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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ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL HISTORY.
Until the exploitation of brickearth deposits in south Hillingdon began in the early 19th century the economic history of Hillingdon outside Uxbridge is essentially agrarian. After Uxbridge emerged as a commercial centre in the early 12th century, economic expansion and most of the recorded social activity of the parish were concentrated there. Surviving population figures suggest that as early as the 14th century settlement also was concentrated in Uxbridge, and not until 1821 did the population of rural Hillingdon exceed that of the town. (fn. 1)
In 1086 the manors of Hillingdon and Colham together contained land for 9 ploughs. Earl Roger had 3 ploughs and room for one more on his 8 demesne hides, and the villagers and Frenchmen shared 4 ploughs. In addition there was sufficient meadow for 3 ploughs and 4 oxen, pasture for the cattle of the vill, woodland sufficient to support 1,400 pigs, and one arpent of vineyard. (fn. 2) In 1086, as at all later periods, mills were an important source of income. Two mills, presumably on the Colne, rendered 41s. and a further ½ mill, the other half of which probably lay in Buckinghamshire, was worth 5s. (fn. 3)
Commutation of services owed by tenants of Colham manor occurred during the 12th century. (fn. 4) By 1311 the customary obligations owed by many tenants had apparently been commuted for money payments. (fn. 5) In 1328, however, some tenants still rendered heavy services, including malting, brewing, threshing, shearing, mowing, harvesting, and the carriage of straw from the grange within the manor. (fn. 6) The continuation of such heavy labour services possibly resulted from difficulties in cultivating the extensive demesne.
In 1328 the demesne of Colham was said to comprise 325 a. of arable, 268 a. of pasture, 40 a. of meadow, and 18 a. of woodland. (fn. 7) Seven years later the demesne contained 670 a., (fn. 8) but during the remainder of the 14th century its area appears to have declined. In Cowley Hall manor 234 a. of the 375acre demesne were in cultivation by 1327. (fn. 9) By the 1370s the gross yearly value of Colham manor averaged £238 (£145 net), including rents from two mills at Colham and two at Uxbridge, (fn. 10) tolls of the twice-weekly market and the two statute fairs held at Uxbridge, (fn. 11) and perquisites of court worth approximately £12. (fn. 12) The manorial demesne was said to contain 449 a. in 1386, (fn. 13) but only 380 a. in 1449. (fn. 14) By the 1380s money payments had entirely replaced labour services. (fn. 15) At this period the demesne was divided into two parts, the northern estate administered from a grange called Northall. Each estate had a cowherd, swineherd, and ploughman, and a warrener was appointed for the whole manor. (fn. 16) In addition to the usual domestic and draught animals the stock included 60 cows, 100 pigs, and 400 sheep tended by a shepherd. Much of the demesne was in wheat, but small quantities of rye and oats were also grown. Of the total corn yield of 242 qr. in 1376, 105 qr. were sold, chiefly in London, 29 qr. sent to Uxbridge for malting and brewing, and 13 qr. milled for flour at Uxbridge and Colham. By c. 1690 the augmented demesne of Colham, all of which was apparently leased, totalled 536 a. (fn. 17) The manor was then said to be worth £931, including leasehold rents in Hillingdon worth £794, profits of court worth £20, and £68 from rents, tolls, and profits in Uxbridge. (fn. 18) By the 19th century the demesne had again been reduced to a little more than 300 a. (fn. 19)
Whether changes in land utilization following the inclosure of parcels of common and open-field land from the 16th century onwards (fn. 20) significantly retarded the growth of rural Hillingdon is uncertain. In 1670 large areas of the parish were in grass supplying hay for the London market, (fn. 21) and in the late 18th century the Colham leet still appointed a hayward for the manor. (fn. 22) But in 1801, when more than one-half of the total population was said to be employed in agriculture, (fn. 23) there were still 1,129 a. of arable in the parish. (fn. 24) Of this, 465 a. were in wheat, 292 a. in barley, 264 a. in peas and beans, and the remainder in oats, rye, turnips, and potatoes. Between 1801 and 1811 the population of rural Hillingdon increased by 469 to 2,252, and for the first time the number of families gaining a living by trade exceeded those employed in agriculture. In 1821, when the population of the remainder of the parish exceeded that of Uxbridge, 243 families were said to be employed in agriculture. Ten years later, following the opening of brick-fields in south Hillingdon (fn. 25) and the execution of the inclosure award in 1825, (fn. 