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Edgware

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As the name of the settlement is derived from 'Ecgi's weir fishing pool' it is likely that the original settlement was nearer to the bridge over the Edgware Brook on Edgware Road.

Pilgrims on their way from London to St Albans used Edgware as a resting place. By the time of Elizabeth I a substantial village had developed along the road from Edgware Bridge and up Station Road as far as the Anglican church of St Margaret's, with a population of about 120 people.

Edgware had become a small market town by the 17th century, with:

  • traders, including butchers, tailors, colliers (charcoal sellers) and brewers, and even an optician
  • a market held every Thursday, but then held less and less by the 1790s
  • a cattle and pleasure fair from 1760 until 1904, with horse racing between 1834 and 1855.

The Edgware Road grew in importance after the reformation as the population of London expanded. However with increased use the condition of the road worsened over the following centuries, and it was nearly unusable for six months of the year. To pay for repairs to the road it became the Edgware-Kilburn turnpike (1711 - 1872).

Where the Territorial Army Centre is today there was a gate and travellers on horseback or in coaches had to pay a fee to travel along the road. Edgware did well from the coaches travelling north, and by the end of the coaching age, nine coaches passed daily through Edgware on their way to and from London.

The population of Edgware, unlike most of its neighbours, actually decreased in the middle of the 19th century. A railway line from Finsbury was opened in Edgware, but it did not improve matters and the population of Edgware continued to decrease until the 1880s.

Although there was a tram service from 1904 it was with the extension of the underground railway from Golders Green, completed in 1924, which led to the growth of what we know as Edgware today. By 1930 Edgware had a bustling shopping centre and suburban streets.

Cannons

During the first part of the 18th century Edgware was dominated by the Duke of Chandos who had been developing a house northwest of the town called Cannons.

The house soon became a fantastic palace, and the Duke of Chandos was a name associated with fabulous wealth (the house is said to have cost £250,000, which at the time was a huge sum). The Duke even had his own orchestra. Many famous people visited the house and many famous craftsmen helped build it.

The composer Handel was employed by Chandos and lived at Cannons between 1717 and 1718. Legend has it that Handel took shelter from a heavy rainstorm in a blacksmith's forge, and the sound of the hammer on the anvil inspired the composer to write 'The Harmonious Blacksmith' for the harpsichord.

The Blacksmith was William Powell, and the story was passed down in his family as true. It is likely that Handel did shelter in the smith's workshop, but Handel had already written the piece, at Adlington Hall in Cheshire, before he lived at Cannons.

After the Duke died his heir was not able to keep up with the costs of the house and the contents of the house were sold off for £11,000, and the palace was demolished in 1747. The land was redeveloped after 1926.

Charles Wright Ltd

In 1900 the firm of Charles Wright Ltd moved from Clerkenwell to Thorn Bank Edgware. Wright's factory pressed sheet metal and in the First World War made medals. The company left Edgware in 1972.

Contacts

  • Local Studies Centre
  • Hendon Library (first floor), The Burroughs, London NW4 4BQ
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  • Tel: 020 8359 3960
  • Email: library.archives@barnet.gov.uk

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