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Willesden Green Old Library Building
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Location within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ227846
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district NW10, NW2
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°32′48″N0°13′46″W / 51.5468°N 0.2295°W / 51.5468; -0.2295 Coordinates: 51°32′48″N0°13′46″W / 51.5468°N 0.2295°W / 51.5468; -0.2295

Willesden ( /ˈwɪlzdən/ ) is an area in north west London which forms part of the London Borough of Brent. It is situated 5 miles (8 km) northwest of Charing Cross. It was historically a parish in the county of Middlesex that was incorporated as the Municipal Borough of Willesden in 1933, and has formed part of the London Borough of Brent in Greater London since 1965. [1] Dollis Hill is also sometimes referred to as being part of Willesden.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital of and largest city in England and the United Kingdom, and the largest city in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

London Borough of Brent London borough in United Kingdom

The London Borough of Brent is a London borough in north west London, and forms part of Outer London. The major areas are Wembley, Kilburn, Willesden, Harlesden and Neasden.

Charing Cross The point from which distances from London are calculated.

Charing Cross is a junction in London, England, where six routes meet. Clockwise from north these are: the east side of Trafalgar Square leading to St Martin's Place and then Charing Cross Road; the Strand; Northumberland Avenue; Whitehall; The Mall leading to Admiralty Arch and Buckingham Palace; and two short roads leading to Pall Mall.


With its close proximity to affluent neighbourhoods Brondesbury Park, Queen's Park and Kensal Rise, the area surrounding Willesden Green station has seen increased gentrification in the past several years, with rapidly rising property prices. The Daily Telegraph called Willesden Green one of London's "new middle class" areas. [2] [3] The area has a population of 44,295 as of 2011 including the Willesden Green, Dollis Hill and Dudden Hill wards. Willesden Green has one of the city's highest Irish populations, and is also strongly associated with Latin Americans. [4]

Brondesbury Park human settlement in United Kingdom

Brondesbury Park is a suburb and electoral ward of the London Borough of Brent. It is the part of Brondesbury which is not interwoven with Kilburn due to the naming of a major tube station (Kilburn) and is centred on Brondesbury Park railway station and the street, an avenue, which shares its name. The area has a number of open spaces, primarily: Queen's Park and Tiverton Green.

Queens Park, London area of West London, England

Queen's Park is an area in North West and West London located 3.9 miles (6.3 km) north-west of Charing Cross. The northern half lies in the London Borough of Brent while the southern half lies in the City of Westminster.

Willesden Green tube station London Underground station

Willesden Green is a London Underground station on Walm Lane in Willesden. It is served by the Jubilee line and is between Dollis Hill and Kilburn. Metropolitan line trains also pass through the station, but do not usually stop. The station is on the boundary of Travelcard Zone 2 and Zone 3.

Willesden is mostly in the NW10 postcode district, but part of it is in the NW2 postcode district.

NW postcode area Postcode area within the United Kingdom

The NW postcode area, also known as the London NW postcode area, is a group of postcode districts covering part of northwest London, England. It is the successor of the NW sector, originally created as part of the London postal district in 1856.



The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon Willesdune, meaning the Hill of the Spring, [5] and a settlement bearing this name dates back to 939 AD. The Domesday Book of 1086 records it as Wellesdone. [5] However, on 19th century maps of the town such as those from the 'Ordnance Survey First Series', the town is shown as Wilsdon. [6] The motto of Willesden Borough Council was Laborare est orare ("to labour is to pray"). [7]

Domesday Book 11th-century survey of landholding in England as well as the surviving manuscripts of the survey

Domesday Book is a manuscript record of the "Great Survey" of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086 by order of King William the Conqueror. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle states:

Then, at the midwinter [1085], was the king in Gloucester with his council .... After this had the king a large meeting, and very deep consultation with his council, about this land; how it was occupied, and by what sort of men. Then sent he his men over all England into each shire; commissioning them to find out "How many hundreds of hides were in the shire, what land the king himself had, and what stock upon the land; or, what dues he ought to have by the year from the shire."

