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.