Kingsbury: Social life

Pages 78-80

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.



Although Kingsbury was heavily wooded, little evidence remains of early hunting beyond the maintenance of dogs and horses by Geoffrey le Scrope in 1325. (fn. 1) Hunting and hawking rights formed part of the appurtenances of Kingsbury and Freren manors which were sometimes leased out with the rest of the estate. (fn. 2) In 1713 the lessee, James Brydges, later duke of Chandos, was given the formal title of gamekeeper by All Souls College. (fn. 3) Much later, a drag hunt met at Bacon Lane. (fn. 4) Free fishing in the Brent formed an appurtenance of Coffers manor (fn. 5) and apparently passed to the Regents Canal Co., which leased it out, together with rights of fowling and shooting, in 1844. (fn. 6)

Before the 19th century recreation was virtually confined to the inns. One in nine houses in 18thcentury Kingsbury was an inn. The King's Arms in Edgware Road may have existed in the early 17th century (fn. 7) and the Old or Lower King's Arms at the Hyde, although not mentioned by name until 1698, (fn. 8) was probably even earlier. Other early inns were the Plough at Kingsbury Green (1748) (fn. 9) and the Black Horse (1711) (fn. 10) and two Chequers inns (1751), (fn. 11) whose sites are unknown. The Old King's Arms ceased to be an inn between 1803 and 1851. (fn. 12) The New King's Arms passed by 1785 into the hands of Thomas Clutterbuck, (fn. 13) whose family owned most of the local inns in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and was rebuilt further north before 1914. (fn. 14) The old Plough, a weatherboarded building with a tiled roof, was demolished in 1932 and replaced by the present building. (fn. 15) The Black Horse and the two Chequers inns had disappeared by 1803 (fn. 16) but the Red Lion on the corner between Edgware Road and Kingsbury Road had probably opened by 1839. (fn. 17) It was rebuilt in 1931. (fn. 18) Three more inns or beerhouses had been opened by 1851: (fn. 19) the Green Man at Pipers Green, rebuilt in 1931, (fn. 20) and the Two Poplars and the Boot, both at the Hyde and both still there in 1901. (fn. 21)

Kingsbury's proximity to London and its association with horsedealers (fn. 22) made it an ideal place for horse-racing. Kingsbury races, which flourished from 1870 until their suppression in 1878, were held near Bush Farm until 1873 and then on land leased by William Perkins Warner, who was also the proprietor of the Old Welsh Harp. The races, which were held five times a year, attracted 'thousands of the scum of London', were denounced as a carnival of vice, and were said to have caused several families to leave the district. (fn. 23) Greyhound racing, said to be taking place at Hill farm in 1928, was defended as private, for 'the training and convalescence of dogs'. (fn. 24) The connexion of the district with horses may also account for the presence of three polo grounds, one on each side of Bacon Lane and one north of Forty Lane, in 1914. (fn. 25) At the same date there was a shooting ground in south-east Kingsbury, (fn. 26) probably identifiable with the practice-grounds on Blackbird farm which were used by the Metropolitan School of Shooting in 1907. (fn. 27)

The growth of the aircraft industry led to the opening of the London and Provincial Flying School at Stag Lane, where pilots were trained during the First World War. In 1923 the London Aeroplane Club, under the auspices of de Havilland, took over the airfield in Stag Lane, where Amy Johnson learnt to fly and where the National Aviation Display took place in 1932. (fn. 28) During the 19th and early 20th centuries Kingsbury, a picturesquely rural district a short distance from London, attracted many walkers (fn. 29) and cyclists, and the Plough inn was once the headquarters of 13 cycling clubs. It was at the Plough, too, that four Frenchmen and their three performing bears used to stay. (fn. 30)

Kingsbury cricket club was founded in 1828 and used a field in Townsend Lane, (fn. 31) possibly the field adjoining Kingsbury House which was called the Cricket Field in 1882, (fn. 32) or Silver Jubilee park. Townsend cricket club, probably a descendant of the earlier club, existed by 1928. (fn. 33) Sporting clubs multiplied with suburban building and the opening of factories. Phoenix Telephone & Electric Co. had a social and athletic club by 1918. (fn. 34) There was a winter tennis club by 1923 (fn. 35) and a tennis club at Roe Green by 1925. (fn. 36) There were already four athletic grounds in south-west Kingsbury by 1914 (fn. 37) and many more by 1938, when most of Fryent open space was divided into sports grounds. (fn. 38) A large open-air swimming bath was opened in Kingsbury Road in 1939. (fn. 39) By 1948 there were two cricket clubs, two football clubs, and a swimming club. (fn. 40) The Kingsbury Community Association provided other sporting and dancing facilities during the 1950s. (fn. 41)

