Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Act-ing Up in Acton Market

August 22, 2009 · 4 Comments

   We departed the Arran Hotel at 8:20  and walked to Goodge Street Station. We took Northern Line to Leicester Square and arrived there at about 8:30  and then transfered to Piccadilly Line. After traveling through tunnels and above ground we arrived at Acton Town at 9:02. After studying the map we realized that we needed directions from a local. The first candidate that we spotted appeared normal but unfortunately she shunned us with a 10 Commandment display that hanged around her neck and simply said “No!” The next person we asked was a man who looked like he belonged in a “Just for Men” commercial due to the reddish tinge of his mustache which did not have any resemblance to his natural hair color. Despite his appearance he ended up being very helpful and gave us the proper directions.

   After passing through what looked like a residential area we arrived at the market ten minutes later. We were a bit surprised by the lack of action taking place in the central market area. We walked up and down the market area observing each stand. We then had the pleasure of meeting Vanessa who was the market supervisor. Since we had our notebooks and cameras out she inquired as to whether we were reporters writing an article. We explained to her that we were college students exploring London markets and she notified us that many local residents are on a holiday and that it would be a quiet day at the market. Under the temptation of the delicious food scents wafting through the air we contemplated eating an early 10 AM lunch. While we were pondering, a curious old bloke with beer dripping down his chin told Henry that he was lucky to have two girls with him. After Henry nodded his head in agreement the man proceeded to ask us if we were from “down undah.” Sharing our heads profusely we articulated that we were in fact Americans. Immediately upon hearing this he rallied off  a series of questions mentioning our change in government. After responding to his inquiries we got out of the market swiftly and decided to explore the surrounding area. 

   As we wandered up and down the nearby streets we noticed a growing Muslim population as evidenced by the new Mosque, the Library for Iranian Studies and multitude of restaurants that served Halal options. Part of the reason why the market place was empty was due to today being the first day of Ramadan. Acton struck us as a tight knit community that was not used to having people come and actively spend time within its town limits. That being said most everyone was friendly and greeted us with a smile. After scanning all the stands which included West Indian, free range sausages, fruit and vegetable stands, spit-roast BBQ, tapas, cheese and bread, and Afro-Caribbean cuisine we decided on South Asian. We indulged in chicken dishes, Aloo  Katchori and black tea with milk. While we were eating we enjoyed Bob Marley tunes playing in the background. 

   Upon leaving Acton Market we decided it would be a good idea to make our way towards Gunnersbury Park to observe and absorb the sights and sounds of the day. As we ventured through the crumbling brick outer courtyard we came upon a large, white building that simply said “Museum.” We entered and began to explore the inside of the mansion that once belonged to a family in the Victorian Era. After exploring the extensive gardens we discovered Princess Amelia’s bathhouse, a greenhouse, and the remains of a turret. After wondering what life would be like as Princess Amelia we headed back to the Acton Town station and made our way back to the hotel. We arrived at the hotel at 13:15. We probably won’t make our way back to Acton Town. This was not because we disliked it but because it is not a type of place people would actively seek out.

Categories: Grace · Henry · Jeyla · Markets
Tagged: , ,

4 responses so far ↓

  •   kstaab77 // Aug 22nd 2009 at 11:05

    It seems like both your group and mine were a little bit surprised by their abandoned/closed markets due to Ramadan! Despite what you described as a “growing Muslim population,” I can’t help but notice that the Acton area seems to be a lot more ethnically diverse than the Whitechapel area. Did you find any indications of which group of people was in Acton first and which are the newer immigrants to the area?

  •   hankreas12 // Aug 22nd 2009 at 13:16


    From what I could tell Acton has only recently become a semi-diverse suburban community. I think most of the immigration has happened even within the last 20 years. It seems the area is primarily Anglo-Saxon British and has been that way for some time. Despite this being true there were no conflicts that we observed between the different groups that inhabit the area.


  •   allisonmschell5 // Aug 22nd 2009 at 14:56

    All- I think it is very interesting and exciting that this “growing Muslim population” has a Library for Islamic Studies, did you happen to go in and explore at all? Also, the fact that this area has built a new Mosque shows the growing population and how London is becoming more and more diverse! I have never heard of this Princess Amelia…and I would very much like to have my own bathhouse!

  •   kgzell // Aug 22nd 2009 at 17:29

    Indeed! Princess Amelia had it made in the shade… If I was to return to Acton, it would be to better explore the vast Gunnersbury Park.

    p.s. We did not venture into the library, but I would be more than willing to give you directions if you wanted to take a trip out there.

You must log in to post a comment.