Western Avenue, London
Coordinates: Western Avenue, some 10 miles (16 km) in length, is one of the major roads leading out of London, England. It is part of the A40, leaving the city in a north-westerly direction. The A40 is named as Western Avenue from its junction with Old Oak Common Lane in East Acton; the junction now has traffic lights, but its name Savoy Circus commemorates the roundabout which once formed the junction. East of this point is Westway, part of the A40 Central London link from Paddington.
After Savoy Circus the road, dual carriageway, takes a bend towards North Acton, crossing the Great Western Main Line as it does so. The first major junction is Gypsy Corner (with the A4000, 0.8 miles (1.3 km)), connecting northwards to Park Royal and Harlesden and southwards to Acton town centre. All subsequent major junctions make use of grade separation and slip roads (see History below), starting with the Hanger Lane Gyratory System (with the A406 and A4005, 2 miles (3 km)); this is followed by a junction with the B452 at Perivale (4 miles (6.4 km)), connecting southwards to West Ealing and the River Thames at Kew Bridge; the Greenford Roundabout (with the A4127, 5 miles (8 km)), connecting northwards to Harrow and southwards to Southall; the Target Roundabout (with the A312, 6.5 miles (10.4 km)), a junction for Heathrow Airport; and the Polish War Memorial junction (with the A4180, 7.5 miles (12 km)) for Northolt Aerodrome.
In the final few miles of the road, there are minor junctions with the A437 (Hillingdon Circus) to Ruislip and Hillingdon, and with the B467 (Swakeleys Roundabout) to Uxbridge, before the road ends at the junction with the M40 at the Denham Roundabout, northwest of Uxbridge.
In the early 1960s, the Hanger Lane junction was improved, with an underpass built to take Western Avenue under the A406. Then, during the 1980s and early 1990s, the road was expanded, and all the junctions west of Hanger Lane were improved. A flyover was built at the Greenford Roundabout to take Western Avenue over the A4127; the other junctions take Western Avenue under the crossing road.
The last junction to be improved was Hillingdon Circus. Here, the work diverted Western Avenue to the north of the old line of the road, taking it under both the A437 and the Uxbridge branch of the Metropolitan line; Hillingdon London Underground Station was rebuilt as part of the work.
Further expansion plans in the late 1990s resulted in the demolition of more than 100 houses along the eastern part of the road. However, these plans were ultimately never realised.
The Hoover Building is referred to in a song by Elvis Costello and "Westway" is the title of a tune by the 1980s rock band Sky. On the album notes bass player Herbie Flowers, who co-wrote the tune with Francis Monkman, says of "Westway": "When we recorded this album, I was living out in West London, and the studio was in Central London. Every night, I would drive home along the Westway elevated road and listen on my car tape player to what we'd done that day. This track is such a great groove for driving and it got its name because if I put it on at the Marylebone Road end of the Westway and stuck right on the speed limit, it would finish just as I came off the other end."
Western Avenue borders RAF Northolt in Uxbridge. On Tuesday 13 August 1996, in a very unusual accident, a Lear Jet landing at the airfield overshot the runway and ended up crashing into a van that just happened to be passing on the A40. The van driver was not seriously injured, despite being trapped for 40 minutes. It was later determined that the crash may have been caused when the Spanish pilot and co-pilot were having a disagreement over who should handle the landing. There was only one passenger on the Lear Jet, an actress named Lisa Hogan, who was slightly injured.
In popular culture
- Western Avenue features heavily in Crash, the 1973 J. G. Ballard novel about symphorophilia (car-crash fetishism).
- Edward Platt won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award for his 2000 book Leadville, about the Westway.
- Edward Platt, Leadville (Picador, 2001). ISBN 0-330-39263-8.
- Original Newspaper report on the accident
- The Automobile Association, Illustrated Road Book of England and Wales (Fourth Edition) (1966).
- Dutter, Barbie; Marks, Kathy (1996-08-14). "Jet crash actress escapes with cuts". The Daily Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group. Archived from the original on 2005-09-15. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- Booktrust - John Llewellyn Prize archive