Hayes: 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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Diane K Bolton. H P F King. Gillian Wyld. D C Yaxley, 'Hayes: 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, (London, 1971), pp. 29-31. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp29-31 [accessed 16 June 2024].

Diane K Bolton. H P F King. Gillian Wyld. D C Yaxley. "Hayes: 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) 29-31. British History Online, accessed June 16, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp29-31.

Bolton, Diane K. King, H P F. Wyld, Gillian. Yaxley, D C. "Hayes: 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, (London, 1971). 29-31. British History Online. Web. 16 June 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol4/pp29-31.


Before the Conquest the manor of Hayes had been worth £40, although this had dropped to £30 by 1086. (fn. 1) In 1291 the lands, rents, and customs were valued at almost £50. (fn. 2) More than £55 was rendered to the archbishop's receiver-general in 1425; (fn. 3) although the farm in 1459 was only rated at £41, (fn. 4) it had been raised to £61 by 1467, at which sum it remained for the rest of the 15th century. (fn. 5) In 1566 the manor was valued at £7 10s., (fn. 6) although it had been leased in 1539 and 1555 at nearly £16. (fn. 7) The fines and quitrents of the manor were valued in 1770 at only £60, (fn. 8) but in 1800 the rights and profits had an estimated value of £3,000. (fn. 9)

Until the mid 19th century the economy of the parish was almost exclusively agrarian. There was a mill, worth 4s., on Hayes manor in 1086, although whether it lay within Hayes parish is doubtful. (fn. 10) At this date the archbishop's manor was assessed at 59 hides, 12 of which were in demesne. The 3 knights shared 6½ hides, and the priest and two villeins each held one hide. Of the other villeins, 12 had ½ hide each, 20 had one virgate, and the other 40 held ½ virgate each. The bordars shared 2 hides. The land was capable of supporting 40 ploughs, but the freemen and villeins had only 26; there were also two on the demesne. In addition there was a carucate of meadow, pasture sufficient for the animals, and woods to support 400 pigs. (fn. 11) Early 13th-century evidence suggests that Hayes and Harrow manors formed a single agricultural unit to supply other archiepiscopal manors. For instance in 1233 the two manors produced 48 cartloads of charcoal, of which 40 were sent to London, 6 were kept for Harrow, and 2 for Hayes. (fn. 12) At about the same date wheat and maslin from Hayes were being sent to Harrow, Lambeth, and Mortlake, rye and oats to Mortlake, and barley to Mortlake, Lambeth, and Wimbledon. Some wheat was also used for domestic consumption and seed, while 8 loads were sold. Rye was sold, though most of the crop was used to seed 99 a., while barley was used for payments in kind to the manorial servants. (fn. 13) The manor was farmed for the profit of the king during vacancies, and in 1270-1 he took the profits from the sale of wheat and rye, receiving the barley in kind. Oats and maslin were bought for the manor in large quantities. (fn. 14) In the 14th century the amount of grain sold apparently increased. Wheat, oats, hay, rye, and peas were all sold in varying quantities. Rye, oats, and hay were also used for cattle fodder. (fn. 15) Cattle and pigs were kept by 1270-1, (fn. 16) and sheep are mentioned in 1348, although none was included in the list of stock for that year. (fn. 17) By 1383 there was at least one ram on the manor, and pannage was paid on 210 pigs. (fn. 18) Thereafter the court rolls provide many examples of presentments for letting sheep on to the corn. (fn. 19) At the end of the 14th century pasture on the demesne consisted of 180 a. Arable amounted to only 120 a., and there were 18 a. of meadow. (fn. 20) This seems to mark a change from the earlier 13th century when agriculture was principally arable.

