The College of North West London or CNWL can trace it roots back to 1891, and the formation of Willesden Polytechnic, on the site of its former campus in Kilburn.

From 1893, the Willesden Committee for Technical Education organised classes in Willesden Town Hall and in 1896, Middlesex County Council bought the St. Lawrence institute in Priory Park Road, and by 1898 The Willesden Polytechnic was formed, with 1,571 students.

A new building was developed for the polytechnic, opening in 1904 on Glengall Road in Kilburn. As the First World War I took a toll on the male working-class population, the polytechnic offered a course in 1917 to women between the ages of 18 to 35 in light woodwork for aeroplane components which contributed towards the phenomenal contribution of participating women towards the manufacture of the RAF’s air fleet.[5]

From 1932, Middlesex County Council undertook a large development in Willesden, and in 1934 split the polytechnic into Kilburn Polytechnic (on the original site), and the new Willesden College of Technology. By 1934, the original St. Lawrence Institute building had been demolished, and replaced by the present four-storey block. By 1978 there were around 1,400 full-time and 4,500 part-time students.

Willesden College of Technology opened in Denzil Road in 1934, to provide the technical courses originally provided by the polytechnic, including the School of Art and Design building. In 1964 the college took over the buildings of Dudden Hill Lane school. The art school closed in 1959, and in 1969 the School of Building amalgamated with other schools to form Swaminarayan School Sladebrook High School.

In 1991, the sites again merged, to become its present incarnation, the College of North West London (CNWL). Today, CNWL now offers a broad range of courses, from entry level through to Foundation Degrees, Apprenticeships and HNC/HNDs. Its Hair and Beauty Salons at the Wembley Campus are open to the public.

The College continues to provide qualifications and training courses to school leavers, adult learners and employers in around 20 sectors including construction, computing, engineering and care at its campuses at Willesden, Wembley Park and at its specialist construction site in Kings Cross.