Kingsbury, Brent

A mixed Metroland and municipally built suburb covering a large area north-east of Wembley and west of Hendon

St Andrew Old Church - geograph-4038948-by-Julian-Osley

Known in ancient times as Tun­worth, Kings­bury was men­tioned in Domes­day Book as Chinges­berie, which meant ‘king’s manor’, although what­ev­er roy­al con­nec­tion it may have had seems to have been lost by the time the Nor­mans arrived.

Shown in the pho­to­graph above,* the dis­used twelfth-cen­tu­ry church of St Andrew gives an indi­ca­tion of Kingsbury’s sig­nif­i­cance as a medieval set­tle­ment. It is the only grade I list­ed build­ing in the bor­ough of Brent.

The set­tle­men­t’s evo­lu­tion has see­sawed between its south­ern and north­ern extrem­i­ties. Kings­bury was first a vil­lage beside Black Pot Hill (now Black­bird Hill, near the bot­tom right cor­ner of the map below) and Kings­bury Green was a ham­let one mile to its north. Kings­bury was severe­ly affect­ed by the Black Death. The old vil­lage was large­ly aban­doned; a new one grew up around Kings­bury Green and by the late 19th cen­tu­ry the orig­i­nal vil­lage was almost for­got­ten.

Vic­to­ri­an devel­op­ment was sub­stan­tial enough for Kings­bury to break away from Wem­b­ley in 1900 as an inde­pen­dent urban dis­trict. How­ev­er, the sep­a­ra­tion last­ed only 34 years and the dis­trict remained pre­dom­i­nant­ly rur­al until well into the 20th cen­tu­ry.

A residential folly by the by architect EG Trobridge
One of sev­er­al notable cre­ations in Kings­bury by EG Tro­bridge

In the 1920s the pres­ence of Neas­den sta­tion (orig­i­nal­ly called Neas­den and Kings­bury) stim­u­lat­ed Metroland growth in the south­ern part of Kings­bury and the pop­u­la­tion increased eight­fold in ten years.

Imme­di­ate­ly after this came the con­struc­tion of the last stage of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Rail­way, from Wem­b­ley Park to Stan­more, and the open­ing of the under­ground sta­tion west of Kings­bury Green in 1932, where­upon the town’s cen­tre of grav­i­ty shift­ed once more.

Two church­es of St Andrew now share the same church­yard at the south end of Church Lane. The new­er St Andrew’s was erect­ed as a result of the mas­sive growth in the area’s pop­u­la­tion fol­low­ing the open­ing of Neas­den and Kings­bury sta­tion. For­mer­ly an Anglo-Catholic church locat­ed in Wells Street in the parish of St Maryle­bone, and con­ve­nient­ly already called St Andrew’s, it was trans­port­ed to Kings­bury stone by stone in 1933.

The Belfast-born archi­tect Ernest Tro­bridge lived in Kings­bury from 1915 until his death in 1942 and he designed homes in sev­er­al dis­tinc­tive styles, often using inno­v­a­tive mate­ri­als. His most extra­or­di­nary cre­ations, all built in the mid-1930s, were small blocks of flats designed to look like cas­tles, with tur­rets that dis­guised chim­neys and bat­tle­ments around roof gar­dens. To learn more about Tro­bridge, Hid­den Lon­don rec­om­mends Brent coun­cil’s illus­trat­ed guide, From Cot­tages to Cas­tles: A walk around Trobridge’s Kings­bury [PDF]. How­ev­er, because Kings­bury is not a high­ly desir­able area, many of Trobridge’s enchant­i­ng homes are not in the con­di­tion in which they deserve to be.

After the Sec­ond World War, Wem­b­ley coun­cil built a major hous­ing estate, destroy­ing most of Kingsbury’s his­toric build­ings in the process. Since then, there have been few sig­nif­i­cant alter­ations to the built envi­ron­ment but the demo­graph­ic pro­file has changed rad­i­cal­ly: almost 3,000 res­i­dents (more than 20 per cent) of Fryent (Kings­bury’s main ward) are of Indi­an ori­gin or descent. The ward also has more than 1,000 east­ern Euro­pean res­i­dents.

Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury

Shown in the pho­to­graph above, Shree Swami­narayan Mandir Kings­bury opened in August 2014 at the cor­ner of Townsend Lane and Kings­bury Road. The neigh­bour­ing Shree Muk­ta­jee­van Swamiba­pa com­plex hosts a vari­ety of cul­tur­al, artis­tic, sport­ing, edu­ca­tion­al and char­i­ta­ble activ­i­ties.

Postal district: NW9
Station: Jubilee line (zone 4)
Further reading: Geoffrey Hewlett, Kingsbury Through Time, Amberley, 2010
See also: Roe Green
* The picture of Old St Andrew’s Church at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Julian Osley, 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.