Perivale: Economic and social history

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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'Perivale: Economic and social history', in 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, (London, 1971) pp. 124-125. British History Online [accessed 29 February 2024]


Until the 1930s Perivale was a sparsely populated agricultural parish. (fn. 1) Little is known about the inhabitants or their land at any period before the 19th century. Domesday Book mentions five people living on Geoffrey de Mandeville's three-hide estate. (fn. 2) Of these, two were described as villeins and shared half a hide; two were cottars; and there was one serf. This holding supported one plough, with room for a further half plough, and the woodland was sufficient to support 40 pigs. The half hide held of Geoffrey by Ansgot had room for two oxen, and that held of the king by Elveve had room for a single plough which was not there at the time of the Survey. (fn. 3)

A document of 1342 implies the existence of a system of open-field arable cultivation. Mention at this date of a windmill on the manor may suggest that Perivale enjoyed an early period of prosperity. (fn. 4) A mill is not mentioned again, and 19th-century references to a 17th-century windmill near the Brent seem to refer to a site outside the parish. (fn. 5)

During the 16th and 17th centuries the area south of Harrow, including Perivale parish and known collectively as the 'Perivale' or 'Purivale', acquired a reputation as a high quality wheat-growing district. (fn. 6) Wheat seems to have remained the major crop in the parish until the late 18th century. By 1839, however, there were only 46 a. of arable in the parish, and the bulk of the remainder was in grass supplying hay for the London market. (fn. 7) In 1843 it was said that at least half of the parish had been turned over to grass within the last fifty years. The reasons adduced for this change in land utilization were the demands of the London market, the easy communications afforded by the Paddington Canal, and the poor returns from wheat growing. The pasture was understocked and it was customary to let the fields after the hay harvest as summer pasture for sheep from the Midland counties. The parish was at this date divided into five farms, the largest of which comprised 179 a. There were no other houses and hence no resident farm labourers. (fn. 8) As late as 1876 there were still no labourers' cottages and the land was devoted exclusively to hay farming. (fn. 9)

The construction in 1924 of Greenford Road, an arterial road running north-south to the west of Perivale parish, and in 1929-30 of Western Avenue, passing from east to west across the south of the parish, first opened up the area to speculative building. As one of the nearest undeveloped areas to London, and lying in close proximity to a labour force in Ealing and Hanwell, Perivale was quickly adopted as a site for industrial expansion. (fn. 10) In contrast to the pattern of development in many of the neighbouring suburban areas, the earliest factories preceded housing developments. In 1929 work began on a new factory for Sanderson Wallpapers Ltd. The new premises, sited in the junction of Horsenden Lane and the G.W.R. line, were opened in 1930, when the labour force was approximately 900 persons. Since that date the factory has been further extended, and in 1963 the firm employed 1,650 persons in premises covering 10 a. (fn. 11) In 1932 a large factory fronting Western Avenue was opened by Hoover Ltd. for the manufacture of cleaners and other domestic appliances. The administrative, sales, and engineering headquarters of the Hoover organization in Britain are sited at Perivale, and the premises also include a training school and recreational buildings. In 1963 the factory, which was then being extended, employed more than 3,000 persons. (fn. 12)

After 1934 the pace of factory construction quickened. Industrial building was concentrated in an area roughly ½ mile square in and around Wadsworth Road and Bideford Avenue. A number of factories, warehouses, and laboratories, employing from 50 to 400 persons, were erected during the 1930s, and many were extended after the Second World War. Manufactures include a variety of light engineering products, scientific and optical instruments, paints, sewing silks, and cosmetics. (fn. 13) Industrial building has been accompanied by a proportionate increase in private housing developments.

Not much is known of the social life of the parish before the 19th century. Part of a rifle range lay on the Perivale side of the Brent in 1865. (fn. 14) Church sports, attended by the youth of Ealing, were held annually during the 1890s. (fn. 15) There was no public house in Perivale until the opening of the 'Myllet Arms' on the site of the former Church Farm in the 1930s. A temporary building to house the Perivale Community Centre was built at the north end of Horsenden Lane about 1939. (fn. 16) It was still in use in 1963. In 1948 the Ministry of Labour opened a training centre in Walmgate Road, giving instruction in leather work, tailoring, watch repairing, and similar trades. (fn. 17) For most social activities Perivale is dependent on neighbouring areas. A few small shops have been built on both sides of Western Avenue, but the nearest large general shopping centre is at Ealing.


  • 1. Plan of Ealing Borough (1931) penes Ealing Bor. Council.
  • 2. But see p. 123.
  • 3. V.C.H. Mdx. i. 126, 129.
  • 4. C 135/66/32.
  • 5. Brown, Chronicles, 100-106.
  • 6. Ibid. 107, quoting Drayton, Polyolbion.
  • 7. M.R.O., Perivale Tithe Award (1839).
  • 8. H. Tremenheere, 'Agric. & Educ. Statistics of several pars. in Mdx.', Jnl. Stat. Soc. of Lond. vi. 123-4.
  • 9. Thorne, Environs of Lond, 467.
  • 10. D. H. Smith, Industrialization of Greater London, 79.
  • 11. Ex inf. Sanderson Wallpapers Ltd.
  • 12. Ex inf. Hoover Ltd.
  • 13. Kemp's Dir. of Ealing and Hanwell (1961).
  • 14. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. xv. 8 (1865 edn.).
  • 15. Brown, Chronicles, 99.
  • 16. Local information.
  • 17. Kemp's Dir. of Ealing and Hanwell (1961).