Queen's Park is in fact the newest district in this book's remit, having been created in 1887 out of the muddy fields of the Royal Agricultural Society's 1879 show by the Corporation of the City of London. A housing estate around the new open space was then developed in the late 19th century. However, the author also takes in the southern part of Willesden, a parish which existed for over a thousand years, embracing a number of Anglo-Saxon hamlets, including Harlesden, Neasden and Willesden itself. These were for centuries small, isolated farming communities, near to yet separate from the ever-growing metropolis of London. Their only connection to one another was their inhabitants' passionate adherence to the parish church. In 1837, the first mainline railway in England shattered this rural peace. The London to Birmingham started at Euston and traversed the southern edge of Willesden before continuing on its way to the Midlands. Farms were riven and new communities grew up along its route. Harlesden became the first station on from Euston. The quiet village became an urban building site - a process accelerated by the expansion of what would become Willesden Junction.
Kensal, further down the Harrow Road, benefited instead from the Grand Union Canal, which preceded the railway by about forty years but was outdone by its speed, capacity and comfort. The whole of this area, along with the rest of southern Willesden, developed rapidly in the second half of the 19th century as an urban adjunct to London. The 20th century saw the incredible growth of Brent's multi-cultural community. The author charts the history of these varied neighbourhoods in a scholarly yet highly readable fashion, which, along with the impressive illustrations, will endear this book to local residents and historians.