In the 13th century the tenants owed haymaking, harvesting, sheep-shearing, and carrying services, as well as the obligation to provide haywards within the manor. (fn. 21) Commutation seems to have begun about 1270 when over £4 was raised from the sale of works. (fn. 22) In 1348 741 autumn works and 249 winter works were sold. By this date 16 hides owed 10 works each during the harvest at two a day; 7 cotmanni owed 35 works and 3 freemen owed 15 works. Customary tenants rendered heavier services; some owed winter ploughing, harrowing, and sowing obligations. (fn. 23) In the 1230s money stipends were paid to 4 full-time ploughmen and 2 others, and to a treasurer, a bailiff, and a collector. Stipends in kind were paid to 4 harrowers, 2 oxherds, a carter, cowman, gardener, beadle, and reeve. (fn. 24) In 1242 there were only 2 bailiffs for Hayes, Harrow, Lambeth, Croydon, and Wimbledon, and one serjeant for Hayes and Harrow. (fn. 25) A swineherd received a stipend in 1270-1, (fn. 26) but no shepherds are mentioned.

During the 16th century there is some evidence of sheep farming in the parish. About 1530 150 lambs were sold (fn. 27) and in 1584 sheep were stinted on the common fields at two an acre. (fn. 28) Arable farming, however, almost certainly still predominated, and in 1531 there were 9 wheat fields, 9 bean fields, and others with different crops. (fn. 29) By the mid 16th century the virgate in Hayes was apparently reckoned at 48 a., and in a rental of 1553 it was still a common unit of area measurement. (fn. 30) The first extant survey of the parish was made for Roger, Lord North, between 1596 and 1598. At this date there were over 1,304 a. in 11 open fields. Three of these, Broadmead Field, Greathedge Field, and Crouch Field were well over 200 a. each, and three more, Botwell West, Botwell South, and Botwell North or East fields were all over 100 a. (fn. 31) Almost all the land was apparently arable, and only 48 a. were definitely meadow. The various hamlets were surrounded by over 395 a. in house land and inclosures. (fn. 32) Lammas lands within the manor were opened for common use each year, (fn. 33) and many of the manor-court regulations dealt with hedging, ditching, cleaning, and making water courses, repairing gates and stiles, and similar measures. (fn. 34) Cattle and horses were grazed in the open fields after the harvest, and were stinted at one animal for every three acres, and one cow and one bullock for every cottage. (fn. 35) The appearance of other field names in the late 16th and 17th centuries -Dawley Field, Yeading Green, Yeading Bean Field, Rolls Ditch Field-suggests that the large open fields of 1598 (fn. 36) were gradually being broken down into smaller units. In the 1650s the stinting regulations in the three largest fields were altered to 2 beasts for each cottager, and the fields were to be closed on 1 November. All common land was to be opened either on 1 August or when the crop was off. (fn. 37) By the end of the 18th century the crop rotation practised in the Hayes area was a three-year one of fallow, wheat, and barley or oats with clover. (fn. 38) In 1805, shortly before inclosure, wheat, oats, peas, beans, tares, and clover, were all grown in the parish. (fn. 39)

Inclosures are first mentioned in 1348 when 6 a. in folds or inclosures were fallow. (fn. 40) In 1424 a man was presented at the manor court for inclosing Whiting Field, (fn. 41) a field name that was subsequently lost. Sherfield, another lost name, which was part of the glebe about 1530, was said always to have been inclosed, and its cultivation to alternate between wheat and pasture. (fn. 42) By the end of the 16th century all the manorial demesne, amounting to approximately 663 a., was inclosed, and another 395 a. of inclosures and gardens surrounded the hamlets of the parish. (fn. 43) By 1600, therefore, about a third of Hayes parish had been inclosed. In the early 17th century there are a few presentments for unlicensed inclosing, (fn. 44) a process which presumably continued. In 1809 the Hayes Inclosure and Tithe Extinguishment Act was passed (fn. 45) but no award was made until 1814 when over 1,000 a. were inclosed. The former open-field land was contained in 12 fields and some smaller common closes. The fields around Botwell had changed their names since 1598 and then comprised Townfield, Orange Field, and Bulls Bridge Field, as well as Dawley Field and Botwell Common. Nearly half the land in the parish was concentrated in three large estates. (fn. 46)

