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. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1971.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL HISTORY.
The manor of Harmondsworth, which had been worth £25 before the Conquest, was worth only £12 when the abbey received it, but in 1086 it was valued at £20. (fn. 1) The value increased to £61 in 1293–4, (fn. 2) only to fall to below £30 during the sequestrations of the 14th century. (fn. 3) After the manor had passed to Winchester College the value rose again, (fn. 4) and in the early 16th century the property was thought to be worth £108. (fn. 5) A rental of 1662 shows that over £630 was received from the manor in rent and tithe. (fn. 6)
In 1086 the manor was assessed at 30 hides, (fn. 7) and in the late 14th (fn. 8) and early 15th (fn. 9) centuries it was reckoned to consist of about 1,321 a. By 1450 the area seems to have been at least 1,620 a., (fn. 10) but it fell again in 1494 to about 1,392 a. (fn. 11) The demesne lands, which were assessed at 8 hides in 1086, (fn. 12) were estimated at over 230 a. in 1294, (fn. 13) and at over 290 a. in 1325. (fn. 14) By 1340 the demesne had fallen to 165 a., (fn. 15) but in the late 14th century it rose to over 300 a. (fn. 16)
The Domesday population of the monastic estates at Harmondsworth and Colham comprised an unidentified knight, an uncertain number of Frenchmen, 26 villeins, 7 cottars, 6 bordars, and 6 serfs. (fn. 17) In the 12th century there were said to be 39 virgaters and 47 cottars. (fn. 18) In 1324 the manorial servants, who were paid in kind, included a keeper, a reeve, a hayward, 2 ploughmen, 2 drovers, a carter, a swineherd, and a cowman; there was also a smith, who received 12d. in money. (fn. 19) By 1337 there were a cobbler and a tailor in Harmondsworth, and a smith and at least one fisherman in Longford. (fn. 20) By the 1430s there were 6 ploughmen employed on the manor, and also a cook, baker, and dairyman, all paid in money. (fn. 21)
During the Middle Ages arable farming predominated in the manor, with some dairy and pig farming. (fn. 22) There was land for 20 ploughs in 1086, when the Frenchmen and villeins had 10 ploughs, and the lord 3 ploughs on his 8 demesne hides. (fn. 23) The amount of arable, exclusive of the demesne, remained fairly constant at about 230 a. from the late 13th to the mid 15th century. The maximum amount cultivated during this period was 269 a. in 1397–8, and the minimum appears to have been the 140 a. under cultivation in May 1340. (fn. 24) The latter figure may, however, refer to the demesne. The area cultivated in demesne in 1293–4 was 240 a. in addition to 233 a. on the manor. Farming during the late 13th and early 14th century appears to have been mixed. In 1294 wheat and oats were being grown in almost equal proportions of 56 and 50 a. respectively. Rye and barley accounted for 40 and 39 a. respectively, and peas for 24 a. A further 24 a. were fallow. By 1337 wheat, grown on 72 a., was by far the largest crop, while the area in oats had fallen to a mere 16 a. Mixed wheat and rye were grown on 59 a., barley on 52 a., and peas and rye were also grown. The amount of land in wheat continued to increase during the later 14th century, and by 1397–8 it was grown on 110 a. By this date the second main crop was barley, grown on 82 a. The only other crops grown were pulse (haras') and oats, the latter used almost exclusively for fodder. Until the mid 15th century, when the manorial accounts cease, the proportions of wheat, barley, and pulse remained virtually unchanged, although even fewer oats were grown.
By the end of the 14th century about a third of the wheat yield was used for seed, and about a third sold, this amount in 1397–8 being over 1,198 bu. Of the remaining third, the bulk was used for domestic purposes. In the 15th century much less wheat was sold. In 1406–7 only 482 bu. were sold, and 955 bu. in 1450–1. In 1433–4 wheat was used for payments in kind to the manorial servants, and the increased amount of wheat sold in 1450–1 may mark the beginning of money stipends to the servants. Of the barley yield well over half was sold in 1397–8, and during the 15th century sales of barley rose as those of wheat declined: 1,362 bu. were sold in 1406–7 and 1,032 bu. in 1450–1. Some barley was also retained as seed, and throughout the Middle Ages it was used for malt. (fn. 25) Lesser quantities of pulse and oats were also sold.
