Questions, questions …

The story of Heathrow: much of Middlesex has disappeared into its perimeter fences, and it’s a major employer and centre of trade: a town in its own right. Is it a fantasy to think it can survive without the extra runway?

Was Middlesex the reason that the London postal districts don’t extend to Wembley, Brentford etc? And how was it that the people who defined the Metropolitan Police area in the 19th century were so prophetic in setting the eventual boundaries of Greater London?

How was Metro-Land built? Why in the depression years were a number of Middlesex builders able to produce housing on an unequally scale? Was it an extension of what had been done in South London or were there new techniques of marketing and construction? How important were the private builders as opposed to the county council and the Metropolitan Railway in making it happen? How far would the results have fallen foul of the planning laws that came later and would this have been a good thing?

How good was Charles Holden, the architect who gave suburban Middlesex its chief defining look? How do his Piccadilly Line stations compare to the originals in Berlin that inspired them? Did London Transport’s branding exercise do much to make the outer fringes of London feel part of a single whole? Why did it matter?

What’s it like trying to make a living in one of the countless parades of suburban shops built as part of the 1930s Metroland developments? Why isn’t there a Tesco Express or equivalent yet in Queensbury, for example?

How much of a fight was there around the abolition of Middlesex? Why did Sunbury, Staines, Potters Bar, South Mimms resist joining Greater London? An outer London council wrecked the Labour GLC’s ‘Fare’s Fair’ policy in the 1980s. Are there other important examples of conflict between inner and outer London?


One Response to Questions, questions …

  1. “What’s it like trying to make a living in one of the countless parades of suburban shops built as part of the 1930s Metroland developments?” I can’t speak personally as I am not a shopkeeper but the parade of shops alongside Greenford Station is now home to a Tesco Express which has undermined local trade at a time when footfall was already dropping. It isn’t much better for the shopkeepers directly opposite it as the kind of modern architecture that suits hot climates has failed miserably in Greenford. The landlord has put up the rent in order to fund repairs to the point where most traders are thinking of moving or retiring. Clive’s the Barbers (a location for “Waking the Dead” and “New Tricks”) is one of the few remaining places in Greenford where you can get a haircut, but it may not be there by the end of 2014. I am hoping to prevent the partial or complete demolition of the Starlite Ballroom in Allendale Road which is a 1960s insertion into what was originally an Odeon parade, complete with stylish shops. The cinema closed in 1956 but following extensive alterations it reopened in 1964 as the Starlite and became a venue for some of the greatest names in UK and US music. Allendale Road is now very quiet, no longer a destination for many residents who tend to shop in large supermarkets. It would be fantastic to see an increase in custom by reopening the venue rather than replacing the building with lots more flats. See more about it on this public Facebook page:
    I love your wonderful site – more of the same please!

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