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Cmglee London Wembley aerial.jpg
An aerial view of Wembley, showing part of High Road, the industrial estate, Wembley Arena and Wembley Stadium
Wembley is located in Greater London
Population 102,856 (2011 Census
OS grid reference TQ175855
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town WEMBLEY
Postcode district HA0, HA9
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Brent North, Brent Central
London Assembly
  • Brent and Harrow
List of places
51°33′10″N 0°17′52″W / 51.5528°N 0.2979°W / 51.5528; -0.2979

Wembley is a large suburb in north-west London, England, 8 miles (13 km) northwest of Charing Cross. It includes the neighbourhoods of Alperton, North Wembley, Preston, Sudbury, Tokyngton and Wembley Park. The population was 102,856 in 2011.

Wembley was for over 800 years part of the parish of Harrow on the Hill in Middlesex. Its heart, Wembley Green, was surrounded by agricultural manors and their hamlets. The small, narrow, Wembley High Street is a conservation area. The railways of the London & Birmingham Railway reached Wembley in the mid-19th century, when the place gained its first church. Slightly south-west of the old core, the main station was originally called Sudbury, but today is known as Wembley Central. By the 1920s, the nearby long High Road hosted a wide array of shops and Wembley was a large suburb of London. Wembley then, within three decades, became an integral outer district of London, in density and contiguity. Wembley formed a separate civil parish from 1894, incorporated as a municipal borough of Middlesex in 1937. In 1965, when local government in London was reformed, the area merged with the Municipal Borough of Willesden, which was separated by the River Brent, to create the London Borough of Brent, one of the 32 local government districts of Greater London.

The estate of Wembley Park was largely pleasure grounds when the Metropolitan Railway reached this part in 1894. It was chosen to host the British Empire Exhibition in 1924, resulting in the development of landmarks including the Empire Stadium, later known as Wembley Stadium, which became an iconic football stadium. Suburban protection of public parkland and low-to-mid building density of all but high-rise western Wembley Park means most of Wembley is integral to and archetypal of the once well-advertised – mainly Middlesex – Metroland. After years of debate, the 1923 stadium was replaced by a modernised stadium with a grand, skyline arch which opened in 2007; it is home to the England national football team, hosts latter and/or final stages of annual competitions such as the FA Cup and has the greatest capacity nationwide. In the early 21st century the London Designer Outlet pedestrianised plaza was built.


Wembley (parish) population
Split from Harrow on the Hill
1901 4,519
1911 10,696
1921 16,187
1931 48,561
Kingsbury parish absorbed
1941 war #
1951 131,384
1961 124,892
# no census was held due to war
source: UK census


Wembley is derived from the Old English proper name "Wemba" and the Old English "Lea" for meadow or clearing. The name was first mentioned in the charter of 825 of Selvin. King Beornwulf.


The village of Wembley grew up on the hill by the clearing with the Harrow Road south of it. Much of the surrounding area remained wooded. In 1547 there were but six houses in Wembley. Though small, it was one of the wealthiest parts of Harrow. At the dissolution of the monasteries in 1543, the manor of Wembley fell to Richard Andrews and Leonard Chamberlayne, who sold it to Richard Page, Esq., of Harrow on the Hill, the same year.

The Page family continued as lords of the manor of Wembley for several centuries and eventually commissioned Humphry Repton(1752-1818) the landscape gardener to design what is now Wembley Park. Wembley Park thus derived its name from Repton's habit of referring to the areas he designed as "parks".

There was a mill on Wembley Hill by 1673. In 1837, the London and Birmingham Railway (now part of the West Coast Main Line) was opened from London Euston through Wembley to Hemel Hempstead, and completed to Birmingham the following year. The changing names of the local station demonstrated the increasing importance of the 'Wembley' name. 'Sudbury' station opened in 1845, renamed as 'Sudbury and Wembley' in 1882, renamed as 'Wembley for Sudbury' in 1910, renamed as 'Wembley Central' in 1948, at the time of the Olympic Games.