26) the population of Hillingdon had risen to 3,842, but only 14 families were said to be employed in agriculture. (fn. 27) The sudden slump in agricultural employment reflected changes in land utilization and the beginning of industrial expansion in and near Uxbridge. (fn. 28) From the 1820s onwards an increasing amount of arable was leased for the extraction of gravel and brickearth, (fn. 29) and much of the remainder seems to have been turned over to grass. (fn. 30) In 1830 only 24 a. of the 103-acre Rye Fields Farm were arable, (fn. 31) and two years later the 129 a. of Colham Manor Farm were almost all meadow. (fn. 32) Further north horticultural specialization for the metropolitan market followed the establishment in 1838 of a railway link with London. (fn. 33) By 1853 the Victoria and Hillingdon Nurseries had been established at Uxbridge by Thomas Appleby, and Robert Pain, who advertised as successor to James Griffin, owned the Uxbridge Nursery at Hillingdon End. (fn. 34) In 1876 there were said to be 'numerous' orchards in the parish, (fn. 35) and four years later there were nurseries in the Greenway, Kingston Lane, Harefield Road, Denham Road, and south of St. Andrew's church. (fn. 36) By 1894 the glass and orchards of the Uxbridge Nursery covered almost 40 a. between Hillingdon Road and the G.W.R. line. (fn. 37) There were then small areas of glass in Cowley Mill Road and Kingston Lane and a 5-acre nursery on Hillingdon Heath. The Kingston Lane premises of Joseph Lowe (later Lowe & Shawyer Ltd.), founded in 1864, were expanded during the 1890s and in the early 20th century the firm was said to be the largest cut flower nursery in the country, specializing in the growing of chrysanthemums for the London market. (fn. 38) A nursery at Pield Heath was established in 1895 by Milton Hutchings, a friend of Joseph Lowe. (fn. 39) By 1913 there were six nurseries, covering approximately 65 a., in the area bounded by Cowley Road, Hillingdon Road, and Royal Lane, and four smaller nurseries covering almost 20 a. on Hillingdon Heath. (fn. 40) All contained large areas of glass and chiefly produced flowers for the metropolitan market. Despite the rapid in-filling of the parish after 1900 and the encroachment of building estates on agricultural land, market-gardening and farming on a small scale continued. (fn. 41) Hercies Farm, north of Sweetcroft Lane, and Hillingdon House Farm to the west were not sold to the local authority until 1922 (fn. 42) and 1941 (fn. 43) respectively. In 1934 there were still large areas of glass along both sides of the railway between Uxbridge and Cowley and at Pield Heath. (fn. 44) Building after 1945 further reduced the land available for cultivation, but in 1963 there were still seven nurseries, five of them small, within the old parish. (fn. 45) In 1964 Milton Hutchings Ltd. employed between 80 and 100 people in their 25-acre nursery at Pield Heath. (fn. 46) At this date there were still patches of agricultural land north of Hercies Road and east of Hillingdon Circus.
Although there are references to mills in Hillingdon during all documented periods, the information is so fragmentary that many of the mills are unidentifiable, while others have more than one name. Hence it is seldom possible to say with certainty that a medieval mill remained in continuous use until the 19th century or later. In 1086 there were 2½ mills in Colham manor. (fn. 47) Presumably the third mill was driven by the main stream of the Colne, in which case the other half probably belonged to a manor on the Buckinghamshire bank. (fn. 48) The two other Domesday mills, however, were probably on the southern extension of the Frays river, known variously as the Cowley stream or Colham mill stream. During the medieval period the two mills belonging to Colham were called Port mill and Bury mill: (fn. 49) later they were known as Colham or Lower Colham mill and Yiewsley mill respectively. In the 19th century, and presumably earlier, Colham mill stood less than ½ mile west of Colham manor-house and about 1½ mile downstream from Yiewsley mill. (fn. 50) In 1265 Godfrey de Heddesore (probably Hedsor, Bucks.) was said to hold three mills in Uxbridge, (fn. 51) and in 1327 three water-mills called Crouch mill, Wode mill, and Town mill were included in an extent of Cowley Hall manor. (fn. 52) There was a windmill belonging to Colham manor in 1328 (fn. 53) and at least from the late 14th century the lord of Colham owned, in addition to his two mills south of Uxbridge, two watermills under one roof in the town. (fn. 54) A mill called Mede mill, also belonging to the lord of Colham, is first mentioned by name in 1409 when it was apparently horsepowered. (fn. 55) A wharf for Mede mill was being constructed in 1419 and thereafter it is described as a water-mill. (fn. 56)
