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Crown Moran Hotel - - 1024763.jpg
Crown Moran Hotel, Cricklewood
Grid reference: TQ235855
Location: 51°33’17"N, 0°13’3"W
Post town: London
Postcode: NW2
Dialling code: 020
Local Government
Council: Barnet / Brent / Camden
Brent Central
Hampstead and Kilburn
Finchley and Golders Green

Cricklewood is an urban and suburban area of Middlesex deep within the metropolitan conurbation, centred five miles north-west of Central London. It lies between Willesden Green and Dollis Hill to the west; Brondesbury and Kilburn to the south; West Hampstead and Childs Hill to the south-east and east; and Brent Cross to the north.

Cricklewood was once a small country village, a hamlet close to the Edgware Road, the major Roman road through the county. With the railway though cam the impetus for the urbanisation of all the villages of Middlesex: the railway came to nearby Willesden Green in the 1870s.

The bustling shops on Cricklewood Broadway, as Edgware Road is known here, contrast with quieter surrounding streets of largely late-Victorian, Edwardian, and 1930s housing. Socially, the village has a sizeable Irish population, and has also been characterised as a place of rising Middle Class aspiration.

The Crown pub, now the Crown Moran Hotel, is a local landmark. Gladstone Park, covering 86 acres, marks its north-western edge.

Cricklewood has two conservation areas, the Mapesbury Estate and the Cricklewood Railway Terraces.


Early history

There was a small settlement at the junction of Cricklewood Lane and the Edgware Road by 1294, which by 1321 was called Cricklewood. By the 1750s the Crown (rebuilt in 1889) was providing for coach travellers, and by the 1800s it had a handful of cottages and Cricklewood House as neighbours, and was known for its "pleasure gardens". By the 1860s there were a number of substantial villas along the Edgware Road starting with Rockhall Lodge.

Urban development east of Edgware Road

Windmill Bar, Cricklewood
"Cricklewood" sign above shops
Cricklewood Broadway

Childs Hill and Cricklewood station, later renamed Cricklewood, opened in 1868. In the summer of 1881 the Midland Railway Company moved its locomotive works from Kentish Town to the new "Brent Sidings", and in October of the same year it was announced that new accommodation for its workers would be built, later the now-listed Railway Cottages. Mr H. Finch laid out a handful of streets directly behind the Crown Inn, (including Yew, Ash and Elm Groves) in 1880. The station had become the terminus for the Midland Railway suburban services by 1884.

The census of 1881 showed that the population had grown enough for a new church, and St Peter's replaced a tin chapel in 1891. A daughter church called Little St Peter's was opened in 1958 on Claremont Way but closed in 1983. The parish church on Cricklewood Lane was demolished and rebuilt in the 1970s. This church building was closed in 2004. Services were then held in the Carey Hall on Claremont Road (which is the church hall of Claremont Free Church) but were discontinued there in December 2015. The London General Omnibus Company commenced services to Regent Street from the Crown in 1883, and in 1899 opened a bus garage (Garage code W), which is still in use and was completely rebuilt in 2010.

By the 1890s, houses and shops had been built along part of Cricklewood Lane. Cricklewood Broadway had become a retail area by 1900 replacing the Victorian villas. The Queens Hall Cinema, later the Gaumont, replaced Rock Hall House, and was itself demolished in 1960. Thorverton, Caddington and Dersingham Roads were laid out in 1907, the year of the opening of Golders Green tube station.

Cowhouse Farm, latterly Dicker's Farm and finally Avenue Farm, was closed in 1932. From 1908 to 1935, Westcroft Farm was owned by the Home of Rest for Horses; at its peak it could house 250 horses.

Urban development west of Edgware Road

Much of the land to the west of Edgware Road was part of the estate of All Souls College, Oxford. Much of the land was wooded and in 1662 there were 79 oaks in Cricklewood. The transformation of the area came with the opening of the underground station in Willesden Green in 1879, which was known as Willesden Green and Cricklewood station from 1894 to 1938.

A number of developers acquired land in the area and built houses in the 1890s and 1900s. George Furness laid out what he called Cricklewood Park between 1893 and 1900 on Clock Farm. Roads in the area are named after trees (Pine, Larch, Cedar, Ivy, Olive). The name Cricklewood Park is no longer used. To the south of this, Henry Corsellis built Rockhall, Oaklands and Howard Roads from 1894; at the time he was also building in the Lavender Hill and Clapham Common area in Wandsworth. All Souls' College built a group of roads named after fellows of the college; for example, Chichele Road is named after Henry Chichele, founder of All Souls' College. Further expansion westward was blocked by the Dollis Hill estate, which became a public park, Gladstone Park, in 1901. To the north of Furness's Cricklewood Park Estate, Earl Temple built Temple Road by 1906 and surrounding roads. To the south, the Mapesbury Estate was built mainly between 1895 and 1905 and is a Conservation Area of largely semi-detached and detached houses.