The rotation of the crops is uncertain, but in 1324, 50 a. of winter corn and 46 a. of winter maslin were sown. Winter crops seem to have remained the custom in Harmondsworth, as a lease of October 1540 specifies that the lessee was to return the manor in ten years with 74 a. fallowed, well manured, and ready to be sown with wheat. At the same time it is noticeable that there was to be more barley in the granary than wheat or oats. (fn. 26)
There were 20 carucates of meadowland in 1086 and pasture sufficient for the beasts of the vill. (fn. 27) There appears to have been little meadow or pasture on the manor later in the Middle Ages. In 1293–4 there were 24 a. of meadow in the demesne, and a separate pasture is also mentioned. This demesne land had fallen by 1340 to 17 a. of meadow and 8 a. of pasture, (fn. 28) and at about the same date there were said to be 100 a. of meadow in the parish. (fn. 29) The amount of demesne meadow and pasture remained unaltered in 1379, (fn. 30) and at about the same time the manor owned 44 a. of meadow, 40 a. of which were in Burymead. (fn. 31) This was unchanged by the mid 15th century, (fn. 32) when the meadows were usually reckoned to produce 20 loads of hay, used for winter fodder.
Cattle and pig farming was also carried on in the manor during the Middle Ages. The manor's herd of 20 cows in 1293–4 had dwindled by the early 14th century to only eight or nine, but by the end of the 14th and during the early 15th century it had risen again to about 25. A few hens, geese, and swans were also kept, five or six of the geese producing a flock of 28 or 29 a year. (fn. 33) The woodland supported 500 pigs in 1086, (fn. 34) and the manor itself seems to have kept a herd of 100 to 140 pigs. (fn. 35) Pannage was paid on 350 pigs in 1394, (fn. 36) and references to pigs and amounts paid in pannage occur frequently in the court rolls. The scarcity of sheep on the manor is remarkable especially as Harmondsworth lay on the north side of Hounslow Heath. 'Sheeplane', however, existed in Harmondsworth village in 1337. (fn. 37) In 1397 there were 200 sheep on the manor and 178 in 1398. (fn. 38) These are the sole references to sheep belonging to the manor, except for four lambs which were included in a list of manorial stock in 1540. (fn. 39) The unfree tenants of the manor seem to have kept some sheep, and in 1411 and 1416 bondage tenants were presented for grazing 140 sheep on the lord's land. (fn. 40) Tithes in the hands of Winchester College about 1400 included 12 lambs and wool worth 8s. (fn. 41) At the end of the 15th and in the early 16th century sheep were also kept on the manor farms of Padbury, Barnards, and Luddingtons. Between 1475 and 1521 these farms were administered by the college as one estate, and, apart from 30 to 35 a. of wheat with some barley and pulse, their main farming consisted of a constant flock of 120 sheep. There were also 40 lambs each year. (fn. 42) Little is known of the grazing or stinting regulations enforced on the manors except that by the end of the 15th century pigs were not allowed on the common land between March and September. (fn. 43)
Much is known about relations between the lord of Harmondsworth and his tenants, and there appears to have been considerable unrest, during the ownership of both Rouen and Winchester College. Disturbances, occurring at regular intervals from the 1220s to the 1450s, were too widespread to be the work of one man or one family, and it seems equally improbable that discontent stemmed from a succession of over-harsh lords. The earliest known lawsuit between the Abbot of Holy Trinity and his Harmondsworth tenants occurred in 1227, (fn. 44) but no details have survived. In 1233 thirty tenants protested in court that the abbot should not demand customs from them. (fn. 45) This plea was rejected, (fn. 46) but in 1275 it was repeated with the additional claim that Harmondsworth formed part of the ancient demesne of the Crown. This was again rejected (fn. 47) and during the next four years there appears to have been open warfare between lord and tenants. The tenants carried off the lord's muniments, (fn. 48) felled his trees, killed his men, and burned his houses. The king ordered the Sheriff of Middlesex and the Constable of Windsor to go to Harmondsworth and assist the abbot and his prior to distrain the men. (fn. 49) The tenants complained against tallage in 1278, repeated that they held in ancient demesne, and refused to return the stolen muniments. (fn. 50) In 1279 the king himself threatened them with 'castigation' if they remained recalcitrant and denied service and tallage to the abbot. (fn. 51) Twelve Harmondsworth people were in gaol in 1281 for burning