Unlike other places in this area of Middlesex arable farming continued to predominate after inclosure. The main crops on the Blencowe estate were wheat and beans, the rotation being either fallow, wheat, and beans, or fallow, wheat, clover, wheat, and beans. The grassland produced hay for the London markets but by 1830 the land was said to be exhausted from over-cropping. (fn. 47) Four years later the situation had not improved; hedging and drainage had been ignored, and young plantations had been wilfully cropped down. (fn. 48) The parish was then described as purely agricultural and, because of the concentration of two or more farms in a single person's hand, unemployment was rising. At this date the average wage of an agricultural labourer was 8s. a week or £20 a year. (fn. 49) Although arable land was valued in 1838 at 20s.-30s. an acre, and pasture at 25s.-40s. an acre, (fn. 50) in the 1860s the parish contained over 1,600 a. of arable to 1,260 a. of pasture. (fn. 51) Towards the end of the 19th century the main crops were wheat, oats, hay, and fruit, (fn. 52) and the jam factories that were a feature of Hayes in the early 20th century were based on the local fruit-growing industry. (fn. 53) There were at least 11 farms in the parish in 1890, but by 1922 there were only two. Two market-gardens and one nursery-garden survived, however, until at least 1937. (fn. 54)

Brick-making was the first industry to appear in Hayes, and its development probably resulted from the opening of the Grand Junction Canal in 1796, and the Paddington Canal, which branches from the earlier waterway at Bulls Bridge, in 1801. There is no evidence to support the assertion that brick-making began in the late 15th century. (fn. 55) In 1805 and 1806 land in the south of the parish around Botwell and the canal was advertised as containing 'exceeding good brickearth', (fn. 56) and in 1806-7 a quit-rent for his brick-field was paid to Hayes manor by Joseph Stroud. (fn. 57) By 1824 there was a brick-field at Yeading, situated about a quarter of a mile from the canal and surrounded by fields of exploitable brickearth. (fn. 58) By 1827 there were 5 brickfields, amounting to over 45 a., situated either in Yeading or by the canal at Botwell. Edward Shackle owned three of these, and brick-workers' cottages were attached to the sites. (fn. 59) There were only two brick-fields in 1842, one still owned by the Shackles, but the acreage being worked remained the same. (fn. 60) In 1847 Edward Shackle was discovered to be taking brickearth from copyhold land and was compelled under threat of legal action to seek a licence for so doing from the lord of the manor. These licences set a royalty of 2d. on every thousand bricks. (fn. 61) By 1864 many of the old brickfields had been worked out, but the Yeading brick-field contained at least 20 stools. (fn. 62) In 1876 brickmaking was still largely carried on at Yeading, (fn. 63) but by 1890 the brickearth had nearly all been worked out. Two brick-makers survived at Dawley, however, (fn. 64) and in 1951 the East Acton Brick Works & Estates Co. Ltd. worked a 22-acre site at Yeading. Production then was only 25 per cent. of the prewar figure, but it was reckoned that manufacture could continue for at least 30 years. (fn. 65)

During the 19th century industry in Hayes was virtually confined to brick-making. In the 1830s some gravel was dug, and on the manorial estate gravel, which cost 6d. to raise, could be sold at 2s. 6d. a load. (fn. 66) The poor were also employed by the overseers on gravel-digging. (fn. 67) There was a brewery between the church and Freeman's Lane in Hayes in the 1860s, but this was disused by 1895. (fn. 68) Earlier, in 1827, the 'Adam and Eve' had a brewery attached to it. (fn. 69) The opening of Hayes station in 1864 (fn. 70) appears to have had little effect on the industrialization of the parish, for large-scale industry did not arrive until the early 20th century. The first large factory established was that of the British Electric Transformer Co. which moved to Hayes in 1901. (fn. 71) By 1908 this had been joined by brewing, sugar, tube, turpentine, and two floor manufacturers, (fn. 72) and in 1907 by the Gramophone Co. that became, in 1931, Electric & Musical Instruments Ltd. (fn. 73) By 1913 there was an increasing demand for cottages and houses, as several large factories had recently been built. (fn. 74) During the 1920s and 1930s the industrial concentration round Botwell greatly expanded with the appearance of such firms as Nestlé's, Kraft, and Smith's Potato Crisps. (fn. 75) By 1944 Hayes was considered to be overindustrialized, and the labour saturation point had been passed. Labour demands were increasing and the shortage of housing was acute. Industry was organized in large units (fn. 76) and in 1951 was said to be divided between engineering and electrical goods, vehicle manufacture, and the production of food, drink, and tobacco. Over 60 per cent. of the insured population were employed by four firms, (fn. 77) one of which, Fairey Aviation and Westland Helicopters, was sited just within Harlington parish, although the firm was normally considered as an important and integral part of the Hayes industrial complex. In 1951 the Minet industrial estate was the only area considered available for industrial expansion, (fn. 78) and new industries were not encouraged. In 1961 the largest single employer of labour in Hayes was E.M.I. Ltd., who owned factories covering 150 a. in and around Blyth Road. The firm's labour force has grown from approximately 3,000 in 1920 to 7,000 in 1929, and to 14,000 by 1961. They produced a wide variety of electrical, radio, and electronic equipment. (fn. 79) In 1950 a factory in Hayes was acquired by the Public Record Office as an intermediate depository, where departmental records could be sorted before destruction or transfer for preservation in the Public Record Office itself. (fn. 80)

