Greenford: Local government

Pages 215-216

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 3, Shepperton, Staines, Stanwell, Sunbury, Teddington, Heston and Isleworth, Twickenham, Cowley, Cranford, West Drayton, Greenford, Hanwell, Harefield and Harlington. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1962.

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In 1274 the suit owed by the men of Greenford to the shire courts was said to have been withdrawn by the Abbot of Westminster 20 years before. (fn. 1) In 1293 the abbot was said to have withdrawn the suit owed by Greenford, Hanwell, and other manors to both shire and hundred courts in 1235. (fn. 2) In that year he had been granted a charter of liberties under which he held views of frankpledge and exercised return of writs for the manor of Greenford. (fn. 3) The earliest surviving court roll dates from 1508: (fn. 4) in the 16th century, and no doubt earlier, a view of frankpledge was generally held in April or May and a court baron in October. Greenford and Hanwell each formed a separate tithing with its own constable, headboroughs, and aletaster. (fn. 5) By the 18th century the two villages were regarded as separate manors, though the courts for both continued to be held together. Courts leet for Greenford seem to have been given up towards the end of the century. (fn. 6) Early in the 19th the place of meeting was moved from Greenford to an inn at Hanwell, and courts for Greenford appear to have been discontinued altogether before 1900. (fn. 7)

Certainly by the 18th century, and probably earlier, the vestry had taken over the effective organization of the village. During the late 18th century it was meeting five or six times a year, and during the 19th century the number of meetings rose steadily until by 1845 they numbered about ten a year. There never seem to have been more than eight or nine persons attending at any one time, and the average attendance was six or seven. (fn. 8) The vestry had two salaried officers: the parish clerk, who was paid from the church rate, and the vestry clerk, who was paid from the highway rate. (fn. 9) The poor-rates rose from £41 odd in 1775-6 to £413 in 1814-15, when 25 persons were on permanent relief and 16 received occasional payments. The parish did not have a workhouse, (fn. 10) though it had almshouses, which are mentioned below. (fn. 11) The vestry sometimes elected the constable and headboroughs, a task that was normally undertaken by the manor court. (fn. 12) In 1836 the parish became part of Brentford union, and in the mid-19th century the vestry meetings seem to have been almost wholly concerned with the raising of rates and the election of parish officers, although poor relief was occasionally considered. (fn. 13) In 1856 a nuisances removal committee was formed but little seems to have been done. (fn. 14)

In 1894 the urban district of Greenford was created, which consisted of the civil parishes of Great Greenford, Perivale, and Twyford Abbey. The urban district covered slightly more than 3,000 acres, (fn. 15) and the council met at Greenford. No offices were built, nor does the council seem to have had any definite home. It first met in January 1895 in Betham's School, (fn. 16) where it continued to meet until 1897. Thereafter they met in the school-house. The council had a total membership of nine throughout its existence, and employed three salaried officers. The clerk was a practising solicitor who combined his clerkship with legal work for the council. The other two officials were the surveyor and inspector of nuisances, and the medical officer of health. In the first years of the urban district the council were concerned primarily with sanitary measures, and a sanitary committee was formed in 1895, as was the works and finance committee. (fn. 17) In 1902 the council obtained authority to administer the non-ecclesiastical parish charities, (fn. 18) and its sphere of interest in general rapidly increased. The rates, however, remained lower than in the more populous districts to the east, where the greater part of the labour force of the new Greenford factories was housed. It was only under pressure from the Ministry of Health that the Greenford council opened its first sewage works and the first section of sewers in 1923. (fn. 19) By 1926 the housing question was becoming very pressing and one of the council's last actions in 1926 was to issue a contract for 50 council houses. (fn. 20)

Greenford urban district was abolished in October 1926, when the urban district and civil parish of Greenford became part of the municipal borough and civil parish of Ealing. (fn. 21) This ended a situation whereby the ratepayers of Ealing and Hanwell had in effect subsidized those of Greenford, providing not only housing for the workers in Greenford factories, but also, for instance, isolation hospital facilities for the inhabitants. (fn. 22) By 1959 the parish was divided into three wards, each of which returned three councillors to the Ealing council. (fn. 23) The more recent history of local administration in Greenford, however, forms part of the history of the borough of Ealing. (fn. 24)


  • 1. J. I. 1/540, m. 14.
  • 2. J.I. 1/544, m. 52d.
  • 3. Ibid. m. 51d; Cal. Chart. R. 1226-57, 208.
  • 4. Eccl. 1/210/2. The other surviving 16th- and 17thcent. rolls are also at the P.R.O. (S.C. 2/189/30; /190/16, 19-23; Eccl. 1/205/20; /206/1-6; /207/1-6; /208/1-8; /209/1-4; /210/1-3, 18). After that date they are penes Ch. Com.
  • 5. Eccl. 1/210/2.
  • 6. Ch. Com. rec. 171663, 171690.
  • 7. Ibid. 171727, 171740, 415785. None are recorded 1900-6: ibid. 318368-74.
  • 8. Par. Rec., Vestry Min. Bks. 1776-99; 1800-33; 1830-45; 1846-66.
  • 9. Ibid. 1846-66, Apr. 1854.
  • 10. Rep. of Cttee. on Rets. by Overseers, 1776, ser. 1, ix. 396; Rets. on expense and maintenance of poor, H.C. 82, p. 262 (1818), xix (demi-folio).
  • 11. See p. 220.
  • 12. Par. Rec. Vestry Min. Bk. 1800-33.
  • 13. Ibid. 1830-45.
  • 14. Ibid. 1846-66.
  • 15. Census (1901).
  • 16. Ealing B.C., Greenford U.D.C. Min. Bk. 1895-1901.
  • 17. Ibid.
  • 18. Char. Com. files.
  • 19. TS. Rep. on Extension of Ealing, 1926 (penes Mr. J. L. Petingale, Hon. Sec., Gter. Ealing Local Hist. Soc.).
  • 20. Ealing B.C., Greenford U.D.C. Min. Bk. 1926.
  • 21. Census (1931).
  • 22. TS. Rep. on Extension of Ealing, 1926.
  • 23. Ex inf. Ealing B.C.
  • 24. This is reserved for treatment as part of Ossulstone hundred.