Today I did the Brunel talk to the Ealing U3A. Having grown up in Ealing I experienced a particular thrill going back there. The ‘Empire of Ealing’, my father used to call the place, and I must admit that although it has changed very greatly since my youth, there is something special about Ealing that sets it aside from many London boroughs.
It is home, of course, to the famous Ealing Films, and was home, 200 years ago, to Spencer Perceval, the only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated. A grateful nation awarded his widow the enormous sum of £50,000, and his daughters continued to live in Ealing, at Pitshanger Manor in Walpole Park, until the last one died in 1898 or 1899. Lady Byron, Lord Byron’s widow, ran a famous school in Ealing for disadvantaged boys. There was also Dr Nicholas’ school, whose famous old boys included Cardinal Newman and Thomas Huxley.
Ealing of course has a Brunel connection. His Great Western Railway goes right through the centre, and the Wharnecliff Viaduct at Hanwell is one of the best viaducts on the GWR.
The talk went very well, and my theories relating to the legend that Brunel aligned the Box Tunnel such that the sun shines through it on his birthday, were received with some amusement.
Long Live the Empire of Ealing!
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs