The name of Perivale was first used in 1508, when it was spelt Pyryvale. The word seems to be a compound of perie (pear tree) and vale. It was one of the smallest parishes in Middlesex, with only 633 acres and a population of less than 100, until the twentieth century.
In the fourteenth century, there was some arable farming here, some woodland and a windmill. The church of St. Mary's Perivale dates back to the early thirteenth century at least. The Rectory house, which used to stand nearby, dated from the fifteenth century, but was demolished in 1958.
Wheat was the main crop in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In fact, the district, of which Perivale was a part, gained a high reputation for the quality of its wheat. By 1839, though, there was very little arable farming in the parish. Most of the land was used to grow grass for hay for the London market. One reason for this change was the building of the Paddington branch of the Grand Junction Canal, which ran through the parish in 1801.
The population of Perivale, before the twentieth century, was tiny. In 1664 and in 1841, there were only five inhabited buildings. These were the farm houses; Horsenden Farm to the northwest, Grange Farm and Church Farm in the southwest, Manor Farm to the east and Alperton farm to the north. Only 28 people lived in Perivale in 1801 and in 1901, only 60.
The major development in transport was the coming of the roads. These were Greenford Road, which ran north to south and the Western Avenue, built in the 1930s. Because Perivale had so few buildings, was so close to central London and now had such excellent transport links (canal, rail and road), it seemed ideal for new buildings, both industrial and residential.
Many factories were built in Perivale between 1930 and 1939. They centred on the Western Avenue, Horsenden Lane and the branch Paddington Canal. There was also industrial building to the north of the railway line and in and around Wadsworth Road and Bideford Avenue.
One of the first factories, which was built in 1929, was Sanderson Wallpapers Ltd. When they opened, they employed 900 people. By 1963, they employed 1650 people and their premises had expanded to ten acres. Perhaps the most famous factory is that facing the Western Avenue, which was opened in 1932 by Hoover Ltd. They sold vacuum cleaners and other household appliances. By 1963 they employed more than 3000 people. In 1982, they closed but the art deco building was preserved, being used by the supermarket Tesco's. Both Sanderson's and Hoover's were, in the 1930s, thought to be model factories, in which the workers enjoyed good working conditions.
Apart from the building of factories, many houses were also built. Much of this initially occurred to the north of the Western Avenue and between the railway line and the canal. For those in work, house prices were reasonable. Houses in the Perivale Park Estate cost £725 freehold, for example. Others cost £590. In 1921, 114 people lived in Perivale, but by 1951, the number had soared to 9,979.