Early history

From the 14th to 16th centuries, the town was a place of pilgrimage due to the presence of two ancient statues of the Virgin Mary at the Church of St Mary. One of these statues is thought to have been a Black Madonna, venerated as Our Lady of Willesden, which was insulted by the Lollards, taken to Thomas Cromwell's house and burnt in 1538 on a large bonfire of "notable images" including those of Our Lady of Walsingham, Our Lady of Worcester, and Our Lady of Ipswich. There was also a "holy well" which was thought to possess miraculous qualities, particularly for blindness and other eye disorders. Much of the district supplied Apples, Pears and vegetables to the city of London for many years from the early years of the industrial revolution.

Black Madonna artistic theme, depiction of Mary with black skin

The term Black Madonna or Black Virgin refers to statues or paintings of the Blessed Virgin Mary in which she, and often the infant Jesus, are depicted with black or dark skin. The Black Madonna can be generally found in Catholic and Orthodox countries.

Our Lady of Willesden

Our Lady of Willesden is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated by Christians in London, especially by Anglicans and Roman Catholics. It is associated with the historic image (statue) and pilgrimage centre in the community of Willesden, originally a village in Middlesex, England, but now a suburb of London. The pre-Reformation shrine was home to the Black Madonna of Willesden statue.

Our Lady of Walsingham Title given to apparitions of The Virgin Mary in Walsingham, England

Our Lady of Walsingham is a title of the Blessed Virgin Mary venerated by Catholics and Anglicans associated with the Marian apparitions to Richeldis de Faverches, a pious English noblewoman, in 1061 in the village of Walsingham in Norfolk, England. Lady Richeldis had a structure built named "The Holy House" in Walsingham which later became a shrine and place of pilgrimage.

Industrial history

Iris 15 HP (1912) MHV Iris 15 hp 1912.jpg
Iris 15 HP (1912)

The Iris was a British car brand that was manufactured from 1906 by Legros & Knowles Ltd in Willesden. Lucien Alphonse Legros (1866–1933), son of the artist Alphonse Legros, and Guy Knowles, scion of a wealthy and artistic family, founded Legros & Knowles Ltd in Cumberland Park, Willesden Junction, in 1904 to build and repair vehicles. [8] [9] [10]

Iris (car) British automotive brand

Iris was a British car brand that was manufactured from 1906-1925 by Legros & Knowles Ltd in Willesden, London and Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Modern history

The parish of Willesden remained predominantly rural up until 1875, when its population was 18,500. It included the villages and hamlets of Brondesbury, Dollis Hill, Dudden Hill, Harlesden, Kilburn, Mapesbury, Oxgate and Stonebridge. [11] However, this changed with the opening of the Metropolitan Railway (later the Metropolitan line) station of Willesden Green on 24 November 1879. By 1906 the population had grown to 140,000, a phenomenon of rapid growth that was to be repeated in the 1920s in neighbouring areas such as Harrow. The Metropolitan line service was withdrawn in 1940, when the station was served by the Bakerloo line,[ citation needed ] and later the Jubilee line.

The First World War caused Willesden to change from a predominantly middle class suburb to a working class part of London. After the war, Willesden grew rapidly as many factories opened up with numerous flats and terraced houses. The local council encouraged building to prevent large unemployment and decline. To the present day, Willesden has been shaped by the patterns of migration which marks it out as one of the most diverse areas in the United Kingdom. City of London Corporation records show that the first black person recorded in Brent was Sarah Eco, who was christened in St. Mary’s Church in Willesden on 15 September 1723. [12] The 1901 United Kingdom census recorded that 42% of the population was born in London. In 1923, the specialist coach builder Freestone and Webb established their base in Willesden, producing bespoke cars on Rolls-Royce and Bentley chassis until 1956.

