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Former Post Office, Northwood, Middlesex.jpg
Former Central Post Office, today a restaurant
Grid reference: TQ095915
Location: 51°36’4"N, 0°25’3"W
Post town: Northwood
Postcode: HA6
Dialling code: 01923
Local Government
Council: Hillingdon
Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner

Northwood is a town in the north-west of Middlesex, on the county's border with Hertfordshire.

The towns's population was recorded as 11,068 in 2008, by the Office for National Statistics[1] reducing to 10,949 in 2011, and its south-eastern neighbourhood Northwood Hills had a population (in 2001) of 10,833.[2] increasing to 11,578 in 2011.



Northwood was first recorded in 1435 as Northwode, formed from the Old English 'north' and 'wode', meaning 'the northern wood', in relation to Ruislip.[3]

Early developments

In 1086 at the Domesday Book the Northwood-embracing parish of Ruislip had immense woodland, sufficient to support one parish with 1,500 pigs per year, and a park for wild beasts (parcus ferarum).[4]

The hamlet of Northwood grew up along the north side of the Rickmansworth-Pinner road which passes across the north-east of the parish. Apart from this road and internal networks in areas of scattered settlement to the east and west, Ruislip had only three ancient roads of any importance of which Ducks Hill Road was the only one in the Northwood hamlet. This followed the course of the modern road from its junction with the Rickmansworth road in the northwest corner of the parish. It then ran south through Ruislip village as Bury Street and continued through the open fields as Down Barns Road (now West End Road) to West End in Northolt.[4]

Northwood had a manorial grange in 1248, which may have occupied the site of the later Northwood Grange. The monks of the Bec Abbey who lived at Manor Farm in Ruislip in the 11th century owned this grange.[5] A few cottages at Northwood are mentioned in the 1565 national survey. Two hundred years later the shape of the hamlet, composed of a few farms and dwellings scattered along the Rickmansworth road, had altered little except for the addition of Holy Trinity church.[4] Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury had 568 acres of Ruislip cleared of forest.[5]

Northwood, however, elevated and separated from the rest of the parish by a belt of woodland, took until the 19th century to form a village — 350 acres in the manor of St Catherine's were inclosed under the first Middlesex Inclosure Act in 1769 privatizing land which lay west of Ducks Hill Road, including West Wood (now Mad Bess Wood) which was common ground. A further 3,000 acres of Ruislip parish were inclosed in 1804.[4] The character of the area in providing for Northwood and Ruislip Hills to have the majority of open spaces as opposed to housing land was begun by transfers of open space land to the public as early as 1899.[n 1] The open nature of the district attracted three hospitals to move or establish in this part of the parish: Mount Vernon Hospital, St Vincent's Orthopaedic Hospital and Northwood, Pinner and District Hospital.[n 2][4]

Urban development

Late 20th-century houses in Northwood

By 1891, Northwood had 115 houses, one shop and one public house. In 1901, there was a population of 2,500 in approximately 500 houses and Northwood Hills had 26 shops.[6]

A land survey of Northwood conducted in 1565 by King's College, Cambridge, the new lords of the manor of Ruislip, recorded ten houses and several farms.[5]

By 1881, the population of Northwood had reached 257, with 62 houses recorded[7] from 41 people in 1841.[4] David Carnegie owned the large Eastbury Park Estate in the north of the area in 1881. In 1887, the Metropolitan Railway was extended from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Rickmansworth and Carnegie sold his land to Frank Carew[n 3] for development for £59,422.[7] Northwood station opened in August that year.[5] Carew stipulated the prices for the new housing he had built, with the cottages along the west side of the High Street priced at £120. He had hoped these would be owned by the staff of the larger houses. The High Street itself had been a track leading on from Rickmansworth Road to Gate Hill Farm.[8] The first shops opened in 1895 on the east side of the road, and included a hairdresser, butchers and a fishmongers.[9] Carew sold the majority of the estate to George Wieland in 1892.[5]

By 1902, the population had reached 2,500 in 500 houses and running 36 shops.[5] In 1904, the Emmanuel Church opened in Northwood Hills, designed by Sir Frank Elgood, a local architect. It had been built in 1895, originally to serve as a school.[10] Elgood later served as chairman of the Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council.[9]

Northwood and Pinner Cottage Hospital, built in 1926

Northwood and Pinner Cottage Hospital was built in 1926 as a memorial to the First World War, using donations from the Ruislip Cottagers' Allotments Charity.[11]