The Hayes, Harlington and District Chronicle was first published in 1933, its name being changed to the Hayes Chronicle ten years later. The Hayes News was first published in 1939, and the Middlesex Advertiser produced a Hayes edition between 1939 and 1945; this was continued after 1945 as the Hayes Gazette. The Hayes Post was first published in 1954. (fn. 81)

Little is known of the social life of the parish. In the 1530s sports such as dice, cards, tennis, bowls, and football were popular, (fn. 82) and in the 18th century cockfights were held in the churchyard. (fn. 83) There were four friendly societies in 1803-4 with over 230 members, (fn. 84) and the Hayes United Friendly Society ranked the lord of the manor among its members in 1820. (fn. 85) The Working Mens' Institute and tennis, football, and cricket clubs were all in existence by 1895. (fn. 86) The present Hayes Football Club was founded in 1909 as the Botwell Mission F.C., only changing its name in 1930. (fn. 87) By 1932 organizations in the parish included the silver prize band, two ratepayers' associations, and the chamber of commerce. (fn. 88) A cinema was opened at Botwell in 1926 and two others were being built in Uxbridge Road in 1938. (fn. 89)


  • 1. V.C.H. Mdx. i. 120.
  • 2. Tax. Eccl. (Rec. Com.), 14b.
  • 3. Lambeth Palace, MS. C.R. 1343.
  • 4. Ibid. 1213.
  • 5. Ibid. 1214-8, 1220.
  • 6. B.M. Add. MS. 39401.
  • 7. C 78/104.
  • 8. M.R.O., Acc. 264/123.
  • 9. M.R.O., Acc. 436/16.
  • 10. See p. 46.
  • 11. V.C.H. Mdx. i. 119-20.
  • 12. Cal. Lib. 1226-40, 200. For the economic history of Harrow see below, pp. 218-34.
  • 13. Lambeth Palace, MS. C.R. 1193.
  • 14. S.C. 6/1128/1: 29 qr. maslin and 102 qr. oats were bought in 1270-1.
  • 15. S.C. 6/1128/2; /9.
  • 16. S.C. 6/1128/1.
  • 17. S.C. 6/1128/12.
  • 18. M.R.O., Acc. 401/1, mm. 2d-3.
  • 19. e.g. ibid. m. 13.
  • 20. C 145/263/22.
  • 21. Lambeth Palace, Estate MS. 2068; Canterbury Cathedral Libr., Lit. E 24, f. 148; see below, p. 220.
  • 22. S.C. 6/1128/1.
  • 23. Ibid./12.
  • 24. Lambeth Palace, MS. C.R. 1193; Cal. Lib. 1226-40, 237; see also B.M. Add. MS. 29794.
  • 25. Cal. Lib. 1240-5, 131-2.
  • 26. S.C. 6/1128/1.
  • 27. Sta. Cha. 2/25/69.
  • 28. M.R.O., Acc. 401/7, m. 19.
  • 29. Sta. Cha. 2/8/89-90.
  • 30. M.R.O., Acc. 76/222a, m. 20d.
  • 31. B.M. Add. MS. 24812. The figures are: Broadmead (279 a.), Greathedge (226 a), Crouch (224 a.), Botwell South (199 a.), Botwell West (160 a.), Botwell North or East (118 a.).
  • 32. B.M. Add. MS. 24812.
  • 33. M.R.O., Acc. 401/7, m. 14d.