To modernise the service, a new Watford DC Line was built alongside the main lines and Bakerloo line trains, and electric trains to Broad Street started in 1917. Electric trains to London Euston began running in 1922. Since 1917, there have been six platforms at what is now Wembley Central station. In 1880, the Metropolitan Railway opened its line from Baker Street through the eastern side of Wembley, but only built a station, Wembley Park, in 1894. There are now three physically separate services, the London to Aylesbury Line, the Metropolitan line, and the Jubilee line. Only the latter two services have platforms at Wembley Park station.

In November 1905, the Great Central Railway (now, in this section, part of the Chiltern Main Line) opened a new route for fast expresses that by-passed the congested Metropolitan Railway tracks. It ran between Neasden Junction, south of Wembley, and Northolt Junction, west of London, where a new joint main line with the Great Western Railway began. Local passenger services from Marylebone were added from March 1906, when new stations were opened, including 'Wembley Hill', next to what later became the site of Wembley Stadium - the national stadium of English sport - which opened for the FA Cup Final of April 1923, remaining open for 77 years until it closed for reconstruction in October 2000. After a long planning and redevelopment process dogged by a series of funding problems and construction delays, the new stadium finally opened its doors in March 2007.

Wembley Hill station was renamed 'Wembley Complex' in May 1978, before getting its present name of 'Wembley Stadium' in May 1987.

GB British Empire Exhibition Postage Stamps
British Empire Exhibition postage stamps

The area around the current Wembley Stadium was the location of the British Empire Exhibition of 1924-1925. Until the 2000s, remnants of the many reinforced concrete buildings, including the original Wembley Stadium, remained, but nearly all have now been removed, to make way for redevelopment.

Wembley, in common with much of northwest London, had an extensive manufacturing industry, but much of it closed in the 1980s. Factories in the area included Glacier Metals (bearings), Wolf Power Tools, Sunbeam Electrical Appliances, Griffin & George (laboratory equipment) and GEC (whose research laboratories, opened in 1923, were one of the first of their type in the United Kingdom.).

The retail centre of Wembley (the High Road and Ealing Road) has suffered from chronic traffic congestion and from the opening of neighbouring purpose-built shopping centres, first Brent Cross in the early 1970s and later the Harrow and Ealing Broadway Shopping Centres. During the 1960s, rebuilding of Wembley Central station, a block of flats, an open-plan shopping plaza, and a car park were constructed on a concrete raft over the railway.

The shopping plaza suffered a slow decline and was therefore poorly maintained, but it is being redeveloped. The first phase, including construction of eighty-five homes and reconstruction of the plaza, has been completed.

Most of the rest of Wembley's housing consists of inter-war semi-detached houses and terraces and of modern apartment blocks, with a significant minority of detached housing.

Extensive redevelopment has occurred in the Wembley Park area, about a mile northeast from Wembley town centre.

Ethnic diversity

Central Wembley Ethnicity 2001
A pie chart showing the ethnic makeup of central Wembley in 2001

Wembley has a high degree of ethnic diversity, as illustrated by the accompanying pie chart for Wembley Central (ward). According to the 1991 census, 49.2% of the Wembley Cental ward was Asian, with 39% being Indian. The ward along with neighbouring Tokyngton (eastern Wembley) and Alperton were in the top 10 most diverse in London. The white population dropped further to 21.3% by the 2001 census, with 78.6% being of black or minority ethnic (BME) groups.

The White British population of Wembley Central (population 14,727) decreased to only 792 people (5.3% of the population) in the 2011 census. This makes it the sixth least White British ward in London (seventh in the country). Other ethnics include 7.0% Other White, 66.2% Asian (46.2% Indian), and 13.9% Black. Surrounding districts are notably more white and less Asian. Wembley Central only covers Wembley town centre and the whole town is represented by five other wards.