In the 1530s there were two mills, one driven by the Frays and the other by the Colne, near the Oxford road at the west end of Uxbridge. (fn. 57) In the 17th century a water-mill at Uxbridge belonged to Stanwell manor, (fn. 58) and two unidentified mills at Hillingdon were included in grants of Swakeleys manor in Ickenham. (fn. 59) In the 18th century, and possibly earlier, one or more of the Uxbridge mills were possibly used for paper-making. (fn. 60) Town (later Frays or Mercer's) mill on the Frays at the west end of Uxbridge and Crouch mill, presumably identifiable with the two 14th-century mills of the same name, (fn. 61) were again mentioned in 1636 (fn. 62) and 1649 (fn. 63) respectively. In 1649 Crouch mill and the adjoining millhouse were leased to Samuel Bonsey, a London mealman. Rabbs or Robbs mill (later Cowley mill), sited on the Frays stream at the junction of Cowley Road and the modern Cowley Mill Road, is first mentioned by name in 1636 (fn. 64) although it had almost certainly been in existence since the Middle Ages. Cowley Hall mill on the Frays west of Cowley Hall, although not mentioned by name until 1733, (fn. 65) is shown on a map of 1641. (fn. 66) By this date the Frays river powered at least five mills-Town or Frays mill, Rabbs mill, Cowley Hall mill, Yiewsley mill, and Colham mill-and before 1746 another mill on an arm of the Colne west of Uxbridge had apparently been built. (fn. 67) The demesne mill at Colham was separated from the manor in 1771 and sold to John Hubbard, a mealman, members of whose family had leased the mill and an adjoining close called Wharf Mead as early as 1690. (fn. 68) Hubbard's son John, Rector of Shepperton, owned Colham mill in 1800, (fn. 69) but by 1842 it had been acquired by the firm of Thomas Smith and Son. (fn. 70)
There were said to be 13 corn mills in the neighbourhood of Uxbridge during the 1840s, (fn. 71) but the location of some of these is uncertain. A map of 1842 shows eight corn mills on the Hillingdon stretch of the rivers. (fn. 72) Of these three were in Uxbridge, including Frays mill then in the possession of John Mercer, members of whose family had probably owned this mill and Drayton mill in West Drayton parish since about 1796. (fn. 73) In addition to the four ancient mills on the Frays stream a mill called Upper Colham mill, probably identifiable with the mill marked on a map of 1746, (fn. 74) is shown on the Colne west of Uxbridge. (fn. 75) Cowley Hall mill and an unidentified mill called Kelsey's were burned down in 1864 and 1873 respectively, (fn. 76) but Cowley Hall mill had been rebuilt before 1895 when it was one of four flour mills still standing on the Frays south of Uxbridge. (fn. 77) The mill on the Colne west of the town was purchased by the Bell Punch Co. in 1919 and incorporated in their industrial premises. (fn. 78) By 1934 only Rabbs or Cowley mill and Frays mill in Uxbridge were still certainly standing. (fn. 79) Rabbs mill was acquired by the local authority from Grimsdale and Sons, the Uxbridge brewers, in 1949. (fn. 80) Frays mill was modernized at the beginning of the 20th century and remained in use as a flour mill until the Second World War. In 1954 the buildings were bought from the millers E. and J. Fountain by Glaxo Ltd. and later converted into a training centre. (fn. 81)
Apart from milling there is no evidence of any industry in rural Hillingdon before the opening of the Middlesex section of the Grand Junction Canal at the end of the 18th century. The establishment of facilities for bulk transport stimulated the exploitation of brickearth deposits in the south of the parish. Brick-making on a commercial scale probably began shortly after 1815 with the opening of small fields between Cowley Hall and Yiewsley. (fn. 82) In 1818 'several hundred' men were employed in the brick-fields south of Uxbridge. (fn. 83) In 1832 45 a. of Philpots Bridge Farm, 44 a. of Colham Manor Farm, and 22 a. in Pole Sturges meadow were leased for brick-working, and by 1836 a number of cottages for labourers in the brick-fields had been built south of the canal. (fn. 84) The extensive Hillingdon brick-field was said in 1853 to be a source of great wealth to Uxbridge. (fn. 85) By 1856 more than 240 a. in Hillingdon, including 100 a. of the rectorial glebe south of Colham Green leased to Samuel Pocock, were being worked for brickearth. All brick-field lessees paid a royalty on every thousand bricks and two tenants, as a condition of their lease of a total of 58 a., undertook to produce between them at least 5 million bricks a year. (fn. 86) By 1866 smaller brick-fields had been opened north-west of Colham Green and south of Uxbridge. (fn. 87) Eight years later, however, deposits near Uxbridge were said to have been exhausted. (fn. 88) In 1872 Samuel Pocock extended his Hillingdon brick-field southward into West Drayton parish, and between 1876 and 1879 he constructed a dock