  • 34. e.g. S.C. 2/191/32.
  • 35. M.R.O., Acc. 401/7, m. 47d.
  • 36. Ibid. /8, m. 20; S.C. 2/191/32.
  • 37. M.R.O., Acc. 180/1, 2.
  • 38. Foot, Agric, of Mdx. 21.
  • 39. M.R.O., Acc. 264/124.
  • 40. S.C. 6/1128/12.
  • 41. M.R.O., Acc. 401/3, m. 4d.
  • 42. Sta. Cha. 2/25/69.
  • 43. B.M. Add. MS. 24812.
  • 44. e.g. M.R.O., Acc. 401/8, m. 25.
  • 45. L.J. xlvii. 342a.
  • 46. M.R.O., Hayes Incl. Award; see above, p. 28.
  • 47. M.R.O., Acc. 180/176.
  • 48. Ibid./203.
  • 49. Rep. Poor Law Com. App. B(2), H.C. 44, pp. 101 f-k (1834), xxxv-vi.
  • 50. M.R.O., Acc 180/211.
  • 51. O.S. Area Bk.
  • 52. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1890).
  • 53. M.R.O., County Development Plan (1951), p. 45.
  • 54. Kelly's Dirs. Mdx. (1890-1937).
  • 55. Mills, Hist. of Hayes. 42.
  • 56. M.R.O., Acc. 264/123-30.
  • 57. Ibid. /106.
  • 58. B.M. Add. MS. 12543, m. 2.
  • 59. Hayes and Harlington U.D.C., Hayes Valuation (1827).
  • 60. Ibid. (1842).
  • 61. M.R.O., Acc. 180/181-3.
  • 62. Hayes and Harlington U.D.C., Hayes Valuation (1864).
  • 63. Thorne, Environs of Lond. 335-6.
  • 64. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1890).
  • 65. M.R.O., County Development Plan (1951), p. 137.
  • 66. M.R.O., Acc. 180/203.
  • 67. Rep. Poor Law Com. App. B(2), H.C. 44, pp. 101 f-k (1834), xxxv-vi.
  • 68. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. xv. 9 (1865 and 1895 edns.).
  • 69. M.R.O., Acc. 180/497.
  • 70. Peacock, G. W. Suburban Services, 45.
  • 71. Ex inf. British Electric Transformer Co. Ltd.
  • 72. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1908).
  • 73. Ex inf. E.M.I. Ltd.
  • 74. Char. Com. file.
  • 75. Southall-Norwood Official Guide (1924), 33; Hayes, Harlington and Cranford Official Guide (1934), 14.
  • 76. Abercrombie, Greater Lond. Plan (1944), 148-9.
  • 77. M.R.O., County Development Plan (1951), pp. 51, 57.
  • 78. Ibid. 65.
  • 79. Ex inf. E.M.I. Ltd.; Daily Sketch, 12 Feb. 1929.
  • 80. 111th Dep. Kpr's. Rep. 6.
  • 81. B.M. Newspaper Catalogue.
  • 82. Sta. Cha. 2/25/69; 2/8/85-86; L. & P. Hen. VIII, vii, pp. 208-9.
  • 83. Par. Recs., Register 1707-84, sub Burials, 1754.
  • 84. Rets. on Expense and Maintenance of Poor, H.C. 175, p. 294-5 (1803-4), xiii (demi-folio).
  • 85. M.R.O., Acc. 180/238.
  • 86. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1895).
  • 87. Ex inf. Hayes F.C.
  • 88. Hayes, Harlington and Cranford Official Guide (1932), 29.
  • 89. Southall-Norwood and Hayes Official Guide (1926), 39; Hayes and Harlington Official Guide (1938), 15.