Certainly, the mid-70s was a difficult time for many suburban areas, and it is true that, as business rates for city centre premises increased quickly, firms "on the edge" of financial success moved further out in an attempt to lower their overheads. At the same time many family businesses were struggling to survive a lack of street parking, as well as the rise of larger shops in better locations accessible by car.
The mid 70s was also the final period grocery and fresh food shopping could put on a show without the intrusion of supermarkets. But was Woodville Club right, with hindsight, to express such concern?
Both in 1960 and 1975, between Beaumont Avenue and The Crown Hotel (but not including Stanhope Road shops) there were 89 business premises which could be called shops; whether occupied as such is another matter. Today five more premises exist which, previously, were other kinds of premises. Although Morrison's has been counted as one retail unit, it is functioning as a newspaper shop, cleaning shop, cafe and flower shop as well as a source of food. The only premises not included in the survey were filling stations, of which there were up to five at the peak, though only one exists today, and factories and workshops.
It is not easy to assess what is or is not a shop. Laundries are included because they are trading with physical products, and often ancillary products can also be purchased; betting shops are not included, as they are dealing purely in financial transactions.
In 1960 eighty-two premises could be classed as shops. By 1975 this number had fallen to 57, and as Woodville Club members had observed, much of the difference was accounted for by banks, offices, betting shops and insurance companies. Currently the number is 78. Between 1975 and 2015 was another change not visible in the statistics given. Many of the small independent grocery and greengrocery businesses disappeared as the supermarket era opened on what is now Morrison's site, but had begun with the Co-operative Society. However, many new independents have arrived, some selling a wider range of goods for a wider cultural market. Still related to food, the number of restaurants, cafes and take-away food shops has increased from four in 1975 to 14. This includes three adjacent units near the Rats' Castle, the cafe in Morrison's, and the little Beech Tree Cafe at the Rec. Fleetville Cafe is also included although we wait to discover its future.
Hatfield Road, it seems, is as healthy a shopping district as ever, which just one disappointment – the disappearance of those corner shops which were useful in the side roads of Harlesden, Sutton and Castle.