Preston is situated in eastern Brent, north of Wembley and south
of Kingsbury and Kenton
The name Preston means 'the farm belonging to the priest'. The priest in question may be Abbot Stidberht, to whom King Offa of Mercia granted an estate in 767, but all connection with the Church was lost by the time Preston was first mentioned in 1220. It was a small settlement just southwest of the Lidding (Wealdstone Brook). By 1231 it was a township.
By the middle of the 15th century Preston consisted of two farms and some cottages. One of the farms belong to the Lyon family, of whom John Lyons (1534-92) founded Harrow School and left the farm as an endowment for its upkeep.
Preston grew steadily, and by 1681 five buildings had been built on Preston Green, including a new farmhouse Hillside Farm, with more buildings and the licensed Horseshoe Inn by the middle of the next century. The need for hay in London in the middle of the 19th century caused the conversion of local farms to hay farming.
In the early 19th century Preston House was built on Preston Hill, followed by more cottages. The brook was crossed by both a ford and a footbridge. Preston House was leased to professional men during the 19th century, including a surgeon, a cigar importer and a solicitor. Around 1880 it was acquired by George Timms who created Preston Tea Gardens which flourished well into the next century.
Railways and Sport
The Metropolitan Railway went through Preston in 1880. For a while this had no effect on Preston's development, as the local population was too small to warrant the construction of a station. Even in the early 20th century the area was entirely rural.
It had, however, its own attraction in the form of the headquarters of the Century Sports Ground, set in 1928 at the South Forty Farm. The celebrated gunsmiths Holland & Holland had a shooting ground nearby (now Forty Farm Sports Ground). A more important shooting ground, of the Lancaster Shooting Club at the Uxendon Farm nearby was to be used for the clay pigeon shooting competition as part of the Olympic Games held in London in 1908.
These activities brought about the opening of the Preston Road Halt (a request stop) in May 1908. Some large Edwardian houses were built along Preston Road after 1910.
There were a couple of golf grounds in the area, which disappeared under housing between the wars.
The British Empire Exhibition triggered the improvement of roads and housing building in the area. However, some country lanes remained till later, giving the area its charming character.
Christ Church College, Oxford and Harrow School sold their Preston estates in 1921-33. Housing and shops were built in Forty Green, Preston Road and Preston Hill. Preston Road was converted into a proper station in 1931-2. Most housing was built in the 1930s. By 1936 Preston was described as 'a high class and rapidly growing residential area with a population of between 6,000 and 7,000 people'.
From 1930s Preston has had a strong Jewish presence.
New housing and blocks of flats were built in Preston around 1960, replacing all of Preston's old buildings. Lyon's Farm, Hillside Farmhouse and Preston House were replaced by council estates. Preston became a parish in 1951, and the Church of the Ascension was consecrated in 1957.
Nowadays Preston is a pleasant and prosperous-looking place, which has retained its suburban character.
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© Brent Heritage website 2002