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Middlesex
Middlesex 1066-1888
Geography
Status Ceremonial county (until 1965)
Administrative county (1889–1965)
1801/1881 area 734 km2 (181,320 acres)
1911 area 601.8 km2 (148,701 acres)
1961 area 601.7 km2 (148,691 acres)
HQ see text
Chapman code MDX
History
Origin Middle Saxons
Created Early Middle Ages
Demography
1801 population
- 1801 density
818,129
11 inhabitants per hectare (4.5/acre)
1881 population
- 1881 density
2,920,485
40 inhabitants per hectare (16.1/acre)
1911 population
- 1911 density
1,126,465
19 inhabitants per hectare (7.6/acre)
1961 population
- 1961 density
2,234,543
37 inhabitants per hectare (15/acre)
Politics
Governance Middlesex Quarter Sessions (until 1889)
Within the metropolis:
Metropolitan Board of Works (1855–1889)
Middlesex County Council (1889–1965)
Subdivisions
Type Hundreds (ancient)
Districts (1835–1965)

Middlesex is a historic county in southeast England. Its area is almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London and mostly within the ceremonial county of Greater London, with small sections in neighbouring ceremonial counties.

It was established in the Anglo-Saxon period from the territory of the Middle Saxons, and existed as an official administrative unit until 1965.

The county is bounded to the south by the River Thames, and has the rivers Colne and Lea and a ridge of hills forming its other boundaries. The largely low-lying county, dominated by clay in its north and alluvium on gravel in its south, was the second smallest by area in 1831.

History

Map of Middlesex, drawn by Thomas Kitchin, geographer, 1769
Map of Middlesex, drawn by Thomas Kitchin, geographer, engraver to H.R.H. the Duke of York, 1769.

Toponymy

The name means territory of the middle Saxons and refers to the tribal origin of its inhabitants.

The Saxons derived their name, Seaxe in their own tongue, from the seax, a kind of knife for which they were known.

The seax appears in the heraldry of the English counties of Essex and Middlesex.

The names 'Middlesex', 'Essex', 'Sussex' and 'Wessex', contain the name 'Seaxe'.

Early settlement

There were settlements in the area of Middlesex that can be traced back thousands of years before the creation of a county. Middlesex was formerly part of the Kingdom of Essex.

The City of London has been self-governing since the thirteenth century and became a county in its own right, a county corporate. Middlesex also included Westminster, which also had a high degree of autonomy.

During the 17th century it was divided into four divisions. The divisions were named Finsbury, Holborn, Kensington and Tower.

The county had parliamentary representation from the 13th century.

The title Earl of Middlesex was created twice, in 1622 and 1677, but became extinct in 1843.

Economic development

The economy of the county was dependent on the City of London from early times and was primarily agricultural. A variety of goods were provided for the City, including crops such as grain and hay, livestock and building materials.

Recreation at day trip destinations such as Hackney, Islington, Highgate and Twickenham, as well as coaching, inn-keeping and sale of goods and services at daily shops and stalls to the passing trade provided much local employment and also formed part of the early economy. However, during the 18th century the inner parishes of Middlesex became suburbs of the City and were increasingly urbanised.

The building of radial railway lines from 1839 caused a fundamental shift away from agricultural supply for London towards large scale house building. Tottenham, Edmonton and Enfield in the north developed first as working-class residential suburbs with easy access to central London. The line to Windsor through Middlesex was completed in 1848, and the railway to Potters Bar in 1850; and the Metropolitan and District Railways started a series of extensions into the county in 1878. Closer to London, the districts of Acton, Willesden, Ealing and Hornsey came within reach of the tram and bus networks, providing cheap transport to central London.

After World War I, the availability of labour and proximity to London made areas such as Hayes and Park Royal ideal locations for the developing new industries.

New jobs attracted more people to the county and the population continued to rise, reaching a peak in 1951.

Middlesex became a centre for the British film industry. Twickenham Studios were established in 1913. There were also studios at Cricklewood Studios, Gainsborough Pictures, Isleworth Studios, Kew Bridge Studios and Southall Studios.

Governance

Gray1824 middlesex
Map of Middlesex, 1824. Note: west is at the top.

