The northern half of the ‘composite suburb’ of Yiewsley and West Drayton
Yiewsley was first recorded in 1235 as Wiuesleg, probably ‘the woodland clearing of a man named Wifel’.
Gravel excavation has revealed hundreds of prehistoric hand-axes and the remains of a Bronze Age cemetery but it was not until the 16th century that a hamlet had taken shape here. Yiewsley Grange was built around this time but has since been almost entirely altered and now serves as offices.
Unlike West Drayton, the hamlet remained inconsequential until the early 19th century, when industry grew up alongside the Grand Junction (later Grand Union) Canal, together with mean cottages for workers.
The opening of West Drayton station in 1838 accelerated the industrial and residential growth, and houses for the middle classes lined the High Street. St Matthew’s church was built in the late 1850s and enlarged in 1898, when suburban housebuilding was beginning to cover the fields. The houses in the High Street were converted to commercial use, with shop units filling their front gardens.
Yiewsley’s earliest links were with Uxbridge but by the 1910s these had been lost as the fusion with West Drayton took hold. Land was acquired from St Thomas’ hospital in 1926 “to be used in perpetuity for the recreation of the people of Yiewsley,” and now consists of grassy areas, a bowling green, ball court and playground.
After the formation of Yiewsley and West Drayton Urban District in 1930, much of the Victorian housing was cleared to make way for municipal estates. For many years Yiewsley remained the more commercial half of the district, with industrial estates fringing the canal, while a high-tech business park was laid out to the east at Stockley Park. More recently, disused business premises have been replaced by compact blocks of flats – and this trend is likely to continue, especially near the canal.
Two-thirds of Yiewsley’s residents are white and around a fifth of residents rent their homes from the council – relatively high figures for the borough.
The rock guitarist Ronnie Wood grew up in a council house in Yiewsley and formed the Birds here in 1964. He went on to play with the Jeff Beck Group, the Faces and the Rolling Stones.