on a branch of the canal to serve the extended field. (fn. 89) Pocock had six stools in Hillingdon in 1877, when the bricks from the whole field were being fired in Hillingdon. (fn. 90) In 1884 Pocock conveyed his interests to C. B. Broad and G. Harris, of South Wharf, Paddington, and the field continued to be leased by Broad & Co. until 1935, when the company bought the freehold. The company's land included, as well as the West Drayton field, about 100 a. in Hillingdon parish. (fn. 91) At its peak, about 1890, Broad's brick-field was working 18 to 20 stools and gave seasonal employment to between 400 and 500 men. (fn. 92) At this period gravel associated with the brickearth deposits was also being extracted west of Starveall Lane and in the extreme south-east of the parish. (fn. 93) The Hillingdon brickearth was becoming worked out at the beginning of the 20th century and the Stockley brickworks began to decline. Brickearth was still being extracted from Hide Field in 1913, but processing was apparently carried out only at the Stockley works in the north-east corner of West Drayton parish. (fn. 94) By 1930 the Stockley works were producing only 2 million bricks a year, and the brick-field was closed in 1935. (fn. 95)
A number of other industries, about which little is known, were established during the 19th century along the canal in south and west Hillingdon. The Victoria oil mills on the canal at Yiewsley were in existence before 1855. By 1886 the works were occupied by Graham Walter & Co., a firm of oil cake manufacturers, who continued production there until about 1900. (fn. 96) The Hillingdon Varnish Works on the canal east of Yiewsley had been established by 1868, (fn. 97) and was still operating in 1895 (fn. 98) when the chief industries of the Yiewsley area were described as brick-making, milling, tanning, rubber, varnish, and chemical works. (fn. 99) The Para rubber mill (established before 1898) (fn. 100) was sited on the canal north of Yiewsley, and a coconut fibre mill, which was converted to a leather works before 1913, stood north of Cowley Bridge. (fn. 101) The varnish and rubber factories were still operating in 1913. (fn. 102) An unidentified chemical works on the east side of Horton Lane which is shown on a map of 1864 (fn. 103) was occupied in 1874 by Thomas Reynolds and Alfred White, manufacturing chemists. From 1890 the premises were described as the chemical works of Alfred White and Sons. The factory ceased production between 1910 (fn. 104) and 1915 when the premises were opened by the Queen of Roumania as the Sonic engineering works. Here George Constantinescu (1881-1965), also a Roumanian, conducted experiments on his wave transmission system of interrupter gear for machine guns firing through the propellers of aircraft. (fn. 105) The premises were taken over in 1920 by the Admiralty for use as an engineering laboratory specializing in experimental work for the Navy. Stores, offices, and canteen buildings were added after 1920 and the number of persons employed on the site increased from 150 in 1920 to 350 in 1958. (fn. 106) Land formerly owned by St. Thomas's Hospital (fn. 107) was acquired in 1921 by two industrial concerns called Lactine Ltd. and Hobdellway & Co. Ltd., whose premises were purchased in 1928 by the Kenilworth Chemical Manufacturing Co. and the English Metal Powder Co. The English Metal Powder Co., producing flake and atomized aluminium powders and aluminium pastes, began operations on the site in 1932. In 1965 the firm employed approximately 80 persons. The premises in Trout Road originally occupied by the Metal Powder and Kenilworth companies were taken over after 1935 by the Middlesex Oil and Chemical Works Ltd., an associate company manufacturing oils, petroleum jellies, and resins. The Kenilworth and Metal Powder companies then moved to an adjoining site in Trout Road. In 1965 the Middlesex Oil and Chemical Works employed approximately 100 persons. (fn. 108) A large number of smaller industries, chiefly engaged in manufacturing chemicals, plastics, and engineering components, were established at Yiewsley, and particularly in Trout Road, after 1930. By 1960 there were more than forty such concerns in the area. (fn. 109) Among these was the factory of Bux Ltd. (formerly the Buckinghamshire Paper and Box Co. Ltd.) which was established in Bentinck Road in 1942 and later moved to a 6-acre site in Horton Road. In 1965 the company, which manufactured fibreboard corrugated containers, employed approximately 150 people. (fn. 110) The coachbuilding firm of James Whitson & Co. moved into premises in High Street, Yiewsley, in 1952. The firm then manufactured chiefly coaches and fire engines and employed approximately 350 people. By 1965, however, the demand for luxury coaches had declined and the firm employed only about 50 people in manufacturing glass fibre components for commercial vehicles. (fn. 111) Further north, at Cowley, the Cowley Bridge works of Cape Building Products Ltd. was erected in 1935. Initially the factory produced flint bricks only, but in 1949 the company also began to manufacture asbestos insulation boards. In 1963 the factory had a labour force of approximately 550 persons, said to be drawn from an area within an 8-mile radius of Cowley. (fn. 112)