Willesden became a municipal borough in 1933, and it is at this time that the area became predominantly working class. A small Irish community had formed in Willesden by this time, which grew rapidly during the period of the Second World War. A small Jewish community of refugees from Europe also formed during the war, with 3.5% of the population in 1951 born in Germany, Poland, Russia or Austria. During the war, Willesden suffered large bombing damage due to the heavy concentration of manufacturing industry, such as munition factories, the location of 'Smiths Instruments" (Used defensive aircraft instrumentation). Mulliner-Park Ward (Coach builders to Rolls Royce and Bentley, hand built cars). Power Station location, canal and major railway locomotive overhaul facilities located in the area.

Willesden Green station Willesdengreenstation.jpg
Willesden Green station

The period from 1960 saw migrants settling from the Caribbean and the Indian Subcontinent. Additionally, from 1963 it was the site of the Kuo Yuan, the first Chinese restaurant to serve Pekinese dishes in Britain. [13] Since the 1960s, Willesden has been popular with young working holidaymakers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, although this popularity has declined somewhat in favour of other areas since about 2003.

Willesden went into a period of decline during the 1970s and 1980s as much of the housing was inadequate due to overcrowding as industry was mixed with housing. The whole of central Willesden (bar the area by the Willesden Green station) was earmarked for redevelopment; however, this did not come to fruition. In the late 1980s, traders were given money to revamp the High Street to prevent shops closing.

The area surrounding Willesden Green station has become more middle-class and gentrified with marked property price rises in 2014 and 2015. [2] [3]

Willesden French Market Willesden French Market 2006.jpg
Willesden French Market


The Willesden Green ward is represented on Brent Council by three Labour councillors, Fleur Donnelly-Jackson, Elliot George Chappell and Tom Miller.

Willesden forms part of the Brent Central parliamentary constituency and is home to the local Labour Party MP Dawn Butler.


According to the 2011 census, the Willesden Green ward had a population of 15,587. Ethnically, 22% of the population was Other White, followed by 20% White British, 8.2% Other Asian, 8.1% Black African and 7.1% Black Caribbean. The most spoken foreign language was Portuguese, followed by Polish. 2,621 of the tenure households were privately rented; 1,625 were socially rented; 1,540 were owned. [14]



Railways were instrumental in the development of Willesden, from a quiet village into a vibrant part of London. Willesden Green station was opened in 1879 by the Metropolitan Railway and has a grand 1920s facade. The Metropolitan connected Willesden to Central London, Harrow, Uxbridge, Rickmansworth and Aylesbury. The Metropolitan no longer stops regularly at the station (apart from when the Jubilee line is out of service). Neasden station is also within walking distance for some Willesden residents.

Willesden Green station Willesden Green Tube Station.JPG
Willesden Green station


Willesden is connected to many places, as the A41 road/A5 road runs in nearby Kilburn/Cricklewood. The North Circular Road, the inner orbital road of London, is nearby running through Neasden.


A large bus garage was built in 1902 and thus, many bus routes start or run through the town. These routes are shown in the table below. The Queen visited it during her Golden Jubilee celebrations.

London Buses routes serving Willesden are:

6 Willesden Aldwych Metroline
52 Willesden Victoria Station Metroline
98 Willesden Russell Square Metroline
N98 Stanmore Russell Square Metroline
206 Kilburn Park Wembley Park Metroline
226 Golders Green Ealing Broadway Metroline
260 White City Golders Green Metroline
266 Hammersmith Brent Cross Metroline
297 Willesden Ealing Broadway Metroline
302 Mill Hill Broadway Kensal Rise Metroline
460 Willesden North Finchley Metroline


Founded in 1926, Willesden Cycling Club (WCC) supports Track cycling, Time Trials, Road Racing and AUDAX events. The club also provides grassroots coaching and social rides, as well as frequent "club runs" into the Chilterns and surrounding areas.[ citation needed ]

Famous people from Willesden Green

Well I tried to settle down Fulham Broadway

And I tried to make my home in Golders Green
But I gotta get that train
And go back home again
Oh how I miss the folks back home in Willesden Green

You know, I tried, I really tried to settle in this big city
And I always thought I could make it all on my very own
But there's one thing that keeps calling me
To that little, that little semi-detached
That's the folks, yeah, the folks back home
In Willesden Green

See also

Related Research Articles

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