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Perivale Revisited

By Paul Scoones

Perivale first entered the collective fan consciousness with the arrival of Ace in Dragonfire. The initial fleeting references to her home town were later expanded on in Ghost Light and Survival, both set in Perivale itself. Since then, the suburb in the Ealing area of West London has featured in a number of New Adventures novels, notably Timewyrm: Revelation, Love and War and Cat's Cradle: Time's Crucible.

'It's an idyllic place, Perivale. Lush green meadows... village blacksmith...'
Doctor Who - Dragonfire by Ian Briggs, p.143

The name Perivale has only been in use since the sixteenth century. Before that, the hamlet was known as Greenford Parva (little Greenford), lying to the East of Greenford itself. Perivale means 'Pear Thee Valley', and is spelt 'Perrivale' in some early sources.

The Doctor pondered the TARDIS's programme index. He had been sidetracked from his initial inquiry. The index was insisting that the English village of Greenford Parva was one half of a minor binary star in the Sherrin Cluster.
Doctor Who - Ghost Light by Marc Platt, p.10

Until the twentieth century Perivale was a purely agricultural district consisting mainly of dairy farms. Even in the late nineteenth century it had a population of only 34 people and possessed no more than seven houses clustered near the church. By 1901 Perivale's population had grown to sixty.

'I want to have a look around Perivale village before lunch. Is there a blacksmith on the green?'
'Mercy no, dearie," smiled Mrs Grose. There's only seven houses and the church!'

Doctor Who - Ghost Light by Marc Platt, p.101

The tiny medieval church of Perivale is reputed to be 800 years old. The small but full graveyard was a fashionable rural spot for the graves of the middle classes of nearby Ealing in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Located on Perivale Lane and isolated from the rest of the area by Western Avenue, the church has not been used regularly since 1972.

From the second floor of the house, the view across the countryside presented a pastoral paradise. The harvest had been collected weeks ago and despite the heat, the trees were showing the first golden hints of autumn. Beyond the parkland, the fields swept south, down to the River Brent and west across to Horsenden Hill. Perivale, Greenford Parva or Pear Tree Valley, whatever it was called; the Doctor was depressed to imagine how this rural idyll would, within a hundred years, be swamped by the faceless world of housing estates that Ace would be born into.
Doctor Who - Ghost Light by Marc Platt, p.103

The Great Western Railway opened a station in Perivale in 1904, and this later became part of London transport's central line. The building of Western Avenue after 1912 brought industry to the area - principally Sanderson's wallpaper factory and the Hoover factory, and a sizeable industrial estate was developed in the 1930s.

Speculative house building followed, and the area was built up by 1940. Shops were built along Western Avenue, but Perivale continued to be dependent on other areas for amenities. Some open space remains in the form of playing fields, golf courses and a nature reserve. Some factories have been replaced in recent years by warehouses but little otherwise has changed.

The following Perivale locations were used in the making of Survival:


1 Medway Parade: located here are Midge's flat, the Mini Market interior, the motorbike shop, and the rest of the shopping precinct. At the northern end of the road is Woodhouse Avenue, where the Doctor attempted to lure the kitling with cat food.

2 Ealing Sports Ground: this is the playground where Ace was hunted down. The area where the play equipment was located is close to the intersection of Colwyn Avenue and Scorton Avenue.

3 Bleasdale Avenue / Colwyn Avenue: The man washing his car vanishes here, the TARDIS lands on the corner of the two streets and the Doctor materialised here when he returned from the hunting planet.

4 North Ealing Sports Centre: The EYJ Martial Arts Centre was used for the Youth Club Hall. On screen, the hall was implied to be closer to the centre of Perivale, and perhaps is intended to be the community centre on Horsenden Lane South, by the bird sanctuary.

5 Horsenden Hill: This was the waste ground visited by the Doctor and Ace early in the story and alter revisited as the scene of the motorbike crash and the very last scene of the story.

Research material for this article included a 1934 guide to London and the London Encyclopaedia (1983).

This item appeared in TSV 25 (October 1991).

Index nodes: Survival
Reprinted in: TSV: The Best of Issues 21-26