Perivale: Introduction

Pages 122-123

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.

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The Ancient parish of Perivale or Little Greenford (fn. 1) lay to the north of Ealing in the extreme east of Elthorne hundred. (fn. 2) It had the shape of an irregular rectangle measuring approximately one mile from north to south and ¾ mile from east to west, and contained 633 a. (fn. 3) The River Brent formed the southern parish boundary and the boundary of Ossulstone hundred. The other three sides were bounded by Gore hundred to the east and north and by Greenford parish to the west. Perivale formed part of Greenford U.D. from 1894 until 1926, when it was incorporated in the civil parish and municipal borough of Ealing and ceased to have any independent existence. (fn. 4) It now forms part of the London Borough of Ealing. (fn. 5)

Apart from a small area in the north-west on the lower slope of Horsenden Hill, all the parish lies below 100 ft. The land slopes uniformly from the Paddington Canal, following the 100-foot contour across the north of the parish, to approximately 50 ft. along the course of the Brent. (fn. 6) Except for a narrow deposit of flood plain gravel and an even narrower strip of alluvium along the river, the soil is London Clay. (fn. 7)

Little is known of the topography of the parish before the 19th century. An early-13th-century document mentions Eastfield, Westfield, Lukemere, and a field extending south to the Brent. (fn. 8) A 14thcentury source further implies the existence of a system of open-field arable cultivation, (fn. 9) but the area and exact location of the fields are not known. The pattern of early settlement is also uncertain. At all recorded periods before 1890 there were fewer than 50 people living in the parish. Nine persons were assessed for the subsidy in 1522-3 (fn. 10) and fourteen adult male parishioners took the protestation oath in 1642. (fn. 11) In 1664 there were, as at all subsequent periods until 1850, only five inhabited houses in the parish. (fn. 12) The population was 28 in 1801, 34 in 1881, and 60 in 1901. (fn. 13) A halt at Perivale on the Great Western Railway's suburban line from Paddington was opened in 1904, (fn. 14) but there were still only 114 people living in the parish in 1921. (fn. 15) In 1951 the population of Perivale ward, covering an area slightly larger than the ancient parish, was 9,979, but by 1961 it had decreased to 8,655. (fn. 16)

It seems probable that Perivale 'village' was never more than a small complex centred on the church, rectory, and manor-house in the south-west corner of the parish. By the time of the first detailed map in 1839 (fn. 17) the manor-house had been demolished (fn. 18) and the only domestic buildings were five widely separated farm-houses. Horsenden Farm lay in the extreme north-west corner of the parish, and Church and Grange farms in the south-west immediately north and west of the rectory. On the eastern boundary were Manor Farm and Apperton or Alperton Farm to the north. (fn. 19) At this time Perivale was said to be 'very secluded'. (fn. 20) The only roads in the parish were Horsenden Lane running parallel to the western boundary, and Apperton Lane, which passed just north of the rectory and continued eastward to Hanger Hill and Alperton. (fn. 21)

During the 19th century the appearance of the parish altered little. (fn. 22) The opening in 1801 of the Paddington branch of the Grand Junction Canal had little effect on the isolation of the parish, and in 1876 Perivale was described as 'a curiously lonely-looking little place, lying in the valley of the Brent among broad meadows'. (fn. 23)

In 1903 the Great Western Railway's suburban line to High Wycombe was driven across the centre of the parish, and a halt at Perivale opened in the following year. This was enlarged and converted into a station in 1908, and continued to serve the parish until 1947, (fn. 24) when London Transport's Central line was extended from North Acton to Greenford alongside the G.W.R. line. Perivale station was then rebuilt and the local steam train service discontinued. (fn. 25) Despite the coming of the railway virtually no residential or industrial developments occurred before 1930. In that year Sanderson's wallpaper factory in Horsenden Lane was completed, and a section of Western Avenue driven across the parish along the line of Alperton Lane. (fn. 26) Between 1931 and 1939 the area bounded by Western Avenue, Horsenden Lane, and the Paddington Canal was almost entirely covered by factories and houses. Industrial building was concentrated in an area immediately north of the railway line in and around Wadsworth Road and Bideford Avenue. Residential development was concentrated along the north side of Western Avenue and in the central area of the parish between the railway line and the canal. All the pre-1939 housing schemes were speculative. By 1939 the development of the parish was virtually completed. (fn. 27) Since 1945, although some factories have been extended and a number of private houses built, the pattern of settlement has remained substantially unchanged.

Open spaces have been preserved on three sides of the central developed area. The area between Western Avenue and the Brent forms part of the course of the Ealing Golf Club (established 1898), (fn. 28) and that between the Paddington Canal and the parish boundary part of Sudbury Golf Course. The area west of Horsenden Lane between Western Avenue and the railway is leased by the local authority to the Kensington Borough Council as a sports ground.


  • 1. The name 'Perivale' ('pear tree valley') does not appear in connexion with the parish before the early 16th cent.: P. N. Mdx. (E.P.N.S.), 46. It is used throughout this article, although in the Middle Ages the parish was referred to as Little or East Greenford.
  • 2. This article was written in 1963. Any references to a later time are dated.
  • 3. Census, 1871.
  • 4. Ibid. 1931.
  • 5. See p. 125.
  • 6. O.S. Map 1/25,000, 51/18 (1951 edn.).
  • 7. Geol. Survey Map, sheet 256 (drift).
  • 8. C.P. 25(1)/146/2/24.
  • 9. C 135/66/32.
  • 10. E 179/141/115.
  • 11. Hse. of Lords, Mdx. Protestation Rets.
  • 12. M.R.O., H.T. 6.
  • 13. Census, 1801-1901.
  • 14. T. B. Peacock, G. W. Suburban Services, 45.
  • 15. Census, 1921.
  • 16. Ibid. 1951, 1961.
  • 17. M.R.O., Perivale Tithe Award (1839).
  • 18. See p. 124.
  • 19. J. A. Brown, The Chronicles of Greenford Parva, 96- 97; description of Grange Fm. (1851) penes the rector.
  • 20. Robson, Home Cnties. Dir. (1839).
  • 21. J. Rocque, Map of 10 miles round Lond. (1746); M.R.O., Perivale Tithe Award Map (1839).
  • 22. O.S. Maps 1/2,500, Mdx. xv. 4, 8 (1865 and 1896 edns.).
  • 23. Thorne, Environs of Lond. 467.
  • 24. Peacock, G. W. Suburban Services, 45.
  • 25. The Times, 25 June, 1 July 1947.
  • 26. Plan of Ealing Borough (1931) penes Ealing Bor. Council.
  • 27. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. xv. 4, 8 (1935 edn.).
  • 28. See plate facing p. 37.