Willesden is an area in North West London which forms part of the London Borough of Brent. It is situated 5 miles (8 km) north west of Charing Cross. The suburb has strong links to Ireland and has a sizable Irish population.
From the 14th to 16th centuries, the town was a place of pilgrimage due to the presence of two ancient statues of the Virgin Mary at the Church of St Mary. One of these statues is thought to be a Black Madonna, which was insulted by the Lollards and burnt in 1538.
World War 1 caused Willesden to change from a predominately Middle Class suburb to a Working Class part of London. After the war, Willesden grew rapidly as numerous factories opened up with numerous flats and houses. The local council encouraged building to prevent large unemployment and decline. To the present day, Willesden has been shaped by the patterns of migration which marks it out as one of the most diverse areas in the United Kingdom. City of London Corporation records show that the first black person recorded in Brent was Sarah Eco, who was christened in St. Mary’s church in Willesden on 15 September 1723. The 1901 census recorded that 42% of the population was born in London (Willesden only became a municipal borough in 1933). It is at this time that the area became predominantly working-class. A small Irish community had formed in Willesden by this time, which grew rapidly during the period of the Second World War. A small Jewish Community of refugees from Europe also formed during the war, with 3.5% of the population in 1951 born in Germany, Poland, Russia or Austria. During the war, Willesden suffered large damage due to the heavy concentration of industry, such as munition factories, and railways in the area.
The period from 1960 saw migrants settling from the Caribbean and the Indian Subcontinent. Since the 1960s, Willesden has been popular with young working holidaymakers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, although this popularity has declined somewhat in favour of other areas since about 2003.
Willesden went into a period of decline during the 1970s and 1980s as much of the housing was inadequate due to overcrowding as industry was mixed with housing. The whole of central Willesden bar (the area by the Willesden Green station) was earmarked for redevelopment; however, this did not come to fruition. In the late 1980s, traders were given money to revamp the High Street to prevent it closing. This worked and Willesden since then has been rejuvenated into a thriving suburb of London.
Willesden is in between Harlesden, Stonebridge Park and the Kilburn area. It is mostly in the NW10 postcode district, but stretches to NW2. The official border of Harlesden and Willesden is Donnington Road and Harlesden Road. However, the many residents who live as south as Roundwood Road are considered to be part of Willesden and the Willesden Green Ward boundary reflects this. Dollis Hill is also sometimes referred as being part of Willesden.
Willesden forms part of the Brent East parliamentary constituency and is home to the local MP, Liberal Democrat Sarah Teather. In the next general election, the majority of Brent East and all of Brent South would be merged into the new Brent Central seat .
Willesden has its own tube station, Willesden Green, which is on the Jubilee Line. The railways have been instrumental in developing Willesden from a quiet village to a vibrant town. The station was opened in 1879 by the Metropolitan Railway and has a grand 1920s facade. The Metropolitan connected Willesden to London, Harrow, Uxbridge, Rickmansworth and Aylesbury. The Metropolitan no longer stops at the station. Dollis Hill and Neasden stations are also within walking distance for some Willesden residents.
By road, Willesden is connected to many places as the A41 road/A5 road runs close by in nearby Kilburn/Cricklewood. The North Circular Road, the inner orbital road of London, is nearby running through Neasden.
|6||24 Hours||Willesden - Kensal Rise - Oxford Circus - Trafalgar Square - Aldwych|
|52||Daily||Willesden - Ladbroke Grove - Notting Hill - Kensington - Knightsbridge - Victoria|
|N52||Nightly||Willesden - Ladbroke Grove - Notting Hill - Kensington - Knightsbridge - Trafalgar Square - Westminster - Victoria|
|98||Daily||Willesden - Kilburn - Edgware Road - Marble Arch - Oxford Circus - Holborn|
|N98||Nightly||Stanmore - Queensbury - Kingsbury - Neasden - Willesden - Kilburn - Marble Arch - Holborn|
|206||Daily||Kilburn Park station - Willesden Hospital - Harlesden - Neasden|
|226||Daily||Golders Green - Cricklewood - Willesden - Harlesden - Park Royal - Ealing Broadway|
|260||Daily||Shepherds Bush - North Acton - Harlesden - Willesden - Cricklewood - Golders Green|
|266||24 Hours||Hammersmith - Acton - Harlesden - Willesden - Cricklewood - Brent Cross Shopping Centre|
|297||24 Hours||Willesden - Neasden - Wembley - Alperton - Perivale - Ealing Broadway|
|302||Daily||Mill Hill Broadway - Burnt Oak - Kingsbury Green - Neasden - Willesden - Kensal Rise|
|460||Daily||Willesden - Cricklewood - Golders Green - Finchley - North Finchley|