On Saturday 24 March, I joined the second free walking tour, organised by OPDC as part of the Great Place Scheme activity to uncover and promote the rich history of Old Oak and Park Royal.
Discover what history was uncovered in the March free walking tour
These tours are a great way to learn more about the area, and not just from the tour guide, but also the members of the group who are often from the local community or used to live or work nearby.
This tour was focussed around Park Royal station and the old Guinness factory. We were led by a local history enthusiast, Joanna, who created an atmosphere where members of the group were able to share their stories and knowledge. When we explored the tour’s main attraction, the old Guinness Factory grounds, we discovered that there was a former Guinness employee on the tour with us.
They reminisced about the green fields, which used to be home to cows and horses. The former factory worker recalled how on the way to work they would scratch the cow’s noses and always be quietly amused by the “Beware Cattle Crossing” sign in the middle of Park Royal, which has always had a strong industrial landscape rather than a farming one.
The Guinness factory is now long gone and in its place, is the headquarters for Diageo, a global leader in alcohol beverages, as well as new flats and a secret garden. Exploring the secret garden, we came across a fashion shoot which we tiptoed passed. Given the hidden location, the photos will no doubt look very glamorous in a glossy publication, but given it was a dreary day, none of us were envious of the haute couture outfit that the model was wearing.
From the secret garden, we walked up some steps and could see some huge grey sheds, containing numerous businesses. From discovering and reflecting on the area’s former industrial use as the Guinness factory, it was a positive sign of how significant Park Royal continues to be today. Not just providing local employment, but also contributing significantly to London’s economy as the largest industrial estate in the capital.
We finished the tour by heading to the West London Art Factory, which was holding its open studio weekend, enabling us to get a sneak-peak in to the creative industry that is located in Park Royal.
Everyone is welcome to come on a free Walking Tour. You can find out about the future walks that are planned and register to join a walk.
The Great Place Scheme has been supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund.