Dawley

Dawley, Hillingdon

A little-used name for an industrial and commercial zone in Hayes, situated south of the Grand Union Canal

Hidden London: Nipper outside the former EMI factory

The manor was list­ed in Domes­day Book as Dal­le­ga, a name that may have derived from Old Eng­lish words mean­ing ‘wood­land clear­ing at a hol­low’ or ‘wood­land clear­ing held in com­mon’.

The states­man and writer Hen­ry St John, Vis­count Bol­ing­broke acquired the 17th-cen­tu­ry Daw­ley House in 1725 and sub­stan­tial­ly rebuilt it; Dry­den, Pope, Swift and Voltaire were among his vis­i­tors here.

In 1755 Hen­ry, Earl of Uxbridge, added the manor to his exten­sive land­hold­ings in the dis­trict and built a mile-long wall around Daw­ley House to keep out small­pox, or rather unwant­ed vis­i­tors who might have been car­ry­ing it. A sec­tion of the wall has sur­vived to the present day and is local­ly list­ed. It now forms part of the bound­ary of Stock­ley Park.

The long wall built to kep out smallpox (at least I think it's that wall)
Daw­ley Wall is almost all that remains of his­toric Daw­ley and has been restored since this pho­to was tak­en

Daw­ley House was demol­ished in 1776 and its once-beau­ti­ful gar­dens became brick­fields. The de Salis fam­i­ly acquired the estate and sold it off lit­tle by lit­tle over the fol­low­ing 160 years.

The Gramo­phone Com­pa­ny (lat­er EMI) moved its head­quar­ters to Blyth Road in 1911 and opened a fac­to­ry and record­ing stu­dio here. It is said that the com­pa­ny bought all the chick­ens in the neigh­bour­hood to pre­vent their cack­ling being picked up by the record­ing appa­ra­tus.

Between the wars oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers colonised the whole area between the canal and the rail­way line. By the ear­ly 1960s, EMI owned 150 acres of land and employed 14,000 staff. The com­pa­ny pro­gres­sive­ly with­drew from Daw­ley, relo­cat­ing its offices, clos­ing the fac­to­ry, spin­ning off its cen­tral research lab­o­ra­to­ries and sell­ing the site to a Far East­ern fund in 1999.

A slow-mov­ing regen­er­a­tion pro­gramme has final­ly picked up speed recent­ly, hav­ing hith­er­to been con­strained by the des­ig­na­tion of much of Daw­ley as a con­ser­va­tion area. In addi­tion to a ‘unique media acad­e­my’ and sev­er­al blocks of apart­ments, devel­op­ments have includ­ed the con­ver­sion of the for­mer EMI fac­to­ry to offices and the instal­la­tion of an 18-foot high stat­ue of Nip­per, the HMV dog.

Postcode area: Hayes UB3
Further reading: B T White, The History of Dawley (Middlesex), Hayes and Harlington Local History Society, 2001
See also: Harlington and Stockley Park