A small grouop of young men and women pose for a photograph inside a nightclub.
Migration History

I remember it used to be bigger…

Until 1870, when the new railway station opened, Cricklewood was a small village, with a number of large mansion houses on the outskirts.

The Cricklewood area was identified as a London postal district including Cricklewood, Dollis Hill, Childs Hill, parts of Golders Green and Brent Cross, Willesden (north), and Neasden (north). (This only changed after the borough re-organisations in 1965, but the area is still covered by the familiar NW2 postcode.)

In 1879, a second station opened at Willesden Green. As commuting into central London to work became possible, the area began to develop, with thousands of new homes being built between 1880 – 1930. The ‘tree roads’ – Pine, Larch, Ivy, Olive and our own Ashford Road – were part of the Cricklewood Park development constructed between 1893-1900.

Local amenities included the well-known Crown Hotel, rebuilt in 1889, and the shops along Cricklewood Broadway built between 1910 and 1914. There was a new school and a cinema and skating rink for entertainment. Three synagogues were built for the new Jewish communities. Several churches were built for the growing population, including St Agnes Roman Catholic Church, built in 1883 to cater to the growing number of Catholics, many of whom were Irish migrants.

Gladstone Park was completed in 1901 and the swimming pool was opened in the park in 1903. Elders we have interviewed as part of the Generations of Learning project have fond memories of swimming there in the summer.


In the years following the start of the First World War in 1914, light industry grew, with factories making use of the transport links along the A5 (aka Cricklewood Broadway). One of the best known factories was Smiths Industries, which opened in 1915. By the 1960s the company employed some 8,000 people. This and other factories attracted many migrants into the area. In the years after the end of the Second World War in 1945, people from the former British Empire colonies were invited to help rebuild the UK. Elders speaking as part of the project recall the Ascot Gas Water Heaters company had a notably large number of workers from Pakistan.


As England’s close neighbour, migration from Ireland had been long established, and in the 1950s and ’60s, thousands of young men and women came to build new lives. Many enjoyed the freedom of the big city after quiet lives in the rural countryside, and Cricklewood was famed for its ballrooms; the Galtymore and Burtons.

A small grouop of young men and women pose for a photograph inside a nightclub.
Young Irish enjoy themselves at the Galtymore in the late 1960s.

Migrants from Pakistan also came from the rural areas, many coming to Cricklewood from the Punjab, which had strong links with Great Britain.

A Punjabi man in uniform with an ornate turban and long row of medals on his chest
Punjabi First World War veteran whose children later migrated to Cricklewood.


The Punjab was a key recruitment area for the British army in pre-Partition India and many Punjabi men fought for Britain in the First and Second World Wars. Those who came to Britain in the 1950s and ’60s often left families at home, thinking they would only stay a few years before returning themselves.






If you have memories of Cricklewood in the 1950s or 1960s as part of the Irish or Pakistani community, we would love to hear from you! Please call Sorcha on 020 8208 8590.


Young Bajan men stand around a desk as a transport manager takes their details
Migration History, Uncategorized

Celebrating Migration

#worlddayofmigrants |

Every year the Catholic church celebrates a World Day of Migrants, which this year took place on 14 January.

The event encourages a more welcoming attitude towards migrants, recognising their achievements. With increased migration as global conflict forces people to leave their homes in search of peace, safety, and a better life for their families, ‘migrant’ is in danger of becoming a dirty word.

Migrants and migration is frequently blamed for social problems, accused of ‘stealing’ jobs, or for creating pressure on UK housing, schools, and healthcare.

However, in the years after the end of the Second World War, migrants were invited to the UK from former Commonwealth nations, asked to help rebuild the nation.

Representatives from major organisations such as London Transport, British Rail, and the National Health Service travelled to various countries to recruit people to migrate.


[This well-known image was taken at a London Transport recruitment event in Barbados: London Transport Museum collection: 1998/83757]


Migrants from Pakistan and Ireland worked in the schools, they worked alongside British people in factories and shops and offices, helping to rebuild the economy and adding to the overall prosperity of the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s.

By the 1970s, Irish nurses made up 12% of the workforce in NHS hospitals and more than 18,000 medics came from Pakistan and India in the 1960s.

Over the next few months, we will be recording the stories of some of the migrants from Pakistan and Ireland. We will be sharing them here and in our travelling exhibition, celebrating the contribution of migrants to the recent local history in Cricklewood.