Connaught Road, HA3

Place Name

Built on New College Estate, it was purchased before the Second World War by local developer, John Searcy, from New College, Oxford.  The plot of land on which both Connaught Road and Dryden Road are built was, however, sold to Wimpeys the builders, for a reputed £300 per acre. Ronald S Brown writing in Histories of Harrow Weald Highways says: “It is probably more than a coincidence that this plot exactly faced a row of council houses on the opposite side of Kenton Lane. Fisher Road, which runs parallel to these two roads, suffered no such apparent embarrassment and was built by the Searcy organisation. With the roads already surfaced the Dryden Road houses were available for occupation in early 1933 while Connaught Road was completed by the summer of the same year.  Both roads were built on the basis of sixteen houses to per acre. There were problems in that year caused by an excessively warm summer; plaster which dried too quickly fell from walls and ceilings and many of the young trees planted on both sides of the road died from lack of water. The earliest purchasers of Connaught Road properties could see the buildings of New College Farm down the hill at the junction of Locket Road and Kenton Lane but Rose Farm had been demolished and this land was later to provide the site for Searcy-built flats.  At that time however, the site had a derelict appearance and an old well had been revealed in the area where garages have since been erected. Naturally the tudor-style houses of Connaught and Dryden Roads are different to those on the rest of the New College Estate (with the exception of Adderley Road, which is also Wimpey built). The properties in these three roads were built for Wimpeys by bricklaying gangs provided by George Smith and Son. Smith built the existing vicarage in Bishop Ken Road for his own residence and it is, naturally, a particularly well-built house. Most of the original residents of Connaught Road came from the London districts of Kilburn and Harlesden.” It is named after Prince Arthur William Patrick Albert Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (later Windsor) (May 1, 1850 – January 16, 1942), the seventh child  and third son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who was appointed the first ranger of Epping Forest in 1882. He was raised to the peerage as Duke of Connaught and Strathearn and Earl of Sussex to mark the Queen’s birthday in 1874. The Times reported at the time: “The choice of his principal title has been made the subject of some remark. There is obviously no reason why Ireland should not have been selected for the honour of bestowing it, and there are many reasons why she should. England and Scotland and, before aIl, Wales are already thus represented in the Royal Family, and the further inclusion of Ireland can be taken only as a kindly and graceful recognition, on HER MAJESTY’S part, of the fair claims of the Sister Island to a place of distinction equal, as nearly as may be, with the rest.” He was born in Buckingham Palace, on the Duke of Wellington’s 81st birthday. To mark the coincidence – and the family’s close relationship with the Iron Duke – he was asked if he would be his godfather. At the age of eight, with his Army career already mapped out for him, he was appointed a tutor with instructions to direct his education as far as was possible on military lines. Aged 12 he was sent to Ranger’s Lodge in Greenwich Park to continue his studies and was a frequent visitor to the Woolwich Arsenal. After leaving the Royal Military Academy a corporal he was posted to the Royal Engineers in Chatham before returning to Woolwich to serve with B Battery, Royal Artillery. More promotions followed and in 1882 he was to see his first action commanding the Guards Brigade in Egypt at the Battle of Tel-el-Kebir. His commander later wrote to his mother: “He is a first-rate Brigadier-General and takes more care of his men and is more active in the discharge of his duties than any of the generals now with me.” After the battle he joined voices arguing for troops in the field to be given khaki uniforms – at the time home stationed units still wore bright regimental ones. He went on to tour South Africa and become Governor General of Canada. In 1916, in the midst of the First World War, his posting came to an end and he returned home, not staying long before heading to France to tour the Western front. In peacetime he returned to royal duties and visited India, in what was seen, by the British press at least, as a successful tour. In contrast to other members of the family, his entire life stood the test of public scrutiny.  He was always anxious to do that which was right and good.  As the first Lord Rowallan said in 1921: “The Duke was one member of the Royal Family upon whom the rays of scandal have never shone”. He outlived his wife Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia, the daughter of Prince Frederick Charles and a great-niece of the German Emperor. The couple had three children: Princess Margaret Victoria Charlotte Augusta Norah (born 15 January 1882), Prince Arthur Frederick Patrick Albert (born 13 January 1883), and Princess Victoria Patricia Helena Elizabeth (born 17 March 1886), who were all raised at the Connaughts’ country home, Bagshot Park, in Surrey, and after 1900 at Clarence House, the Connaughts’ London residence. His eldest children both predeceased him. Prince Arthur junior who married Princess Alexandra, Duchess of Fife, in 1913, died after a long illness on September 12, 1938. His son succeeded to his grandfather’s dukedom.

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