The settlement of Northolt is mentioned in the Domesday Book as being held by Geoffrey de Mandeville, and archaeological evidence suggests that there was a Saxon village at the location from the 8th century onwards.
From medieval times through to late Victorian times, the area was rural with predominantly arable crops being grown. In the early part of the 18th century farmland was enclosed in order to provide hay for the City of London, alongside more traditional crops such as peas and beans. A barn constructed in the area in 1595 can now be seen in the Chiltern Open Air Museum. A 14th century moated manor existed behind the present Court Farm Road and was excavated from 1950 onwards.
Northolt remained a rural, agricultural area throughout the 19th century. Its population growth remained slow:
The rapid growth of the population of the area during the mid part of the 20th century can be attributed to Northolt's growth as a dormitory town for nearby Ealing and the construction of the A40 road through the area in 1935. Modern family homes were built in the 1920s and 1930s, although by the 1950s and 1960s the housing being constructed was predominantly local authority rented housing. 3,423 council houses had been built in Northolt by 1963. Northolt tube station was opened in 1948 to serve the growing population of the area. Northolt is diverse in the fact that it has fairly wealthy areas such as Northolt Village and Wood End including areas up to Sudbury Hill and South Harrow and poorer areas such as Racecourse Estates, Grange Court and Rectory Park.
Most of the housing north of the Western Avenue was built in the 1920s-1930s and is in the private housing sector, while most of the housing built to the south of the Western Avenue was built in the 1960s-1970s and is in the public/social housing sectors, particularly along the Kensington and Ruislip Roads. In the 21st century, a new large private housing development was built on the former site of the Taylor Woodrow company, adjacent to the Grand Union Canal. This development is known as "Grand Union Village" and incorporates a new canal boat marina. The former old village centre still survives and on viewing St Mary's church from the village green, one could believe that one was still in a rural village. The population mainly consists of young people and growing families. The younger people are racially diverse. Areas to the north of the Western Avenue which incorporate many bungalows tend to have an older population.
Northolt does not have a recognised centre, and is made up of mainly residential areas with very few facilities and as a consequence there is very little community cohesiveness. There is a village community centre building in Ealing Road opposite St Mary's church, which incorporates an open air miniature railway.
Northolt was famous for the pony racing which took place in Northolt Park. A one and a half mile racecourse was constructed by Sir William Bass and Viscount Lascelles, and opened in 1929 by the Earl of Harewood and his wife the Princess Royal. During World War II the land was taken over and used as an army depot and prisoner of war camp. Despite numerous attempts to revive pony racing after the war , the land was given over to housing construction. The Racecourse Estate was constructed between 1951 and 1955 in order to solve a severe housing shortage within the Borough. The gates of the original racecourse still remain in Petts Hill, and a section of the track can be observed as a long, flat stretch of land alongside Mandeville Road.
The Royal Air Force station of RAF Northolt is not named after the town. It is situated in the neighbouring town of Ruislip in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Most early RAF airfields were named after the nearest railway station, in this case Northolt Junction (now South Ruislip).
Northolt is made up of two electoral wards (Northolt Mandeville and Northolt West End), which both elect councillors to Ealing Council. Since the 2002 local elections both the Conservatives and the Labour have had an equal number of councillors — three Conservatives in Mandeville, three Labour in West End ward.
Ealing Council is currently run by a Conservative administration since its landslide victory in the 2006 local elections in which it gained an extra 20 seats giving it a majority of five. In July 2007, the Conservative majority increased to 15 when 5 Southall Labour Councillors defected to the Conservatives on Ealing Council. In May 2008, the Conservatives majority increased once again after winning a by-election in Greenford Broadway after the resignation of Labour Leader Sonika Nirwal.
Political status on Ealing Council:
The faux-documentary called Ghostwatch that aired on Halloween in 1992 was filmed in Northolt and sent a nation in to a panic, Ghostwatch is the tale of a single mother being haunted in her Northolt home by a mysterious figure called "pipes". Events appear to be fabricated by the family when BBC reporters investigate, but then all hell breaks loose in a heart-stopping finale.
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