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Local history

How Northwood Hills came to being the area we know it as today

The area we know as Northwood Hills was born in the 1930’s.

Around this time Harry Ernest Peachey, a member of a large Victorian family also came to prominence in the area. Harry was born in Hull in 1881 and with only a short school education behind him, he left school at the age of 12, and having had a series of dead-end jobs, he was apprenticed to the building industry where his wages were nothing at all for the first month and then the magnificent sum of 2s 6d (12.5p) per week out of which he was expected to provide his own tools.

At the age of 25, he left Hull and joined the firm of R J Pratchet, who were involved in heavy industrial building in Bradford. With them Harry rose steadily through the trade, so that they decided to form a new company to operate at Northwood in 1930, he was sent down to manage it. This was the beginning of Belton Estates and the foundation of Northwood Hills as we know it today

Before venturing south, he had met and married Miss Alice Marsh, also of Bradford and had founded his family of 5 daughters and one son. Mrs Peachey was a great inspiration to him and did more than her share in creating the community spirit in the pioneering days of Northwood Hills. Her death in 1951, the year after their golden wedding was a severe blow and a great loss to the district.


You had to know Harry Peachey to appreciate him. To the casual observer he was a typical blunt Yorkshire man, whose intolerance of fools and shams was plain for all to see. A man with no bias on creed or colour, but a real driver and hard worker. Beneath his hard exterior beat a heart of gold, and an appeal on behalf of local charities never failed to find him responding.

But it is his children of the district – now of course grown up – who will always recall him with pleasure. His Bonfire Nights were things to remember – there was always plenty of wood from cleared sites to make a huge fire around which the children were regaled with hot roast potatoes, boiled peas and parkin, in true Yorkshire style.

Older residents may recall Harry as one of the first Presidents of the Chamber of Trade, founder of Northwood Hills Cricket Club, and recall with pleasure the “Holidays at Home” scheme and fetes and funfairs he used to organise on nearby fields, which brought in over a thousand pounds for our local hospitals.

Many of the problems and set backs he faced in the early days of Northwood Hills would have daunted a lesser man, but Harry Peachey stuck to his principles with typical tenacity to create a district of which we can all be proud.

One of the turning points for him was on the 13 November 1933 when Northwood Hills Station was opened. If any man could be said to have “brought the railway to Northwood Hills” that man would be Harry Peachy. Northwood Hills has never looked back since.

Harry Peachey died in 1960.

Northwood Hills Station - taken on the opening day

This photo was taken in 1953 and is now Ryefield DIY

Bungalow Conservation Area

Hillside Road, Hillside Crescent, Hillside Rise, Hillside Gardens together with Stanley Road are roads of bungalows ‘par excellence’ and form a Bungalow Conservation area.

Construction was started in the 1930’s by the builder, George Ball and by about 1933 all the bungalows were completed. They costs between £800 and £900 to buy then which is hard to grasp today.

Pinner Chalk Mines

The White Cliffs of Dover go under Northwood Hills!

It’s true; the world famous white rock geology goes deep underground shortly after Dover and resurfaces around Northwood Hills. Chalk from the rocks used to be mined locally and whilst, for Health and Safety/insurance reasons, it is no longer possible for the general public to go down the mine shafts the entrances to the mines can still be seen in Pinner Green and Northwood. Take a virtual tour of the mines and read about their history at Pinner Chalk Mines

The Gatehill Estate

In the early 1920’s a well known firm of builders, Harry Neal commenced work at Gatehill Farm to develop the area known as the Gatehill Estate.

A brochure issued in 1925 states
that ‘spacious and graciousness are obvious characteristics. Each house has a large plot of land. Air and light and appreciable privacy are secured, for in no circumstances will more than 3 houses to the acre be erected.’ Density restrictions were protected by covenants. The houses were to be individually designed both to harmonise with their environment and to provide an interesting variation of style.

In the 1970’s the Gatehill Estate was granted the status of ‘Area of Special Character’

The Northwood and Pinner hospital

Northwood and Pinner Cottage Hospital, a First and Second World War memorial opened in 1924, was shut in 2008 due to the facilities being in 'very poor condition' and requiring 'substantial maintenance work', which debt-ridden Hillingdon Primary Care Trust (PCT), responsible for the site, was unable to afford.

Before it closed the hospital provided palliative, respite and rehabilitation care, as well as out-patient and podiatry services, to name but a few.

These services are now provided from Mount Vernon hospital but we are hopeful that at a future date that the hospital along with the Northwood Health Centre can be redeveloped to provide a “State of the Art” medical facility for the area.

In the meantime the hospital site is being used as an Ambulance Station.

In April 2013 the London Borough of Hillingdon gave the site a "Locally Listed building Status" recognising its history and importance to the community.


The Hogsback

The area called the Hogsback Open Space was originally part of Hundred Acre Farm until the mid 20 Century, at which point it was sold to Hillingdon Borough Council. The whole site was originally farmland used for grazing.

By the 1950’s the building of housing estates around the area had begun and in the 1960’s the site was encompassed by houses on three sides and with Northwood Way on its western edge.

