Willesden

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Coordinates: 51°32′48″N 0°13′46″W / 51.5468°N 0.2295°W / 51.5468; -0.2295

Willesden is an area in North West London which forms part of the London Borough of Brent. It is situated 5 miles (8 km) north west of Charing Cross. The area has strong links to Ireland and has a sizable Irish population, as well as a large Afro-Caribbean community.

Contents

History

Etymology

The name derives from the Anglo-Saxon Willesdune, meaning The Hill of the Spring,[1] and a settlement bearing this name dates back to 939 AD. The Domesday Book of 1086 records it as Wellesdone.[1] The town's motto is Laborare est orare.

Early history

From the 14th to 16th centuries, the town was a place of pilgrimage due to the presence of two ancient statues of the Virgin Mary at the Church of St Mary. One of these statues is thought to be a Black Madonna, which was insulted by the Lollards and burnt in 1538.

Modern history

The parish of Willesden remained predominantly rural up until 1875, when its population was 18,500. However, this changed with the opening of the Metropolitan Railway (later the Metropolitan Line) station of Willesden Green on 24 November 1879. By 1906 the population had grown to 140,000, a phenomenon of rapid growth that was to be repeated in the 1920s in neighbouring areas such as Harrow. The Metropolitan Line service was withdrawn in 1940, when the station was served by the Bakerloo Line, and later the Jubilee Line.

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