Uxbridge emerged as the economic focus of the ancient parish in the late 12th century when Gilbert Basset granted the right to hold a Thursday market in the town to the 'burgesses' of Uxbridge. (fn. 113) Basset's grant also provided that holders of one acre in the town should be free from all tolls and customs on payment of 2s. a year, that ½-acre holders should have the same privileges in consideration of 1s. a year, and that both classes of tenant should have the right to alienate their holdings at will. By 1281 the town also had an annual fair held on St. Margaret's day (20 July). (fn. 114) The right to hold a second annual fair at Michaelmas and a Monday market was granted to the lord of Colham in 1294. (fn. 115) Until the 19th century the importance of Uxbridge rested almost wholly on its markets, fairs, and mills. A market-house seems to have been built by 1513, (fn. 116) and the importance of the Uxbridge mills and markets was stressed by Leland, writing in the 1530s. (fn. 117) By the late 16th century the town was a market and milling centre for a wide area extending into Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. (fn. 118) Despite disputes over the right to dispose of the market tolls, (fn. 119) the Uxbridge corn market and flour mills seem to have retained their importance during the 17th and 18th centuries. The market-house was rebuilt in 1789, (fn. 120) and the corn trade was further stimulated by the opening of the Middlesex section of the Grand Junction Canal in 1796. (fn. 121) In 1799 almost 10,000 tons of grain and flour were carried on the canal between Uxbridge and the Thames. (fn. 122) The Thursday market was then said to be one of the largest pitched corn markets in the country, the market tolls realized more than £400 a year, and the town 'abounded' with mealmen and corn merchants. (fn. 123) About 1830 corn was brought to the Uxbridge market from places as far distant as Edgware and Hendon to the east, Staines, Hampton, and Kingston (Surr.) to the south, and Amersham, Missenden (Bucks.), and Chinnor (Oxon.) to the west. (fn. 124) On a good day more than 2,700 sacks of corn were sold, almost all of which was milled at Uxbridge. Street markets associated with the Thursday corn market and a market held on Saturdays sold fruit, vegetables, meat, and a variety of consumer goods. The corn market and mills began to decline about 1840 with the transfer to market-gardening, meadow, and brick-working of large areas of corn-growing land. The Uxbridge Corn Exchange Co. was instituted in 1859, and sale by sample superseded the old method of sale in bulk. (fn. 125) The Thursday street market also declined but in 1883 the corn and flour trade was still described as the staple business of Uxbridge. (fn. 126) In 1890, when there was still some street trading, the Thursday and Saturday markets were said to deal in corn, provisions, meat, vegetables, old clothes, and 'other petty commodities'. (fn. 127) By this date annual fairs, said in 1839 (fn. 128) to be held on 25 March, 31 July, 29 September, and 11 October, had been discontinued. (fn. 129)
Although the commercial life of Uxbridge centred on the corn and flour trade, a number of minor industries existed in the town before 1800. Brewing seems to have been an important industry by the 14th century. (fn. 130) Uxbridge beer-brewers and breweries, presumably supplying the many inns and beerhouses in the town, are mentioned at all later periods. (fn. 131) In the 1580s Camden commented on the large number of inns in the town, (fn. 132) and with the increase in traffic on the London-Oxford road stabling and victualling became an important local industry. By 1648 there were approximately twenty inns in Uxbridge, (fn. 133) and a hundred years later nearly forty licensed alehouses in and around the town. (fn. 134) In 1853 there were 54 public houses, beerhouses, and inns in Uxbridge. (fn. 135) The first commercial brewery was apparently established in the early 18th century by George Harman (d. 1744). (fn. 136) Norton's brewery, which is said to have been established about 1750, (fn. 137) is shown on a late-18th-century plan at the north end of High Street, (fn. 138) and the brewing firm of G. B. Hetherington had premises in the town before 1847. (fn. 139) There were 4 breweries in Uxbridge in 1851, (fn. 140) 5 in 1869, but only 3 by 1909. (fn. 141) Of these the last, Harman's Uxbridge Brewery Ltd., was closed in 1964.
