Striking change has come to Cricklewood since the Seventies, when Irish construction workers, who had settled for generations in nearby Kilburn, waited for “call-up” at The Crown, the landmark Victorian pub in Cricklewood Broadway.
The Clayton Crown is now a luxury hotel, the Mayor of London has invested more than £1.6 million in and around the Broadway, and the streets look smarter, with new signage. But this pales into insignificance when compared to a giant £4.5 billion regeneration scheme for the Brent Cross shopping centre and the land in Cricklewood south of the North Circular Road.
Ten years in the planning, and not without local opposition, the scheme involves doubling the size of the shopping centre, the redevelopment of the Whitefield Estate, plus the creation of 7,500 new homes, a new town centre, replacement schools, improved parks and a new garden bridge over the North Circular Road.
Last year’s Budget announcement from Chancellor George Osborne of a Government grant of £97 million for a new station at Brent Cross on the Thameslink route has given the project fresh impetus. Argent, which is also developing King’s Cross, came on board last year with American partners Related, and next year work is expected to begin on the first phase that will bring big improvements to Clitterhouse Recreation Ground and Clarefield Park.
Property in Cricklewood
Cricklewood has a mix of Victorian, Edwardian and Thirties houses, with a smattering of new-build flats. Estate agent Sam Gould, of the Hampstead branch of Chestertons, who also sells homes in Cricklewood, says buyers can expect to pay at least £350,000 for a one-bedroom flat.
There are fine examples of four- and five-bedroom Victorian houses in Fordwych Road and these can sell for about £1.5 million. Large Thirties detached and semi-detached houses south of Gladstone Park, if well-renovated, sell for about £2 million. The Hocroft Estate off Hendon Way has detached and semi-detached homes that also sell for about £2 million.
The cost of renting a four-bedroom family house in Cricklewood ranges from £2,500 a month for a period Edwardian house in Blenheim Gardens to £3,337 a month for a modern townhouse in Elsinore Gardens. One-bedroom flats range from £997 a month for a flat in a modern block in Dairyman Close near the station to £1,733 for a garden flat in Minster Road.
NW2 is the Cricklewood postcode, but it also includes Dollis Hill, Childs Hill and parts of Golders Green, Willesden and Neasden.
Ranulf Road has large detached inter-war houses that can sell for up to £4.6 million.
Claremont Village (020 3627 2641) in Claremont Road is a Fairview New Homes development of 135 (29 affordable) one- and two-bedroom flats and three- and four-bedroom houses on the site of a former football pitch. Off-plan prices for the three-bedroom houses start at £550,000; other prices still to be released.
Kidderpore Green (0844 811 4321) is a Barratt Homes development of two-, three- and four-bedroom flats and houses, including the renovation of a number of Arts and Crafts houses on Kidderpore Avenue, off Finchley Road. The scheme is designed by architects Allies & Morrison. A number of renovated flats are ready to move into and a new show flat opens on February 11. Prices range from £1.35 million to £3.12 million.
The area attracts
Gould says Cricklewood’s flats attract first-time buyers and families go for the houses. Many buyers come to Cricklewood because homes here are cheaper than in nearby West Hampstead. The price per square foot in Cricklewood is between £500 and £800 a square foot, compared with between £700 and £1,000 a square foot in West Hampstead.
Many buyers see Cricklewood as a stepping stone, buying a house they can add value to and then moving on.
Up and coming
The roads around Chichele Road have fine Victorian houses. Many are still in multiple occupation, but when converted back into family homes, they sell for as much as £2 million.
The Railway Cottages conservation area off Kara Way has tiny cottages with pretty gardens and communal areas. These were built to house workers from the nearby rail depot and marshalling yard. The smaller houses sell for about £450,000.
Cricklewood is situated between Wembley to the west, Hendon to the north, Hampstead to the east and Kilburn to the south. It has easy access to the North Circular Road, the M1 and the A1.
Cricklewood train station is on the Thameslink line, with services to St Pancras, Farringdon and City Thameslink. Nearby Dollis Hill is on the Jubilee line and Brent Cross is on the Edgware branch of the Northern line. All stations are in Zone 3 and an annual travel card costs £1,520.
North Cricklewood falls under Conservative-controlled Barnet council, where Band D council tax for this year is £1,397.07. South Cricklewood falls under Brent, which is Labour-controlled and Band D council tax is £1,353.94 for this year.
Shops and restaurants
Cricklewood Broadway has a mix of cheap cafés, barbers and independent grocers. The Brent Cross shopping centre — with Fenwick, John Lewis and M&S — is close by for more serious shopping. There is a large branch of B&Q on Cricklewood Lane between the station and the Broadway. Further up the Broadway in the direction of the North Circular Road, Raft is a furniture shop selling solidly built modern wooden furniture, and Arrow Electrical is a lighting shop specialising in chandeliers, although they can also order Italian designer brands Flos and Artemide. Further on still, there are branches of Matalan and Wickes.