Industrial history

With the introduction of the tram system in 1904, and the motorisation of bus services by 1911, numerous important industries were established. The first of these was the Phoenix Telephone Company in 1911 (later moved to the Hyde). The Handley Page Aircraft Company soon followed, from 1912 until 1917, at 110 Cricklewood Lane and subsequently occupying a large part of Claremont Road. The Cricklewood Aerodrome was adjacent to their factory.

The former aircraft factory was converted into Cricklewood Studios in 1920, the largest film studio in the country at the time. It became the production base for Stoll Pictures during the silent era. After later turning out a number of quota quickies, it closed down in 1938. Some years later, the property was redeveloped.

A number of plans were drawn up around the turn of the 20th century to extend the developing London Underground network to Cricklewood. Several proposals were put forward to construct an underground railway tunnel under the length of the Edgware Road, including an unusual scheme to build a type of subterranean monorail roller-coaster, but these proposals were abandoned.[1]

Cricklewood was home to Smith's Industries. This started in 1915 as S. Smith & Sons, on the Edgware Road, established to manufacture fuses, instruments and accessories. By 1939 it was making electrical motors, aircraft accessories and electric clocks. The large advertisement on the iron railway bridge over the Broadway next to the bus garage became a familiar landmark for decades. As the company grew it acquired other companies and sites overseas but Cricklewood remained the most important site, with 8,000 employees between 1937 and 1978.[2] Coincidentally, Cricklewood also became the home for the first Smith's Crisps potato crisp factory, which replaced the omnibus depot at Crown Yard. Having moved into new premises in Cricklewood Lane, the yard was taken over by Clang Electrical Goods Ltd. From 1929 to 1933 the area was finally built over. Bentley Motors, builders of racing and sports cars, built a factory at Oxgate Lane in 1920, and Cricklewood remained the company's headquarters until it was bought out by Rolls-Royce in 1931.

From the 1960s, industry in the local area went into decline, and all the above-mentioned businesses have left.

Cricklewood Broadway in the snow, February 2009

There were two notable buildings on Cricklewood Lane, one of which survives. The first was Production Village, part of the British film-making scene and owned by Samuelson's, which towards the end was a pub with rehearsal rooms attached. On the same site was Clang's electrical from 1929 to the mid-1970s. Production Village was demolished in 2000, and is now a gym. Secondly, and a little further up the hill on the south side of the road, is a modern building, which was the factory that manufactured the revolutionary Stylophone handheld organ of the late-1960s to early-1970s.

In June 2001, a lynx was captured in Cricklewood after 10 years of sightings by residents. The animal was originally nicknamed the "Beast of Barnet" by the local press following numerous sightings of a similarly sized animal around south Hertfordshire and the fringes of Middlesex. Not native to the wilds of Middlesex suburbia, the lynx is believed to have escaped from or been released by someone who was keeping the beast illegally.[3]

Local attractions and amenities

The Mapesbury Dell on Hoveden Road is an award-winning small park and garden administered by local residents. It started in 2000 when local residents in conjunction with the Mapesbury Residents Association decided that their local green space was too valuable to leave to fortune. The dell is open to the public during daylight hours and is used throughout the year, for example hosting carol services in mid-December.[4]

Gladstone Park in autumn

Gladstone Park marks the north-western edge, covering approximately 86 acres. The park contains a well maintained formal garden, children's playground, art gallery, café and pond, as well as good sport facilities (football/rugby/cricket pitches and tennis and netball courts). Barring fog and rain, its peak gives good views of Wembley Stadium, the London Eye and the Shard. The park was frequented by Mark Twain around the turn of the 20th century whilst staying in accompanying Dollis Hill House, about which altogether he said he had "never seen any place that was so satisfactorily situated, with its noble trees and stretch of country, and everything that went to make life delightful, and all within a biscuit's throw of the metropolis of the world".