Northwood is home to Northwood Headquarters, based in the grounds of Eastbury Park, the estate purchased by David Carnegie in 1857. The Royal Air Force took over the site in 1939 for the use of RAF Coastal Command which made use of Eastbury house and also created a network of underground bunkers and operations blocks, at which time the house was used as the leading Officers' Mess, though was subsequently damaged by fire.[12] The RAF vacated the site in 1969, and it is now the location of the British Armed Forces Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) for planning and controlling overseas military operations, together with the NATO Regional Command.[13]

A new community centre on the town's high street, replacing an older building, was officially opened by the local MP Nick Hurd in September 2012. The new building was named the Kate Fassnidge Community Centre after the Uxbridge landowner who donated some of her land to the borough, and replaced a derelict dining club that had originally been a Ritz cinema.[14]


The rural nature of Northwood, with extensive views over the rest of the parish, has attracted much high-class property, particularly in and around Copse Wood Way, along Green Lane and at the northern end of Ducks Hill Road.
A History of Middlesex, 1971.


Northwood extends into two contiguous neighbourhoods in Hertfordshire named Eastbury and Moor Park the south of which share use of the Moor Park tube station (that has fast trains into the centre of London for commuters). A triangular area of Northwood including the old High Street, Chester Road and Hallowell Road is a place of Local Architectural Special Interest, a restriction to protect the ornate Victorian houses made of high quality brickwork.[15] Dotted across the area are 22 listed buildings (for their architecture).[16]

Elevations range between 374 ft AOD to 177 ft Above Ordnance Datum with many ridges and folds in the land creating an undulating terrain.[17]


Northwood Hills

Early 21st-century houses in Northwood Hills

Northwood Hills includes Haste Hill and is separated by green buffers on almost all sides, though touches Eastbury Village to the south and had a population of 11,441 in 2008 according to the Office for National Statistics.[18]

The land on which Northwood Hills, Haste Hill Golf Club and most of Northwood now stand was once the Great Common Wood. This covered 860 acres in the 16th century, which residents would use for grazing their livestock and collecting firewood. Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury achieved inclosure from Parliament and sold 568 acres of the wood in 1608 for £4,000. The remaining woodland became Copse Wood, part of the Ruislip Woods, a national nature reserve.[17] [19]

Northwood Hills has intermixed in its area the only social housing estates beyond one street of the area;[18] much of its private housing stock was built during the 1930s by the Belton Estates company led by Harry Peachey[20] while Harry Neal was responsible for building the shopping parade in Joel Street. Its name was chosen in a competition by a woman from North Harrow as the land was split between Northwood, North Harrow and Ruislip parishes.[21] The first houses were built in Potter Street.[21]

The Northwood Hills public house

The Northwood Hills public house (formerly known as the Northwood Hills Hotel) opposite the tube station is accredited as where Sir Elton John first performed professionally.[22] A picture of the pub appears on one of his album covers.[23]

Each May one of the largest Scout Jumble sales in the country is held by 1st Northwood on the land next to their headquarters, the Hogs Back.[24]

Northwood secondary school and Sixth Form is located in Potter Street (the former name of the school). The Olympic boxer Audley Harrison and Big Brother contestant Nikki Grahame are alumni of the school.[20]


Northwood Grange incorporates a 15th-century block with a crown-post roof, a cross-wing of the same date, and a long range of about 1600.[4][25] This is now the Hall School, Northwood.

Northwood Hills tube station is a local landmark, built in neatly to the street façade of the high street.


The area is served by Northwood, Northwood Hills[26] and Moor Park London Underground stations, on the Metropolitan line.

Culture and community

Northwood town centre

A local residents' association and chamber of commerce joined forces in May 2010 calling for greater recognition of the area.[27] In May 2011, Hillingdon Council announced Northwood Hills would receive £400,000 in funding for regeneration work.[28]


The area is home to Northwood F.C. who play at Chestnut Anvenue. Northwood Town Cricket Club also play at the same location in the Hertfordshire Cricket League. Northwood Cricket Club play at their Ducks Hill Road ground and are a leading club in the Saracens Hertfordshire Premier League.

