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Who was Leslie Freeman?

On a nice Autumn morning in 2018, Cynthia Drapkin joined us at the Hillingdon Local Studies Search Room and us about her late father, Leslie Freeman, a well-known and celebrated local resident and councillor.

Cynthia's visit meant we now have a charming new addition to the Hillingdon Local Studies collection - a leather bound stationery set with Councillor Freeman's name embossed into the cover.

Leslie Freeman's stationery set

Brief history of Ruislip - A rapidly changing landscape

The name Ruislip first appeared in the Domesday survey of 1086. It was described as a manor, however, as one of the inhabitants in the survey was listed as a priest, it was most likely already a parish. Majority of the inhabitants in Ruislip through to the 13th century were bondsmen of the lord of the manor. They were tied to the land and could take up work and residence elsewhere only by his consent. Surveys show that in the year 1248 there were only 112 tenants of the manor.

Fast forward to the twentieth century, by the end of June 1905 the population of Ruislip-Northwood was estimated to be 4515 and by 1911 this had risen to 6217, including Eastcote. Despite the construction of the Grand Junction Canal, as well as the Enclosure Acts of the 18th and 19th century that severely affected the acres of land across Ruislip, at the turn of the twentieth century Ruislip still had its fair amount of rural villages.

Nonetheless, change waits for no one and by 1965 Ruislip looked vastly different to its recent past. Housing redevelopment meant more people migrated into Ruislip especially with the spread of the railway tracks across West London and easier commuting methods such as buses and trams.

Who was Leslie Freeman?

Originally a solicitor, Councillor Leslie Freeman OBE CC moved to Ruislip in 1947 with his family and dedicated the rest of his life to representing the people of Ruislip in local government. In 1940 he joined the RAF to help in the war effort and fate meant he was eventually stationed in Eastcote, which is why his family moved to the area. His first home was in Marlborough Avenue, Ruislip, from 1945-1946 and eventually he and his family settled down in Northwood by 1947.

Councillor Freeman won the 1948 elections and entered the legal office. Within a short period of time, the appreciation of his hard work and diligence as a councillor meant by 1953 until 1964 Councillor Freeman was the Chairman of the UDC for over a decade.

Princess Margaret planting a tree Not only was Councillor Freeman part of the committee that built crematorium in Ruislip, he also dedicated his years as councillor to raise money for 10 special houses equipped for disabled veterans in Park Avenue, still in existence today. This Living War Memorial was opened by Princess Margaret herself, and it meant that families of the veterans could stay in the houses even after their passing.

In the 60 years of its existence, the Ruislip-Northwood Urban District Council (UDC), was served by 32 Chairmen. The very last meeting of the Ruislip-Northwood UDC under its Chairman, Councillor Leslie Freeman OBE CC, took place on Monday 29th March 1965 before it was finally incorporated into the London Borough of Hillingdon. Nonetheless, Councillor Freeman continued to work hard for his community and even became the chairman of the Greater London Council from 1969 to 1970. He was a well-respected and admirable figure in Hillingdon so much so that his legacy continues on til present day.


  • A History of Ruislip by Laurence E Morris, 1956
  • Ruislip-Northwood: The development of an Urban District 1904-1965, Edward Saywell, 1965
  • Ruislip Past by Eileen M Bowlt

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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 27 Mar 2019 at 09:46