10:19 AM, Jun 8, 2023
Photo by Ricardo Frantz on Unsplash
Edgware Road, a major thoroughfare in London, has a history that stretches back to Roman times. It was originally part of the Roman Watling Street and has seen countless historical figures and events throughout the centuries. Let's take a walk down this iconic street and meet some of the famous figures from its history.
The Romans and Watling Street
Before the Romans, Edgware Road began as an ancient trackway within the Great Middlesex Forest. The Romans later incorporated the track into Watling Street, a major Roman road running from Dover to Wroxeter. This road was a vital artery of the Roman Empire, and it's likely that many famous Roman figures would have travelled along it.
During the 18th century, Edgware Road was a destination for Huguenot migrants. The Huguenots were French Protestants who fled France due to religious persecution. They brought with them skills in various trades, particularly silk weaving, and contributed significantly to the British economy.
In 1811, the renowned civil engineer Thomas Telford produced a redesign for what was then known as a section of the London to Holyhead road. This redesign was considered one of the most important feats of pre-Victorian engineering. Telford's work on the road would have shaped its course and appearance for many years to come.
The First Indian Restaurant
Edgware Road saw the establishment of Great Britain's first Indian restaurant in 1810. This marked the beginning of the UK's love affair with Indian cuisine, which continues to this day. The restaurant was likely a meeting place for many notable figures of the time.
The area began to attract Arab migrants in the late 19th century during a period of increased trade with the Ottoman Empire. This trend continued with the arrival of Egyptians and Iraqis in the 1950s, and greatly expanded beginning in the 1970s due to events including the Lebanese Civil War, the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, and unrest in Algeria. Today, Edgware Road is known for its vibrant Middle Eastern community and is often referred to as "Little Cairo" or "Little Beirut".
The 7/7 Bombings
One of the two Edgware Road tube stations was one of the sites of the 7 July 2005 bombings. A bomb was detonated on a train leaving the tube station, killing six people. The perpetrator was the ringleader of the 7 July bombings, Mohammed Siddique Khan. A memorial plaque to the victims was unveiled at the station on the first anniversary of the bombings.
Edgware Road has seen a lot of history and many famous figures have walked its length. From Roman soldiers to Huguenot migrants, from famous engineers to the first Indian restaurateurs, and from Arab migrants to the tragic victims of the 7/7 bombings, Edgware Road is a street that tells a thousand stories.
Claire Pringle is the passionate mind behind Edgware Road, a comprehensive guide to everything related to this vibrant area of London. Born and raised in Edgware, Claire has always been fascinated by the rich history and diverse culture of her hometown. This passion led her to create Edgware Road, a platform where she could share her knowledge and love for the area with others.
With a background in journalism and a keen interest in community development, Claire has dedicated herself to exploring and highlighting the many facets of Edgware. From delving into local history to keeping up with the latest news and events, she provides insightful and engaging content that resonates with both residents and visitors alike.