the Ascott Avenue/Elderberry Road bridge, as this was a long stretch of railway through what was then fairly new suburban housing development.

    If this had happened then South Ealing station would have been closed and passengers would have used the Weymouth Ave entrance to Northfields. One source suggests that this failed because they were unable to provide buses services to both Ascott Avenue/Elderberry Road & Weymouth Avenue, as part of the local bus network. I haven’t checked the local papers of the time, but suspect that residents might well have had some influence. Clearly the change of heart occurred once work had started on the new Northfields station.

    The Weymouth Avenue entrance was on the North West side of the bridge and consisted of a small booking office. This was connected to Northfields station via an elevated walkway to a footbridge at the eastern end of Northfields station. I have presumed that it opened when the new station did in 1932. It was closed on 4th May 1942. The booking office was demolished and the elevated walkway way was partially dismantled in 1959. The footbridge went in 1985.

    The unfortunate residents of South Ealing as a result of the changes had to use a temporary structure erected on the south west side of road bridge, for the next 57 years until the new and current station was opened on the 3rd May 1988 on the north west side of the road bridge.

    David Shailes

  3. I have recently found a clip on Youtube “Safety on the track 1950”.It shows South Ealing station at one point but bearing Northfields signage(i.e roundal).can you shed any light on this.
    Many thanks

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