Bedford ParkResidents' Association
Home > Early History

Early History

Bedford Park sits on the main Roman Road through London to Bath in the West, which followed the same straight line as today’s Oxford Street through what is now Acton Green.  Until the 19th century, Bedford Park and Stamford Brook were made up of market gardens and small hamlets. They were bisected at various points by the Stamford Brook and its tributary the Bollo (‘bull hollow’) on their course to the Thames at Hammersmith.

There were many unmapped rivulets flowing through Bedford Park converging east of Ravenscourt Park and joining the Thames at Hammersmith Creek (now covered over by Furnivall Gardens).


In 1742 the map maker John Rocques captured the still rural feel of the local area (above) with fields running from South Parade down to the river. A few years earlier in 1722 William Stukeley had ridden to London attempting to follow the old Roman Road:  ‘... between Turnham Green and the Acton Road (Uxbridge Road junction at Shepherds Bush) .. it is still a narrow, straight way, keeping its original direction, but full of dangerous sloughs, being clayey soil and never repaired.’

The area of land that eventually became Bedford Park previously had a number of large villas occupied by eminent people including Melbourne House, one of three Georgian houses built by John Bedford in 1793.  The others were Sydney House (on the site of the flats in Woodstock Road of the same name) and Bedford House which was the home of Dr John Lindley, the botanist and later the father-in-law of Bedford Park's developer Jonathan Carr.
1865-6MapBy the mid nineteenth century, the Brook had become a sewer, stagnant and foul smelling for residents of Bedford Park to Ravenscourt, who kept their windows shut in the summer, fearful of cholera and typhus and petitioned for action. In 1865-6 this area of the brook was at last diverted and culverted as a side project to Joseph Bazalgette’s main sewer building and drainage scheme in Central London. You can still see the Stamford Brook emptying into the Thames at Furnivall Gardens, near the Dove pub.

As the map of 1865 (left) shows, by that point the trackes for the railway line that is now the District line had already been laid across Acton Green. At this time it was still called the London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) and was a key feature in Jonathan Carr's decision to locate here. Turnham Green station opened the following year. See: 'The Train Comes & Goes').