Roe Green Park, including Roe Green Walled Garden (Brent)
The park is predominantly on former farmland, and includes the grounds of a house built in 1899 for Lady Mary Caroline Blair, Duchess of Sutherland. Originally called The Cottage, it was later renamed Kingsbury Manor, and remains within the park today together with the former coach-house, stables and walled garden. The site for the park was purchased by the local council in 2 stages, in 1935 and 1938 when Kingsbury Manor was acquired as a home for the elderly. From 1928 the coach house had been rented by television pioneer John Logie Baird. Roe Green Walled Garden has been run as a community garden project since 1990. Prior to the public park, there were private polo fields on part of the site established by James Buchanon, a well-known whisky producer who owned land in the area. Between 1939 and 1985 the park's facilities included a popular lido, Kingsbury Swimming Pool.
- Previous / Other name:
- Kingsbury Manor
- Site location:
- Roe Green/Kingsbury Road/Bacon Lane, Kingsbury
- NW9 9HA
- What 3 Words:
- Type of site:
- Public Park
- Open to public?
- Opening times:
- park unrestricted; walled garden open Tues,Thurs, Sat 10.30am -2.30pm (+ occasionally other times)
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 12 times, most recently in 2018.
- Special conditions:
- Car park, children's playground, toilets, cricket, sports pitches, tennis
- Open Days in the Walled Garden + events in the park, including fairs and community events
- Public transport:
- Tube: Kingsbury (Jubilee); Burnt Oak (Northern). Bus: 183, 204, 302, 324.
- Research updated:
- Last minor changes:
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.brent.gov.uk; www.bhcg.btck.co.uk/RoeGreenWalledGarden
Full Site Description
The site for the park was purchased in two stages by the local council to provide recreational space for the growing community as this once rural area was built over by housing. This took place in two stages, in 1935 and 1938, a total of 26 acres costing £29,375. The core of the public park is former parkland and farmland of Roe Green House, the site of which is now occupied by Roe Green Village (q.v.), an estate built in 1916-18 along garden suburb principles to provide housing for local aerospace employees. Well-known whisky producer James Buchanon had built Roe Green Farm in 1894 and laid out private polo fields here, which are shown on the OS Third Edition 25 ins map of c.1916 forming a large part of what is now the public park. There was also an area of allotments for residents to grow vegetables.
Within the area of the future public park was a country house set in 10 acres of grounds built in 1899 for Lady Mary Caroline Blair, 2nd wife of the 3rd Duke of Sutherland. Nearby Sutherland Court is named after her. Her mock-Tudor style house, originally called The Cottage, was designed by architect W. West-Neve, who was articled to Norman Shaw; he also built the Summerhouse, just north of the main house. Also part of the estate and remaining within the public park, are the Coach House built in 1903 and Walled Garden. The Duchess’s daughter Irene, Countess Bubna, was living here by 1903 and before 1914 added an orchard, cowshed and pigsties. The area remained rural until the early 1920s, when road improvements brought housing development. After the Duchess of Sutherland died, the estate was acquired in 1929 by haulage contractor turned property developer George Cloke, who renamed the house Kingsbury Manor and lived here while he oversaw his building projects in the area. He had purchased land from the owner of Valley Farm to the west and began developing housing and parades of shops south of Kingsbury Road between the station and Valley Drive. By 1933 Kingsbury Urban District Council was keen to purchase from Cloke a piece of land to the west for a public park but Cloke used the 6-acre site for housing. In 1934 he offered the council 2 fields comprising 20 acres on the south of Bacon Lane, which was purchased in 1935 and marked the beginning of Roe Green Park. In 1938 Cloke sold the house and grounds to Middlesex County Council and Wembley Borough Council for c.£35,000. The house and garden became a maternity hostel for unmarried mothers, with the remaining grounds to be added to the public park. However, due to the outbreak of WWII most of the land was used for allotments until 1948. In the 1950s the house became a home for the elderly and is now a Day Centre with a pleasant (private) garden around it and the thatched summerhouse remaining at the back.
At the end of the drive to the main house was a Lodge where the gardener lived with his family. Part of the garden here was lost to the improvements to Kingsbury Road in 1923. In WWII an underground air raid shelter was constructed behind the Lodge but later abandoned when it was found to suffer from flooding. After the war pre-fabricated housing was built on the park boundary between the Lodge and Kingsbury Lido, but the pre-fab nearest the Lodge also suffered from flooding. The Lodge stood empty for many years is now used as a restaurant.
