Ealing Village History
The land that become Ealing Village
Ealing Village was built in 1934-36, designed by R Thomas and Partners for Bell Property in Dutch Colonial style. The idea was to create a mini-Hollywood to attract film stars from Ealing Studios. It had a clubhouse, swimming pool and tennis court, bowling green and croquet lawn, and the interiors included advanced features such as fitted kitchens and high-specification materials, including red pitch pine tongue and groove flooring from Canada.
Many of the film stars preferred to be driven to and from hotels in the West End, so it was mainly film crew that lived in the flats. Early Ealing Village celebrity residents include Pearl Carr of 1950s singing duo Pearl Carr and Teddy Johnson, who spent her teenage in Ealing Village with sister Sylvia and brother Teddy, later a fishmonger on Pitshanger Lane.
Of the ‘ordinary’ residents, Vernon and Edna Coelho were among the first to move in, arriving in 1935 before even the roofs had been finished. Vernon was the air raid warden for Ealing Village during World War II. He used the bike shed as an office and a lookout over the railway. Residents had allotments along the edge of the railway and grew food as part of their ‘dig for victory.’ Ealing Village also sacrificed its gates and railings to the war effort. While the railway was bombed, Ealing Village was untouched. Part of its mythology is that Ealing Village was spared because Hitler’s bombers thought it was a hospital as it had been painted white. Ealing Village’s air raid shelters were sealed after the war but are still there under the lawns.
Originally only the main elevations were painted white, in fact. The ground floor patios, entrance pillars and the clubhouse were unpainted brick. The fire escapes were encased in white concrete but these had deteriorated by the 1950s and were replaced by the current open design. It is said that the kitchens and rear bedrooms were originally designed to be deeper but their design was revised after objections from residents of Madeley Road.
The clubhouse had two full-sized billiard tables, a ping-pong table and a grand piano plus a pair of writing desks supplied with Ealing Village letter-headed paper for residents’ use. A member of the Ealing Village staff served morning coffee, lunches, afternoon tea and ice creams in the lounge or special ladies’ room. (Other members of staff included the day and night porters who lived in the gatehouses). And until television became commonplace the clubhouse hosted weekly whist and beetle drives and an annual Christmas variety show performed by residents. Although there was no legal bar in Ealing Village, ‘goings-on’ were legendary in the 1960s and likened to events in the fictional but saucy Peyton Place.
Ealing Village had languished under a private landlord until residents bought the freehold, therefore are now able to deliver a programme to restore the buildings. The gates and railings, lost to the war effort, have been replaced in the original design.
Today Ealing Village retains its original features, including the outdoor pool, tennis court, clubhouse and gardens. In recent times, Ealing Village has been home to international models, television presenters and a cabinet minister. Its proximity to three Tube lines and trains into Paddington are part of its attraction to residents.
A newspaper advertisement for Ealing Village from the 1930s
Thanks are due for much of this information to the late Adair Coelho, former resident Mary Lou Comerford (widow of Ealing Village artist Bill Wllison) and Stephen Henderson.