Uxbridge

Uxbridge, Hillingdon

The administrative and commercial centre of the borough of Hillingdon, situated on the western edge of Greater London, south of the Western Avenue


Crown and Treaty
Crown and Treaty*

Uxbridge’s name almost cer­tain­ly derives from the Wix­an tribe who set­tled var­i­ous parts of Mid­dle­sex in the sev­enth cen­tu­ry. Their bridge would have crossed the Riv­er Colne. How­ev­er, no doc­u­ment record­ed the exis­tence of the vil­lage until the mid-twelfth cen­tu­ry, when it was called Wixe­brug.

St Margaret’s church began life as a chapel of ease to Hilling­don church in the ear­ly 13th cen­tu­ry. A mar­ket house was built by 1513 and soon after­wards a rib­bon of tim­ber-framed hous­es lined the Oxford road from the Colne to what is now Vine Street.

The Ben­net fam­i­ly owned a man­sion called The Place, where Roy­al­ist and Par­lia­men­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tives drew up an abortive treaty to end the Civ­il War in 1645. The man­sion was lat­er reduced in size and renamed the Treaty House. It is now a pub called the Crown and Treaty.

Dur­ing the 18th cen­tu­ry Uxbridge flour­ished as a coach­ing halt, with shops and inns on the High Street. The present mar­ket house was built in 1788.

The con­struc­tion of the Grand Junc­tion (now Grand Union) Canal in the 1790s brought indus­try to Uxbridge Moor and by 1801 pas­sen­ger barges were run­ning dai­ly to Padding­ton. The trans­port links helped con­firm Uxbridge’s suprema­cy over Hilling­don as a mar­ket town, par­tic­u­lar­ly for corn.

Coach traf­fic con­tin­ued to increase and the town had 54 licensed premis­es in 1853. Three years lat­er the first rail­way sta­tion opened and road trav­el began to wane, with many inns and their sta­bles con­vert­ing to pri­vate dwellings. From the late 19th cen­tu­ry, pri­vate house­build­ing began to spread towards Cow­ley and Hilling­don, and sub­se­quent­ly to the north, encour­aged by the con­struc­tion in 1904 of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Rail­way ter­mi­nus in Bel­mont Road.

The coun­cil built out­ly­ing estates after the First World War and in the 1930s demol­ished slum prop­er­ties in the crowd­ed cen­tre. Uxbridge Lido opened in 1935 and has since been restored as part of the Hilling­don sports & leisure com­plex.

Uxbridge tube station concourse
Uxbridge tube sta­tion con­course*

Designed by Charles Hold­en and Leonard Buck­nell, Uxbridge tube sta­tion was rebuilt at its present loca­tion in 1938. Its most unusu­al fea­ture is a pan­el of stained glass win­dows in the book­ing hall fea­tur­ing local civic her­aldry.

From the late 1960s the coun­cil embarked on the whole­sale rede­vel­op­ment of the town cen­tre, paving the way for the present appear­ance of the shop­ping and leisure area. Two shop­ping malls now dom­i­nate the High Street: the Pavil­ions and Intu, for­mer­ly the Chimes. List­ed build­ings in the Old Uxbridge con­ser­va­tion area have been refur­bished.

In 1967 Brunel Uni­ver­si­ty relo­cat­ed to a 170-acre plot in south-east Uxbridge that had for­mer­ly been the Lowe and Shawyer nurs­ery and mar­ket gar­den. Fol­low­ing the clo­sure of satel­lite cam­pus­es at Run­nymede, Twick­en­ham and Oster­ley, all the uni­ver­si­ty’s depart­ments are now based here.

Hilling­don civic cen­tre was built south of the sta­tion in the mid-1970s in an orig­i­nal and influ­en­tial style that avoid­ed the grand­ly mon­u­men­tal approach tak­en by most town halls.

Upmar­ket apart­ment blocks have recent­ly added a new dimen­sion to Uxbridge’s res­i­den­tial pro­file, espe­cial­ly along the banks of the canal. In 2017 rel­a­tive­ly taste­ful plans to rede­vel­op the for­mer Ran­dalls depart­ment store prompt­ed reac­tions at Get West Lon­don that includ­ed “Uxbridge is fin­ished” and “this coun­try has had it”. How­ev­er, Hilling­don coun­cil­lors were less dis­mayed by the pro­pos­al for around 60 flats and space for shops, retain­ing the orig­i­nal mod­ernist build­ing, and they approved the scheme unan­i­mous­ly.

Former London mayor Boris Johnson has been member of parliament for the constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip since the 2015 general election.

Postcode area: Uxbridge UB8
Population: 39,868 (Brunel and Uxbridge North and South wards, 2011 census)
Station: Metropolitan and Piccadilly line terminus (zone 6)
Further reading: Ken Pearce, Uxbridge Through Time, Amberley, 2011
* The picture of the Crown & Treaty, Uxbridge is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Rob Emms, and the picture of Uxbridge tube station concourse is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Mike Quinn, 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.