The Clayton Crown Hotel boasts PanAsia, a restaurant specialising in southeast Asian cuisine, and a pub with standard pub fare. Also in Cricklewood Broadway, Elementree is the most popular local restaurant and wine bar; The Beaten Docket is the local Wetherspoon pub and eatery, and Zeytoon mixes Afghan and Persian cuisines.
What the locals say on Twitter
The lucky7s is the best pub. Staff friendly, good beer and a warm welcome every time. I miss it so.
@NW2_RA Weekly market, Fair trade shop,the Crown for hot chocolate and Irish music on Sun, bagel shop, Lidl, candy shop, etc.
Hammond & Sons Butchers - fantastic, as is the Fruit & Veg stall next to post office
The cafe in Gladstone park, rainbow park for the kids, Ashleys for fruit & veg & Virgin active gym.
Good local schools, esp. Hampstead School, Meral's Cafe, Wright Family fruit & veg, great bus routes, Khana Indian, The Crown
Also, Mapesbury Dell, Elementree, active Scout groups, candy shop, bagels shops, food shops from around the world.
@cipcricklewood Pomegranate. Excellent Thai restaurant with home style dishes.
Levain bakery at the weekly farmers market has great bread and portuguese tarts.
Hammond&Son, lovely friendly traditional butchers. They do all the usual plus specialties eg treacle-cured bacon.
Best café is Meral's on Cricklewood Lane. Check out @clitterhouse a really great community led project in North Cricklewood
Gladstone Park is situated between Kendal Road and Dollis Hill Lane, and there is a café and art gallery in the old stable block. From the park, there are views south over London and to the west to Wembley. The park has two children’s playgrounds, a walled flower garden, a duck pond and Holocaust memorial.
The Clitterhouse Recreation Ground off Claremont Road and the smaller Clarefield Park off Claremont Way are due for a multi-million pound makeover as part of the Brent Cross and Cricklewood regeneration plans. There are also plans to divert the River Brent to provide a new riverside park.
Leisure and the arts
Cricklewood has a great spirit. The community has come together to run the local library that opens in a new building in the spring. The Clitterhouse Farm project aims to save a range of historic farm buildings from demolition and transform them into a hub which supports the local community and small businesses.
Cineworld at Staples Corner is the nearest multiplex cinema. The Tricycle is an award-winning theatre and art centre in nearby Kilburn.
The nearest council-owned swimming pools are the Willesden Sports Centre in Donnington Road and the Finchley Lido at the Great North Leisure Centre in Chaplin Square which has an outdoor pool, an indoor pool and a leisure pool with a wave machine. There are swimming pools in the private Virgin Active in Cricklewood Lane and the Manor Health and Leisure Club in Cricklewood Broadway.
Three things you may not know about Cricklewood
What is David Bowie’s early musical connection with Cricklewood?
Bowie used a Stylophone on his first hit Space Oddity in 1969. Three million of these tiny electronic musical instruments were sold in the Sixties and Seventies, though it was marketed mainly as a children’s toy. It was manufactured by Dübreq, which was based in Cricklewood Lane. Bowie once declared in an interview that the Stylophone was “the only instrument I take on holiday with me to compose on”. The instrument was relaunched by the inventor’s son in 2007.
Why did a Victorian prime minister love Cricklewood?
In 1881, Lord and Lady Aberdeen moved in to Dollis Hill House and used it as a summer retreat. William Gladstone (1809 – 1898) was a frequent visitor and his doctor would send him there when he felt tired or unwell. The house was situated at the top of what is now Gladstone Park. A local trust tried but failed to save the house, which was demolished in 2012.
Who were McAlpine’s Fusiliers and what do they have to do with Cricklewood?
McAlpine’s Fusiliers are the Irish people who worked for building firms such as the one owned by Sir Robert McAlpine. The song by the same name is an Irish ballad performed by, among others, the Dubliners with the lines “The craic was good in Cricklewood, we wouldn’t leave the Crown”. Many Irish families settled in Cricklewood and their favourite drinking hole was the Crown in Cricklewood Broadway, now a four-star hotel.
Almost all Cricklewood’s state primary schools are judged to be “good” by the education watchdog Ofsted. Those judged to be “outstanding” are: Our Lady of Grace RC Infants (ages three to seven) in Dollis Hill Avenue; the Convent of Jesus and Mary Infants (ages three to seven) in Park Avenue and Emmanuel CofE in Mill Lane.
There are three Jewish state primary schools, all judged to be “good”: Avigdor Hirsch Torah Temimah (boys) in Park Side; the North West London Jewish Day School in Willesden Lane and Rimon, a new Free School in Dunstan Road.
Hampstead (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Westbere Road is the local state comprehensive; it is judged to be “good”.
Mulberry House (co-ed, ages two to seven) is a private infants’ school in Shoot Up Hill. There are a number of well-respected and high-achieving private schools in Hampstead.