There’s so many interesting little curiosities tucked away on the London Underground.
It’s a veritable treasure trove of interesting trivia. We’ve found another unusual little one for you here.
Did you know for example that there’s one station that had a platform entirely devoted to delivering milk?
The station at West Ealing was first opened in 1871 with the quaint name Castle Hill & Ealing Dene.
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School children sit along the edge of the platform at West Ealing station in 1979 – not a sight you’d see today! (Photo by John Minihan/Evening Standard/Getty Images)
This was a curiosity in itself. Castle Hill was named after Castlebar Road which itself comes from the place of the same name in Ireland – so the station’s name was directly influenced by the many Irish settlers who came to London to work on the 19th Century.
Dene of course means “wooded valley” so gives an idea of just how countrified Ealing would have been in those days.
The cute little station was on the famous Great Western Railway line which at that point ran from Paddington to Maidenhead.
From 1883 the station saw District Railway Underground services running on the line between Mansion House and Windsor but these were soon closed as they did not prove profitable.
But believe it or not, in those days the station sat right next to the London Cooperative Society’s main creamery where milk and other dairy products were produced.
The the station itself had a dedicated platform for an actual milk train from the mid-1900s.
The original West Ealing station building visible in the distance, on the far right, in 1962. The milk platform dock is visible near the centre. (Credit Ben Brooksbank – Wiki Commons)
Milk trains were a common sight on the railways in those days and – as the name suggests – delivered milk right across the UK. The Great Western Railway on which West Ealing stood was one of the busiest routes.
Trains would have picked up milk at stations right across Cornwall, Devon and the West Country before rolling into London.
Creameries would typically load a couple of milk tank wagons a day, with a single 3,000-imperial-gallon wagon carrying enough pasteurised milk to supply the daily needs of about 35,000 people.
At Ealing it seems butter and cheese would have been produced from the milk transported here.
However the glory days of London Underground milk were not to last here.
The creamery closed down in the end and the station was extensively rebuilt.
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Only Overground services now stop there, but West Ealing is still a thriving station nonetheless.
The former LCS milk train bay platform was converted into an additional bay “Platform 5” at the station to serve Great Western Railway services.
Greenford trains which had previously run to Paddington now terminated at West Ealing, so when you got off the train here you were indeed still stepping onto what was left of the old milk platform.
Even more changes have taken place since.
Once Crossrail is fully open, Elizabeth line services are due to run from the station across central London. A new station building has been constructed on Manor Road, providing a larger entrance with step-free access to the platform.
This new station building opened in March 2021, and the existing station building on Drayton Green Road was permanently closed.