Southall was not specifically mentioned in the Domesday survey of 1086, because it was part of the manor of Hayes, so was not mentioned separately. It was owned by the Archbishops of Canterbury at this time, but was leased to a number of different tenants throughout the Middle Ages.
In 1587 the present day Manor House was built by Richard Awsiter, and is now the oldest surviving building in Southall. However, during the seventeenth century, the Merrick family became more important than the Awsiters. Francis Merrick applied to William III for the right to hold a market in Southall, which was granted in 1698, allowing the village to hold a cattle market.
In 1801 Southall had a very small population. Only 697 people lived there and many of these worked on local farms. Wheat and barley was grown and sheep and cows grazed in the fields. There were few industries, but, during the course of the nineteenth century, there were to be major changes, mainly brought about by developments in transport. In the 1790s, the Grand Junction Canal was built and it linked London to the Midlands via Bull's Bridge, Southall, one branch going to the Thames and one to Paddington. More important were the railways. In 1838 the Great Western Railway Company opened a railway line from London westwards. This route included Southall, where a halt was established in 1839.
Southall was chosen as the site of the Middlesex County Asylum, which opened in 1831. It was a self-supporting community, with its inmates learning trades and crafts. It is also famous for Dr John Conolly's pioneering work there, as superintendent, where he ended the practice of making inmates wear chains.
Southall's most celebrated residents were the Martin brothers, who worked in a pottery at the end of Havelock Road, near to the canal. They produced hundreds of sculptured pots, many of which show strange animal faces. The name Martinware is given to their work.
Encouraged by the building of the railway, industries eventually began to replace farming as the chief source of work in Southall. There were many brickfields in and near Southall. One of Southall's largest industries in the Victorian era was the Otto Monsted margarine factory. It officially opened in 1895. Other local industries included a flourmill, gas works and chemical works.
Southall became self governing in 1859. Trams came to Southall when the tramline was extended from London through Ealing to Southall in 1901. In 1905 Lady Jersey opened the new public library. The Jersey family were important local landowners and lived in Osterley Park. In 1936, with nearly 50,000 residents, Southall became a municipal borough, with a mayor and a charter.