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4 fun facts about the Edgware Road

By Maurice Shasha  //  Thu 3rd May 2018
Keen to learn more about the Edgware Road? Discover four little-known facts about the history of this road in central London.
A few historical facts about the Edgware Road.
The Edgware Road is noted for ethnic diversity, and Middle Eastern influences especially. It also happens to have a rather interesting history, so we've pulled together a few facts about this road's past.

Cinema associations

In the early 1900s, the first of a chain of cinemas opened at 164 -166 Edgware Road. Montagu Pyke, who opened the establishment, was a commercial traveller, gold miner and a bankrupted stock marker gambler before he became known as the cinema king.

Pyke's reason for choosing the Edgware Road as the location to start his chain of cinemas was because it was densely-populated and, in his own words, 'it appeared to me from the class of people one sees daily on the streets that they would make an appreciative audience if you gave them good value and the prices were right.'

Watling Street

Watling Street was originally a track used by the ancient Britons as a route between what is now Kent and the area north of London, now known as St Albans.

When the Romans arrived and wanted to build a road from Dover through London to the north of England, they decided to use part of this ancient track. However, this ran through the Great Middlesex Forest, so the track was incorporated with what we now call the Edgware Road. The Romans named it Watling Street. The Romans built straight roads, which is probably why the Edgeware Road is virtually straight for ten miles.

Making money

The Edgware Road developed into a busy thoroughfare, and because of increasing trade, it became a place to make money. One of those wishing to extract cash from travellers using the road was the Edgware-Kilburn Turnpike Trust, and they charged the travellers tolls. Highwaymen also made money from this enterprise, including the notorious Dick Turpin.

Now the problem we have here is that Dick Turpin was famous for being something he wasn’t and for doing something he didn’t do. He was not a highwayman. He was a rustler and thief who, along with his gang, broke into farms. He confined his criminal enterprises to the Epping Forest area east of London.

Turpin never road his horse from London to York in 24 hours - this legend was based on a journey made by a real highwayman who completed a 190-mile trip in 20 hours - he only did this to provide himself with an alibi.

Dick Turpin did go to York and was arrested and hanged there. Not, as the website’s history tells us, on April 7th, 1939. But why let the truth get in the way of a good story? Let us suppose Dick Turpin did ply his trade on the Edgware Road. If this was the case, he would have eventually been caught (most highwaymen were caught) and hanged at Tyburn.

Tyburn Tree

The notorious Tyburn Tree was not a tree, but a set of gallows built in the 16th Century. They were erected at the southern end of the Edgware road, close to where Marble Arch stands today. For many years, executions were public and could attract crowds as large as 100,000. They were so popular that traders in food and drink set up their stalls to cash in on the crowds.

What is true and what is false?

Well, we have played a bit fast and loose with the history of the Edgware Road, but not all of what is written is fake news. Montagu Pyke did build his first cinema here, and the Romans did incorporate it into Watling Street. The Tyburn gallows were situated at the southern end of Edgware Road. It is highly unlikely Dick Turpin did prowl and rob those travelling this section of Watling Street, although no one can be certain of this. What we can be certain of is Dick Turpin was hanged in York on April 7th, 1739, not 1939.

What we have tried to illustrate that the Edgware Road has been a busy, bustling and interesting place for several hundred years. If you want to know more about property around the Edgware road area, contact us today.

Offices at

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29 Edgware Road
W2 2JE
f: 020-7258-3090
34 Beauchamp Place
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