A brief history of Willesden Green

The name comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'Wellesdune', meaning 'the hill of the spring'. The Doomsday book of 1086 records it as 'Wellesdone'. By the 14th century there were houses and farms. By the middle of the 18th century the village had grown and had its own pub, The Spotted Dog, described in 1792 as 'a well accustomed Publick House'. In the 19th century it was famous for its pleasure gardens and in the 1920s boasted a dance hall.
In the early 18th century Willesden was notorious for 'baby farming', when unwanted infants from London were sent to be nursed. Before the coming of the railway, Willesden was essentially an agricultural area, supplying hay, milk and horses to London.
In the 19th century there were some large mansions and professional people living alongside farmers. Poorer cottages were built too, including on Pound Lane (named after a brick animal pound demolished in 1895). The Metropolitan Railway opened Willesden Green Station in 1879. At one time in the 1890s four houses were being built in the area every day. From 1870s, the Furness Brick Works (Chambers Lane) was supplying bricks and tiles and employed many residents. The Anglo-Catholic St Andrew's Church provided a church school and some social facilities, including a men's club, a parish library and a soup kitchen. By the start of the 20th century farms disappeared and were replaced by villas and cottages. By 1910 most of the original Green had disappeared.

Shops grew along the High Road. Many inhabitants worked in building and transport. The original Willesden Library was built in 1894.
During WW1 many Willesden residents were out of work. Willesden suffered severe bomb damage during WW2, because of the concentration of industry and railway lines. In October 1940 more bombs fell on Willesden than on East Ham. Willesden's war effort is marked by a memorial in Willesden New Cemetery. Willesden purchased a bomber and a Spitfire named Borough of Willesden and flown by a Polish squadron. At this time many Irish people came to live in Willesden Green. They worked in factories supplying the armed forces.

From “Brent Heritage” http://www.brent-heritage.co.uk/index.htm

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