EPF presents Southall Park - Park of the Month, March 2022
The first mention of Southall in written records comes from the will of a priest called Werhard, in 830 A.D., who bequeathed land in Norwood. Originally Southall was a small hamlet in the larger parish of Norwood, but the parish of Southall came into being in 1864. Later, the name Southall was used instead of Norwood.
Southall was not specifically mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086, because it was part of the manor of Hayes, so was not mentioned separately. It was owned by the Archbishops of Canterbury at this time, but was leased to a number of different tenants throughout the Middle Ages.
During the seventeenth century, the Merrick family - the original owners of what became Southall Park, became one of the most important families in the area. Francis Merrick applied to William III for the right to hold a market in Southall, which was granted in 1698, allowing the village to hold a cattle market. In the middle of the 17th Century the Merricks' star was still in the ascendant and Christopher Merrick had a large house built for his family in what is now Southall Park and was called Shepherds Haw.
In 1801 Southall had a very small population. Only 697 people lived there and many of these worked on local farms. Wheat and barley was grown and sheep and cows grazed in the fields. There were few industries, but, during the course of the nineteenth century, there were to be major changes, mainly brought about by developments in transport. In the 1790s, the Grand Junction Canal was built and it linked London to the Midlands via Bull's Bridge, Southall, one branch going to the Thames and one to Paddington. More important were the railways. In 1838 the Great Western Railway Company opened a railway line from London westwards. This route included Southall, where a halt was established in 1839.
Shepherds Haw (Southall Park) ceased to be a private house from 1839, when it became a private asylum until 1883. The asylum was first owned by Sir William Ellis then by Lady Ellis and last by Dr Robert Boyd. The asylum then burnt to the ground in 1883, killing the owner and five others. Boyd Avenue was named after Dr Boyd.
The Council took over the Park and between 1910–1930 the Council constructed new footpaths, a bandstand, a circular walk within the former grounds of the house (now the Spring Garden), a boating lake, tennis courts, a bowling green, a play area and a pavilion. Construction of a boating lake started in 1923 and included and children's paddling pool. It consisted of two canal-like structures with a lake at the end and provided typical amenities of its era. Sadly no longer extant.
In 1924 John Christie, who was living in Southall at the time, was arrested in Southall Park for stealing a bicycle and sentenced to six months in prison - he became notorious as the 10 Rillington Place serial killer. If only his dangerous tendencies had been spotted then!
Today Southall Park is a much loved and much used green space. Around 500k people go through this very central park every year. Despite that there are many flora and fauna species in the park as well as it being focus for recreation. You can see the following:
Trees - several native and exotic tree species - English Oak, London Plane, Dawn Redwood, Eucalyptus
Birds - Goldfinches, Blackbirds, Tits, Woodpeckers, Green Ring-necked Parakeets, Lesser Spotted, Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Redwing, Fieldfare, Mistlethrush, Black Headed Gull and Common Gull
Mammals - fox and grey squirrel
There is a nature conservation area, established in 2003, to help improve biodiversity and habitat value. The nature area consists of a pond, cornflower meadow and planted copse areas, which provides an important feature to the park and haven for wildlife.
Significant species of interest exclusively recorded in the area so far are:
yellow flag iris
corncockles and ox eye daisy
In addition to green space, interspersed with easy access paths, there are a large number of recreational areas, including a state of the art new outdoor gym, with a large exercise video screen! Excellent playgrounds for children of all ages, and a multi use games area, just to mention a few.
Additionally there is a newly launched Park Run https://www.parkrun.org.uk every week in Southall Park
Ealing Parks Foundation is currently fundraising to provide a much needed free drinking/bottle filling/dog bowl fountain to provide free water for all park users and to cut down on the huge amount of single use plastic water bottle litter taken out of the park each year. If you would like to know more and help us reach our goal please click
* Thank you to Ealing Council and to GoParks for more information on how to get here click