Until the nineteenth century, Wembley was rural and the sector retains a number of green spaces. These include Barham Park (10.5 hectares) in Sudbury Town, King Edward VII Park, established in 1914 behind the High Road (10.5 hectares), and Sudbury Green. Less managed spaces include Fryent Country Park, Barn Hill (19.87 hectares), and Vale Farm sports ground (30 hectares). Brent River Park / Tokyngton Recreation Ground (20.26 hectares) has recently been restored, returning the river to a more natural course.

Nearby Sudbury Golf Course backs onto the Grand Union Canal, with its towpath running into central London. Sudbury Squash and Tennis Club has outdoor tennis courts, an indoor squash court, and a clubhouse. Wembley is a short distance away from the Welsh Harp reservoir and open space, created in the early 19th century by damming the River Brent to provide water for the Grand Union Canal.

The area is identified in the Mayor of London's London Plan as one of thirty-five major centres in Greater London.

Postal district

92 on Wembley High Road - - 2743607
Western section of High Road

Wembley is part of both HA0 and HA9 post codes, and has its own post code. It includes Alperton, Preston, North Wembley, South Kenton, Tokyngton, Wembley Park and partly of Sudbury and Northwick Park.


High Road, Wembley (2) - - 216337
High Road, near the local station, looking east

The area's regeneration is one of the major development projects in London in the early 21st century, as specified in the London Plan published by the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone in 2004.

The regeneration project is focused on the site first developed by Sir Edward Watkin as a pleasure ground in the 1890s, and then used for the Empire Exhibition of 1924-5. This area includes Wembley Stadium and Wembley Arena. The 1923 Wembley Stadium closed in October 2000 and was demolished in 2003. The new Wembley stadium was designed by a consortium including engineering consultant Mott MacDonald and built by the Australian firm Multiplex. It cost £798 million and opened in 2007. Grade II-listed Wembley Arena, now the SSE Arena, has been sensitively refurbished in keeping with its Art Deco style.

In 2004 Brent Council approved a mixed use plan by Buro Happold for the development of 55 acres (223,000 m²) adjacent to the stadium, which was presented by Quintain Limited. It is envisaged that the whole of the former British Empire Exhibition site will be redeveloped. At the same time Brent Council is seeking to encourage redevelopment of the neighbouring Wembley town centre area around the High Road.

Sport and leisure

Wembley has two local non-League football clubs, Wembley F.C. and South Kilburn F.C., that both play at Vale Farm stadium in nearby Sudbury. Nearby is Vale Farm Sports Centre.

There once were two golf clubs in Wembley. Wembley Golf Club, founded in 1896, was situated north of the Metropolitan Railway line in what is now the Fryent Country Park. The club closed in the late 1920s. Wembley Park Golf Club was founded in 1912 in Sir Edward Watkin's Wembley Park pleasure gardens, improving on the 9-hole course that had opened, along with Watkin's Wembley Park, in 1896. The course itself became the site of the British Empire Exhibition.

The rugby union club, Wasps RFC, was based at Repton Avenue in Sudbury from the 1920s until 1996.


Wembley Arena Evening 172XS Web
Wembley Arena

The prime landmark is Wembley Stadium, rebuilt 2003-2007 at a cost of £827 million, which is approached via the White Horse Bridge designed by the London Eye architects. Nearby is the SSE Arena, a Grade II-listed concert venue built in 1934 as the Empire Pool, a multi-use facility built for the 2nd Empire Games. The former Wembley (later Brent) Town Hall is a Grade II-listed building located on Barn Hill facing Wembley Stadium; it has now been refurbished as a French school, the Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill. The London Borough of Brent's council chamber and administration have moved to the new Brent Civic Centre in Engineers Way, Wembley Park.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Ealing Road, Wembley, was built in 1904, designed by Thomas Collcutt and Stanley Hemp. Construction was of brick and the design was influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement. It was listed as a Grade II building in 1993. The church was converted into the Central Mosque Wembley in the late 1990s.

