History Lesson  -  Barham and Copland

Continuing our series about local history of Alperton & Wembley we are delighted to reproduce this absorbing piece by Pam Rigden (Try), WCS 1946, about Titus Barham and Copland.

Have any of you taken a stroll through Barham Park in Wembley?  How many of you have ever heard of it?  It is a large green area along the Harrow Road, quarter of a mile from the junction of Wembley High Rd, Ealing Road and Harrow Rd going towards Sudbury.

As you start your journey you pass St John’s Church on the right-hand side.  This Church was originally built in 1846 with money given by the two sisters’ Copland (Anne and Frances).  The architect and designer was Sir John Gilbert Scott who later designed such memorable places as St Pancreas Station, the Albert Memorial and other Gothic style revival London buildings.  The family name COPLAND is remembered in the place names of Copland Rd and Copland School and in the fact that the wealthy sisters provided the first “public” school next to the local St John’s church.  After 30 years it was closed and pupils then attended the ALPERTON SCHOOL run by the Harrow Education the Ealing Road, (opposite the Baptist Church) where a HINDU TEMPLE is now being built.  How things change!  Continuing along the main road you come to the Wembley Fire Station on your left and just passt that is on the right Copland House Old Folks Home on the corner of Copland Road.  This sits adjacent to the beginning of Barham Park which lies along the main Harrow Road just before the big Sudbury Roundabout.


The sisters built Sudbury Lodge as it was originally known as their home in the 1850’s and it nestled amongst farm and park land.  After their deaths it was inherited by General Robert Fitzgerald Copland-Crawford.  He lived there until he died and it is said his ghost still is to be seen walking through the trees and shrubs of the gardens.  Crawford Avenue commemorates his name.  It was acquired by George Barham the founder of the Express Dairies (that had a Royal Warrant to supply milk to Queen Victoria) in 1895 and he changed the name to Barham Mansion.  He, his son George Titus Barham and the family spent the next 42 years in the house.  It was Titus who developed the gardens and park and became a well-known local philanthropist, councillor, and charter mayor of the new Borough of Wembley only to die the day before the charter was granted in 1937!

He left the mansion and grounds and the entire contents to the new borough with instructions “to maintain it with care”   but with the onset of war the house became a training ground for the home guard and after the war the borough allowed it to be come very dilapidated and in 1957 by just one vote the council agreed to demolish it and so in one fair swoop a lot of Wembley’s history was lost.  In those days it would have only cost £18,000 to restore the house to its former glory.

During 1977 the gardens were reorganised, walkways made plus a children’s play area  with swings and helter-skelter named after Queen Elizabeth II and opened by the then Mayor of Brent.

When George Barham came to Wembley in 1880 he took up residence in the beautiful gabled building called Crab’s House facing the main road and part of the Copland estate at Sudbury Park as it was then called.  It can still be seen to-day with its inner courtyard now known as Old Barham Court.  A local borough library occupies part of the house by the large impressive gates.

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