Edgware, Barnet/Harrow

An interwar middle-class suburb with a strongly Jewish character, situated three miles north-west of Hendon and split between two boroughs along the course of the former Watling Street

Edgwarebury Lane junction with Station Road, Edgware

Edg­ware’s name meant ‘Ecgi’s weir’ and was first record­ed in an Anglo-Sax­on char­ter of around 975 but was omit­ted from Domes­day Book. Ecgi prob­a­bly con­struct­ed his weir on what is now the Edg­ware Brook either to trap fish or to irri­gate his field.

It is said that medieval pil­grims trav­el­ling from Lon­don to St Albans would stop at Edg­ware to rest and to pray at St Margaret’s Church, which was in exis­tence by 1375. The church was rebuilt in 1764, when Edg­ware was becom­ing an impor­tant coach­ing halt, and a start­ing point for some ser­vices to Lon­don. Sev­er­al inns were estab­lished and Edg­ware held fairs in the 18th and 19th cen­turies.

The Great North­ern Rail­way Com­pa­ny opened its branch line to Edg­ware via Mill Hill in 1867 and was soon mak­ing a prof­it but the indi­rect route dis­cour­aged poten­tial com­muters. As the coach­ing trade declined, wheel­wrights and black­smiths depart­ed and the vil­lage became pri­mar­i­ly agri­cul­tur­al.

Only a few streets of ter­raced hous­es had been built by the out­break of the First World War. Ser­vices on what is now the North­ern line began in 1924, when the builders were already hard at work lay­ing out new streets for the mid­dle class­es either side of Dean’s Brook. To the south, the Lon­don Coun­ty Coun­cil built Burnt Oak’s expan­sive Watling estate.

The com­ple­tion of the Edg­ware Way bypass in 1927 brought a sea of detached hous­es to its hin­ter­land but pro­gres­sive north­ward expan­sion was halt­ed by the out­break of the Sec­ond World War, and sub­se­quent­ly restrict­ed by green-belt reg­u­la­tion.

Some ancient build­ings sur­vive on the west side of the High Street, includ­ing the 17th-cen­tu­ry White Hart Hotel (as it was for­mer­ly called), but many more have been lost through road widen­ing. Sta­tion Road and the Broad­walk Cen­tre are the main places to shop.

As well as its very large Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion, Edg­ware has sig­nif­i­cant Hin­du and Mus­lim minori­ties, main­ly of Indi­an ori­gin.

Agatha Christie created the characters Lord and Lady Edgware (and the Duke of Merton) in a 1933 Hercule Poirot classic.

Postcode area: Edgware HA8
Population: 58,619 (Harrow’s Canons and Edgware wards and Barnet’s Burnt Oak and Edgware wards, 2011 census)
Station: Northern line (zone 5, terminus of the north-west branch)
Website: Edgware and Mill Hill Press
* The picture of the Edgwarebury Lane junction with Station Road, Edgware at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright David Howard, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is hereby freely permitted under the terms of that licence.