Old Oak Common
was said to contain 200 acres of oak and hawthorn scrub in 1590, and commoners, supervised by the parish overseerer, enjoyed rights of grazing cattle and pigs. It was also a noted duelling ground and prize fight venue, while the Household Cavalry exercised at Wormwood Scrubs
A lane led southward to East Acton and was called Worton Green Lane in 1639 and Batteridges Lane, after a local inhabitant, in 1746. East Acton was connected with Uxbridge Road by a lane from the west end of the green. The lane also ran across the green to the Hammersmith boundary and thence northward to Old Oak common as Old Oak Lane in 1720 and Old Oak Common
Lane in 1866.
The parishioners received compensation for the loss of grazing land in 1805 for the construction of the Grand Union Canal and in
1837 from the Great Western Railway. Under pressure from local landowners most of the common was enclosed in 1862 under protest from the commoners, although a small area in the south remained open and was later incorporated into the adjoining Wormwood Scrubs
common in Hammersmith.
The development of the Old Oak Common
area in the nineteenth century was dominated by a uncoordinated succession of linear routes driven through an agrarian landscape. Old Oak Lane was a key route, allowing people in Harlesden access to London. The construction of the Grand Union Canal in 1801 and the railway network from 1838 are part of a national story. But here a variety of industries grew up alongside the transport network, sustained by railway sidings, canalside wharfs and improved road links.
The Naphtha Works, north of the canal bridge on Old Oak Lane, was an early if shortlived example of the presence of chemical industries around Old Oak Common
. The works, formed by 1865, manufactured naphtha, a volatile petroleum-derived product used in the manufacture of solvents and cleaning fluids. It was closed by 1894.
From 1868, waterproof paper was pioneered at the Willesden Paper & Canvas Works, south of the canal on Old Oak Lane. The company, founded by Alfred Healey, expanded in 1873 and 1888, manufacturing waterproof tents in the First World War.
The few rows of cottages had been built in 1889 by the LNWR for its employees in Old Oak Lane. Originally, the whole estate appears to have been the private property of the LNWR, simply called Railway Cottages. The former Borough of Acton may have named the streets when they were adopted, choosing names like Stephenson, Crewe and Stoke for their railway associations. The London and Northwestern Railway, (LNWR) was the largest railway company in the country at the time.
The Railway Institute, or club, and a mission church and school were added within a few years, but the whole had little connection with the rest of Acton on account of its relative isolation from other residential areas.
Old Oak Lane Halt railway station was the first station on the "New North Main Line" (present-day Acton–Northolt line) of the Great Western Railway. It served the area between North Acton and Old Oak Common
, and was in use between 1906 and 1947.
Between 1915 and 1935, the new pub, The Fisherman’s Arms, appears to have replaced three houses on Old Oak Lane. Contemporary maps show tram lines along Old Oak Lane.