Neasden is situated in the middle of Brent, between Kingsbury, Dollis Hill and Willesden.
Neasden (which means 'nose-shaped hill' in Ango-Saxon) used to be a countryside hamlet on the western end of the Dollis Hill ridge. The land was owned by St.Paul's Cathedral. In the medieval times the village consisted of several small buildings around the green near the site of the present roundabout.
Southeast of Neasden was Dudden Hill, named after a Saxon settler Dodda.
In the 15th-17th century the Roberts family were the major landowners in the area. After the Restoration the estates went back to the Church, but were leased to the Roberts family. During the 18th century the Nicoll family replaced the Roberts as the dominant family in Neasden. In the 19th century these farmers and moneyers at the Royal Mint wholly owned Neasden House and much of the land in the area.
In 1850s Neasden had a population of about 110, mostly farmers, labourers and servants, but also three lawyers and a stockbroker.
In the Victorian times the horse was the main form of transport, and as London grew, the demand for horses in the capital soared in the second half of the 19th century. Neasden farms concentrated on rearing and providing horses for the city. Town work was exhausting and unhealthy for the horses, and in 1886 the RSPCA formed a committee to set up the Home of Rest for Horses with grounds in Sudbury and Neasden, where for a small fee town horses were allowed to graze in the open for a few weeks.
The rural tranquillity of Neasden transformed drastically almost overnight with the arrival of railways. The first railway running through it - Hendon-Acton and Bedford - St. Pancras were opened for goods traffic in October 1868, with passenger services following soon. 'Dudding Hill, for Willesden & Neasden' station opened on Dudden Hill Lane in 1875. Another station was opened on Neasden Lane in 1880. With the extension of the Metropolitan Railway started the urbanisation of Neasden. In 1882 112 railway workers' houses were built Gresham and Woodheyes roads), and more followed soon. To the west a Neasden Village for railway workers was created. All the streets were named after Metropolitan stations in Buckinghampshire. Dudden Hill was formed of 14 roads with names starting with the first 14 letters of the alphabet, excluduing J.
Social facilities and church missions were also provided. The Spotted Dog on Dog Lane became a social centre for local people.
North Circular Road
The second wave of development for Neasden came in 1930s with the construction of the North Circular Road - the main thoroughfare around London, and major improvements to the area for the British Empire Exhibition of 1924-5. By the late 1930s Neasden's shopping centre was the most up-to-date in the area. The last working farm was built over in 1935-6.
By the beginning of the First World War Neasden became an ordinary London suburb, so typical, in fact, that it became the subject of merciless jokes in the satirical magazine Private Eye (published nearby), ridiculing Neasden as an example of suburban facelessness.
In 1961 a 13-storey office block called Radiation House was built by the North Circular in southern Neasden. To improve road layout which was causing conjestion and underpass was created under Neasden Lane in 1973. The near layout adversely affected Neasden shopping centre, which was already losing out to Brent Cross. Despite the decline of the High Street Neasden survived, and now has several pubs opened by the Irish and small shops run by the Asians. The Indian immigrants also built the Swaminayaran Hindu temple in 1995.
Return to Main Menu
© Brent Heritage website 2002