Metropolis

Map of Middlesex
County of Middlesex (circa 1891-1895)

By the 19th century, the East End of London had expanded to the eastern boundary with Essex, and the Tower division had reached a population of over a million. When the railways were built, the north western suburbs of London steadily spread over large parts of the county. The areas closest to London were served by the Metropolitan Police from 1829, and from 1840 the entire county was included in the Metropolitan Police District.

In 1889, under the Local Government Act 1888, the metropolitan area of approximately 30,000 acres (120 km2) became part of the administrative county of London.

Middlesex 1851 and 1911
Map showing boundaries of Middlesex in 1851 and 1911, aside from minor realignments. The small yellow area in the North is Monken Hadley, which was transferred to Hertfordshire; the larger yellow area in the Southeast was transferred to the newly created County of London in 1889.
1882 Reynolds Map
Map in 1882 shows complete urbanisation of the East End

The part of the County of London that had been transferred from Middlesex was divided in 1900 into 18 metropolitan boroughs. They were merged in 1965 to form seven of the twelve current boroughs of Inner London:

  • Camden was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Hampstead, Holborn and St Pancras.
  • Hackney was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Hackney, Shoreditch and Stoke Newington.
  • Hammersmith (known as Hammersmith and Fulham from 1979) was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Hammersmith and Fulham.
  • Islington was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Finsbury and Islington.
  • Kensington and Chelsea was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Chelsea and Kensington.
  • Tower Hamlets was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Bethnal Green, Poplar and Stepney.
  • The City of Westminster was formed from the metropolitan boroughs of Paddington and St Marylebone and the City of Westminster.

Extra-metropolitan area

Middlesex outside the metropolitan area remained largely rural until the middle of the 19th century and so the special boards of local government for various metropolitan areas were late in developing. Other than the Cities of London and Westminster, there were no ancient boroughs.

As the suburbs of London spread into the area, unplanned development and outbreaks of cholera forced the creation of local boards and poor law unions to help govern most areas; in a few cases parishes appointed improvement commissioners. In rural areas, parishes began to be grouped for different administrative purposes. From 1875 these local bodies were designated as urban or rural sanitary districts.

Following the Local Government Act 1888, the remaining county came under the control of Middlesex County Council except for the parish of Monken Hadley, which became part of Hertfordshire. Middlesex did not contain any county boroughs, so the county and administrative county (the area of county council control) were identical.

The Local Government Act 1894 divided the administrative county into four rural districts and thirty-one urban districts, based on existing sanitary districts. The districts as at the 1961 census were:

  1. Potters Bar
  2. Enfield
  3. Southgate
  4. Edmonton
  5. Tottenham
  6. Wood Green
  7. Friern Barnet
  8. Hornsey
  9. Finchley
  10. Hendon
  11. Harrow
  12. Ruislip-Northwood
  13. Uxbridge
Middlesex
Middlesex urban districts in 1961
  1. Ealing
  2. Wembley
  3. Willesden
  4. Acton
  5. Brentford and Chiswick
  6. Heston and Isleworth
  7. Southall
  8. Hayes and Harlington
  9. Yiewsley and West Drayton
  10. Staines
  11. Feltham
  12. Twickenham
  13. Sunbury-on-Thames

After 1889 the growth of London continued, and the county became almost entirely filled by suburbs of London, with a big rise in population density. This process was accelerated by the Metro-land developments, which covered a large part of the county.

Public transport in the county, including the extensive network of trams, buses and the London Underground came under control of the London Passenger Transport Board in 1933 and a New Works Programme was developed to further enhance services during the 1930s. Partly because of its proximity to the capital, the county had a major role during the Second World War. The county was subject to aerial bombardment and contained various military establishments, such as RAF Uxbridge and RAF Heston, which were involved in the Battle of Britain.

Tower Division

The Tower division, better known as the Tower Hamlets, was an area in the Southeast of the county covering what is now the London Borough of Tower Hamlets as well as most of what is now the London Borough of Hackney.

County town

Middlesex.guildhall.london.arp
The Middlesex Guildhall at Westminster

Middlesex arguably never had a single, established county town. The City of London could be regarded as its county town for most purpose

Arms of Middlesex County Council

Uxbridge tube station MMB 03
Coats of arms of Middlesex (left) and Buckinghamshire (right) in stained glass at the exit from Uxbridge tube station.
County of Middlesex sign, Barnet, 2014
County of Middlesex sign in 2014, on the border between the London Boroughs of Barnet and Enfield.

