Uxbridge emerged as a market town towards the end of the twelfth century and remained so for over 700 years. Corn was the principal commodity, with much of it grown in flat and fertile land a few miles to the south, and agricultural occupations dominated. In the late eighteenth century stagecoach traffic flourished, and the opening of the Grand Junction Canal also brought more trade and employment. Corn growing gave way to market gardening during Victorian times, before the early years of the twentieth century saw the town become swallowed by London's sprawl. The introduction of electricity led to the appearance of light engineering in the growing suburb and this expansion continued between the wars, so much so that depression and unemployment made little impact on the area.
Uxbridge at Work explores the life of this London suburb and its people, from pre-industrial beginnings through to the present day. In a fascinating series of contemporary photographs and illustrations it takes us from the days of corn milling to the technologically advanced world of today, showing how Uxbridge has successfully turned its proximity to Heathrow Airport and three motorways to its advantage as it continues to develop into a major office centre.
Ken Pearce is a well-known author. He has lived in Uxbridge since the 1930s and taught for 32 years at Bishopshalt School. Since 1970 he has been chairman of the Uxbridge Local History and Archives Society.