The development of Cricklewood Industries

This Panel represents some of the great industries that grew out of Cricklewood.

The Irish in Cricklewood

From early 19th century seasonal agricultural labourers came to Cricklewood. After the Second World War Irish immigration here increased – some came from overcrowded Kilburn, and some from Ireland, ravaged by unemployment. Women worked as nurses, domestic staff or ‘on the buses’, as well as in light industry. Men worked in construction, rebuilding bomb damage and redeveloping slums. This painting by Artist and Historian Bernard Canavan – “Early Morning” shows Irish men outside the Crown, waiting for the transport to take them to the place of work. This tradition has been somewhat carried on today, although the labour force is no longer Irish. The little red van in the painting shows Eddie O’Kane (of O’Kane Irish Foods owner of the painting), then a boy helping his Uncle with deliveries.

Dancing at the Galtymore

For countless thousands of Irish emigrants to London during the 20th century the Galtymore in Cricklewood was more than just a dance-hall.  It was a ‘home from home’, a piece of Ireland where each weekend they could meet Irish friends from all over London, hear the music from the Irish country and showband scene and, better still, get to see the showband stars in person, writes Patricia Roche


Handley Page Limited 

Walking through Cricklewood Station up to Platform 1, pause for a moment and view the amazing, colourful mural on the left side wall.  It details Handley Page and the development of the aero industry in Cricklewood. The work is by local artist Alistair Lambert.

Frederick Handley Page was an aviation pioneer. He founded the first British public company to build aircraft in 1909 and established a factory in Cricklewood in 1912 where they were eventually able to fly from the airfield at the Cricklewood aerodrome. From here Handley Page developed the O/100 and O/400 bombers which were used during the First World War. The 0/400 was named ‘The Bloody Paralyser’; it became the backbone of the RAF.

Rise of the Bombers –

In 1924 Handley Page Transport merged with two other airlines to create our national airline service – Imperial Airways.  By converting the large biplanes developed during WWI, Handley Page Air Services flew passengers and post between Cricklewood and Paris. Handley Page continued to develop large biplane airliners, including the luxurious Handley Page H.P.42, for use on Imperial routes to Africa and India. These amazing machines, with wing spans of one hundred feet were built in Cricklewood at the same site that they flew from, not far up Claremont Road from where Cricklewood station still stands.

The pilots were out in the open air with their flying goggles on whilst the passengers enjoyed the luxury inside of wicker chairs and spectacular views that few had ever seen before.

Alistair’s vision for his work was “to capture something of the hope and excitement of those early interwar years. Nowadays flying is a luxury we take for granted and continue at our planet’s peril, but back then the sky was the limit and Cricklewood was there at the very start of it.”

  • Barnes, C.H. Handley Page Aircraft since 1907London:, 1987 (2nd Ed, Rev. Derek N James) ISBN 0 85177 803 8

In 1929, Cricklewood Aerodrome closed and Handley Page moved aircraft final assembly to Radlett Aerodrome. The company closed in 1970. A former office building remains at 220 The Vale NW11 8SR.


The Cricklewood Aerodrome

Cricklewood Aerodrome enabled the Handley Page factory to use the airfield but in 1920 the airline had to use Hounslow Heath Aerodrome which provided customs clearance for embarking and disembarking passengers as these facilities were not provided at Cricklewood initially.  A London-Paris air service from Cricklewood Aerodrome was inaugurated in 1920. The details are shown in the Alistair Lambert mural described above.

On 14 December 1920 a Handley Page O/400 used by the airline crashed on take-off from Cricklewood Aerodrome, hitting a tree and killing both of the crew and two of the six passengers. The flight scheduled from Cricklewood to Paris crashed into the garden of 6 Basing Hill in Golders Green.

The aerodrome closed in 1929 due to suburban development, and the Golders Green Estate was built on the site. A new aerodrome was built at Radlett, Hertfordshire, where most aircraft were then constructed. At Cricklewood, construction of aircraft continued until 1964, when the premises were sold to become the Cricklewood trading estate.  

Cricklewood Aerodrome was taken over by Cricklewood Studios, the largest film studio in the UK at that time. Manufacture of aircraft parts and sub-assemblies continued until 1964 in Cricklewood when the remainder of the site was sold off; a Wickes home renovation store currently occupies the site.

Smiths Crisps

Cricklewood was the home of the first Smiths Crisps potato crisp factory, which replaced the omnibus depot at Crown Yard, behind the Crown pub. Frank Smith had just converted the garages into the country’s first crisp factory. He’d got the idea from his former boss, who’d made a few crisps on the side for his customers. Inspired, Frank got his wife to slice and fry potatoes, while he bagged them up and sold them to local pubs (quite possibly The Crown included). By 1913 they were making 1,000 bags a week.  7 years later, they had 12 employees making the potato snacks, full-time.

Frank Smith didn’t invent the crisp, they were invented in America.  In a brainwave that would change the landscape of snacking forever, Smith added a pinch (0.6 gr) of salt inside a twist of blue paper.

Photo: Alf van Beem

The Crown Hotel

By the 1750’s the Crown was providing shelter for coach travellers to and from London on the Watling Street – a Roman road leading to St Albans through North Wales to the Irish Sea.  The historic Crown pub is a terracotta, grade two listed Victorian building on Cricklewood Broadway, rebuilt by the architects Shoebridge & Rising in 1899. It was fully restored in 2003 and reopened as the Crown Moran Hotel and with the addition of a 152-room 4 star hotel and restaurant (Kitchen at the Crown).

