Southall is located on the Grand Union Canal (formerly the Grand Junction Canal) which first linked London with the rest of the growing canal system. It was one of the last canals to carry significant commercial traffic (through the 1950s), and is still open to traffic and is used by pleasure craft.
The name Southall derives from the Anglo-Saxon dative æt súð healum, "At the south corner (of the land or wood)" and súð heal, "South corner" and separates it from Northolt which was originally norþ heal, "North corner" which through a later association with Anglo-Saxon holt, "Wood, copse" developed into Northolt.
The southern part of Southall (roughly south of the railway) used to be known as Southall Green (and a section of the main north-south road in the area is still called The Green) and was centered on the historic Tudor-styled Manor House which dates back to at least 1587. Little of the building is original but much dates back to the days when Southall Green was a quiet rural village. It is currently used as serviced offices.
The extreme southernmost part of Southall is known as Norwood Green. It has few industries and is mainly a residential area, having remained for many years mainly agricultural whilst the rest of Southall developed industrially. Norwood Green borders, and part is inside, the London Borough of Hounslow.
The main east west road through the town is Uxbridge Road (A4020), though the name changes in the main shopping area to The Broadway and for an even shorter section to High Street. The Uxbridge Road was part of the main London to Oxford stagecoach route for many years and remained the main route to Oxford until the building of the Western Avenue highway to the north of Southall in the first half of the 20th century. First horse drawn, then electric trams (until 1936) and, then, electric trolleybuses, gave Southall residents and workers quick and convenient transport along the Uxbridge Road in the first half of the 20th century before they were replaced by standard diesel-engined buses in 1960.
The opening of the Grand Junction Canal (later renamed Grand Union Canal) as the major freight transport route between London and Birmingham in 1796 began a commercial boom, intensified by the arrival of Brunel's Great Western Railway in 1839, leading to the establishment and growth of brick factories, flour mills and chemical plants which formed the town's commercial base. In 1877, the Martin Brothers set up a ceramics factory in an old soap works next to the canal, and until 1923, produced distinctive ceramics now known and collected as Martinware.
A branch rail line from Southall Station to the Brentford Docks on the Thames was also built by Brunel in 1856. It features one of his (impressive for the period) engineering works, the Three Bridges where Windmill Lane, the Railway and the Grand Union Canal all intersect - the canal being carried over the rail line in a metal trough. It is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The other notable local construction by Brunel is the Wharncliffe Viaduct which carries the Great Western Railway across the River Brent towards London and which was Brunel's first major structural design.
Otto Monsted, a Danish margarine manufacturer, built a large factory at Southall in 1894. The factory was called the Maypole Dairy, and eventually grew to become one of the largest margarine manufacturing plants in the world, occupying a 28 hectare (68 acre) site at its peak. The factory also had its own railway sidings and branch canal. The Maypole Dairy Company was later acquired by Lever Brothers.
Southall was also the home of one of the earliest British film studios, Southall Film Studios which played a historic role in film-making from its creation in 1924 to its closure in 1959.
There has been a locomotive works at the Southall Depot for near 150 years. Originally a Great Western Railway shed, it was possibly the last London steam depot, outlasting Old Oak Common and Stewarts Lane depots. The depot was later used for DMU maintenance and as a base for the electrification program. Currently the site now referred to as the Southall Railway Centre is used by three independent groups including Locomotive Services (where volunteers can contribute to the preservation and restoration of mainline locomotives), and the Great Western Railway Preservation Group.
The bus and commercial vehicle manufacturer AEC was based in Southall, on a 25 hectare (63 acre) triangular site between Windmill Lane, the main Great Western Railway and the branch to Brentford Dock. The company moved here from Walthamstow in 1926 and closed in 1979 after losing market share as part of the giant British Leyland group. The site was familiar to railway passengers from a large sign saying "Builders of London's Buses for 50 years".
Quaker Oats (later part of Pepsico) built a factory in Southall in 1936. Part of the operation making petfoods was sold to Spillers in 1994 and the remainder to Big Bear Group in 2006. The site continues to produce brands such as Sugar Puffs. Other engineering, paint and food processing factories prospered for many years - mostly alongside the railway and/or canal.
A major gas works manufacturing town gas was located between the railway and the canal. Since production ceased in the 1970s, much of the 36 hectare (90 acre) site has been vacant, due to limited road access and remaining gas infrastructure.
On the Tuesday morning of 2 September 1958 at 7:10, a pilot of a Vickers Viking V624 (G-AIJE) which had just taken off from Heathrow Airport, reported that he had engine trouble. Some minutes later it crashed onto houses in Kelvin Gardens. It was on a cargo flight carrying engines to Tel Aviv, and carried no passengers, however the three crew members and four people on the ground were killed. One of the surviving occupants, Brian Gibbons, a teenager of 14 years of age, was later awarded the George Medal for bravery and also the Carnegie Award. The aircraft was owned and operated by Independent Air Travel. The accident was put down to poor maintenance and this crash was the reason given for causing the company out of business year later in October 1959.
