Living in Ealing
By Mike Watson
It was with characteristic old style British determination that Ealing absorbed the 2001 IRA bomb attack which aimed to disrupt the cosiness with which the large Irish community had settled and established shops, pubs and businesses. Six years later the area is clearly thriving with a busy central shopping and entertainment centre. Ealing’s wide roads and good light (due to there being no high rise buildings in its centre) make it ideal for café terrace eating and drinking. Ealing Borough incorporates Shepherds Bush, Acton and Southall.
You may well feel that Ealing could be more affordable given that it hasn’t got as much to offer as some other boroughs in terms of attractions, but its open spaces and good restaurant scene combined with good connections into central London make it an attractive place to live. Accordingly, prices are similar to those in the trendy East End, yet a fair bit cheaper than in neighbouring Richmond. Expect to pay around £90 a week for a single room in a sharehouse and £160 upwards for a studio or small flat.
Housing is predominantly of the Victorian townhouse variety and is usually sub-divided into flats. Flat shares will often be with young professionals and office workers, often of an Australian, New Zealand, South African and second generation Irish background.
Like all of London, Ealing has a rich mix of different cultures, centring around the Irish and English communities. Like much of West London it also has a strong Aussie, Kiwi and South African influence. On the whole the community is made up of hard working, hard playing salt of the earth sporty types, making for a generally safer feel than many of other central London boroughs. Ealing also has a large Polish community, which has grown since Poland joined the EU, but has its roots in World War II, when Polish fighters were stationed in the nearby Northolt RAF barracks.
Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment
Whilst the pub The North Star has dragged Ealing nightlife into rustic and slightly pretentious trendiness, the rest of Ealing nightlife tends to focus on rootsy Irish style pubs, such as O’Neils, The Firkin and Finnegan’s Wake. The townhouse is also fairly typical of the area, featuring several sports screens, a pool table, and no doubt occasional Karaoke evenings. Fairly uninspiring stuff, to be frank.
LA Confidential provides lap-dancing entertainment, whilst Club Boulevard hosts D.J. and dance nights. Baroque caters specifically for the New Zealander crowd, although all are welcome. In short, all tastes are catered for, but it is safe to say that Ealing is no one’s number one choice for a night out. It does the job, and if you fancy a curry, a beer and a movie without travelling far from home, then Ealing at least offers that. Otherwise, get on the tube and shake your stuff elsewhere.
Ealing is short on art galleries, but does feature one in Pitzhanger Manor, which also hosts various other culture events.
Ealing plays host to many summer events in Walpole Park including a yearly Jazz festival and various other musical events and entertainment. The park is also the permanent home to the London Wildcare field centre, which acts as an animal sanctuary and educational centre.
There are several other large parks including Osterley Park and Gunnersbury Park, both of which are ideal for long walks. Gunnersbury Park hosts plenty of summer sporting tournaments aimed at the Aussie and Kiwi crowds in the area as well as outdoor events and concerts for Asians in the community. Lammas Park features enchanting gardens and is ideal for a picnic.
Shops, Restaurants and Takeaways
Again, Ealing offers everything you need with regard to shopping – but perhaps not everything you want. Fashions are conservative and this is reflected in the usual high street offerings. With regard to restaurants and takeaways, you will be spoilt for choice, but be clear on this – it will be a choice of middle of the road eateries – good food, but nothing to write home about. For simplicity try solid gastro pub fare from Ealing Park Tavern or the Grange Park Dining Room. If you fancy something else Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Italian and Greek are all well represented.
Ealing has good tube links, being located on the central line. For this reason any other part of London is accessible providing you know the tube map well. To head south change on to the Jubilee line or Northern Line, for Camden change for the Northern line in the other direction. For East or the Centre (W1, Oxford Street etc.) simply stay on the central line. Buses will take you to Northolt, Southall and the surrounding areas, but don’t rely on them to get you further afield.
AREAS OF LONDON