the priory buildings, (fn. 52) and there were further disputes over services in 1289. (fn. 53) Four years later the prior was appealed of having caused a murder in the village by the widow of the victim, (fn. 54) who had herself been in gaol in 1281. (fn. 55) Apart from a charge of extortion against the prior in 1354, (fn. 56) the parish seems to have remained peaceful until in 1358 the houses and goods of the priory were said to have been burned. (fn. 57) In 1391 the escheator was sent to investigate reports of 'unlawful assemblies' in Harmondsworth and of great hosts of armed men disturbing and terrorizing the people. (fn. 58) Between 1420 and 1436 there were constant petty disputes between Winchester College and the tenants over timber and fishing rights. These included armed raids on college woods and heath, (fn. 59) although disturbances do not appear to have reached the proportions of earlier quarrels. A Chancery petition lodged in the early 1450s against payment of customary services and works to the college (fn. 60) only resulted in an order to the tenants to pay their services and keep the peace towards the college servants. (fn. 61) This appears to mark the end of two centuries of discord.
The manor court rolls reveal much unrest in the years after the Black Death and immediately preceding the Peasants' Revolt. (fn. 62) The customary services which were so much in dispute are first detailed in a late-14th-century document, said to be a copy of a 12th-century custumal. (fn. 63) Another 14th-century copy, however, assigns the custumal to 1226–7. (fn. 64) Little is known about commutation of services in Harmondsworth, but temporary sales of works are recorded as early as 1397–8, when 18 manual works were sold at 1½d. each and Godfrey atte Perry sold all his services for 3s. 4d. (fn. 65) In 1450–1 there were sales of the customary works of ploughing, harrowing, mowing hay, and of carting, tossing, and stacking wheat and hay; (fn. 66) this was by then presumably the accepted custom. Increasing commutation may also explain the absence of further bitter disputes between lord and tenant.
Very little is known of the economy of the parish after the Pagets assumed possession. Although the sale of works had apparently been the custom earlier, in 1587 ploughing, harrowing, and carrying works were still being exacted; timber on the manorial estate was carefully reckoned, and there was still a notable absence of sheep on the capital manor. (fn. 67) By about 1640, however, Perry manor was keeping 400 to 500 sheep, and shearing them on the premises. (fn. 68) These were presumably grazed on the heath, 143 a. of which had been included in Perry manor as early as 1424–5. (fn. 69) In the 1640s Perry was predominantly arable and the 82-acre Great Perry Field was sown with barley, peas, vetches, and oats. Some wheat was also grown in other fields. (fn. 70) This suggests that the 15th-century pattern of arable farming had not yet changed.
In the early 18th century the timber on Perry manor, of which in the 1640s there had been more than 24 a., was in dispute between the parish and the owners of Perry manor who finally allowed the parish surveyors two pollard oaks a year. (fn. 71) In the early 17th century malting and brewing were still carried on in an oast house in Sipson belonging to the Tillyer family. This family also grew wheat and rye, and kept at least 20 sheep. (fn. 72) In the late 18th century there are a few scattered references to sheep being kept on the manor, (fn. 73) and prohibitions against cross-cropping the arable had been written into earlier leases granted by the Pagets. (fn. 74) In the late 18th century the rotation of crops in the Harmondsworth area was: clover; peas, beans, or tares; wheat with turnips on the stubble; barley; and oats. (fn. 75) In 1801 there were 1,350 a. in Harmondsworth under arable cultivation, slightly over a third of the parish. Wheat (500 a.) and barley (450 a.) were the main crops. Peas and beans each occupied 150 a., and some oats, turnips, rape, potatoes, and rye were also grown. The vicar, who made the return, commented that most of the waste land could be sown with corn to much greater advantage. (fn. 76)
At Domesday Harmondsworth had been one of the few Middlesex manors cultivating vines, of which there was one arpent. (fn. 77) There is no further reference to viticulture, but by the 18th century the parish seems to have become a fruit-growing area, which developed considerably in the 19th century. In the mid 18th century there were at least three 'fruiterer' families in the parish, (fn. 78) and in the early 19th century there were extensive orchards, said to be of 'ancient standing', (fn. 79) at Longford.
