- Writing for the VCH
- VCH Explore
Edited by:J.S. Cockburn, T.F. T. Baker
First Published:1 January, 1971
This contains histories of ten ancient parishes in north-west Middlesex. Wealthy Lon-doners began to buy property here during the Middle Ages and later settled in fine houses, exemplified by the Jacobean mansion of Swake-leys. The area in return supplied the capital with corn, livestock, and, increasingly, with hay and garden produce. In Uxbridge it possessed a medieval market town, whose prosperity grew with the coach trade, and in Harrow, from the 18th century, it boasted a fashionable school. Until the 19th century, however, the parishes were mainly rural and even backward, since agriculture was hampered by the heavy London Clay. The countryside receded only gradually, with the cutting of canals and the digging of brickearth, followed by the penetration of rail-ways and the spread of housing around the railway stations. In 1920 the hay-fields of Perivale, a parish centred around five farms, still contrasted with the factories of Southall, al-though the sale of private estates for development was soon to leave only some carefully preserved open spaces. Contrasts persist today: between the slopes along the Hertfordshire border, with their trees and large residences, and the housing estates which stretch away to the south; between the high streets of Harrow-on-the-Hill and Pinner, scarcely changed in the 20th century, and the M 1 and M 4 motorways; between the village greens at the heart of Norwood and Northolt and the shopping centre under con-struction at Uxbridge; between churches, alms-houses, moats, and barns on one hand, and on the other the stadium and Empire Pool and Arena at Wembley, and London Airport, which has obliterated the hamlet of Heathrow and covered most of the parish of Harmondsworth. The volume contains 19 pages of illustrations, two street-plans, and nine maps.