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West Hendon

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One of the borough’s poorer quarters, West Hendon is separated from Hendon proper by the M1 motorway. The land was once part of Tunworth (now Kingsbury)) but, by passing into the ownership of Westminster Abbey, came within the parish and manor of Hendon in the late tenth century. Although the locality attracted visitors following the creation of the Welsh Harp reservoir in the 1830s, no settlement existed here until the opening of Hendon main-line station in 1868. Over the latter part of the 19th century West Hendon evolved as a new suburb, consisting almost entirely of terraced housing. A Baptist mission hall was built in 1885 and Nonconformists joined Anglicans in contributing to St John’s School, built in 1889, after seeing shoeless children walking to Church End in Willesden. The Church of St John the Evangelist held services in temporary buildings until its permanent home was consecrated in 1896. In the same year the opening of Schweppes bottling plant brought further growth to the locality. West Hendon Broadway was fully built up by the outbreak of World War I, although open fields still stretched south to Cricklewood railway sidings at this time. The North Circular Road (A406) cut across these fields in the 1920s. In February 1941 a V2 rocket killed 80 West Hendon residents and made 1,500 homeless. Much of the surviving housing stock was demolished and rebuilt between the 1940s and the late 1960s. The closure of the Schweppes plant in 1980 contributed to the area’s economic decline and West Hendon is now the focus of a major regeneration scheme. This will entail the demolition of the post-war estate and its replacement with more than 2,000 new homes, together with community facilities, a civic square, and environmental and road improvements. Slightly more than half of West Hendon’s residents are white, while a fifth are of Indian origin.

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West Hendon Baptist church

The neighbourhood’s principal attraction is the Welsh Harp reservoir (see images below left), which will be the subject of a separate future entry.

Welsh Harp

Postal district: NW9
Population: 14,587
Further reading: Reginald Henry Somes, Encompassing History of St John the Evangelist, West Hendon and Its Environs, RH Somes, 1995

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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