A tannery in Uxbridge is mentioned in 1672, (fn. 142) and one of the town mills may have been converted for paper-making by Joseph Grainger about 1793. (fn. 143) An establishment at Hillingdon End manufacturing Windsor chairs was in existence before 1800, (fn. 144) and a small firm manufacturing cutlery was established in High Street in 1798. (fn. 145) The opening of the Grand Junction Canal in 1796 (fn. 146) not only revitalized the Uxbridge milling industry but also opened up the town and parish to industrial development. By 1814 a plate-glass mill had been established on the site of the old waterworks just north of Dolphin Bridge, (fn. 147) and between 1830 and 1850 a number of industrial premises, including a gas-works, (fn. 148) parchment works, oil mills, and mustard mills, were erected near the canal on Uxbridge Moor. (fn. 149) Extensive wharves were built along the canal on Uxbridge Moor and at the west end of Uxbridge. In 1851 the town was said to derive much of its importance from the redistribution of foreign timber, slate, and coal to west Middlesex and Buckinghamshire. Facilities for bulk transport also resulted in the establishment of several iron foundries in the town. (fn. 150) The firm of Grainge, Rogers, and Grainge occupied premises off High Street from 1800, (fn. 151) and the Uxbridge Iron Works of Stacey and Son were erected in George Street in the 1820s. Stacey's foundry employed about 50 men, whose families were housed in Foundry Terrace, York Road (demolished in 1935). (fn. 152) In 1853 both firms were described as agricultural implement makers. (fn. 153) A third foundry, the Albert Iron Works, had been built in Falcon Yard, east of Harefield Road, by 1894. (fn. 154) At this date the Uxbridge Iron Works, which has been sold in 1889, was still standing, but the factory is said to have been burned down before 1900. (fn. 155) Other 19th-century industries included the coach-making firm of Edward Hood, which was established in High Street about 1829 and moved to premises in Windsor Street shortly after 1840. (fn. 156) By 1853 a second coach-building firm had been established in High Street. (fn. 157) The firm of Brownie, rickcloth and rope manufacturers, was established by 1830 and served both King William IV and Queen Victoria. (fn. 158) In 1868 the smell from Hetherington's tallow factory was causing discomfort in the town. (fn. 159) By 1880 two firms manufacturing clocks and watches and a branch of J. A. Harling & Co., a London firm of piano makers, had been set up in Uxbridge. (fn. 160) Boat-building yards in Waterloo Road are first mentioned in 1881, (fn. 161) and saw- and planing-mills two years later. (fn. 162) A factory in Waterloo Road manufacturing steel barrels opened about 1898. In c. 1905 the concern, then known as the Steel Barrel Co., employed between 40 and 50 men. (fn. 163)
After the First World War a number of industries moved to Uxbridge from the metropolitan area. The largest of these was the Bell Punch Co. (established 1878) which in 1919 moved from premises in the City of London to the site of an old mill on an arm of the Colne west of Uxbridge. In 1963 the firm, which manufactured ticket machines, taximeters, and other technical instruments, employed approximately 1,500 persons in workshops covering 8 a. (fn. 164) Other industrial building was concentrated on a 26-acre industrial estate between the canal and the Colne which was opened by the local authority in 1946. (fn. 165) An industrial trading estate association was formed in 1958, and by 1964 the estate comprised more than 50 companies, most of which were general or light engineering concerns specializing in the manufacture of component parts. (fn. 166) The average labour force in most of the factories was between 50 and 80 in 1963, but several larger concerns employed more than 200 persons. F. T. Products Ltd. was established in Rockingham Road in 1949 to manufacture components for the motor industry. Additional premises in Wallingford Road were opened in 1956, and in 1963 the company employed 315 persons. (fn. 167) A chemical engineering firm, Nordac Ltd., moved from a factory at Park Royal, Acton, to premises in Wallingford Road in 1950. By 1963 the factory area was approximately 41,000 sq. ft. and the firm had a labour force of 240. (fn. 168)
Social activity during the 16th and 17th centuries seems to have centred on the efforts of the inhabitants of Uxbridge to enforce and extend their customary privileges. A fatal quarrel between town and manorial officials occurred in the early 16th century, (fn. 169) and in 1561 the Vicar of Hillingdon and 17 others were indicted for breaking down fences on Cow Moor in Harefield on which Uxbridge burgage tenants claimed rights of common pasture. (fn. 170) About 1630 the townspeople engaged in a further dispute, this time with Alice, Dowager Countess of Derby, lady of Harefield and Colham manors, over her right to collect and dispose of the Uxbridge market tolls. (fn. 171) Although these profits belonged to the lords of Colham it had apparently been customary for the lord to allow the bailiffs of Uxbridge to collect the tolls for distribution for 'public and charitable purposes'. In 1631 the Countess accused the bailiffs of appropriating the tolls for their own benefit and declared her intention of distributing them herself. Her right to do so was disputed by the town authorities who, in answer to a writ of quo warranto, claimed that Uxbridge was an ancient borough and corporation of 73 burgesses holding the tolls by ancient privilege. Their claim was rejected, and the