stonebridge, brent, london, history of stonebridge, london suburbs

Stonebridge lies in southern Brent, on the Harrow Road between Harlesden and Wembley.

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The Stone Bridge

The 'stone bridge' was built in the second half of the 18th century over the River Brent. It carried the Harrow Road over one branch of the river, which, until 1905 used to divide into two nearby.

Stonebridge Farm had already existed here, and Stone Bridge inn had appeared by 1770. Soon it was renamed Coach & Horses. The painter George Morland often visited the area.

The first half of the 19th century saw the coming of railways to Stonebridge, first the London & Birmingham Railway, later the Midland and South West Junction Railway. The former required the construction of a viaduct by George Stephenson's father Robert and moving tons of earth to built the embankment. It was a great engineering achievement of the day.

The Growth of Stonebridge

Despite the importance of the Harrow Road, Stonebridge remained largely rural until the middle of the 19th century. In 1855 the Harrow Road was straightened to create the Craven Park triangle, shops started to appear in the area.

The opening of Willesden Junction station in 1866 made Stonebridge a good place to live for professional men working in the City. A housing estate of 'smart new villas' was built, known as Stonebridge Park, along with Stonebridge Park Hotel on the Harrow Road. Many Willesden's politicians lived here.

Less high quality housing was also built in the area. Many shops appeared along the Hillside (part of the Harrow Road running towards the bridge), and this remained a shopping centre until 1950s. By the First World War most of the housing was complete, there was a church and two schools here, too.

Industry

The beginning of the 20th century saw the industry coming to Stonebridge. Willesden's sewage farm operated here between 1886 and 1911. There was McVitie's biscuit factory, a brick works and other industries along the railways and concentrating near the St.Raphael's estate (built after the First World War near the site of the sewage works). The North Circular Road was built.

During the Second World War air raid shelters were built under Stonebridge recreation ground, protecting thousands of people.

The main industries at the time were a railway goods depot and a trolleybus garage.

Housing Estates

After the War a lot of housing was overcrowded or derelict and roads were inadequate. Between 1967 and 1978 the council demolished some 98 acres of Stonebridge and built high-rise buildings and a network of industrial estates, wiping whole streets off the map. Even before the project was complete, it became notorious for broken lifts and residents threatening rent strikes. There were many black residents and many were poor. In 1994 the Stonebridge Estate was taken over by the Stonebridge Housing Action Trust, and now the area is being improved, with old tower blocks demolished and new houses built.

Sport

West of the River Brent, on the way to Wembley, development came late, despite the opening of a new Stonebridge Park station in 1912. In 1965 the 21-story Station House was built - the first tall tower block in Brent. The two smaller curved blocks were built in 1975.

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© Brent Heritage website 2002