Before the early 19th century comparatively little inclosure had taken place. In 1583 Perry Place with 138 a. had the largest amount of inclosed land; there were 26 inclosed a. at Longford and 6 a. surrounding the manor-house of Padbury. (fn. 80) By 1754 inclosure had taken place only around the settlement areas at Harmondsworth, Sipson, and Longford, and the long straggle of scattered houses from Sipson Green southward to Heathrow and Perry Oaks. (fn. 81) In 1801 there were said to be no fewer than 1,300 a. of waste in the parish and inclosure was being considered. (fn. 82) The Inclosure Act was passed in 1805 (fn. 83) but no award was made, and an amending Act was passed in 1816. (fn. 84) Finally in 1819 1,170 a. of waste and 1,100 a. in fields and meadows were inclosed. (fn. 85)
Inclosure had little immediate effect on agrarian practice. In the 1830s the price of peas, which had hitherto been supplied to the London market, was too low to encourage their cultivation; oats and barley were still grown, but the latter was often of inferior quality and so could not be used for malting. White wheat was grown principally for bread, but was also used as fodder. Straw was sent to London (fn. 86) or used in Hounslow barracks. In exchange dung was obtained from the barracks, without which the heavy cropping rotation of ⅓ green crop, ⅓ wheat, and ⅓ barley and oats would have been impossible. (fn. 87) In the 1830s wheat was grown on the former openfield land, while on the old open common land oats were grown and sheep for the London butchers were kept. (fn. 88) A survey of the parish in 1839 shows that the centuries-old pattern was gradually changing and that the district was developing like many Middlesex parishes that were influenced by the London markets. The amount of arable had nearly doubled since 1800 with the cultivation of former heath and commons. There were also over 100 a. of orchards and three market gardens. (fn. 89) Arable land had increased little by the 1860s but orchards covered over 240 a. These were almost all small-holdings but some of the arable fields extended over large areas of 70, 90, and 100 a. (fn. 90) In the 1840s a Harmondsworth farmer had ploughed, sown with wheat, harrowed, and rolled 100 a. in one day for a wager. (fn. 91) During the later 19th century, however, arable farming slowly declined and was replaced by fruit growing and market gardening. From the 1880s until the First World War orchards occupied nearly 1,000 a. in the parish, (fn. 92) and the number of market gardeners rose from 3 in 1870 to 25 in 1917, one of their principal crops being strawberries for London. (fn. 93) By the 1930s both orchard and market-garden land had decreased, but there were still seven farms in the parish. (fn. 94) There was little industry or building, and by the end of the Second World War the West Drayton area had been reserved for agriculture, (fn. 95) although the growth of Heathrow Airport in the post-war years swallowed up over half the available agricultural land. In 1960 most of the parish untouched by the airport remained open under cultivation, mainly in market gardens supplying potatoes and other vegetables for the London market. A little wheat and barley were still grown, and some orchards remained, although the trees were exhausted and decaying. (fn. 96) Nursery gardening was carried on south of Longford under the threat of airport extension. (fn. 97) Pig farming was also carried on in the north of the parish.
