OLD TO NEW SOUTHALL
A tale of two settee’s (at least)
For all new to this town there is Southall and all that it signifies. For those ‘in the know,’ there are indeed two parts. Prana Southall and Southall, or Old Southall and … Now, how did this split personality come to be? True, the ‘old’ part is the oldest in terms of time; there is where it all started as a town.
Southallwalas know in their mind where this place is and is great for reference and when giving directions. Very soon one realises that are perceptions. Old Southall is seen as a little ‘downmarket.’ In this part, there are no plush shops. Businesses tend to be more transient, often not that well kept in terms of décor.
An economic divide is visible. King Street may not have the same turnover as The Broadway area, it is nevertheless a vibrant, active and colourful part of the whole. The turnover equation is always a little tricky as The Broadway is comparable to and indeed has often exceeded that of Oxford Street.
Even with the current economic situation, New Southall has an immense density of retail activity per square metre. This can a deceptive as many shops are sub-divided and sub-let. There one old type of shop now equals to about six or more.
This trend appears to have begun with the recent influx of new citizens from Afghanistan and Somalia. This trend is now spreading other parts of London, for example in Hounslow, Brent and others.
Shoppers sometimes believe that they will ‘get a better deal’ at Old Southall. For new visitors it just adds to the mix and masala of a truly unique place.
The difference between Hanwell and Ealing Broadway is one parallel. The two faces of Southall attract two types of new businesses and shoppers. Along The Broadway / South Road, there are more restaurants than along King Street and The Green. New Southall is seen by some as the ‘new.’
The quality of food in Southall is high, the only difference being how it is presented. The variety is as always varied and interesting, from Pakistani, Indian, Bengali, Somali, etc. to the ubiquitous chicken / burger / pizza palaces.
Living spaces vary slightly, although the estate agents dream- Norwood Green lies along the southern side of town. Old Southall at time feels somewhat more urban with narrower streets than the new sector. Whatever the living space, one thing that never discriminates on both sides of town: the Greco/Roman pillars, the marble lions and the deluge of shiny German cars.
And the borderline? Stand on top of the bridge at Southall railway station and… enjoy.
The decades of hyper activity in business, arts, culture, society, politics and heritage spread itself evenly, over a London suburb at one with itself. (For most of the time…!)