Cricklewood Baptist Church

The historic Crown pub is a terracotta, grade two listed Victorian building on Cricklewood Broadway, built by the architects Shoebridge & Rising in 1899. It was fully restored in 2003, and reopened as the Crown Moran Hotel[5] and with the addition of a 152-room 4 star hotel and restaurant (Kitchen at the Crown). The building style has been described as: "Free Flemish Renaissance, with two stepped and voluted gables in front of a slate mansard roof, a battlement turret at one end. Plentiful terracotta ornament; four handsome cast-iron lamp standards in front."[6]

Another notable local building is the Cricklewood Baptist Church on Anson Road at the Junction with Sneyd Road. The church was built in 1907 of red and yellow brick in the Italian Byzantine style. Other local churches include St Gabriel's Church on Walm Lane; Claremont Free Church on Cheviot Gardens/Claremont Road built in 1931; and St Agnes' Roman Catholic Church built in 1883[7] on Cricklewood Lane. St Agnes' Catholic Primary school is next door and both cater for the large Catholic population of the area.

Cricklewood Pumping Station built in 1905 is another distinctive building, the interior of which was used as a double for the Titanic's engine rooms of the 1997 film, Titanic.

Local groups and associations

In June 2012, Cricklewood was awarded £1.67 million from the Mayor of London’s Outer London Fund to boost the local high street, deliver growth, new jobs and improve lives.[8] In addition to physical improvements to the area the funds will also go towards the running costs of the yearly Silk Road[9] and pre-Christmas winter festivals. The OMG comedy club was inaugurated at the same time to contribute to the local cultural scene.[10]

There are several residents' associations in the area: the North West Two Residents Association,[11] and the Mapesbury Residents Association.[12] In addition, the NW2 Network aims to connect local professionals and service providers.[13] A group of local artists set up a group called Creative Cricklewood,[14] which puts on open mic nights at the Windmill Pub, as well as other events. The Clitterhouse Farm Project are a local group working to save and restore the historic Clitterhouse Farm outbuildings on the corner of Clitterhouse Playing Fields on Claremont Road as a resource for promoting culture and community in a sustainable society.

In pop culture

  • Setting of the opening scene and much of Zadie Smith's novel White Teeth and features in the funeral scene in On Beauty
  • A number of the late Alan Coren's books were dedicated to Cricklewood, including the Cricklewood Tapestry, Toujours Cricklewood? and the Cricklewood Dome.
  • The location of the fictional Cricklewood Film Studios in Peter Capaldi's spoof documentary Cricklewood Greats.
  • The location of the real Stoll Film Studios, also known as Cricklewood Studios.
  • Setting of The Goodies.
  • Album by Ten Years After is entitled Cricklewood Green
  • Mentioned in the spoken introduction to the Irish folk song 'McAlpine's Fusiliers' as performed by the Dubliners, Noel Murphy and others.
  • The home of Gary Sparrow in the 1990s BBC sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart is located in Cricklewood.
  • The target of the famous Eric Morecambe line, "life's not Hollywood, it's Cricklewood".
  • John Betjeman, Poet Laureate from 1972 to 1984, mentions Cricklewood and the Crown in his 1968 poem, 'Ho to the Kilburn High Road!':[6]

With Shoot-Up Hill before us
We leave the hemmed-in town
And raise a country chorus
To Cricklewood and The Crown

There stood a village marketplace
Where now you buy your yams,
And I like in memory to trace
The red electric trams.

However far their journeys made
They always waited here
And in this terracotta shade
Their passengers drank beer.

Outside links


  1. Badsey-Ellis, Antony (2005). London's lost tube schemes. Harrow: Capital Transport. pp. 62–63; 79–83; 264–267. ISBN 1-85414-293-3. 
  2. A History of the County of Middlesex - Volume : {{{2}}} (Victoria County History) – pages 220–228
  3. O'Neill, Sean (9 May 2001). "The Beast of Cricklewood is caged". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 
  4. Mapesbury Dell gold award winning local park in Cricklewood
  5. "4 Star Hotel Cricklewood | Luxury Hotel London NW2". Crown Moran Hotel. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Betjeman's England - John Betjeman - Google Books. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  7. "Roman Catholic Church of St Agnes". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  8. "Welcome to Cricklewood". 2014-04-29. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  9. "Cricklewood Silk Road Festival @ Udenson Caldbeck Associates". 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  10. "OMG Comedy Club - London, United Kingdom - Comedyclub". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  11. "North West Two Residents Association". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  12. "Mapesbury Resident Association". 2014-03-12. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  13. "North West Two Residents Association". Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  14. "Supporting the Arts in Cricklewood & North West London". Retrieved 2014-05-20.