The Paddington Branch 1959

In 1959 Trevor Uff wrote his dissertation for Southampton University. The 40 pages of text, tables, and maps are available but perhaps are not suitable in their entirety for a website concentrating on Alperton history. Luckily Trevor compiled a photograph and text account and this follows.




The accompanying figures of trade [not shown for this presentation] show the decline of traffic, and it is hoped that the following photographs will convey the dereliction of the canal with this fall in trade.

Above is the stagnant Paddington Basin. and the firm of Wm. Boyer.




A typical scene on the Paddington Arm. A small factory estate with its back to the waterway. This is the estate in Hythe Road, Willesden.

Note the weed overgrowth on the wharf.




Industry occupies 50% of the space along the canal bank. This view of the Paddington Basin on a Saturday morning shows the depressed and decaying character of most canal industry. Here in busy Paddington is an industrial backwater.



Rutland or Hampshire? No, a peaceful scene in the heart of manufacturing Middlesex just south of the Western Avenue at Greenford on the canal bank.

30% of the canal bank has such open space.



Little Venice. The L.C.C. plan to restore a 44 acre site between the Harrow Road and the canal.  New skyscraper blocks are planned. There will also be new shops, schools, and churches. Present population is 6,790. This section of the canal beside Warwick Crescent will be incorporated as an open space and a pleasant canal walk.



The type of housing which is being replanned in the Paddngton area. This is an area just east of Ladbroke Grove. The canal offers scarcely a break between the houses. In fact the canal is their back garden!






The dock at the factory of J. Lyons & Co. Ltd.

The barges bring tea from the London docks. The barges in this photograph are of 60 tons capacity. [That's much larger than the main Grand Union Canal can cope with.] The dock penetrates into the factory.




Transport by barge gives easy internal handling and is not superceded by road and rail at Kearley & Tonge. The picture shows casks of fruit pulp and stacks of coal on the dockside.




A rare sight. Unloading in progress. The firm of Celotex at Alperton. This is one of the few places of activity I saw during my fieldwork.




Lower Place Wharf, Park Royal. Barges drawn up alongside awaiting unloading.

H. J. Heinz, who use the wharf, bring vegetables, and tomato paste from the Docks.




Barges drawn up at the Hayes wharf of James Davies Ltd.

The timber trade is the most flourishing along the canal. This merchant has 410 barges at the wharf each year. The timber is stacked at the yard and then distributed to the consumer.




The desolate character of the Abbey Industrial Estate at Alperton. Everything is transported by road.




The complete picture of decay. Heaps of rubble, a growth of weeds, rotting timber, and rusty railway lines.

A scene on the Old Oak Wharf, Willesden.





The Boroughs of Paddington and St. Marylebone long deposited their refuse at Yeading. This photograph shows just how high this dump had grown.

The refuse now goes to Pitsea.




A view from the aqueduct which carries the canal over the North Circular Road. Traffic is usually much heavier along this line of communication. It is along such lines that Middlesex industry has developed. To the right of the photograph is the Abbey Industrial Estate.

Photo taken on Saturday morning.




Another unusual picture! Two tugs, each pulling a barge. They are passing the  Kensal Green Gasworks on the right of the picture; and Kensal Green Cemetery on the left of the picture. The barges are going to Celotex. During my field-work I saw very little of such barge traffic.






One of the earliest users of the canal - Kensal Green Gasworks in 1844.

Now the works prefer road and rail transport.




Stretching along the east bank of the canal is the Southall Gas Works dating from 1869. Today it imports only 5 million gallons of gas oil.




The old generating station, Acton Lane 'A'. Coal was brought on the canal until about 1939. It now uses the canal for make-up water. The new 'B' station uses the cooling water but all coal supplies are rail-borne.

The picture above shows a wagon being tipped.




The next two map images show the companies in Alperton with a number. In the table which follows the maps, the number shows the Company name.

75  Celotex

76  Greenwood Air Vac

77  Geo. Driver & Son

78  Hoover Ltd

79  Cunard Commercial Body Building Co.

80  Carrier

81  Brown & Polson Ltd

82  Kego Electric

83  Amplivox Hearing Aids

84  U. S. Royal Tires

85  Radio Rentals

86  MCL Products

87  Abbey Foundry

88  Primograph Co. Ltd

89  Thomas Motor Body Fittings

90  Uni-Hygea Ltd

91  BACO Motor Products

92  Forge & Fabrications Ltd

93  Velvet Crepe Paper Co.

94  E A Atkins

95  Crosby Valve and Engineering Co Ltd

96  Mining & Chemicals Products Ltd

97  Simplex Electric Co. Ltd

98  Key Glassworks Ltd

99  F Davis & Sons

100 E H Smith (London) Ltd

101 Tyre Disposals

102 Couslande & Brown

103 W. Geipel Ltd

The following 1959 photographs are extra to the tour and commentary above.

Barges at Celotex wharf. Celotex were a late starter in using the canal from 1937. They were one of the earliest tenants of the Northfields Industrial Estate which was created to make use of the North Circular Road opened in 1934. Celotex had about 500 yards of canal bank with the Head Office located next to the start of the aqueduct and with a frontage on the North Circular Road. The other end of their site, shown above, was in Beresford Avenue and finished not far short of the junction with Mount Pleasant. The Beresford Avenue frontage at this storage end was lined with poplars to screen the high piles of bales of bagasse. Bagasse was the dry pulpy residue left after the the extraction of juice from sugar cane. This waste product became the raw material for Celotex boarding which was manufactured in the factories in the middle part of the site.

So bagasse started its journey overseas, was unloaded at London Docks on to the large barges shown above, and brought to Alperton to be on dry land again.




A speeding tug making waves at Alperton!

No doubt it was breaking the cruising limit which was set to control any damaging effect on the banks.




Factories at the Mount Pleasant Industrial Estate frontage.


The shadows on the wharf-side are, I suspect, those thrown from the poplars on the opposite bank with the sun behind them.




Taken from Manor Farm Road bridge, with Glacier Metal on the right.


The Middlesex House office block we see in the 1962 pictures hasn't been started yet, we assume.




The Hunt Kennard timber yard just west of the Horsenden Lane canal bridge.


Was this the only industrial usage on the stretch between Alperton and Greenford?




Glaxo site at Greenford. I believe this was one side of the road bridge (not the Greenford Road one), and on the western side was Lyons (tea, coffee, and orange drinks on the southern side; and Lyons Maid ice cream and lollies on the northern side).




The Hayes sleeper yard.


Now we have strayed too far from Alperton, so we'll end here.