In 1086 there were three mills, worth in all 60s., on Harmondsworth manor. (fn. 98) By 1293–4 there were only two water-mills. (fn. 99) One of these was most probably a corn mill, and the other may have been a malt mill. (fn. 100) In 1324 there was definitely a corn mill on the manor, (fn. 101) and in 1325 there were both corn and malt water-mills. (fn. 102) These two mills operated throughout the 14th century, (fn. 103) both corn malt and barley malt being produced. (fn. 104) The mills were repaired in the late 14th century (fn. 105) and were let at £6 13s. a year. (fn. 106) By 1406 the rent, which had increased to £8, included a fishery in the river. (fn. 107) In 1433–4 only one mill, the corn mill at Longford, was being farmed, but the malt mill was almost certainly still working since barley malt was being produced and there was at this time a thatched malthouse on the manor. (fn. 108) The miller of Harmondsworth mill at Longford is mentioned in 1449, (fn. 109) and two years later the mill was farmed at £10, (fn. 110) although a second mill is not mentioned. One water-mill only at Longford was rented in 1493–4, (fn. 111) but in 1501 Harmondsworth mills, comprising a wheat mill and a malt mill in two houses at Longford, and the fishery of the mill stream, were leased by Winchester College to John Smallbroke of Longford, who received a livery of clothing from the college. (fn. 112) When the manor was exchanged with the king in 1543 there appears to have been only one mill, (fn. 113) and a single mill was specified in the grant to William Paget in 1547, (fn. 114) although in the preceding year the king had leased Longford mills for 60 years to Sir Philip Hoby. (fn. 115) Hoby sold his interest in 1548 to Sir Thomas Paston and in 1560 Edward Fitzgarret, who had married Paston's widow, sold the lease to Thomas Warde of Longford. It was acquired in 1565 by Edmund Downing and in 1566 by John Tamworth, who in turn sold it to Arnold Lumley in 1568. (fn. 116) Longford mills are mentioned in 1583 (fn. 117) and 1587, (fn. 118) but Edward Fitzgarret was returned in a rental of 1587 as holding the only mill. (fn. 119) A lease of 1615 to Thomas, Lord Knyvett, and William Steere of Loughborough (Leics.), mentions the mills, (fn. 120) and in 1621 a lease of Barnards manor farm included two corn water-mills in one house at Longford. (fn. 121) In 1622 one of these wheat mills was said to have been formerly a fulling mill. (fn. 122) The situation of two mills under one roof at Longford probably explains why they are sometimes referred to in the singular and sometimes in the plural. In 1627 Longford mill is again mentioned. (fn. 123) By 1647 the house described as formerly a fulling mill had been converted into a malt mill, with fishing rights along the Middle River as far as Blackengrove, which lay on the boundary with Stanwell. The wheat mill, 'furnished with French stones', stood on Colney stream, and was called Longford mills. (fn. 124) The malt and corn mills are again mentioned in 1648, (fn. 125) but are not afterwards expressly named. Later references to mills at Longford probably refer to the paper mills.
It is not known when paper mills were first started in Longford, but in 1636 Longford mill was among the Middlesex paper mills closed because of the plague. (fn. 126) This mill must have been rebuilt, for in 1647 there were three newly built mills adjoining the wheat mill in Longford, one driving 24 hammers and the others 15 hammers each. There were also two drying houses. (fn. 127) In 1656 Thomas Holland, the miller and papermaker, agreed with Lord Paget to carry out repairs and enlarge the mills. (fn. 128) In 1662 Longford mills, probably the paper mills, were let at £33 10s.; (fn. 129) in 1694 the paper mills were valued at £90; (fn. 130) and in 1695–6 one year's rent of the mill was £100. (fn. 131) The paper mills were repaired in 1697 and new machinery to make 'fine white writing paper' was installed. (fn. 132) In 1697 and 1701 the two writingpaper mills were let to Nicholas Faulcon of St. Giles, Cripplegate, at £65 a year. Apart from the two mill houses, the property comprised two vat rooms, two drying lofts, a sizeing room, a water house, and a drywork house. The mills stood on opposite sides of the river, one being 'next to Longford town'. (fn. 133) Further repairs were carried out in 1704, and between January 1705 and May 1707 the mills sold slightly over 8,576 reams of paper. (fn. 134) There was a dwelling-house with 2 a. of land attached to the paper mills in 1715. (fn. 135) Paper-makers worked in the parish at least until 1762, (fn. 136) but after this date there are no references to any mills until the mid 19th century, when a map of the Colne and its tributaries showed the site of former calico mills at Longford. (fn. 137) The existence of a calico mill in Longford is supported by the mention in 1829 of Matthew Ferris of Longford, a calico printer. (fn. 138)
