Old Oak Farm

Farm in/near White City, existed between 1548 and 1908

(51.51022 -0.23329) 

Old Oak Farm

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Farm · White City · W12 ·

Old Oak Farm, by the end of its existence, was a notable stud farm and also housed kennels.

This area was once woodland but was cleared probably some time after the Norman Conquest; the land became part of the Manor of Fulham owned by the Bishops of London.

Before the age of the vegetable, fruit and flower growers, the cultivated acres of Hammersmith were almost entirely devoted to arable and grazing land.

Wormholt Woods common land was used for grazing.

Old Oak Farm was leased for 200 years to the Duke of Somerset in 1548 and by the beginning of the seventeenth century was in the tenure of a family called Atley. A survey of 1833 described the soil as "strong loam, making good grazing fields near Uxbridge Road, but towards Wormholt Wood Scrubs it becomes too stiff and too wet in winter." The poor quality of the land encouraged frequent changes of tenancy.

The manor of Wormholt Barns was split into two parts: Wormholt and Eynham lands. By 1845 Old Oak Farm consisted of over 368 acres divided into 32 fields.

The American Turf Register and Sporting Magazine (Volume 13) described a visit to Old Oak Farm thus:

"About the four-mile stone, on the Uxbndge Road. just buyund the common at Shepherd’s Bush, there is a finger-post , pointing to the right. Some quarter of a mile down a green lane brings you in the place indicated.

We proceeded to the stables. The host Mr. Alfred Dunn took us to the stables, connected with the house by a covered way, and bear a characteristic proportion to the establishment, being at least six times as extensive as the dwelling-house. The ventilation of his stables, both in the country and in London, is of a nature that I never before had experience of."

The temptation to use land for other purposes was irresistible - brick making land could raise £4000 per acre. A field named Barn Field was allocated for brickmaking late in the nineteenth century.

In 1903 housing development was accelerating and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, who owned the land, decided to sell parts of the Old Oak Farm for development.

Some of the farmland was assigned to the ground that became the White City exhibition site and a northward extension of Bloemfontein Road.

Part of the deal between the commissioners and Hammersmith council was for a donation of a piece of land of approximately 7¾ acres for recreational purposes. After some delays the new Wormholt Park was opened on 27 June 1911.

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Old Oak Farm

Old Oak Farm
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White City

White City was the place which defined the modern Marathon.

The area now called White City was level arable farmfields until 1908, when it was used as the site of the Franco-British Exhibition and the 1908 Summer Olympics. In 1909 the exhibition site hosted the Imperial International Exhibition and in 1910, the Japan-British Exhibition. The final two exhibitions to be held there were the Latin-British (1912) and the Anglo-American (1914), which was brought to a premature end by the outbreak of the First World War.

During this period it was known as the Great White City due to the white marble cladding used on the exhibition pavilions, and hence gave its name to this part of Shepherd's Bush.

The White City Stadium was demolished in 1985 to make way for the BBC White City building. Today, the 1908 Olympics are commemorated with a list of athletes inscribed on the side of the BBC Broadcast Centre Building, and the athletics finish line is marked in the paving outside the building.

The Marathon from these London Olympics played an important part in the development of the modern marathon race. In the early years of competitive international sport, the long distance marathon race did not have a standard set distance. The distance run at the first seven Olympics from 1896 to 1920 varied between 40km and 42.75 km. The starting point of the race at the 1908 Olympics was at Windsor Castle creating a distance of 26 miles 385 yards to the finishing line at White City stadium. In 1921 this was adopted as the standard distance.

To house the growing population of Shepherd's Bush, a five-storey housing estate was built in the late 1930s, which also took the name of the White City. Streets were named after countries that had featured in the exhibitions.

White City tune station was opened on 23 November 1947, replacing the earlier Wood Lane station. Its construction started after 1938 and had been scheduled for completion by 1940, but the Second World War delayed its opening for another seven years.

The architectural design of the station won an award at the Festival of Britain and a commemorative plaque recording this is attached to the building to the left of the main entrance.
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