Travellers in Ealing
Travellers of Irish heritage
Irish Traveller communities are the largest of the Traveller groups in the Ealing area. Parish registers show that Travellers of Irish heritage have had associations with the area for at least two centuries.
The A40 trunk road that links west London to Fishguard in south Wales and the southern Irish port of Rosslare, runs through the borough and has long been used by Gypsy Traveller groups travelling from southern Ireland to London. The junction of the A40 and Horn Lane in North Acton is known as 'Gypsy Corner' in recognition of its former use as a stopping place for Irish Traveller groups passing in and out of London.
The Official Ealing Caravan Site, with pitches for 24 families, is situated behind North Acton station about 1 mile from the area known as 'Gypsy Corner', and the houses along the A40 near Horn Lane still accommodate Irish Traveller families.
Acton, with its industrial background, afforded Irish Traveller communities opportunities to pursue their traditional metal recycling trades as well as the development of entrepreneurial involvement in the extensive rebuilding of London after the second World War.
Northolt is also an area traditionally used by Irish Traveller groups. The modern housing estates are built over a former racecourse and common ground that were well used by Travellers, particularly for pursuing other traditional occupations such as dealing and racing horses.
Travellers were well-represented in general Irish immigration to the Southall area after 1945, and the Livestock market still attracts a strong Gypsy Traveller involvement.
Traditional Traveller stopping places have disappeared with the expanses of common land that were swallowed in the contemporary expansion of the London conurbation. In Ealing, current unofficial encampments generally occur in the suburban areas of Greenford and Northolt. It is significant that Travellers still seek out their traditional, but now disappeared, stopping places along the A40, especially in the area now known as Greenford.