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.


A table covered in paint and craft materials

Memories Made!

Thanks to everyone who came along to the Memory Box events over the half term.

The workshops aimed to encourage different generations to share family stories, to ‘catch’ them in the memory boxes for the future.

This echoes the aim of our project, to capture the memories of Elder migrants, to ensure their stories are preserved for future generations of historians.

We had families from the Philippines, Brazil, England, India, Romania, Cameroon and more. There were all sorts of stories and some wonderful art works created.

We are busy planning more events to celebrate the migrant stories for the Easter holidays so keep an eye out.



International Migrants Day

December 18 is the UN International Migrants Day and Ashford Place is launching the ‘Generations of Learning’ project, which will collect stories from people who came to Cricklewood in the 1950s and 60s from Pakistan and Ireland.

On December 18 1990, the UN adopted the convention on the protection of the rights of migrant workers. In 2000, it celebrated the first International Migrants Day to recognise the contributions made by migrants. Ashford Place has been awarded Heritage Lottery funding to work with young volunteers to record older generations’ experiences of settling in Cricklewood.

Labour shortages after WWII saw British industries actively recruiting in former colonial nations. Cricklewood was known for its many factories and attracted thousands of immigrants including significant numbers from Ireland and Pakistan, as well as India and the West Indies.

While the area’s Irish links are well known, the story of two communities growing side by side and the experiences they shared is less so. This exciting project will capture memories of people who left their homes to build new lives in post-war London, and the changes and challenges they lived through together.The archive created by the project will save the heritage of Irish and Pakistani migration for future generations.

Danny Maher, CEO of Ashford Place, said “This is a wonderful opportunity to record the experience of people travelling to Cricklewood in the 50s and 60s and offer some insights and thoughts on how immigration as a headline topic is viewed and reported today.”

Stories will be shared an exhibition, which will travel to schools and community venues, celebrating the contributions of migrants’ to the area. The events programme will include public discussions on contemporary issues surrounding immigration and migrant experiences. Organisations supporting the project include the Pakistan Community Centre Willesden, Brent Museum & Archives, and Hampstead School.

Anyone interested in sharing their story or getting involved in the project can contact Sorcha Ni Foghluda on 020 8208 8590 | sorcha.nifoghluda@ashfordplace.org.uk.

Two people holding a poster reading 'Help Make History'
Ashford Place CEO Danny Maher and project volunteer Jeannette Savage.