Brent's only English Heritage blue plaque is on Forty Lane in Wembley, commemorating the comedian and entertainer Arthur Lucan.



Marylebone train leaves Wembley Stadium - - 3154682
A short Chiltern Railways train leaves Wembley Stadium station

Stations in the town are:

  1. Wembley Stadium (Chiltern Railways)
  2. Wembley Central (Bakerloo line, Southern, West Midlands Trains and Watford DC line)
  3. North Wembley (Bakerloo line and Watford DC line)
  4. Wembley Park (Jubilee line and Metropolitan line)
  5. Sudbury Town (Piccadilly line)
  6. Preston Road (Metropolitan line)
  7. Alperton (Piccadilly line)
  8. Stonebridge Park (Bakerloo Line)


A404 in Wembley - - 2742642
View of High Road near Park Lane; on the right is the town's former post office, now a public house

Wembley has numerous Transport for London bus routes that run through its centre on High Road, namely routes 18, 79, 83, 92, 182, 204, 223, 224, 297, 483, H17, and night route N18.


Wembley lies very close to the A406 North Circular Road. The A404 Harrow Road passes through its centre. The town centre is served by three pay-and-display car parks.

SSE Arena access

Wembley Arena is served by Wembley Park station on the London Underground via Olympic Way, Wembley Stadium on the Chiltern Railways line from London Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill, and Wembley Central (walking via the White Horse Bridge). Bus route 92 stops directly outside.

The onsite parking facilities are close by, with a multistorey car park called Red Parking and a surface level car park on the eastern flank of the Stadium called Green Parking. Disabled parking is available at a reduced rate but on a first-come first-served basis.



Wembley, Sunday market - - 665092
The former Sunday Market traded at the stadium car park for 41 years
Wembley, IKEA home furnishings store - - 726017
Wembley IKEA store, Brent Park retail area

The main shopping area was generally centred on Wembley High Road, Central Square, and Ealing Road. Unlike typical British high streets Wembley does not have a town centre network or pedestrianised high streets, with almost all commercial high street businesses along a 1000-yard stretch of road (High Road). In 1971 the High Road was seen as being the 11th best place to shop in London. However, it had fallen to 24th place by 1987. Ealing Road remains important as a centre of South Asian jewellery and gold shops, attracting people from as far afield as Leicester, but otherwise the focus of shopping has shifted north and east to the more recent development of London Designer Outlet in Wembley Park, which is part of the Stadium's complex and also includes a fully pedestrianised street near the Stadium. The regenerations were co-funded by Brent Council to add an attractive shopping destination.

The Wembley Sunday Market was a popular market held weekly from the 1970s until 2014 and run by Wendy Fair Markets. The market was ousted by the landowners, Quintain, in favour of the London Designer Outlet development. The market was then set up at the former Unisys tower near Stonebridge Park station before it was closed within a year by the council citing traffic disruption.

IKEA Wembley is in the Brent Park retail area near North Circular Road, Neasden. It opened in 1988 and was the Swedish retailer's second store in the UK after the initial store in Warrington.

The Air France-KLM European Sales and Service Centre, which is a sales channel for 15 European countries, is in Brent Civic Centre in Wembley Park.


Central Wembley Ethnicity 2001
A pie chart showing the ethnic makeup of central Wembley in 2001

Wembley is known for its high degree of ethnic and religious diversity, and the population includes a large number of people of Asian, Afro-Caribbean and Eastern European origin. According to the 1991 census, 49.2% of the Wembley Central ward identified themselves as Asian (39% Indian). The ward along with neighbouring Tokyngton (eastern Wembley) and Alperton were in the top 10 most diverse in London. In the 2001 census, 78.6% of the ward identified themselves as being of black or minority ethnic (BME) groups. The White British population of Wembley Central (792 people, 5.3% of the population) in the 2011 census makes it the sixth least White British ward in London (seventh in the country). Other ethnicities include 7.0% Other White, 66.2% Asian (46.2% Indian), and 13.9% Black. In 2011, 86% of Wembley Central ward was of BAME background, which is the highest in Brent and 5th highest in Greater London. In Wembley the lowest BAME ward was Northwick Park, 68.8%.

