the £4 billion Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration scheme in London and will feature thousands of new homes, as well as new schools, shops and a train station.
there are many schools in Cricklewood rated 'outstanding' by Ofsted.
there are plenty of different types of homes available to rent in NW2.
© Photography by Graham Hussey
Who is Cricklewood’s favourite celebrity? Could it be novelist Zadie Smith, who opened her first novel White Teeth with the lines: “Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway” and who has recently returned to her home territory with her latest novel, NW? Or is it former London mayor Ken Livingstone, a long-time local resident who famously keeps newts in his garden pond?
Seven miles north-west of central London, this suburb sits on Watling Street, one of the straightest roads out of the capital; the old Roman road is now better known as the A5. Cricklewood Broadway is the heart of the neighbourhood and the current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has noticed that the place could do with a facelift.The Mayor’s Outer London Fund and the boroughs of Barnet and Brent have pledged £2.26 million towards town-centre improvements.
Zadie Smith is set to return to her home turf with a charity event at the handsome, four-star Crown Moran Hotel, the Broadway’s landmark red-brick and terracotta former pub, while the annual Silk Street festival in September celebrates the area’s cultural diversity.
The Broadway couldn’t be a more typical London street with its cheap cafés, old bingo hall, pound stores and Asian corner shops with their bright displays of fruit and veg — all giving no clue to the fine roads of Victorian and Edwardian houses that lie behind. The Mapesbury Estate conservation area is a grid of roads running off Exeter Road and Lydford Road, with mainly red-brick Edwardian detached and semi-detached houses. The Cricklewood Railway Terraces is the other conservation area. East of Cricklewood Broadway and north of Kara Way, this little enclave of cottages — some with communal gardens, some with little front gardens set out opposite an access path — were built in the 1880s when the Midland Railway moved its depot from Kentish Town to Cricklewood.
Cricklewood also offers terraces of Victorian houses off Anson road, with semi-detached and terrace Edwardian houses between the Broadway and Fordwych Road, Twenties and Thirties houses east of the railway, and mansion flats near Shoot Up Hill.
Stewart Boyd, of the local branch of estate agents Winkworth, says property prices are now well above the level achieved at the last peak in the autumn of 2007.
Using as an example his own three-bedroom garden flat, he revealed that he bought it in 2007 near the top of the market for £285,000, and that last year an offer of £308,000 fell through. He put it back on the market again this year and recently sold it for £350,000.
And thank you to Colin Greener for nominating Cricklewood.
Buyers on the Mapesbury Estate now expect to pay at least £1.2 million for a substantial house. The large twenties semi-detached houses in Asmara and Somali roads sell for between £1.2 million and £1.5 million.
Smaller Thirties semi-detached houses in and around Pennine Drive sell for between £380,000 and £470,000, while in the roads off Anson Road, a three- or four-bedroom Victorian terrace is £550,000 to £700,000, a two-bedroom railway cottage can be bought for about £400,000, and a two-bedroom garden flat is between £350,000 and £400,000.
Travel and commuting: Willesden Green (Zone 2; annual travelcard £1,216) and Dollis Hill (Zone 3; annual travelcard £1,424) are on the Jubilee line (15 minutes to Bond Street); Cricklewood is on Thameslink with trains to Farringdon (18 minutes).
The area attracts: Cricklewood has a real sense of community. People often arrive here first when they can’t afford Queen’s Park or West Hampstead.
Staying power: there are long-standing Irish and Jewish residents who have brought up their families in Cricklewood.
Postcode: the Cricklewood postcode is NW2; as well as Cricklewood it also includes Dollis Hill, Childs Hill and bits of north Willesden and north Neasden.
Best roads: Walm Lane on the Mapesbury estate may be a busy road but it also has the best houses: large Edwardian double fronted houses with carriage drives. Currently, there are two houses for sale in the road: a five-bedroom house with an 150 foot garden for £2.799 million and a seven-bedroom house at £2.5 million.
Up and coming: the railway cottages are a little known enclave with plenty of charm and potential. The 1930s semi-detached houses off Pennine Drive are close to Clitterhouse Recreation Group which is about to get a facelift.
Shops and restaurants: the shopping along Cricklewood Broadway serves day-to-day needs but won’t set shopaholics’ hearts racing.
There is a big B&Q on Cricklewood Lane and where Cricklewood Broadway turns back into Edgware Road there is a small retail park with branches of Matalan and Wickes. Close by there is a good lighting shop, Arrow Lighting, and Raft sells solid wood furniture. Elementree on the Broadway is a popular wine bar and restaurant.
On the Mapesbury Estate, people tend to make for the shops on Walm Lane next to Willesden Green station where there is a gastropub, The Queensbury, with an associated deli and café.
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Leisure and the arts: The second Silk Road festival is taking place now until September 7 when there is a big outdoor event. Silk Road, so named because the A5 is one of the main roads in and out of London. As well as Zadie Smith the event includes the Cricklewood Comedy Fringe also at the Crown Moran hotel on September 4.
Open spaces: Gladstone Park covers 97 acres between Cricklewood and Dollis Hill, with a walled garden, a café, tennis courts and children’s playgrounds. The Mapesbury Dell on Hoveden Road is a community “secret garden” with a children’s playground, owned by the council but maintained in part by local volunteers. There is birdwatching and sailing on the Welsh Harp reservoir.
Leisure and the arts: there is a Cineworld multiplex cinema at Staples Corner, while The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, a leading fringe venue, also has a cinema. Virgin Active on Cricklewood Lane and the Manor Health Club on Cricklewood Broadway offer private swimming pools. There’s a council-owned pool at Swiss Cottage.
Council: the boundaries of three councils meet in Cricklewood. In Conservative controlled Barnet, band D council tax for 2013/14 is £1,416.20, in Labour-controlled Camden it is £1,324.48, and in Brent, which is also Labour-controlled, it is £1,361.84.
Five-year property price trends: Cricklewood
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE: CRICKLEWOOD
What connects a famous American writer with a Victorian prime minister?
The recently demolished Dollis Hill House in Gladstone Park was visited by prime minister Gladstone and Huckleberry Finn author Mark Twain. A local trust tried to save the house but Brent council claimed it was beyond repair; it has recently opened an open air performance space on the site.
Do fans of David Bowie’s Space Oddity know there is a Cricklewood link?
The link is the stylophone, a stylus-operated early synthesizer. David Bowie used the instrument, which has a very particular sound, in 1975 in Space Oddity. The Stylophone was manufactured in Cricklewood and has recently been relaunched 30 years after it went out of production.
Why do roads named after English hills hold memories of the early days of aviation?
Cricklewood aerodrome once occupied the roads around Pennine Drive. It was owned by the Handley Page aviation company whose factory was close by. The first London to Paris passenger flights took off from her in 1919.
Average prices: Buying flats and houses in Cricklewood
One-bedroom flat: £265,000
Two-bedroom flat: £363,000
Two-bedroom house: £356,000
Three-bedroom house: £555,000
Four-bedroom house: £893,000
Pictures by Graham Hussey