Coats of arms were attributed by the mediaeval heralds to the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. That assigned to the Kingdom of the Middle and East Saxons depicted three "seaxes" or short notched swords on a red background. The seaxe was a weapon carried by Anglo-Saxon warriors, and the term "Saxon" may be derived from the word. These arms became associated with the two counties that approximated to the kingdom: Middlesex and Essex. County authorities, militia and volunteer regiments associated with both counties used the attributed arms.

In 1910, it was noted that the county councils of Essex and Middlesex and the Sheriff's Office of the County of London were all using the same arms. Middlesex County Council decided to apply for a formal grant of arms from the College of Arms, with the addition of a heraldic "difference" to the attributed arms. Colonel Otley Parry, a justice of the peace for Middlesex and author of a book on military badges, was asked to devise an addition to the shield. The chosen addition was a "Saxon Crown", derived from the portrait of King Athelstan on a silver penny of his reign, stated to be the earliest form of crown associated with any English sovereign. The grant of arms was made by letters patent dated 7 November 1910.

Arms of the Middlesex County Council
The arms of the Middlesex County Council were blazoned:
Gules, three seaxes fessewise points to the sinister proper, pomels and hilts and in the centre chief point a Saxon crown or.



The undifferenced arms of the kingdom were eventually granted to Essex County Council in 1932.

Creation of Greater London

On its creation in 1965, Greater London was divided into five Commission Areas for justice; that named "Middlesex" consisted of the boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Harrow, Hillingdon and Hounslow. This was abolished on 1 July 2003.

Geography

The county lies within the London Basin and the most significant feature is the River Thames, which forms the southern boundary. The River Lea and the River Colne form natural boundaries to the east and west. The entire south west boundary of Middlesex follows a gently descending meander of the Thames without hills. In many places "Middlesex bank" is more accurate than "north bank" — for instance at Teddington the river flows north-westward, so the left (Middlesex) bank is the south-west bank. In the north, the boundary runs along a WSW/ENE aligned ridge of hills broken by Barnet or 'Dollis' valleys. (South of the boundary, these feed into the Welsh Harp Lake or Brent Reservoir which becomes the River Brent). This forms a long protrusion of Hertfordshire into the county. The county was once thickly wooded, with much of it covered by the ancient Forest of Middlesex. The highest point is the High Road by Bushey Heath at 502 feet (153 m).

Culture and community

County flag

The Middlesex Flag is included in the Flag Institute's registry of county and regional flags. The flag is a banner of the arms of the former Middlesex County Council, abolished in 1965. Whilst such banners of county arms are legally not generally available for public use, a similar design had been used traditionally as a local badge in Middlesex and neighbouring Essex for centuries. The seax is the symbol of the Saxons and the Saxon crown was added in 1909 to differentiate the arms and flag from those of Essex.

County day

Middlesex Day is celebrated each year on 16 May. This commemorates the actions of the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment in 1811, at the Battle of Albuera, during the Peninsular War. During the battle, Lieutenant-Colonel William Inglis, despite his injuries, refused to retire from the battle but remained with the regimental colours, encouraging his men with the words "Die hard 57th, die hard!" as they came under intense pressure from a French attack. The regiment held and the battle was won. The 'Die Hards' subsequently became the West Middlesex's regimental nickname and the phrase Die Hard entered the language. In 2003, an early day motion in the House of Commons noted the celebration of 16 May, the anniversary of Albuhera, as Middlesex Day.

County flower

In 2002 Plantlife ran a county flowers campaign to assign flowers to each of the counties of the United Kingdom. The general public was invited to vote for the bloom they felt most represented their county. The wood anemone was chosen as the flower of Middlesex. The flower was a common sight in the Forest of Middlesex.

When the suburbs of London swept over Middlesex, many of its woods were bypassed and preserved. The wood anemone still blooms there to this day.

Literature

Sir John Betjeman, Poet Laureate from 1972 until his death in 1984, was born in 1906 in Gospel Oak and grew up in Highgate. He published several poems about Middlesex and suburban life.

Sport

Rugby Union

The Twickenham Stadium
Twickenham Stadium

The Rugby Football Union, the governing body for rugby union in England, is based at Twickenham Stadium. The stadium hosts home test matches for the England national rugby union team.