The hotel was renamed the Clayton Crown Hotel to identify their ownership. The building style has been described as: “Free Flemish Renaissance, with two stepped and voluted gables in front of a slate mansard roof, a battlement turret at one end. Plentiful terracotta ornament; four handsome cast-iron lamp standards in front.”  The green door was of particular interest to the artist (Freddie Needle) who has produced artwork of the front doorway.

Stoll Studios, Cricklewood (1920 - 1938)

Situated in Temple Road the former studio location is currently the site of a retail development, including a large Matalan store and associated parking. To the north of the studio site on the location of the former Smiths’ clock factory is a Wickes DIY store and associated parking. Nearby roads that were built at the edge of the film studio site have been named Stoll Close and Oswald Terrace

Photos from ‘Britain From Above’ website

Stoll Pictures (owned by Sir Oswald Stoll) was a distributor, producer and owned a number of profitable theatres.

In 1920, a large studio building was constructed on industrial land at Cricklewood, ownership of which Stoll retained until 1938.

To the north of the studio was Smiths clock factory which produced clocks and other instruments and accessories for cars and aircraft. The studio building remained intact until the 1960s.

In the 1930s, the studio, which had been slow to adopt sound, was mainly used by independent producers for short films, but late in the decade it was used by Butcher’s to make Old Mother Riley (d. Oswald Mitchell, 1937 ) and John Baxter made several films there from the mid ’30s. Stoll himself, a cold and formal individual, was, an enthusiastic supporter of the British film industry.  Stoll joined with Moss and Thornton to create Moss Empires in 1900, eventually opening 28 “Empires” up and down the country. These included the iconic London Hippodrome and Coliseum, which staged the first Royal Variety Shows in 1912.

When British troops were returning home from WWI with physical and mental injury, Sir Oswald was at the forefront of the debate of how best to support returning wounded Veterans. Using his standing and contacts, Sir Oswald set about establishing the War Seal Foundation, which provided a place to call home and vital support for injured Veterans and their families. He was knighted for his philanthropic efforts in the same year and the War Seal Foundation was renamed the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation in his honour. The Fulham mansions is the original site that Sir Oswald donated to begin housing Veterans in 1916 and remains today on Fulham Road. In 1938, after 18 years of picture production Stoll’s Cricklewood Studios was sold to the aviation company, Hawker-Siddeley. It ended trading in 1948.

Smiths Industries

Cricklewood was home to Smiths Industries which started in 1915 as S. Smith & Sons, on the Edgware Road, established to manufacture fuses, instruments and accessories.  By 1920 they moved their headquarters to Cricklewood. By 1939  Smiths was making electrical motors, aircraft accessories, and electric clocks. The large advertisement for Smith’s on the iron railway bridge over the Broadway next to the bus garage became a familiar landmark for decades. As the company grew it acquired other companies and sites overseas but Cricklewood remained the most important site, with 8,000 employees between 1937 and 1978. The company was Cricklewood’s biggest employer.

There were many famous Industries with connections to Cricklewood including:-

Bentley Motors

Bentley Motors, builders of racing and sports cars, built a factory at the corner of Oxgate Lane and Edgware Road in Cricklewood in 1920, which remained the company’s headquarters until it was bought out by Rolls-Royce in 1931.

Cars built at Cricklewood won Le Mans 3 times. 1928, 1929 and 1930.

1929 Le Mans

Benly logo

Rolls Razor

Rolls Razor (named to evoke the Rolls Royce image of luxury and quality) was a sophisticated safety razor. The company moved production to 255 Cricklewood Broadway, with the rear in Hassop Road; their showroom was at 197 Regent Street.

They went on to make Colston washing machines in Cricklewood. In 1962 they had 10% of the market


Samuelsons established a reputation as one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive suppliers of film industry equipment, and the largest film equipment servicing company in the world.  Their headquarters was at 303 – 315 Cricklewood Broadway, with other buildings at 100 and 120-130 Cricklewood Lane.  The Samuelsons, four brothers, opened The Production Village at 100 Cricklewood Lane in 1979, an old Handley Page building. The Production Village, was a television studio and entertainment complex.  With its two pubs and picturesque duck pond and a theatre. There is a studio tour available on the web – Look for village.

Samuelsons’ reunion can be seen on


Brian Jarvis, Burt Coleman and Ted Coleman working in 15 Cricklewood Broadway as a company called Movicol invented the stylophone when Brian was mending his niece’s broken toy piano and decided to wire it up and make it electronic. Once the patent was gained they renamed the company Dubreq and moved to 249-289 Cricklewood broadway . 

Their particular expertise was in dubbing and recording DuBreq. A pocket electric organ had been invented. David Bowie used it on his record Major Tom.

With the re-made successful version of Space Oddity, Bowie played the Stylophone – a brand new electronic toy instrument which gave the song a “futuristic” sound. You can hear the Stylophone buzzing low in the track during the first couple of verses.

In January 2017, Dubreq released details of the Stylophone Gen X-1 portable analogue synthesizer. It was designed and manufactured by Dubreq  and retailed at £59.99.

The development of Cricklewood from the 1860s
Panel 1
The development of Cricklewood Industries
Panel 2
Queen of the Air’ and Cricklewood Regeneration
Panel 3