Volume 5 - From Stanmore Common to Chandos Country

R S Brown, 1976

pages 16, 17

Uxbridge Road (Harrow Weald Road)

With this, our fifth Volume, the extensive pattern of narratives about numerous main highways in Harrow Weald and Stanmore is almost complete. Details of the Brockhurst Corner area (embracing Clamp Hill and Kenton Lane) were Included in earlier volumes and it is now the intention to cover central Stanmore. There is however a stretch of the Uxbridge Road between St John's Parish Church, Stanmore and the aforementioned Brockhurst Corner which has previously escaped the attention of our researchers.

At regular intervals, large detached properties now line both sides of this highway (once known as Harrow Weald Road), but there is a substantial area on the south side called Stanmore Park, about which additional information has now become available. (There was a brief reference to Park Farm only on page 8 of volume III)

Let us first help the reader to visualise the scene in Harrow Weald Road at the beginning of this century. Although Stanmore Village was enjoying the advantages of gas lit streets and houses, Harrow Weald was still relying upon oil lamps and candles. The last street lamp was on the bend of Harrow Weald Road near a house called 'The Dearne'.

The road was gravel-surfaced and in dry weather farm traffic threw up clouds of dust and passing pedestrians were forced to turn their backs to avoid being blinded. Although many local highways were in a similar condition, in one sense it was fortunate at that time there was an absence of public transport and motorised traffic, for the dust problem would then have been more severe.

Many of the farm workers in those days rarely travelled beyond the confines of their own villages - and if they did it was invariably on foot. A visit to Watford market meant a lengthy walk over 'The Hill'; a shopping expedition to Wealdstone (the development of which was more advanced than Stanmore or Harrow Weald) necessitated a brisk stroll down Kenton Lane and across the fields; if a rare railway journey was to be made it meant a walk to Stanmore Village station (which was fairly adjacent) or a longer stroll to Wealdstone. The first two motor cars to be seen in the district were owned by Doctor Cook of Stanmore and Mr Rackham a Harrow Weald builder.

A large estate extended almost the length of that section of Harrow Weald Road mentioned above; the main residence stood back behind St John's Church. It was an 18th century building built in the Georgian style and a typical example of the English country house of that period. In the early 19th century it was known as Stanmore House but in later years the estate title of 'Stanmore Park' was adopted. An impressive gravelled drive provided a suitable surface for visiting carriages as they drew up to the pillared entrance: the house had changed very little when it was finally demolished in 1937, its most recent function being that of a preparatory school.

Large estates were usually maintained by the income from farming and Stanmore Park was no exception. Park Farm was situated on the estate nearer to the Kenton Lane end. The exact location of the farm buildings was the site now occupied by Conway Close and between this location and Ashdale Grove is buried the once picturesque area of water called Dew Pond. A modest thoroughfare called Farm Lane which ran past the farm between Uxbridge Road and Gordon Avenue. has been renamed The Chase. On the other side of this road behind a high wall was a property called Park Spinney, known as 'The Doctor's House' since it was the residence of the Hendon Medical Officer of Health, Doctor Raner. He died in 1935 and a block of flats called Caroline Court has replaced the house.

The only other habitations in the vicinity were two cottages, one of which housed the head cowman Charles Wells; he was allowed a piece of ground on which to grow his vegetables. The Loudon family owned the farm during this century which produced mainly milk and hay.

An elderly resident who once lived on the farm can clearly recollect conditions as they were between the wars. In the early days, there were only candles, to light the dark evenings: fields extended from Stanmore Park to Clamp Hill and the area was very eerie at night. The farmhouse had stone floors with a long passage both up and down stairs: all the windows in the building faced on to the farmyard which was cobble stoned and quickly ruined footwear and caused sore feet. There was a dairy built of dutch tiles and Mr Loudon milked the cows; there were three roundsmen, two covering Bushey and one, Stanmore. Running water was available for the dairy and stables - the latter containing about six cart horses.

The old farmhouse was thought to have been built of Roman bricks (shaped like a milk bottle about 12 inches long) but inspection by museum authorities revealed that they had been kilned in Harrow Weald for the first Bank of England. The bricks, which were very strong, were designed to absorb moisture.

During the first world war, the shortage of male labour caused a run-down of the farm from which it never recovered; Mr Loudon finally sold the property in 1932 and Farmer Anthony of Harrow Weald bought the cows.

Mr Loudon and his wife moved to Leigh-on-Sea (both now deceased) and developers began building houses as soon as the site was cleared and the ground levelled.

A brochure of the early nineteen thirties extolling the virtues of new properties in The Chase, (then still known as Farm Lane) included the following specifications: "four large bedrooms, garage, tongued and grooved flooring, boarded and tiled roofs and electric points in all rooms. All materials (except timber) and labour are British and the houses, which are situated off Harrow Weald are sited in one of the most desirable parts of Stanmore. Freehold price - £1,425".

The old Park Farm area is now a complex of small roads and cul-de-sacs described variously in the modern idiom as drives, ways, groves, closes and gardens. The Uxbridge Road is no longer dark and dusty but carries a continuous stream of fast traffic between Stanmore, Harrow Weald and Hatch End. It also has far-reaching links with the M1 Motorway and the A1 to the north, with access to Hertfordshire in a westerly direction.