In 878 AD (the date is argued over by more eminent historians) the army led by King Alfred of Wessex defeated the Danes led by Guthrum. it was the subsequent treaty between them that led to the Kilburn High Road (Watling Street) being part of the boundary.
In short the area to the west (where Brent now is and beyond) was Wessex and the area to the east (where Camden now is and beyond) was Danelaw. That those living in 'Camden' paid taxes to the Danes (Danegeld) and those in 'Brent' didn't.
This is cited as the reason why the Kilburn market has always been on the Brent (Wessex) side of the road - to be on the Camden (Danelaw) side would have meant paying taxes to the Danes!
I've depicted here one of the most iconic coins of King Alfred which dates from when he subsequently used and crossed the Kilburn High Road and took back London... You can see on the reverse of the coin the letters LONDIN (London)
So, I guess my contention is pretty straight-forward:
- Kilburn has an amazing historic heritage
- That the signifcance of the High Road (Watling Street) has been massively underplayed locally and in the wider history books
- That the divide that today recreates itself as a pain with, for example, street cleaning contracts, dates back to the 9th century
- That this is all something we should be proud of...
Part of me is thinking that if Kilburn were a small market town and were located in the leafy areas of one of the shire counties we would have a proud and illuminated heritage - shown off by statues, plaques, and allusions to this long historic tradition. Yet we don't - why?