A ‘remade’ housing estate situated on the east side of Wembley Park, separated from Neasden by the River Brent
Now considered a part of Wembley, Chalkhill was a manor within the ancient parish of Kingsbury at the time of Domesday Book. The land here once belonged to Edward the Confessor, and later to Westminster Abbey. Chalkhill was built up as a Metroland estate in the early 1920s, benefiting from the Empire Exhibition that was held at neighbouring Wembley Park.
Between 1966 and 1970 most of the original housing was replaced by a council estate modelled on the pioneering example set by Sheffield’s Park Hill. Many aspects of Chalkhill were theoretically admirable and the project might have been more successful had it been located in an area with fewer problems of crime and deprivation – and if the council had invested consistently in improvements and maintenance. But the estate became run-down and vandalised and it was demolished thirty years after its construction in a project entitled ‘Remaking Chalkhill’.
The last remaining symbol of the old estate came down in July 2002 when council leader Ann John blew up the estate’s boiler house chimney, which used to provide heating for more than 1,300 residents. It had begun operation in 1969 and was finally shut down after the last tenant moved out in April 2002. Councillor John said, “We are saying goodbye to the bad things such as vandalism and disrepair and have listened to what our residents want and need from their homes.”
The final 160 homes were completed in 2003. The ‘remade’ Chalkhill is an improvement on its predecessor (at least in its latter days) but it still smacks of tight cost control and a lack of room to breathe.
At the time of Ofsted’s 2011 report 39 languages were spoken at Chalkhill primary school. The very large majority of pupils were from minority ethnic groups and the predominant groups were Somalian, eastern European, Afghani and Iraqi. The report judged the school to be ‘good’ and an interim assessment in 2014 indicated that this performance has been sustained.