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History of West Hendon

History of West Hendon
  • council: Barnet
  • phone code: 020
  • postcode area: NW
  • county: Greater London

West Hendon is situated on the A5 between Burnt Oak and Cricklewood and is just a short walk from the picturesque Welsh Harp (Brent) Reservoir. There are a number of Asian foodstuffs and Asian clothing stores in West Hendon Broadway as well as long established hardware store and specialist sailing boats and bicycle shops.

West Hendon was a settlement within that part of the ancient parish of Hendon known as the Hyde, and is now a part of the London Borough of Barnet. It was formally known, from 1878 – 1890, as New Hendon, a small railway development on the Edgware Road. Before 1830s there were three farms, Upper and Lower Guttershedge (East of the Road) and Cockman’s in the Wood (west of the road), and an inn The Welsh Harp. Between 1835 and 1838 the Brent Reservoir was constructed, by damming the Brent and the Silk brooks and flooding much of Cockman’s Farm. The water was used to supply the Grand Union Canal. At its greatest extent it covered 400 acres (1.6 km²) in 1853, but was dramatically reduced to 195 acres (789,000 m²) in the 1890s, and subsequently has been reduced to 110 acres (445,000 m²). It contains enough water to fill 3 million baths, and in 1991 was believed to contain 10,000 lb (4,500 kg) of fish. The residue of Cockman’s farm became Woodfield House, home to the Roman Catholic, Passionist Fathers (1852 and 1858). The house was demolished in 1940 and used by the Borough of Hendon, and its successor London Borough of Barnet as a plant nursery.

Today West Hendon is home to a plethora of races and creeds. An example can be found on Stuart Avenue where the Flaherty's and Patel's live side by side. It is an example of the tolerance of those living in West Hendon and an example to all of how we can all get on together.

Originally The Harp and Horn (c1750s), the Harp was rebuilt in 1859, and 1937, before finally being pulled down in 1970 to make way for the M1. From 1859 until the end of the century it was run by the Warner brothers, and the reservoir became a centre for all sorts of sporting events, such as ice skating, swimming and angling; and was, until 1878, the Kingsbury Race Course. The first mechanical hare, for Greyhound Racing, was used here in 1876. By 1850 there was a second public house, the Upper Welsh Harp. At its height in the mid 1880s crowds in excess of 25,000 people could be expected on a Bank Holiday weekend.

Two railway stations were opened both of the Midland Railway, Hendon (1868) and Welsh Harp (1870). A local builder called Bishop laid the first brick of a new terrace called Neeld Terrace (1881), the start of “New Hendon”. Brent Vue, were all built on land originally owned by the Midland Company. In 1885 the Baptists had a mission hall, their present hall being opened in 1930. By 1886 there were 200 new houses and the Anglican church of St John’s was built, their present church being built in 1896.

The 1896 Ordnance Survey Map shows that most of the roads were laid out but with little development beyond that of the mid 1880s. In 1896 Schweppes opened a large mineral water factory, and the permanent Anglican church of St John’s was opened in Algernon Road. With a planned tramline down the “Broadway” of “West Hendon due to open (1904), Welsh Harp station closed (1903). West Hendon was a thriving Edwardian retail district, until overshadowed by Golders Green. By the Ordnance Survey Map of 1913 the area is shown fully developed.

The reservoir was an important centre for speedboat racing in the 1920s and 1930s. C Harrison broke the out-board motorboat record at 57 mph (92 km/h) in 1931. During the War the Luftwaffe dropped a SC2500 maximum Heavy Explosive bomb (equivalent of two V2 rockets), destroying forty houses and killing 80 people, in an area west of the Edgware Road (13 February 1941). This area was completely redeveloped in the 1960s. In 1984 a small Islamic Centre was established at 135 The Broadway, which moved to Brent View and re-opened as Hendon Mosque on August 23, 1996. Hendon Mosque held the funeral for Nazia Hassan, a pioneer of Indian and Pakistani Pop music 2001.

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