Erik Lovold’s work ‘The Welsh Harp’ looks at “the Brent Reservoir, more commonly known as the Welsh Harp, a reservoir in north-west London that was built in 1838 to supply the Grand Union Canal and Regent’s Canal with water.” The area has strong Welsh connections and hosts the only Welsh speaking school in London (‘The Welsh School, London’) which for much of its history was the only Welsh educational institution located outside Wales until the opening of a Welsh language school in Patagonia, Argentina in 2006.
“In its heyday in the second half of the 19th century, the Welsh Harp was one of the most popular places in London, thanks to the public house its name derived from – the Welsh Harp Tavern.”
“It was W.P. Warner (1832-1899) who kept it and made the area popular, creating pleasure grounds and attractions such as a music hall, horse racing, and the first greyhound races with mechanical hares. The area, which had been a quiet countryside, became so popular that Midland Railways opened the Welsh Harp train station there in 1870”.
“The Welsh Harp was the place to be for leisure in London for nearly forty years, and then urbanisation hit the area with the development of West Hendon in the early 20th century. The public found a new place to go and the train station closed.”
“Industry and traffic hit the area with full force in the decades after the First World War, consequently dwarfing the reservoir from 195 to 110 acres. Today, the green space sits anonymously between the boroughs of Brent and Barnet, in between motorways and industry parks. But the reservoir remains, and is still a place of leisure and sport among the locals, providing a sense of freedom with its greens and pathways.”
James O Jenkins