Colindale, Barnet

An ‘opportunity area’ (now being taken advantage of) in the hinterland of the A5 south of Edgware

geograph-4913383-by-Des-Blenkinsopp - Bus at Beaufort Park

Colindale’s name probably derives from 16th-century residents the Colinn family. The settlement took root at the end of the 19th century, near the older but now-lost hamlet of Colindeep, which lay in the valley of the Silk Stream, a tributary of the River Brent.

Once considered part of Hendon, but now separated from that district by the M1, the eastern side of Colindale has had a long associ­ation with aeronautics. In the years leading up to 1914, aircraft manufac­turing and pilot training dominated the locality – and these activ­ities multi­plied after the outbreak of the First World War, with associated indus­tries attracted by government inter­vention. After its estab­lishment in 1918, the Royal Air Force flew from Hendon aerodrome, which the government acquired in 1925.

During the Second World War the aerodrome became a transport, commu­nic­a­tions and training base, but its unsuit­ab­ility for post-war jet aircraft meant that the last flying units left in 1957, although RAF Hendon didn’t officially close until 1988. The RAF Museum opened on the base in 1972, in two of the aerodrome’s original hangers, which have been supple­mented since by other exhib­ition halls.

The GLC’s Grahame Park estate filled most of the RAF site from the late 1960s. On Aerodrome Road, to the estate’s south, the Peel Centre is the Metropolitan Police’s main training estab­lishment. On Colindale Avenue, Public Health England operates specialist and reference micro­bi­ology services and infec­tious disease surveil­lance, including outbreak invest­ig­ation.

Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections
PHE Colindale*

As a desig­nated zone for ‘housing intens­i­fic­ation’, Colindale is presently exper­i­encing more redevel­opment than almost any other part of London.

Thousands of new homes have filled Beaufort Park (a 25-acre corner of the former aerodrome, shown in the photo­graph at the top of the page) and many more have been built or are planned for construction in place of run-down council housing and on sites previ­ously occupied by Colindale hospital (redeveloped as ‘Pulse’), the Oriental City shopping centre, the British Library Newspaper Library and on 54 acres of surplus land at the Peel Centre.

Meanwhile, the police training centre itself will be fully rebuilt “to deliver facil­ities fit for the needs of modern policing” and to reflect the fact that resid­ential training no longer takes place here.

Colindale has histor­ically been a relat­ively deprived locality – by the standards of a prosperous borough – but this is changing as the rash of private housing projects brings in better-off newcomers, whom Barnet council seem to prefer because they pay more council tax and rely less on public services.

Prompted by his familiarity with Hendon aerodrome and Colindale tube station, TE Lawrence (‘Lawrence of Arabia’) adopted the pseudonym ‘Colin Dale’ when writing reviews for The Spectator.

Postal district: NW9
Population: 17,098 (2011 census)
Station: Northern line (zone 4)
Blog: Colindale Renewal


* The picture entitled Bus at Beaufort Park at the top of this page is slightly modified from an original photograph, copyright Des Blenkinsopp, and the picture of what is now called PHE Colindale is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Stacey Harris, both at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.