Barn Hill Residents Association

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Local History

Early History of Barn Hill 

Uxendon on the western slopes of Barn Hill was first recorded n 1257 as a small settlement in a transaction concerning Hugh of "Woxindon". In the 14th or 15th centuries some local people, including the Uxendon family, moved south to form another small community at Forty Green, where the Sudbury to Kingsbury road crossed the Lidding brook at Forty Bridge. This settlement was known as Uxendon Forty, Wembley Forty or Preston Forty. All of these communities were in the parish of Harrow. 

The name Barn Hill occurs as Bardonhill in 1547. 

In 1516 the Bellamy family acquired Uxendon through marriage. They remained staunchly Roman Catholic after the Reformation and sheltered Catholic priests.  Because of their faith the Bellamys suffered considerably in the final years of the 16th century.  

By 1608 their land was in the hands of the Page family, who had become the leading landowners in the Wembley area. The Bellamys had already enclosed a small amount of open land. The Pages continued this process throughout the 17thcentury. Nonetheless a significant amount of common land remained until the Enclosure Act of 1803. 

By 1732 a new farm, Barn Hill Farm, existed on the summit of Barn Hill. It was no longer there by 1850 and had probably gone by the late 18th century, when Richard Page began building a folly or prospect house on Barn Hill. In 1792 Page engaged the celebrated landscape gardener, Humphry Repton, to layout "Wembley Park". The view from the mansion house at Wembley would have taken in the slopes and ridge of Barn Hills Park, as it became known. The pond near the summit, which survives to this day, dates from that time. The folly was still standing in 1820.  

The landscape features on Barn Hill are characteristic of Repton, in particular the planting of belts of trees sweeping down from the summit.

In 1829 many of the Page family lands, including Uxendon, went to Henry Young, the junior partner of the Page's solicitor. There is good reason to suspect that Young obtained the lands fraudulently. In the decades that followed Young's death numerous persons turned up claiming the ‘Page millions’, but no one was successful. 

The district did not change significantly in the 19th century. This was due to an agricultural depression after the Napoleonic Wars and London's growing need for hay; both Uxendon and Forty farms had converted to hay farming by 1852. The depression also led to an outbreak of violence in the area around 1828, when desperate agricultural labourers burnt haystacks and threatened local landowners. 

In 1851 Uxendon Farm housed 13 people and Forty Farm 10, while three more lived at the top of Barn Hill. Around this time Uxendon was the venue for steeplechases and well known for its "sensational water jump”.

The Coming of the Railway 

The construction of the Metropolitan Railway in 1880 effectively destroyed Forty Green, although South Forty Farm continued into the 20th century. In 1928 the farm became the headquarters of the Century Sports Ground. The celebrated gunsmiths Holland & Holland had a shooting ground nearby. As Forty Farm Sports Ground the site of the farm remains green to this day. The Holland & Holland grounds, however, were built over after 1931. 

The Metropolitan Railway had no effect on development, even after the opening of Wembley Park station in 1894. In 1896 the suggestion that a station should be built serving Preston was rejected because the local population was so small. Indeed even in the early 20th century the area was entirely rural, and the Wealdstone Brook could be described as "one of the most perfect little streams anywhere, abounding in dace and roach." 

By 1900 Uxendon Farm had become a shooting ground (the Lancaster Shooting Club). When the Olympic Games were held in London in 1908 the ground was sufficiently important to be used for Olympic clay pigeon shooting. Pressure from the shooting club, which was a two mile walk from the nearest station, played a part in the opening of Preston Road Halt in May 1908. The station was a halt (a request stop) and initially many trains failed to slow down enough to enable the driver to notice passengers waiting on the platform. Preston Road Halt triggered the first commuter development in the district. Some large Edwardian houses were built along Preston Road after 1910 and Harrow Golf Club opened near the station in 1912. Wembley Golf Club had already existed on the southern slopes of Barn Hill from about 1895. Both these golf courses would disappear under housing between the wars. 

In 1923 Haymills acquired the Barn Hill Golf Course for  development. Haymills may have been speculating on the likely impact of the British Empire Exhibition of 1924 - 25 and taking advantage of the improved road network along Forty Lane which had preceded it. Corringham Road and the lower parts of Barn Rise and Barn Hill and the side roads crossing them were the first roads to be built in 1926 - 29. The shopping parade, Grand Parade, was built by Haymills in 1928 - 29 in keeping with the Estate's design.

In this hillside setting Haymills constructed large two storey semi-detached Mock-Tudor properties. The buildings are of brick and render, the majority with pegged timber beams. At road junctions chimneys form attractive features. The properties are well spaced apart adding to the estate's general opening character that provides for attractive views across the estate and over Wembley beyond. The contours of the hill are reflected in the layout of the Estate. Between Corringham Road and Barn Hill, which run north up the slope, are lateral east-west roads that broadly follow the line of the contours. The Hill comes to a crest at about Midholm before rising again in Barnhill Open Space. The progression of the Conservation Area to West Hill takes in the tree belts of Brampton Grove and Basing Hill that are survivors of the original eighteenth century landscaping.

Some houses had already been built at Uxendon by 1930. Then in 1932 Uxendon Farm was destroyed to make way for the Metropolitan Railway extension from Wembley to Stanmore (later the Bakerloo and today the Jubilee Line). In the years that followed the whole of Uxendon was developed except for Barn Hill Open Space, which had been purchased by the Council from the owners of Preston Farm in 1927.

Select Bibliography

Harrow, including Pinner: The growth of the hamlets - British History Online
Brett-James, N.G. - Middlesex (Robert Hale, 1951)
Day, J.R. - The Story of London's Underground (London Transport, 1974)
Elsley, H.W.R. - Wembley Through the Ages (Wembley News, 1953)
Field, J. - Place-Names of Greater London (Batsford, 1980)
Hewlett, G. (ed.) - A History of Wembley (Brent Library Service,1979)
Mills, A.D. - A Dictionary of London Place Names (Oxford University Press, 2001)
Snow, L. - Brent, A Pictorial History (Phillimore, 1990)
Victoria County History: Middlesex Vol. IV
Wadsworth, C. - Traditional Pubs of Brent, Volume 2 Wembley (CAW Books, 1999)


Barn Hill


Much of this text has been taken from Places in Brent: Preston and Uxendon published by the Grange Museum of Community History and Brent Archive. This is available as a Pdf file. A smaller part of the text has been taken from Brent Council Planning Department.