townspeople then created a series of disturbances and prevented the collection of the tolls. The Countess referred the matter to Star Chamber which in 1633 rejected the townspeople's interpretation of the 12th-century market grant (fn. 172) and fined them £200. They then petitioned the Countess for the remission of the fine and relinquished their claim to the market tolls. In 1652, however, George, Lord Chandos, a Royalist sympathizer, who had succeeded his grandmother as lord of Colham, left the country, (fn. 173) and the townspeople again appropriated the tolls. An action for restitution was brought against the town authorities in 1665 and seven years later the case again came before the courts. Nothing further is recorded until a settlement was reached in 1695 with the sale of the manor and profits to representatives of the town. (fn. 174) Burgage tenants continued to exercise their customary pasture rights on the Colham waste and on Cow Moor in Harefield until the 19th century. (fn. 175) Their pasture rights in Colham were extinguished on the inclosure of the commons in 1812, and under the Harefield Inclosure Act of 1813 they were allotted 32 a. in Harefield in lieu of their customary rights. (fn. 176) Despite protests from the burgage tenants this land was sold by the lords in trust in 1856 under powers conferred by an Act passed in 1855. (fn. 177)
Further details of the social life of Hillingdon during this period are confined to the activities of Parliamentary soldiers, (fn. 178) who garrisoned Uxbridge almost continuously between 1644 and 1651. (fn. 179) In 1688 disbanded soldiers from James II's army were said to be concentrated around Uxbridge and to be responsible for assaults, murders, and arson in the district. (fn. 180) Four years later additional watches were mounted in Cowley Street and at the 'Red Lion', Hillingdon, to combat the increasing number of larcenies. (fn. 181) The activities of highwaymen and smugglers in the Uxbridge area were frequently reported in the early 18th century, (fn. 182) and it was later said that in the 1750s notorious highwaymen lived openly in the town while travellers made a detour to avoid its thieves and pickpockets. (fn. 183)
The economic developments which followed the opening of the Grand Junction Canal in 1796 were accompanied by a significant expansion in the commercial and social facilities of Uxbridge. The Uxbridge universal tontine was established in 1791, (fn. 184) and the first meeting of freemasons was held at the 'Crown' in 1796. (fn. 185) By 1836 two freemasons' lodges had been established in Uxbridge. (fn. 186) A bank, occupying premises on the west side of High Street, was founded in 1791 by members of the milling families of Norton and Mercer. A sub-branch at Southall was established as early as 1879, and by 1900, when it was taken over by Barclays & Co., the bank had branches at Pinner, Northwood, Brentford, Slough, Eton, and Windsor. (fn. 187) A printing press was set up in Uxbridge by Thomas Lake about 1770, (fn. 188) and by 1824 a second press was operating at Hillingdon End. (fn. 189) During the 1820s Lake's press published literature attacking the local administration, (fn. 190) but the town does not seem to have had a regular newspaper until the publication at Amersham (Bucks.) about 1840 of Broadwater's Buckinghamshire Advertiser and Uxbridge Journal (after 1853 called the Buckinghamshire Advertiser). By 1870 the town had two further newspapers, the Uxbridge Chronicle and Hetherington's Uxbridge Marvel. (fn. 191) In 1880 the Uxbridge firm of John King began to print the Uxbridge Gazette. From 1860 the Buckinghamshire Advertiser was printed in offices in the King's Arms yard, Uxbridge. The paper was taken over in 1903 by W. J. Hutchings (d. 1917) who had also established a printing works in High Street in 1880, and the two newspapers continued in competition until 1916 when the King family bought the Advertiser. The two firms of King and Hutchings amalgamated in 1919, and the combined business subsequently acquired and published a number of local and county newspapers. The firm was acquired by the Westminster Press group in 1955. In 1965 the Uxbridge premises in Cricket Field Road comprised a newspaper and general printing works employing more than 500 persons. (fn. 192)
Cultural activities in Uxbridge flourished in the early 19th century. The Uxbridge Book Society, which provided a lending library and reading room, was founded in 1811 with a limited membership of 60. On the creation in 1836 of the Literary and Scientific Institution, the Book Society was dissolved and its books transferred to the library of the new institution. (fn. 193) A savings bank was instituted in 1816 by a group of philanthropic townspeople, (fn. 194) and a friendly society in the following year. (fn. 195) Public rooms in Vine Street were opened in 1837, and the Theatre Royal in Windsor Street, said to have been opened by Edmund Keane, the actor, was in use by 1839. (fn. 196) The town was then said to have the 'appearance of activity and great respectability'. (fn. 197) A second theatre, the Prince of Wales, had opened by 1849 (fn. 198) and other dramatic entertainments were staged in the public rooms and in the magistrates' room at the 'King's Arms'. (fn. 199) A building society had been formed by 1845 and a young men's improvement society by 1847. From about 1847 the improvement society published a literary journal, the Attempt, which lasted until 1853. It overlapped with the Uxbridge Pioneer, which first appeared in 1849. The improvement society was still in existence in 1899 as the Uxbridge Young Men's Literary Institute. (fn. 200) The Uxbridge branch of the Conservative Association was formed in 1870. (fn. 201)
