Living in Willesden Green

By Jo Mullen

Willesden Green is located in North West London, Zone 2 on the Jubilee Line (part of the Night Tube service). To the north-west is Dollis Hill, the affluent neighbourhoods Brondesbury Park, Queen's Park and Kensal Rise is to the south and Cricklewood to the north-east. Willesden Green is a mix of young professional renters, together with more permanent residents.

Willesden High Road has seen a recent and continued gentrification, and consists of a large Sainsbury's, a new multi-million pound library, new bars and a wide selection of restaurants, together with off-licences and small independent shops.

Housing

Most young people in Willesden Green rent apartments in old Victorian or Edwardian terrace houses converted into three or four flats. There are many wide, tree-lined residential roads, commanding higher rents, such as properties north of Willesden Green tube station, but you can still find good value around here. The properties close to Dollis Hill tube station or passed the bus garage offer cheaper alternatives.

People

Willesden Green is an ethnically diverse area with an international feel. As you can be in the West End within 15 minutes, London Bridge within 25 minutes and Canary Wharf in just over 30 minutes, it is obvious why more young professionals are moving here.

Traditionally, the area was Irish but it is far more diverse now – including large Brazilian/Portuguese, Polish and Italian crowds – together with the Londoners that have lived here all their lives. This mix has brought some new and interesting shops and restaurants to the area.

Pubs, Clubs and Entertainment

Generally, Willesden Green is a good place to drink and is cheaper than drinking in the City or the West End. The Queensbury is the first pub you see as you come off the tube – with a big outdoor sitting area in the front and a restaurant out the back. The food is good (although not the cheapest in the area) and it always has a decent crowd on a weekend.

The Social is a recent and one of the best additions on the High Road. It is small, but serves amazing cocktails and tapas – look out for the happy hour offers!

There are a few traditional Irish pubs/bars – Angie’s shows Premier League football games and McGoverns often has live music.

Gyms and Fitness

Willesden Green has plenty of choices of gyms for various budgets: Virgin Active – close of Cricklewood Thameslink station (5 minutes on the bus from Willesden Green tube station) – is one the biggest available. Nuffield Health is located passed the Library towards Brondesbury Park and includes a swimming pool – membership is quite expensive. The Willesden Sports Centre which is cheaper and it has a running track out the front. The Bunker Gym at the corner of Gladstone Park, offering cheaper membership and classes – first visit / class is free.

Parks and Recreation

Gladstone Park is the major park in Willesden Green, which is very popular with local residents. The park caters for sporty-types with tennis courts, outdoor yoga classes and an outdoor gym, together with touch rugby competitions. Interestingly, underneath the park are Winston Churchill's bunkers that are open to the public once a year. On a sunny day the park is full of runners, people walking their dogs and people testing out their hobbies.

The other notable park is Roundwood Park, which often holds fairs and is great to watch the fireworks on Guy Fawkes Night.

he Library opened in 2015 and is a state-of-the-art facility, with 40,000 books, an art gallery, exhibition area and performance spaces.

Shops, Restaurants and Takeaways

Willesden Green offers a wide variety of different cuisines – Italian, Turkish, Iranian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, together with a few less desirable chicken-shops. The standout spots are: Willesden Charcoal Grill, a Turkish institution and has been popular for many years now; Haberanos, relatively new but very busy burger joint; Vicki’s, a small deli that offering amazing Mediterranean-inspired food, Kadiri’s, an excellent quality Indian; Mezzoroma, serving great-value brunches and Italian food; and Sushi Masa an expensive but authentic Japanese restaurant, which usually requires booking in advance.

There is a pleasant mix of larger coffee chains like Costa and Baskin Robbins and locally owned coffee bars like Witch Café and Nest.

There are plenty of independent shops, including a Brazilian butcher close to the Library, plus variety of charity shops and bookies. There are also a number of salons and barbers to suit different budgets, including a trendy hair training academy.

Transportation

You can't beat the Jubilee Line (especially with the Night Tube service running all night on Fridays and Saturdays), and the buses out of Willesden Green travel in every direction around or across London.

Good Points

  • Gladestone Park
  • cheap rent
  • cheap places to eat and drink

Bad Points

  • drunk youths on the weekend can spoil the area
  • bridges under the tube tracks are to be avoided by yourself late at night

AREAS OF LONDON


Acton
Cheap rent means more money to spend at the pubs.


Brixton
Gritty, cheap and international with loads of character.


Camberwell
Edgy, gritty and artsy area close to central London.


Camden Town
Full of punks, market stalls and a great canal.


Clapham
Diverse area with everyone from yuppies to yobbos.


Ealing
Decent shopping but the nightlife is a bit uninspired.


Earl's Court
In zone one but expensive and full of tourists.


East Dulwich
A posh area south of the river but still affordable.


Finsbury Park


Fulham
Very nice area but expensive and the District line is crap.


Greenwich
Nice, safe, close to the city but not much nightlife.


Hammersmith
Great transport links and near to the Thames.


Kilburn
Great transport links but a bit dodgy at night.


Putney
Green and pretty but a little bit on the dull side.


Shepherd's Bush
A lively, edgy, multicultural area in West London.


Shoreditch
Edgy, creative and trendy with a great nightlife.


Stoke Newington


Tooting
A bit rough around the edges but a great place for a curry.


West Hampstead
Well connected by transport but a little expensive.


Willesden Green
Cheap, full of travellers and well connected.


Wimbledon
Nice area, decent nightlife and good transport to the city.

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