Leavesden is a residential and commercial area in Hertfordshire contiguous with the northern suburbs of Watford and south of Abbots Langley. It lies just within the ring of the M25 motorway and on its eastern side it is bounded by the M1 motorway. Parts of Leavesden are within the parish of Langleybury, though it has its own parish church too.
Leavesden Green is an adjoining residential community.
At Leavesden are Leavesden Studios, built on the site of RAF Leavesden a former Second World War airfield and wartime aircraft factory, and where the James Bond and Harry Potter film franchises were produced.
The Grand Union Canal passes to the west of Leavesden.
The parish church within the village is All Saints. It was built in 1853, designed in the Victorian Gothic Revival style by Sir George Gilbert Scott.
In 1920s as a memorial to the men of the parish who gave their lives in the First World War, a new Lady Chapel was added, and also in a somewhat tractarian flourish it received a gilded reredoses, a rood beam from Oberammergau, plaster stations of the cross and a carillon of eight bells were added to the Church.
Inside All Saints’ can also be seen a rare and unusual illuminated manuscript listing the names of those from the parish who fought in the First World War and came back alive.
St Paul, Langleybury is far outside Leavesden but still part of the village belongs to that parish.
In 1870 the Metropolitan Asylum for Imbeciles was founded by the Metropolitan Asylums Board. Later known as Leavesden Hospital it closed in 1997 and is now the site of Leavesden Country Park.
Before the First World War Leavesden was an agricultural community. During the 1930s several housing estates were built. In the 1950s major road network developments commenced with the building of the North Orbital Road and North Western Avenue and the M25 motorway.
Shortly after the outbreak of Second First World War 1940 RAF Leavesden was established. In addition to a runway capable of dealing with heavy bombers and associated aircraft hangars the de Havilland company, which had plants at Hatfield built two factories to manufacture bombers and Mosquito fighter-bombers, and after 1950 Rolls Royce ran the factories as aircraft engine assembly plant until 1995, when the Leavesden Studios were developed, and new commercial / office developments and housing developments which now shape that end of the village.
Property development company MEPC plc is redeveloping the former aerodrome site, including the studio complex and adjoining land known as Leavesden Park. The plans comprise a film studio, a media and telecommunications business park, leisure and retail outlets, and a nature reserve. In addition Bellway Homes have proposals for construction of 425 homes.
Sport and recreation
To the north, Leavesden Country Park comprising 110 acres of mature woods, parkland, football pitches, BMX track, outdoor gym, walks and playgrounds was created out of the grounds of Leavesden Hospital which closed in 1997. Some buildings have been converted for use as a Health Club
Watford Town Cricket Club has its ground at Woodside in Leavesden Green.
There is a youth club in Leavesden Green. Local public houses include The Hammer in Hand, The Swan. Leavesden Green Community Centre is located to the south of the Orbital Road.
Leavesden aerodrome and studios
Leavesden aerodrome was one of the more famous wartime airfields which remained in the aviation business until 1994.
RAF Leavesden was built in 1940 shortly after the outbreak of the war. It had runway 1,000 yards long and two large aircraft manufacturing factories were built on site for de Havilland, providing the additional capacity they needed beyond that which their Hatfield plant could provide, and here were built 1,476 Mosquitoes, and 700 Halifax bombers up to 1950. After the war the land was sold to Rolls-Royce who operated an aircraft engine factory on the site until its closure in 1994.
After the factory closed, EON Productions bought the site to shoot the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye, and here they created Leavesden Studios. The large hangers and runway remain inside the current studio boundaries, though much of the airfield’s land has now been developed into a business park and housing.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material
- The Parish of Leavesden
- Leavesden - Hertfordshire Hundreds
- British History Online, Watford, Accessed 21 January 2013
- Leavesden Park planning application Three Rivers DC, Accessed 22 January 2013
- Three Rivers District Council agree amendments to 425-home proposals for Leavesden Aerodrome site, Accessed 22 January 2013
- Three Rivers District Leavesden Country Park, Accessed 21 January 2013