Stags were hunted on Uxbridge Common as late as 1826 and Her Majesty's Staghounds met at Hillingdon until 1879. Cock fights were held at Hillingdon until at least as late as 1839. (fn. 202) During the 19th century Uxbridge C.C., founded in 1789, played matches against important national teams on the club's ground in the modern Cricket Field Road. (fn. 203) Hillingdon C.C., playing on Coney Green, was in existence before 1865. (fn. 204) The Uxbridge amateur football club was formed in 1870, and has since played in many leagues and on various grounds in the town. (fn. 205) Hillingdon Golf Club was instituted in 1892 and a nine-hole course was laid out over 23 a. of Hillingdon House park. (fn. 206)
A military association for the Uxbridge division of Elthorne hundred was formed at Uxbridge in 1797. (fn. 207) The force, styled the Uxbridge Yeomanry Cavalry, consisted of two troops of horse which exercised and had their field days on Uxbridge Common. The troop founded in 1797 was disbanded four years later, but in 1830 a corps of 98 yeomanry cavalry was again raised at Uxbridge to meet the threat of agrarian discontent in the district. From about 1840 an annual race-meeting in connexion with the Uxbridge Yeomanry was held at Harefield Place, on Harefield Moor, and, later, at West Drayton. More than 10,000 people were said to have attended the 1846 meeting. In 1871 the strength of the volunteer corps was increased to four troops and the style changed to the Middlesex Yeomanry Cavalry. The 'Chequers' at Uxbridge, however, remained the headquarters of the corps until 1878 when the headquarters were moved to London. There were then said to be no more than five Uxbridge men in the regiment, and its subsequent history is that of a county rather than a local force.
The proliferation of cultural facilities in Uxbridge in the early 19th century contrasted strongly with social conditions in the town and parish during the same period. Complaints in 1828 drew attention to the declining reputation of Uxbridge. Increasing poverty in the town was attributed mainly to the erection by private speculators of large numbers of insanitary cottages. Prostitutes were said to be on the increase, and the opening of shops on Sunday mornings was also criticized. (fn. 208) Although criticism was probably exaggerated, the extinction of common grazing rights and changes in land utilization following inclosure in 1825, the introduction of industry into the parish, and the presence of labourers working in the brick-fields probably aggravated prevailing hardship. Unrest west of the Colne, where bands of 'swing rioters' were destroying machinery, farm implements, and ricks, resulted in the re-formation in December 1830 of the Uxbridge Yeomanry Cavalry to protect private property. (fn. 209) In Uxbridge town a vestry committee headed by the Vicar of Hillingdon was formed to suppress Sunday business and disturbances caused by drunken brick-field and railway workers. (fn. 210) In 1841 there were said to be 146 seasonal labourers living in barns in Hillingdon and population increases since 1831 were largely attributed to the influx of brick-workers. (fn. 211) In the later 19th century urbanization, stimulated by the introduction of trams and railways, proceeded steadily. In 1904 the surveyors of the Hillingdon House estate considered that the development of 'smaller class property on the main road frontage' would inevitably follow the laying of the tramway. (fn. 212) Extensive speculative and council building during the 1920s accompanied the sharp rise in the population of Hillingdon, although the number of people living in Uxbridge had already started to decline. (fn. 213)
Despite the large-scale urbanization of rural Hillingdon after 1900 Uxbridge maintained its position as the economic and social focus of the parish. In 1964 the town, despite uncertainty over redevelopment plans, was a business and transport centre for north-west Middlesex and part of east Buckinghamshire. (fn. 214) Shops and industries in and around Uxbridge provided employment for a considerable part of the population of Hillingdon and adjoining parishes, and the location in the town of the branch offices of several government taxation and welfare departments further emphasized its wider importance. Local trade and industry also contributed significantly to the social life of the district by providing clubs and associations for sport and cultural activities. The Uxbridge chamber of trade and commerce (formed in 1908) had 265 members in 1963, (fn. 215) and a second chamber of commerce for the north Hillingdon district was formed in 1936. (fn. 216) In 1964 there were also several traders' organizations, a trades' council, two residents' associations, and exservice, political, trade union, and youth organizations. A room in the county library was furnished as a museum, which was named after H. T. Hamson, for many years editor of the Middlesex Advertiser and a prominent benefactor of the museum. (fn. 217) A local history society was formed in 1949, and by 1964 the parish also supported opera, music, and drama societies. An Uxbridge festival of arts mounted in 1963 staged exhibitions of painting, books, and handicrafts, plays, and operatic and music recitals by international artists in the Regal cinema. (fn. 218) In 1962 the thirty-seventh annual Uxbridge Show, held on the show ground in Park Road, attracted approximately 10,000 people. (fn. 219)