The 2011 census also showed that, in the Wembley Central ward, the unemployment rate stood at 5.3%. Of the 4,380 households, 2,065 of the properties were tenure owned, 1,469 was privately rented and 684 was socially rented from the council. The largest religion was Hinduism (45%) followed by Christianity (25%). The median age was 32. By far the most spoken foreign language was Gujarati. Wembley Central only covers Wembley town centre and the whole district is represented by five other wards.

There are varying levels of social deprivation in the area. Places such as the central area and Chalkhill have had relatively high deprivation, with the latter having been troubled for a long time. In more recent years, regeneration has helped these areas fare better albeit with a higher general cost of living. Some parts of the town meanwhile are among the least deprived in the borough, especially Barn Hill estate and North Wembley's Sudbury Court Estate.


Notable people

  • British Actor Ricardo P. Lloyd, grew up in Wembley
  • Politician Luciana Berger (born 1981), The Independent Group MP, grew up in Wembley.
  • Drummer Charlie Watts, founding member of The Rolling Stones, was born in Wembley.
  • Engineer and Formula One aerodynamicist, John Barnard, who is credited with introducing the first semi-automatic gearbox, the first carbon fibre composite chassis and the "coke bottle" shape of the rear bodywork, was born in Wembley in 1946.
  • Actor Riz Ahmed, star of satirist Chris Morris's black comedy Four Lions (2010), was born in Wembley.
  • Scientist John D Barrow FRS, Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge University, cosmologist, Templeton prize winner and author of many popular science books and the award-winning play Infinities was born in Wembley in 1952 and attended Barham Primary School.
  • Composer Peter Fribbins was born, and grew up, in Wembley.
  • British ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould grew up in Wembley.
  • Astrologer Russell Grant lived in Wembley.
  • Scholar Vivian H. H. Green (1915–2005), the model for author John le Carré's spymaster character George Smiley, was born in Wembley.
  • Matthew Harrison was born in Wembley in 1979.
  • Actor and comedian Lenny Henry lived in Wembley.
  • Actor and musician Gary Holton (1952–1985), Wayne in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and frontman of Heavy Metal Kids, lived in Wembley at the time of his death.
  • Footballers Raheem Sterling, Jerel Ifil, and Jerome Thomas lived in Wembley.
  • Musician John Lingwood, drummer in Manfred Mann's Earth Band, was born in Wembley.
  • The actor Arthur Lucan (Arthur Towle), famous for his performances as 'Old Mother Riley', lived at 11 Forty Lane, Wembley, as did his wife and co-star, Catherine 'Kitty' McShane.
  • Rock drummer Keith Moon (1946–1978) of The Who, lived in Wembley.
  • Singer Maxine Nightingale, best known for her soul hit records in the 1970s, was born in Wembley.
  • Figure-skater Valda Osborn was born in Wembley.
  • Nurse, journalist, broadcaster and novelist Claire Rayner lived in Wembley.
  • Dancer, author, musician and bandleader Victor Silvester was the second son of J. W. P. Silvester, vicar of St. John the Evangelist Anglican church, Wembley.
  • Composer John Tavener was born in Wembley.
  • Musician Harvey Shield grew up in Wembley.
  • Mick Whelan, head of the ASLEF trade union, lives in Wembley.
  • Sir Henry Cooper, British Heavyweight Champion, after the key bout with Cassius Clay, 1963, retired to the town of the venue; he opened a greengrocer's shop at the top of Ealing Road, Wembley.

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See also

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