Memories Of West Ealing and The Green Man Estate

A former resident recalls how upmarket the area once was

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88 year old Neville Cantliff

Green Man Estate Community Project

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One of the oldest residents of Green Man Lane in West Ealing, which is set to be demolished as part of a proposed £136m regeneration project, has shared his memories of spending almost 30 years on the estate.

Neville Cantliff, who is now 88-years-old, has witnessed massive changes on the estate over the years, including an increase in the number of families living there and the deterioration of its buildings.

Plans have been submitted to Ealing Council to regenerate the 1970s estate, by demolishing existing homes and providing new ones including a number of family-sized properties to meet growing need.

The regeneration project team, which includes local housing provider A2Dominion, developer Rydon and architects Conran & Partners, want to create a place where people choose to live and stay, and proposals include building community facilities such as a low-cost gym and community cafe.

Whilst the tired-looking estate now is in need of revitalisation, it was a different picture when Neville first arrived back in 1982, when the homes were just a few years old.

Neville, who served in the army during the Second World War, said:

“Just before I turned 60, I was told I could apply for a flat in a block on the Green Man Lane estate, which was specifically for the over 60s. I did so, and within a matter of weeks I had moved into Wigmore Court.

“The flat was everything I wanted. It was light, airy and it was on the third floor, so I had good views over nearby roof tops and trees.”

Neville, who before moving to West Ealing had spent many years travelling up and down the country working as an auditor, said he enjoyed living in Wigmore Court as it meant being around people of his own age. A keen ballroom dancer, Neville sometimes even gave dancing lessons to his neighbours in the long corridors of block.

“There was a good sense of community on the estate,” he said. “My flat was a good size so I’d often have my neighbours over for a cup of tea.”

He also enjoyed going out and about in West Ealing. “The local West Ealing area was very upmarket. We had Daniel’s [a draper and fashion house] and there were also a Woolworths and Marks & Spencer, so it was good.”

However, over time, Neville said he saw both the estate and the local area start to decline. “The buildings on the estate have seemed to deteriorate over the years, and there have been problems on the estate with crime.”

Sadly, he has also lost many of his friends and neighbours. “Unfortunately a lot of people who were living there have died. I was the oldest person still living there.”

With the proposed regeneration project on the horizon, Neville decided recently that the time had come to leave the estate and move into nearby sheltered accommodation. Whilst sad to leave, he paid a fond farewell to the place that had been his home for almost 30 years.

Looking at the proposals for the future of Green Man Lane, Neville says he thinks the regeneration will be good for the estate and West Ealing.

“I loved it when I was there and it was sad to leave but for me it was time to move on. But I think the plans for Green Man Lane look exciting and I think it will be good for the people who live there.”

22 June 2010

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