There was a literary and social club at the Hyde in 1900 (fn. 42) and a horticultural society by 1923. (fn. 43) Cinemas were built in the 1930s. There were two in Edgware Road: the Savoy, also called the Essoldo, which in 1970 was used for bingo and wrestling, and the Curzon, formerly the Odeon. The Essoldo at Queensbury was also, in 1970, used for bingo. The Odeon in Kingsbury Road, near Honeypot Lane, served western Kingsbury. (fn. 44)

The Kingsbury and Kenton News was founded as an edition of the Wembley News in 1930. (fn. 45)


  • 1. W.A.M. 27844.
  • 2. C 54/3556 no. 24; Bodl. MS. D.D. All Souls c79/26.
  • 3. M.R.O., Acc. 262/27 pt. 1.
  • 4. Phoenix, 1960. The names Stag and Buck Lane, sometimes cited as evidence of hunting, were comparatively late and derived from the near-by Bald Faced Stag inn.
  • 5. C.P. 25(2)/74/630/10; M.L.R. 1716/6/138.
  • 6. M.R.O., Acc. 526/32.
  • 7. Mdx. Cnty. Recs. ii. 323; Bodl. MS. D.D. All Souls c57/16.
  • 8. Bodl. MS. D.D. All Souls c57/25.
  • 9. Ibid. c245/34z.
  • 10. M.R.O., Acc. 262/29.
  • 11. M.R.O., L.V. 7/1.
  • 12. M.R.O., L.V. 10/113; H.O. 107/1700/135/2, ff. 310- 28.
  • 13. Bodl. MS. D.D. All Souls c245/34z.
  • 14. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. XI. 6 (1896 and 1914 edns.).
  • 15. Wemb. Hist. Soc., Acc. 907/107; Photo. Coll., Acc. 412/1; Acc. 906/51; Hendon Libr., Print L. 2490.
  • 16. M.R.O., L.V. 10/113.
  • 17. When the site was owned by Thos. Clutterbuck: M.R.O..TA/KIN.
  • 18. Wemb. Hist. Soc., Acc. 907/115.
  • 19. H.O. 107/1700/135/2, ff. 310-28; O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. XI. 5, 6 (1873 edn.).
  • 20. Wemb. Hist. Soc., Photo. Coll., Acc. 380/18.
  • 21. Kingsbury U.D.C., Wks. and Finance Cttee. Mins. (1900-2), 57.
  • 22. See p. 75.
  • 23. The Times, 29 Jan. 1877, 11 Jan. 1878; Church Com., file 51708; Wemb. Hist. Soc., Acc. 700; Kelly's Dir. Lond. (1872), 142.
  • 24. Kingsbury U.D.C., Min. Bk. (1926-9), 303.
  • 25. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. XI. 5, 9 (1914 edn.).
  • 26. Ibid. 10.
  • 27. Kingsbury U.D.C., Min. Bk. (1903-15), 180.
  • 28. J. Hopkins, Hist. of Hendon, 85; C. M. Sharp, D. H. An Outline of de Havilland Hist. 72, 78, 80, 96.
  • 29. H. J. Foley, Our Lanes and Meadow Paths, 34-43.
  • 30. Wemb. Hist. Soc., Photo. Coll., Acc. 906/51.
  • 31. Wemb. Hist. Soc., Acc. 637/16.
  • 32. Bodl. MS. D.D. All Souls c51, pp. 37-38.
  • 33. Kingsbury U.D.C., Min. Bk. (1926-9), 290.
  • 34. Ibid. (1915-22), 151.
  • 35. Ibid. (1922-6), 17.
  • 36. Ibid. 330.
  • 37. O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. XI 9, 13 (1914 edn.).
  • 38. Ibid. XL 5, 6, 9 (1932, 1935 and 1938 edns.).
  • 39. Wemb. Hist. Soc., Acc. 217.
  • 40. Wembley Dir. (1948 & 1949).
  • 41. Wemb. Hist. Soc., Acc. 336/1.
  • 42. Kelly's Dir. Lond. (1900), 276.
  • 43. Kingsbury U.D.C., Min. Bk. (1922-6), 6.
  • 44. Kelly's Dir. Wembley (1937); Wembley Dir. (1948 & 1949); O.S. Map 1/2,500, Mdx. XI. 1 (1938 edn.); Mdx. Local Hist. Council, Bulletin, xviii. 8, 16.
  • 45. Willing's Press Guide (1973).