There are 7 rugby union clubs based in Middlesex playing in national leagues (levels 1-4). These are Harlequins, Saracens, London Scottish, Richmond, Ealing Trailfinders, London Irish Wild Geese and Barnes.

Middlesex Rugby is the governing body for rugby union in Middlesex. The union selects players from its 88 affiliated clubs for the Middlesex team in the County Championship. It runs the Middlesex RFU Senior Cup open to the top 8 Middlesex clubs that play between tiers 6-7 of the English rugby union system. It also runs the Middlesex RFU Senior Bowl and the Middlesex RFU Senior Vase for sides from lower down the pyramid. It helps run the Herts/Middlesex 1 (tier 9) and Herts/Middlesex 2 (tier 10) leagues. Middlesex Rugby is also active in promoting youth rugby and women's rugby in the county.

Football

The Football Association, the governing body of association football in England, is based at Wembley Stadium. The stadium hosts major football matches including home matches of the England national football team, and the FA Cup Final.

There are 19 football clubs based in Middlesex in the top eight tiers of the English football league system (correct for 2018/9 season): Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Brentford, Fulham, Queens Park Rangers, Barnet, Hampton and Richmond Borough, Wealdstone, Enfield, Haringey Borough, Finchley and Wingate, Harrow Borough, Hayes and Yeading United, Hendon, Ashford Town (Middlesex), Bedfont Sports, Hanwell Town, and Northwood.

There are 4 women's football clubs based in Middlesex in the top two tiers of Women's football in England: Arsenal Women, Chelsea F.C. Women, London Bees and Tottenham Hotspur Ladies.

The Middlesex County Football Association regulates and promotes football in the county. The Middlesex F.A. organises many cup competitions, the most prestigious being the Middlesex Senior Cup (founded in 1889) and the Middlesex Senior Charity Cup (founded in 1901).

The Middlesex County Football League was founded in 1984 and currently comprises 5 divisions. The premier divisions sits at level 7 of the National League System.

Cricket

Middlesex vs Sussex at Lord's

Middlesex County Cricket Club is one of eighteen first-class county clubs within the domestic cricket structure of England and Wales. The club was founded in 1864 but teams representing the county have played top-class cricket since the early 18th century and the club has always held first-class status. Middlesex have won thirteen County Championship titles (including 2 shared titles), the most recent in 2016.

The Middlesex Cricket Board is the governing body of all recreational cricket in Middlesex.

The Middlesex County Cricket League is the top-level competition for all recreational club cricket in the county. The League consists of nine divisions in total. The top division has been designated an ECB Premier League.

Marylebone Cricket Club (the MCC) was founded in 1787 and based since 1814 at Lord's Cricket Ground , which it owns, in St John's Wood. The club was formerly the governing body of cricket in England and Wales and, as the sport's legislator, held considerable global influence. Lord's Cricket Ground is also home to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). Lord's is widely referred to as the Home of Cricket.

Other sports

Middlesex Bowling Association has over 80 affiliated clubs throughout the county.

Middlesex County Amateur Swimming Association organises training, competitions and representative county teams in swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming.

Middlesex County Athletics Association is the organisation controlling Amateur Athletics in Middlesex under the direction of UK Athletics.

North Middlesex Golf Club ponds 1
North Middlesex Golf Club

Middlesex Golf represents all aspects of golf within the county. It has 33 affiliated golf clubs.

Middlesex Tennis, affiliated to the LTA, works to create more opportunities for people in Middlesex to play and compete in tennis at all levels of the game. The Middlesex County Championships are the highlight of Middlesex's Competition Calendar.

Middlesex County Badminton Association has over 80 affiliated clubs and organises men's, ladies' and mixed leagues.

Middlesex Squash & Racketball Association is responsible for organising and promoting squash in Middlesex. It was founded in the 1930s and ran the first Middlesex Open Championships in 1937.

Middlesex County Archery Association is the governing body for the sport of archery in the county.

Middlesex Small-Bore Rifle Association brings together small-bore rifle and airgun clubs located within the county, and organises teams to represent the County in competitions.

Middlesex County Chess Association aims to foster chess throughout Middlesex. It has 15 affiliated clubs.

Middlesex County Bridge Association runs the Middlesex Cup and the Middlesex League and enters county teams in national and regional competitions.

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