The site remained relatively open however through natural succession and little management intervention following the loss of grazing, gradually the site turned from open grassland with a few mature trees to a large area of secondary woodland with open grassland on the flatter western edge of the site and on a flat section at the top. The sloping hillier sections of the site over time scrubbed up with a mixture of hawthorn and blackthorn.

The site is now part of the London Borough of Hillingdon’s Green spaces and is managed as an open space.

Haste Hill and Northwood Hills Park in the late 1930s and the 1940s

If you call up the internet today, you will be immediately aware Haste Hill is all about restaurants, entertainment, golf and homes. It has become an extremely desirable residential area of the Hills reaching into Northwood, thanks to its wonderful slopes, trees and greenery. And it has views!

Yet during the earlier period, having been preserved by the miracle of Green Belt protection, it was very much for rambling through to Ruislip Lido, playing games and providing for toddlers. Just as there is now, there was a playground by the Chestnut Avenue entrance with the usual swings, a roundabout and see-saw – but without any protective rubber flooring installed – so bruised knees on asphalt were rather common. The young had to develop their own Health and Safety controls then! However there was also in the park area a Paddling Pool for youngsters. No fountain or sprays, just a plain, long, shallow pool with a sand-pit nearby. From late spring through the summer, the council kept it topped up and it was full of paddlers and splashing infants. Later on, frost damage and inertia led to it being filled in.

Re the paddling pool. I remember in the 1950s that there were always concerns amongst some parents that paddling in the pool could be a place where polio could be caught and when there were polio cases known locally , many parents prevented their children from using it. With the advent of immunisation this fear gradually subsided. It could be dangerous however as some local kids would drop glass bottles into the pool and as there was no supervision of the area, it could lead to accidents. {thanks to Frances Duffy}

With the declaration of war, there was the great drive “to grow your own” and those who could secured allotments by the park. The flat land in the park was of course covered by a very large area of sports fields and a local farmer was contracted to grow vegetables here– mainly potatoes, I believe – for the war effort. They sprouted up quite wonderfully and productively and only a few people were disappointed when the land reverted to being what it is now – a large, wonderful sports field! I think Haste Hill proper was unsuitable for intensive agriculture and the golf courses and the Lido heath land were on very poor soil.

Of course this was at the time when Ruislip Lido was at the height of its popularity for bathing, boating and fishing. The delights of Metro-land were advertised everywhere! Buses ran across London to get people there. Yet this was when the age of keeping fit really took off (“health and beauty”. and all that!) and so many, many ramblers got off at Northwood Hills Underground Station and walked to the Lido and back, up wonderful Haste Hill and through the woods. The station became the acclaimed stopping off place and the entrance in Highland Road became a mecca for hikers from all over London until the Lido started to lose its great appeal in the late 1940s. And yet you know? We can still enjoy the same wonderful rural area here in Northwood Hills today.

Re the war. The Haste Hill golf club had only developed 9 holes by the time the war started and the land in the run up to the backs of the houses in Cranbourne Rd was used to grow produce during the war. After the war, cows grazed on the land for some time.The council houses opposite Cranbourne Rd in Norwich Rd/ Rochester Road and so on, had not been built by the war and this area was used for allotments. After the war the allotments on Haste hill were turned into grazing land for a local farmer's cows for some time. {thanks to Frances Duffy}

Famous People from Northwood Hills

(Undoubtedly there are others so if you know of anyone we have missed please do not hesitate to let our Web Master know.)

Elton John
– then better known as Reginald Kenneth Dwight – grew up in Northwood Hills. He lived at 55 Pinner Hill Road, the home of his grandparents Fred and Ivy Harris and where it is said he first learned how to play the Piano. His second home was 111 Potter Street. Flat 3A at Frome Court, on Pinner Road was Elton John's teenage home, where he lived with his mother and stepfather, Fred Fairbrother from the age of 15 in 1962 until his initial success in 1971. It was here that he and lyricist Bernie Taupin wrote early hits like "Your song," '"Skyline Pigeon," "Levon," and "Tiny Dancer." Young Elton was a paper boy and could often be seen playing at The Northwood Hills Hotel (now the Namaste Lounge) in Joel Street where he quickly built up a following which ultimately led to the super stardom and worldwide following he has today. A plaque in his honour has been erected outside the Namaste Lounge.

Fern Cotton - also lived in the area too and went to Haydon School. Her career as a presenter of “The Disney Club” for GMTV started in 1998 when she was 17 from where she has gone on to achieve well deserved fame and accreditation on both sides of the Atlantic.

Olympic Gold medal winner for boxing
Audley Harrison was a pupil at Northwood School.

Nikki Grahame, a promotions girl from Northwood Hills who also attended Northwood School achieved fame in the Big Brother House. She has also written a book about her life long battle with Anorexia.

More recently,
Mark Paterson who was educated at Haydon, won an Oscar and a BAFTA for "Best Sound Mixing", and the same categorgy at the Cinema Audio Society Awards for his work on the film Les Miserables.


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