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In years gone by Horsenden Hill was pastureland with areas of ancient broadleaf woodland. Much of the pasture land was owned by the Perkin family. George Fowler Perkin was a builder and contractor by trade and it was his son, William Henry Perkin who made a worldwide impression when, at the age of 18, discovered the first ever synthetic dye – analine purple. Greenford Green became a prosperous village when his dye factory opened in 1857.
In 1816 an enclosure of 1 and a half acres at Brabsden Green was allotted to the poor for the collection of wood to be used as fuel. It late became known as the fuel land.
At the foot of Horsenden Hill was a hamlet inhabited from the mid 18th century. By 1830 fourteen cottages had been built here for the poor.
The cottages were neglected over the years. According to records, people with no money and nowhere else to live came to live here. With shared outside toilets, the cottages were regarded as Greenford’s slums.
The last house was demolished in 1972.
A little further south, alongside the lane are the remains of a grander house, built around 1896, and its garden. Originally known as Rohais House, it had several names over the years to follow.
There is tantalising evidence of its existence; shrubs, trees and plants and the remains of ponds and stone steps give clues.
The Ballot Box
The original Ballot Box public House dates back to 1867. It was used as the polling station for those who lived and worked on the Grand Union canal. It was demolished in 1943 and the one that exists today was built further down the road.
Horsenden becomes a public space
In 1942 the Fuel lands and Rohais were sold by the Greenford Charities to Middlesex County Council for the sum of £1872, 12s 3d. They in turn leased it to Ealing Borough for a guinea a year.
in 1943 both Rohais and the old Ballot Box were levelled to the ground and the gardens were left to fend for themselves. These gardens are under a covenant coveting 999 years from the sale date, which keeps it designated as a green belt area, open to the public as a public park, pleasure ground and sports ground.