The Southall rail crash occurred on 19 September 1997 when a mainline high speed express train from Swansea to London Paddington ran a red signal, when the driver's attention was distracted, and it collided with a freight train just outside Southall Station. Seven people died and 139 were injured.
Southall is primarily a South Asian residential district. In 1950, the first group of South Asians arrived in Southall, reputedly recruited to work in a local factory owned by a former British Indian Army officer. This South Asian population grew, due to the closeness of expanding employment opportunities such as Heathrow Airport. The most significant cultural group to settle in Southall are Indian Punjabis. According to the Commission for Racial Equality over 55% of Southall's population of 70,000 is Indian/Pakistani.. There is also a very strong, more recent, presence of Somalis in Southall who left Africa during and after the violent Somali civil war.
There are ten Sikh Gurdwaras in Southall and one of the Gurdwaras has won the Ealing Civic Society Architectural Award in 2003. The Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, which opened in 2003, is one of the largest Sikh temple outside India. There are two large Hindu 'Mandir' temples, the Vishnu Hindu Mandir on Lady Margaret Road and the Ram Mandir in Old Southall. There are three Christian churches (Anglican, Roman Catholic and Methodist). There are three mosques.
Earlier, in the 1920s and 1930s Southall was the destination of many Welsh migrants escaping from the harsh economic conditions of their homeland. For many years, Welsh accents were very commonplace in the area.
The main street in Southall is called The Broadway. Southall contains the largest Asian shopping centre in the London area. Southall was the main location for the internationally acclaimed film Bend It Like Beckham.
Southall has a huge gas tower which is noticeable from miles away. It also has the big letters "LH" and an arrow painted on it which was used to denote to aircraft pilots the direction to nearby London Heathrow Airport using visual flight rules (VFR) if landing on the now closed Runway 23. This was painted on the tower after a number of pilots became confused between Heathrow and the nearby RAF Northolt which has a much shorter runway. One Boeing 707 landed at Northolt by mistake and a number of other pilots were en route there when warned off by air traffic control.
Southall is also the location of the Glassy Junction public house, which serves several Indian draught beers and was the first pub in the UK to accept payment in Indian rupees. Also the film Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal starring John Abraham and Bipasha Basu was filmed in Glassy junction and outside Iceland supermarket.
In the summer of 2007, the fast food restaurant chain McDonald's situated on the Broadway (UB1), changed certain food items on their menu which was originally on a trial basis, to halal and certified halal.
Under 18: 24.8% Over 60: 14%
Born outside UK: 56.51%
White British: 8.73%
White Irish: 1.05%
White Other: 2.12%
Mixed: White and Black: 0.71%
Mixed: White and Asian: 0.86%
Mixed: Other Mixed: 0.47%
Asian: Indian: 54.18%
Asian: Pakistani: 11.16%
Asian: Bangladeshi: 0.71%
Asian: Other: 9.44%
Black: Caribbean 2.8%
Black: African 4.38%
Black: Other 0.28%
Other people who were brought up here include: Juggy D, a bhangra singer; Daljit Dhaliwal, newsreader and journalist; Nick Knowles, television personality; Mike Ashley, author and editor; Kwame Kwei-Armah, playwright and actor; and Rupinderpal Singh Dhillon, poet.
Urban Music producers Panjabi Hit Squad all grew up in Southall and have mentioned in many interviews that their inspiration comes from Southall. Ms Scandalous, a rapper/MC signed to Panjabi Hit Squad, was born in Southall in 1983.
Cleo Laine (internationally famous jazz singer and actress) was born in Southall in 1927 and brought up in Clarence Street. She attended Featherstone Road School. Tim Lott, author (his debut The Scent Of Dried Roses is about growing up in Southall) was born here in 1956 as was Rishi Rich, music producer.
Sir Leslie Murphy (1915-2007) was born in Southall and educated at Southall Grammar School (now Villiers High School). He became a prominent businessman, merchant banker, influential civil servant and a founder member of the Social Democratic Party. He was knighted in 1978.
Syd Bidwell represented Southall in parliament from 1966 to 1982, succeeded by Piara Khabra from 1992 to 2007 and Virendra Sharma from 2007 onwards. Radio station owner Avtar Lit stood as a parliamentary canditate; his son Tony Lit followed in his footsteps, standing in the 2007 by-election.
Southall is made up of two electoral wards for local council elections: Southall Broadway and Southall Green, which both elect councillors to Ealing Council. Southall Broadway has two Conservative councillors and one Labour councillor. Southall Green has three Labour councillors. Ealing Council is currently run by a Conservative administration.
Political status of Ealing Council:
Frequent bus services link Southall with all neighbouring suburbs and London Heathrow Airport.
Up for Decades and Gone in a Flash; COVENTRY MARKS THE END OF AN ERA AS THE FOLESHILL GAS TOWER FINALLY BITES THE DUST - TO MAKE WAY FOR THE SKY BLUES' NEW 32,000-SEATER STADIUM
Sep 23, 2002; Byline: GARETH LEWIS MORE than 4,000 people made the early morning trip yesterday to watch the final Foleshill gas tower come...