Notwithstanding these mills there was little industry in Harmondsworth before the 20th century, and even by 1960 there had been, in comparison with nearby parishes, little industrial development. In 1739 a bell-founder, Thomas Swain, moved his foundry from Holborn to Longford, but nothing more is known of the works, although some of Swain's bells hang in churches in Surrey and Sussex. (fn. 139) In the 18th century there was said to be a trade in lampreys which were sold both to home consumers and to the Dutch as fish bait. (fn. 140) In the 1820s there was a printing works in Longford, (fn. 141) but this was disused by 1834. (fn. 142) A jam factory (fn. 143) was established at Sipson in the late 1890s in an old farm, and some additional buildings were erected. Production seems to have ceased after the First World War, and the buildings were taken over by Sims & Brooks, furniture makers, in 1935. In 1947 manufacture changed from furniture to caravans, and in 1960 the firm, Sipson Caravans, employed about 20 people. (fn. 144)
All other industry in the parish was established in the 20th century. In the early 1930s there was a brick-works on the road to Heathrow, (fn. 145) and in 1937 there were in the parish five firms dealing in sand and gravel, and one brick-making firm, the West London Brick Co. Ltd. (fn. 146) There is no previous record of brick-making in the parish, although there were brick-fields in West Drayton and Hillingdon, (fn. 147) and, during the Middle Ages, on Harmondsworth manor's estate at Ruislip. (fn. 148)
The opening of the Colnbrook by-pass in 1929 was followed quickly by ribbon industrial development along the Bath Road. In 1930 the Ministry of Transport opened a road-testing laboratory, which in 1933 was taken over by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and formed the nucleus of the Road Research Laboratory. In 1960 the laboratory occupied a site of 22 a. and employed approximately 420 people. Only about 10 of these, however, were resident in the parish. The Harmondsworth buildings housed the main offices for the Road Research department, and also the materials and construction division. (fn. 149) Technicolor Ltd. opened a factory at Harmondsworth in 1936 with 200 employees. Occupying an 11-acre site on the Bath Road, the works in 1960 processed films in colour, about 60 per cent. being for the export market, and employed approximately 1,100 people, of whom about 200 were local residents. (fn. 150) West's Piling & Construction Co. Ltd. was also established in the early 1930s on the Bath Road, and, among many other projects, was responsible for the ocean terminal at Southampton. (fn. 151) In 1938, three years after their first publication, Penguin Books opened their present headquarters in the Bath Road, (fn. 152) although they later acquired premises for storage in West Drayton. (fn. 153) The last major firm to settle in the parish, Black & Decker Ltd., occupied a site on the Bath Road in 1940 with about 250 employees. In 1960 a large proportion of the firm's output of electric tools was exported and their employees numbered over 1,100. (fn. 154)
There were also in 1960 a number of small industries, mainly established after 1945 and each employing fewer than a dozen people. They included a granite works whose stock of stone was drawn from old Waterloo Bridge, a non-ferrous iron foundry in the former smithy in Harmondsworth village, and a precision engineering firm at Longford in a former wheelwright's shed. (fn. 155)
The largest single industrial unit in the parish is Heathrow Airport. In 1946 the airport had a staff of approximately 200 people. Since 1946 the premises have been repeatedly enlarged and by the late 1950s Heathrow had become the major airport for London. By 1960 it employed about 27,000 people. (fn. 156) Few of these, however, were drawn from Harmondsworth.
Few details of social life in the parish have survived. There was a friendly society in the village by 1813 and this had 97 members by 1815; (fn. 157) in 1845 it met at the 'White Horse' in Longford. (fn. 158) The average wage of agricultural labourers in the 1830s was 12s. a week, (fn. 159) and there were reports of discontent in the district. (fn. 160) Even by 1900 the average wage of a 'cottager' had not risen above 17s. The vicarage hall was erected in 1885 by the vicar and in the 1920s was used as a club and by the Women's Institute. (fn. 161) Nothing further is known of a fair at Harmondsworth mentioned in 1879. (fn. 162) The British Legion bought land on the Bath Road in 1933, but lacked the money to build. In 1939 they exchanged their site for one in Sipson Road and a building was finally erected in 1959. The Harmondsworth Community Association was formed about 1947. (fn. 163)