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.
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.
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.
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.
AREAS OF LONDON