What A Council Logo Says, Part 3 – Ealing

Published on 26 November 2008 in , , , , , ,

What does your council’s logo say about your area? I was pondering this very question whilst walking down the street and looking at the street signs near home – their Merton Council logo blazing quietly in the corner, radiating out its waterwheel goodness. The entire of Merton is represented by a waterwheel for example. Why?

And so, with that on my mind, I headed on a journey of discovery, looking at places where I’d lived and visited, asking what each council logo said about the area it serves.

In part 3, I move to West London which is, surprisingly, land of the tree.

London Borough of Ealing

After leaving university I had two big problems. One, work out what I was actually going to do for a living and two, actually get a job doing it.

One thing I hadn’t considered was where I’d be doing it. Catherine was moving to London for a year to complete a year long work placement, but after that she had no concrete plans to stay in the capital. All my plans seemed to consist of was getting a place of my own – with the expectation that this would be a attic-esque flat, which would have a living room with sloping walls. It would be nice and cosy, and probably be somewhere in the north of England.

So it came as a bit of a surprise to the plan to move into a slightly scruffy but well sized studio flat in Ealing, West London which had terrible TV and radio reception, and not enough storage space.

When it comes to Ealing, I always think of three things. Ealing Studios, a brilliant Nepalese restaurant called DK Montys, and the first pub where I was ever called a local – the multi-award winning Red Lion. But others may think of Ealing’s green and common, or the vibrant Asian sector of Southall. Few probably think of the rather down at heal Acton.

The London Borough of Ealing however thinks of something else. It thinks of trees, as can be seen by its council logo.

Logo of the London Borough of Ealing

The borough itself dates back to 1965 when a local government reorganisation merged the Municipal Boroughs of Acton, Ealing and Southall, but all three boroughs featured a tree in their coat of arms – Acton an Oak (the name Acton is apparently derived from “Oak Town”), Southall a thorn tree and Ealing a lime. No surprise then that the combined borough should take a stylised tree as its logo, together with a rather blocky and eighties looking black bar with sans serif font.

It would, at this stage, be rather ironic to say that despite its logo, the borough of Ealing doesn’t have many trees. That wouldn’t really be true however, and there are many tree lined avenues in Ealing itself – trees also surround Ealing Common. Are there more trees in the borough of Ealing than other London boroughs? Well that’s a good question and one, I’m afraid, I can’t answer for you.

According to the Mayor of London’s London Tree and Woodland Framework, published in 2005, it is possible to say that there are 7m trees in the whole of Greater London, and a quarter of those trees are in woodlands. But much more than that is harder to find out the information for. Someone has, presumably, surveyed such things, but the information is not easy to come by.

As an aside, Ealing is the only council to incorporate its website into its logo – this seems to be an integral part of the current logo and it’s hard to find a copy without it. Of course this was not always the case, and my old Council Tax bills from 2004 show nothing beneath the main logo.

Greater London Authority

There was a big question in my mind about whether to include the GLA. It’s not a council – it’s an authority. And then there’s the question of whether it’s classed as local government? It covers the whole of Greater London and that’s not that big a place sizewise.

However in administrative terms, London is classed as a region by the government, and the London Assembly is classed as a regional assembly of England – and the only one which is elected.

But in the end I decided, what the heck – I’ll cover it anyway.

The GLA was formed not long after I arrived in London – in the summer of 2000 – and has recently changed its logo.

GLA logo from 2008

The new logo is a re-working of the original logo, which featured a dark blue LOND and a red ON.

The original Greater London Authority logo

Boris Johnson had a certainly interesting set of priorities when he took office as almost immediately the process of recolouring the red ON began – initially taking the deep blue of the LOND part of the logo. By the summer this had been replaced with the light blue version.

As logos go, it’s now frankly boring. It’s just LONDON spelt out in blue in a very bland and boring sans-serif font. At least the original, being in two colours, had an element of looking like a logo – and was adaptable enough that the colours could be varied – as can (at the time of writing) still be seen on an image of the GLA’s website, london.gov.uk.

Multiple versions of the GLA logo

In contrast the current version just looks like… well some text shoved on a white background.

Even the colour choice is rather staid and you can’t draw much out of the selection. It’s slightly darker than the blue paint used on Tower Bridge, and blue is the generic perceived colour of water so maybe it’s supposed to be the Thames. A cynic could also suggest that blue is the colour of the Conservative Party, although that claim could be better levelled about the original single colour version used just after Boris took charge. But perhaps the true reason for the colour choice is that it’s plain, inoffensive, cheap and the powers that be couldn’t agree on anything else.

Of all the logos I’m looking at, the GLA logo is perhaps the one which does absolutely nothing at all to represent history or the area the authority serves. And that seems a real shame.

Tomorrow I remain in London, as I look at the borough I currently reside in – home of Wimbledon, a huge branch of Sainsburys, a waterwheel and the studios of The Bill. Yep, it’s off to Merton.


  • paul says:

    do we know why the GLA changed the logo?

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    It seemed Boris didn’t like it so one of his first acts was to axe it. Sometimes politicians have “interesting” priorities…

  • Ref. your blog on London Borough of Ealing.
    I found your information about the logo most interesting, and the reason for, what I always thought was a very poor depiction of an oak tree, the fact that it is meant to depict the oak, the thorn and the lime.
    Just one comment – down at heal Acton – do you mean down at heel ?
    You sound as if you may still live in Ealing – do you see our bi-monthly Diary of Events which is available from all Borough libraries ? Look up our website when you’ve a moment !
    Best wishes
    – JOHN H.

  • Andrew Bowden says:

    These days I live in Merton, but I lived in Ealing for many years. And visited Acton many a time.
    And compared to Ealing, it was down at heal in my mind I’m afraid! Not the worse place in the world – nowhere near.