Notable people

  • Author and Banker Mubashir Malik grew up in Northwood and attended St Martin's Prep School
  • Actress Kathleen Byron (1921–2009) lived in Northwood at the time of her death
  • Television and radio presenter Fearne Cotton was born in Northwood and attended Haydon School, Northwood Hills
  • Sir William Dickson (1898–1987), former head of the British armed forces, was born in Northwood
  • Artist Roger Hilton (1911–1975), post-war pioneer of abstract art, was born in Northwood
  • Film director Derek Jarman (1942–1994), whose credits include Jubilee and The Tempest (1979), was born in Northwood
  • George W. Jones, printer and type designer, buried at Holy Trinity Church
  • Actor Geoffrey Keen (1916–2005) lived in Northwood at the time of his death
  • Actress Betty Marsden (1919–1998) lived in Northwood at the time of her death
  • Actor David Quilter was born in Northwood
  • Actor Arnold Ridley (1896–1984), best known as Private Charles Godfrey in BBC sitcom Dad's Army, lived in Northwood[29]
  • Actress Patsy Smart (1918–1996) lived in Northwood at the time of her death
  • Character actor Geoffrey Toone (1910–2005) lived in Northwood at the time of his death
  • The singer Elena Tonra grew up in Northwood.[30]
  • Double agent George Blake (1922 - ) lived in Northwood after escaping from the Nazi-occupied Netherlands.



  1. Nearly 100 acres between Copse and Park woods and the Rickmansworth Road were leased by King's College, Cambridge to the Northwood Golf Club in 1899. Gravel Pits, an area of 14 acres adjoining the golf course to the north-west in the angle of Ducks Hill and Rickmansworth roads, was scheduled by the urban district council in 1905 for preservation as an open space. Between 1905 and 1953 the council acquired a further 660 acres for open spaces, including the area laid down in 1929 as Haste Hill Golf Course (1927), King's College Fields between Park Avenue and the Pinn (1938), Poors Field between Copse Wood and Ruislip Lido (1939), and Breakspear Road (1949). Permanent preservation of the Manor Farm site and Park and Copse woods was assured by their transference to the Middlesex County Council and the urban district council in 1932 and 1936 respectively.[4]
  2. Or colloquially: Northwood and Pinner Hospital in Pinner Road, Northwood
  3. Frank Murray Maxwell Hallowell Carew


  1. "A focus on Northwood". Hillingdon Council. January 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 
  2. Office for National Statistics - 2001 Census: Ward: Northwood Hills
  3. Mills, Anthony David (2001). Dictionary of London Place Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280106-6
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 T F T Baker, J S Cockburn, R B Pugh (Editors), Diane K Bolton, H P F King, Gillian Wyld, D C Yaxley (1971). "Ruislip: Introduction". A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4: Harmondsworth, Hayes, Norwood with Southall, Hillingdon with Uxbridge, Ickenham, Northolt, Perivale, Ruislip, Edgware, Harrow with Pinner. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Bowlt 2007, pp.59-60
  6. Bowlt 1994, p.64
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bowlt 2007, p.65
  8. Bowlt 2007, p.69
  9. 9.0 9.1 Bowlt 2007, p.70
  10. Bowlt 2007, p.61
  11. Bowlt 1994, p.46
  12. Bowlt 1994, p.62
  13. "Northwood Headquarters". Ministry of Defence. 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2011. 
  14. Proctor, Ian (19 September 2012). "New community centre opens in Northwood". Uxbridge Gazette. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 
  15. London Borough of Hillington
  16. Ordnance Survey map, courtesy of English Heritage
  17. 17.0 17.1 Ordnance survey website
  18. 18.0 18.1 "A focus on Northwood Hills". Hillingdon Council. January 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 
  19. Bowlt 1994, p.23
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Our town". Northwood Hills Residents Association. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  21. 21.0 21.1 Newbery, Maria; Cotton, Carolynne; Packham, Julie Ann; Jones, Gwyn (1996). Around Ruislip. Stroud: The Chalfont Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7524-0688-4. 
  22. Matti, Siba (27 May 2010). "Elton John 'may visit' Northwood pub this weekend". Uxbridge Gazette. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  23. Bowlt, Eileen. M. (1994) Ruislip Past. London: Historical Publications ISBN 0-948667-29-X
  24. 1st Northwood Scout Group
  25. Northwood Grange Grade II listing of architecture National Heritage List 1358385: Northwood
  26. "Northwood Hills". Transport for London. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  27. Matti, Siba (10 May 2010). "Northwood Hills residents try to solve town's identity crisis". Uxbridge Gazette. Retrieved 26 April 2011. 
  28. Matti, Siba (27 May 2011). "£400k cash injection set to improve Northwood Hills". Uxbridge Gazette. Retrieved 13 June 2011. 
  30. "Scotsman interview" Aiden Smith, 'British band Daughter on matters of life & death', Scotsman on Sunday, 3 March 2013


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Northwood)