West Acton Station, London W3

From Historic England entry:

“Underground railway station, designed late 1930s by Brian Lewis, Chief Architect to the Great Western Railway; opened 1940. Minor late alterations.

PLATFORMS: Covered tile-lined concrete staircases with original bronze handrails lead down from the ticket hall to the platforms. On each platform is a flat-roofed, open-sided concrete shelter with a distinctive bull-nosed glazed end. Polished hardwood benches inside are crook-shaped, following the curve of the shelter (see image). The original vitreous enamel platform signs indicating the number of each platform survive. Two wall-mounted roundels are later replicas of the originals and all other signage is modern in materials and character.

West Acton Station, designed late 1930s, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: displaying confident handling of volumes and a dainty modernist style that was to come to the fore at the Festival of Britain; an exemplar of the stations built under the New Works Programme in the late 1930s, and among the few built largely to the original designs * Authorship: designed by Brian Lewis who went on to become an important architect in post-war Australia * Intactness: good survival of original fixtures and fittings including vitreous enamel destination boards and two unique bull-nosed platform shelters.

West Acton Station was built to designs by Brian Lewis, chief architect to the Great Western Railway, and opened in 1940. It replaced an earlier station building of 1923, built as part of the Ealing & Shepherd’s Bush Railway, a joint venture between the GWR and the Central London Railway. Although built by the GWR, the new station formed part of London Underground’s New Works Programme which ran from 1935-1940. West Acton was the only station to be completed to Lewis’s original plan.

Born in Australia, Brian Bannatyne Lewis (1906-1991) studied at the University of Melbourne before moving to England to attend Liverpool School of Architecture. He joined the Great Western Railway architectural staff in 1930, becoming assistant architect in 1938 and designing several stations for the Central line, as well as several hotels. He resigned in 1946 to become Professor of Architecture at the University of Melbourne. Lewis was later known for his master plan for the National University in Canberra, Australia. His University House has been deemed an outstanding example of mid-C20 modern architecture in Australia, and is listed on the country’s Heritage Database.

By 1935, much of the framework of the London Underground system was established, and a focus on building of new lines gave way to the extension and integration of the existing system. The New Works Programme was published on the 5 June 1935 and embodied this shift in ideals. It proposed to electrify and link existing suburban railways to the Tube network, to extend the Central, Northern and Bakerloo lines, and to introduce escalators in place of lifts in existing London Underground stations. Part of the rationale for the Programme was to provide work in a time of economic torpor. The western Central Line station designs had been completed by 1938, but construction was delayed by the Second World War. Lewis’s designs were modified by other architects after 1945.

EXTERIOR: West Acton Station comprises a ticket hall building on a concrete bridge over the two central tracks, with open-sided staircases running down to two platforms. The ticket hall is a reinforced concrete frame ‘box’, clad in brick, with full-height window with concrete mullions on both the front and rear elevations. The brick side walls rise above the roofline to form two slender pylons. Below the window on the main frontage, the entrance is sheltered by a flat canopy perforated with glass blocks. The canopy has a metal fascia, with the original frame and new panels announcing the name of the station. It supports a pole-mounted Underground roundel, a modern replica. The entrance is flanked by two retail kiosks with timber shop fronts.

INTERIOR: The ticket hall has an ochre-coloured tiled floor, tiled lower walls, and a painted concrete ceiling, lit by wall-mounted uplighters. The upper walls were originally fair-faced brick but are now painted. A curved varnished timber bench and two vitreous enamel destination boards dating to 1962 survive in the ticket hall. The tiles here and elsewhere in the station are pale cream, with red and black edging; all are recent replacements in the original colour scheme (without the red edging). The ticket hall floor tiles are probably mainly original with some later replacement. The small lower windows to the rear elevation have been replaced in uPVC.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: