Colindale is an area which lies mainly within the London Borough of Barnet, although the western side of Colindale's main shopping street is within the London Borough of Brent. Colindale is an area of suburban character. It is situated about eight miles (12.9 km) north west of Charing Cross.
Formerly in the borough and ancient parish of Hendon, the area was essentially the dale between Mill Hill and The Burroughs. By the middle of the 20th century, it had come to include that part of the Edgware Road between The Hyde and Burnt Oak.
The area is named after a 16th-century family of the same name. Until the 20th century, Colindale was without any buildings save for a large house called Colindale Lodge, Colindale Farm and a few cottages (a spelling with two Ls has been used, as on this ordnance survey map printed in 1873). All of these properties were on Colindeep Lane which had in the medieval period been an alternative route out of London (via Hampstead, Golders Green and Hendon) to the Edgware Road. By the end of the 16th century it was not often used as a main road and by the middle part of the 19th century was called Ancient Street.
By the end of the 19th century, cheap land prices made Colindale attractive to developers. Colindale Hospital was opened in 1898 as an asylum for the long-term sick of central London, and in 1907 The Government Lymph Establishment for making vaccines was built. By 1996 the majority of the hospital was closed, and in 2009 lies mostly derelict. 
Garston’s Ltd established a trunk factory in 1901, as well as a row of cottages called Leatherville. As such it is the first manufacturer 'in the Colindale'. By 1914 there was already housing between Colindale Avenue and Annesley Avenue, mostly to house the workers of such endeavours.
Immediately after the First World War a number of other manufacturing companies came to Colindale. Franco Illuminated Signs opened on Aerodrome Road in 1922, having made the lights for the Franco British Exhibition of 1908 (it was later abbreviated to 'Franco'). It was best known for the neon signs found in Piccadilly from the 1920s to the 1970s. Frigidaire started in a wooden shack in Aerodrome Road, employing 11 people in 1923, and selling the first automatic household fridges in England.
The reason why many of these and other companies chose Colindale was that there was land available for expansion. However by 1923, when the tube railway reached Colindale, land prices had increased and factory expansion was not so easy, so some industries looked elsewhere for premises. In 1931, Frigidaire, for example, decided to build a new manufacturing plant to the west, on the A5 Edgware Road, and had moved its entire operations there by 1946.
After the tube station opened, development as a London suburb was rapid, and by 1939 much of the western side was semi-detached housing. Typical was the Colin Park Estate, built by F. H. Stucke & Co. around Colindeep Lane in 1927. Some of the houses on this estate are by the architect E. G. Trobridge.
St Matthias started as a mission church in 1905. Its permanent building was opened in 1934, and rebuilt between 1971 and 1973. Colindale Infants' School opened in Colindeep Lane in 1921, with a new building constructed in Woodfield Avenue in 1933. In 2011 the design and build for a new three form entry school was completed by The Kier Group and Sprunt Architects.
In September 1940, Colindale tube station and the Newspaper Library (rebuilt 1957) were bombed. and the site was visited by George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the late Queen Mother. A V-1 flying bomb hit Colindale Hospital on 1 July 1944, killing four members of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.
Hendon Tram Depot (site now occupied by Merit House, opposite Oriental City) was in 1910 the scene of the first trials in Britain of a trolleybus. This location eventually became Colindale Trolleybus Depot, from which route 645 operated until January 1962, when the depot was closed down and eventually demolished. Land behind the depot was used from 1959 to 1962 by the George Cohen 600 Group for scrapping the vast majority of London's fleet of 1891 trolleybuses.
Colindale houses many of North London's largest institutions, including the Royal Air Force Museum, Public Health England's Centre for Infections, Barnet College and the Peel Centre (better known as Hendon Police College). The British Library's newspaper depository was also in Colindale until it was closed in 2013 (to be replaced by a new depository in Boston Spa, Yorkshire, in 2015).
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- Colindale tube station, on the Northern line Edgware branch, is situated on the north side of the east-west Colindale Lane.
Parts of Colindale have been designated by the Mayor of London in his London Plan as a 'proposed area of intensification'. As a result, Barnet Council designated a 'Colindale Area Action Plan' (AAP) and carried out public consulation events. The Council has finalised its preferred plan in mid-2009, and it will be examined at a public hearing by the Planning Inspectorate, for anticipated approval by the Council in 2010.
In early 2008, the Campaign for Better Transport published an (unfunded) plan for an off-road, mainly orbital North and West London Light railway, taking over the westernmost of the two Midland Main Line freight lines which run north from West Hampstead, via Cricklewood, Brent Cross and Hendon, and end on the eastern border of the Colindale AAP.
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