Greenford local history

Greenford is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. The population numbered about 130 people, most of who were involved in farming. At this time the Manor was owned by Westminster Abbey.

The village was centred around the Church. Holy Cross Church existed from at least standing date back to the Middle Ages.

One well-known Rector was Edward Betham, who founded a school in Greenford in 1780, which still exists today. It was for the teaching of thirty poor boys and girls. Boys were taught the basics of Christianity, to read, write and to do sums, while girls learnt to knit and sew.

Although Greenford was a rural and farming parish in the nineteenth century, one factory did set up there. William Perkin founded a dye factory on land near to The Black Horse Pub in 1857. This produced a purple dye by artificial means, the first to do so. The site expanded as business boomed, but in 1872 there was an explosion and two men were killed.  The works were finally sold and closed down in 1880.

By the end of the nineteenth century, Greenford was still relatively small and isolated. There were several large houses, including Greenford House, Ravenor House and Coston House. There were also several pubs, The Black Horse, The Red Lion and The White Hart. In 1901, 647 people lived in Greenford.

The twentieth century saw the most important changes in Greenford's history. The railways came to Greenford in 1904, but their initial impact seems to have been small. However, after the First World War was over, Greenford, with its open land, attracted several factories, which would also benefit from the railway and the canal. The tea makers, Lyons, built a factory in Greenford in 1921 and it rapidly grew. By 1926, 3,000 people worked there. Rockware Glass Syndicate was another major factory, which was built here. Glaxo Laboratories also set up in Greenford, in 1935. And there were many others.

The arrival of industry and better transport links caused Greenford to change from a rural village to a large suburb. There was a great deal of speculative building here in the 1920s and 1930s. These houses were often semi-detached, bungalows and maisonettes.  With prices being £650, families who were in work could afford them without much trouble. Most of the housing estates were private, though there were some council estates, at Cow Lane and at Windmill Lane. All this led to a population explosion. In 1911, 843 people lived in Greenford, by 1931 it was 14,000 and by 1951, 32,824, huge rises indeed.

Amid this surge of building, some open spaces were preserved and brought under the Council's ownership. Chief among these was Horsenden Hill. There was also Ravenor Park. However, the peace and tranquil of the countryside in Greenford was largely lost forever.