In 1928 the Coach House, which was no longer needed to accommodate a coachman, had been rented together with the stables by the television pioneer John Logie Baird (1888-1946). Here he undertook his television experiments, receiving the first television signals from Berlin in 1929. The masts had to be secretly erected, and experiments carried out at night. Baird’s prototype television receivers were tested here in what came to be called Kingsbury Manor Studio, although he moved to other premises elsewhere in the early 1930s. At the beginning of WWII the two 80ft aerial masts were removed in case they could be used as landmarks by German bombers, and all that remains is the concrete base with its metal fixings. The building was used as a Casualty Medical Service Depot in 1940 and after the war it was converted into 3 flats due to the urgent need for temporary accommodation. In 1953, in recognition of Baird’s significant work here, a memorial stone was erected at the base of one of the masts with the following inscription: ‘Erected Under Auspices of the Wembley History Society (Chairman Councillor M J Curley). This stone commemorates the site of the masts used for the reception of the First Television Signals from the continent by JOHN LOGIE BAIRD Pioneer of Television, in July 1929 and was unveiled on July 30th 1953 by David Gammans MP, Her Majesty’s Assistant Postmaster-General’. The stone was vandalised several times, as a result of which it was moved to its present position on the wall at the front of the old Coach House. For many years from the 1950s it became the Kingsbury Veterans’ Club. Now called The Studio, since 2015 it has been used as a children’s nursery.
Within the park is Roe Green Walled Garden, which is shown on a map of 1914 with a central pond and had produced fruit, vegetables and flowers for the house. After the sale of the Kingsbury Manor Estate it was used by Wembley Borough Council and later Brent Council as its horticultural training centre, but this ceased in the 1980s due to council spending cuts and the old kitchen garden became neglected. In 1989 Barn Hill Conservation Group took over care of the walled garden in exchange for use of the facilities, including the workshop, greenhouse and cold frames, and since 1990 it has been a community garden project, manned by volunteers. There is a tree nursery nurturing seedlings for re-planting in Fryent Country Park (q.v.). Over the years new features are introduced, including an organic vegetable garden, a recycling project to build a traditional dry-stone wall but using rubble instead of stone; a new pond to encourage wildlife leaving the old round pond for the fish. Barn Hill Conservation Group have received funding for a range of garden improvements over the years, the largest to date being a new Conservation Centre building, which has been named 'The Cottage' after the original name of the Duchess of Sutherland’s house.
Soon after Roe Green Park opened, Kingsbury Swimming Pool, also known as Kingsbury Lido, was constructed at a cost of £42,628 and opened on 13 May 1939. A full-size Olympic pool, 25 yards wide by 55 yards long (22.86m x 50.29m), it became very popular despite being outdoors and unheated, and at times it got so crowded it was impossible to get in. Closed during the war years, in its heyday it was used to host major galas; as a training pool for the 1948 London Olympics it was used by local Olympic swimmers like Judy Grinham, who won a gold medal in the Australian Games of 1956. However, the lido eventually closed in 1985, its demise affected by the English weather and the high cost of maintenance: it required some £100,000 p.a. to maintain it but only generated £700 from admission fees. The pool was eventually infilled in 1990. Large sections of the park are now planted as a meadow area.
The public park contains a good number of parkland oaks, now overlaid with many younger flowering and specimen trees, with beds of conifers, and roses along the main road boundary. At one time elm trees grew along Stag Lane until they were lost to Dutch Elm Disease.
LB Brent, Conservation Areas information; 'A History of Kingsbury Manor', Wembley History Society Journal, Vol III no.9, autumn 1974; Len Snow, 'Brent - Wembley, Willesden and Kingsbury' (Phillimore, 1990); Philip Grant, 'The History of "Kingsbury Manor", Its Lodge and Coach House', Wembley History Society, May 2011. Peter Cormack, Debbie Nyman 'Tea & Memories' Growing up in Roe Green Village; The Air-Co rag, Barnhill Conservation Group; Wembley History Society.
LPGT Volunteer Research by Debbie Nyman, January 2020
Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
- Grid ref:
- TQ197890 (519846,188970)
- Size in hectares:
- Site ownership:
- LB Brent (Kingsbury Manor owned by Southover Partnership)
- Site management:
- Parks Service; Barn Hill Conservation Group (walled garden)
- 1899 (The Cottage); 1935-1938
- Public park: Borough Architect
- Listed structures:
- LBII: Kingsbury Manor, Summerhouse
- On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:
- Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
- Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
Local Authority Data
The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.
- On Local List:
- In Conservation Area:
- Tree Preservation Order:
- Not known
- Nature Conservation Area:
- Yes - Borough Importance II
- Green Belt:
- Metropolitan Open Land:
- Special Policy Area:
- Other LA designation:
- Public Open Space
Roe Green Walled Garden in Roe Green Park, June 2001. Photo: S Williams
Click a photo to enlarge.
Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.