West Hendon

West Hendon, Barnet

One of the borough’s poorer quarters, most of West Hendon is separated from Hendon proper by the M1 motorway

St John the Evangelist - West Hendon - geograph-1930536-by-Martin-Addison

The land here­abouts was once part of Tun­worth (now Kings­bury) but – by pass­ing into the own­er­ship of West­min­ster Abbey – came with­in the parish and manor of Hen­don in the late tenth cen­tu­ry.

Although the local­i­ty attract­ed vis­i­tors fol­low­ing the cre­ation of the Welsh Harp reser­voir in the 1830s, no set­tle­ment exist­ed here until the open­ing of Hen­don main-line sta­tion in 1868.

Over the lat­ter part of the 19th cen­tu­ry West Hen­don evolved as a new sub­urb, con­sist­ing almost entire­ly of ter­raced hous­ing. A Bap­tist mis­sion hall was built in 1885 and Non­con­formists joined Angli­cans in con­tribut­ing to St John’s school, built in 1889, after see­ing shoe­less chil­dren walk­ing to Church End in Willes­den. The school has since evolved into St Mary’s and St John’s CE school, now locat­ed in Prothero Gar­dens, cen­tral Hen­don.

The church of St John the Evan­ge­list held ser­vices in tem­po­rary build­ings until the con­se­cra­tion in 1896 of its per­ma­nent home, which is shown in the pho­to­graph above.* St John’s was an ear­ly work of the archi­tect Tem­ple Moore and its inte­ri­or was mod­elled on the 14th-cen­tu­ry church of Austin Fri­ars, in the City of Lon­don, employ­ing tall stone arcades with­out cap­i­tals or cleresto­ry. The church was nev­er com­plet­ed, and con­sists only of the nave and the south aisle.

In the same year as St John’s was built, the open­ing of the Schweppes min­er­al water fac­to­ry brought fur­ther growth to the local­i­ty. The bot­tling plant was locat­ed just north of Gar­rick Road and drew water from an arte­sian well.

West Hen­don Broad­way was ful­ly built up by the out­break of the First World War, although open fields still stretched south to Crick­le­wood rail­way sid­ings at this time. The North Cir­cu­lar Road cut across these fields in the 1920s.

In Feb­ru­ary 1941 a mas­sive explo­sion killed 80 West Hen­don res­i­dents and made 1,500 home­less. Although some sources attribute the tragedy to an SC 2500 bomb dropped by the Luft­waffe, Fr John Hawkins of St John’s church tells Hid­den Lon­don that no one seems cer­tain what caused the explo­sion, adding that he has spo­ken with an eye wit­ness who said that an RAF air­craft got into dif­fi­cul­ty and tried to ditch a land mine in the Welsh Harp but sad­ly missed.

Hendon Waterside (developers' CGI)
Hen­don Water­side (devel­op­ers’ CGI)

Much of the sur­viv­ing hous­ing stock was demol­ished and rebuilt between the 1940s and the late 1960s. The clo­sure of the Schweppes bot­tling plant in 1980 con­tributed to the area’s eco­nom­ic decline and West Hen­don has since been the focus of var­i­ous regen­er­a­tion projects. By far the most rad­i­cal of these is the hous­ing scheme called Hen­don Water­side, which will pro­vide more than 2,000 pri­vate and afford­able new homes on the banks of the Welsh Harp reser­voir. The project is a joint ven­ture between Bar­net coun­cil, Bar­ratt Homes and the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Hous­ing Trust.

In August 2013 the may­or of Lon­don waved the Hen­don Water­side pro­pos­als through, despite the objec­tions of cam­paign­ers who argued that the scale of the devel­op­ment will adverse­ly affect the lake­side envi­ron­ment, both aes­thet­i­cal­ly and eco­log­i­cal­ly.

Accord­ing to the 2011 cen­sus, slight­ly few­er than half of West Hendon’s res­i­dents are white and 15 per cent are of Indi­an birth or descent.

Postal district: NW9
Population: 17,402 (2011 census)
Further reading: Reginald Henry Somes, Encompassing History of St John the Evangelist, West Hendon and Its Environs, RH Somes, 1995


* The picture of St. John the Evangelist, West Hendon, on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Martin Addison, 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.