NI: Fallen Angel

N1 is another of those postcodes where there is so much potential that I will have to be selective. I must forgo King’s Cross and the amazing transformation which is happening there. Nor will I venture to trendy Hoxton (is it still trendy?). I will focus my attention on Angel.

Today this is a busy area with pubs and restaurants and a couple of cinemas and fringe theatres but as we shall see there has been much change here.

We start our walk at the main Post Office in Upper Street (numbers 160 -161). This is between Barnsbury Street and Waterloo Place. Turn right out of the Post Office and go along Upper Street. Our first stop is a little way on the right.

Stop 1: Number 147 Upper Street

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Nothing much to see now but an Islington green plaque tells us this was the home of Victorian children’s illustrator Kate Greenaway (1846 – 1901) between 1852 and 1873

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Kate Greenaway’s portrayal of children was very distinctive. She dressed them in her own versions of late eighteenth century and Regency fashions: smock-frocks for boys, high-waisted pinafores and dresses with mobcaps and straw bonnets for girls. Apparently Liberty of London adapted her drawings as designs for actual children’s clothes and it was all the rage amongst those who followed the Arts and Crafts movement to dress their daughters in Kate Greenaway pantaloons and bonnets in the 1880s and 1890s.

Apart from this particular vision of children, she is remembered though The Kate Greenaway Medal. This was established in 1955, for distinguished illustration in a book for children.

Continue walking along Upper Street, stopping at Number 127.

Stop 2: Number 127 Upper Street

This is now just an estate agents.

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But this used to be a restaurant known as Granita. Legend has it that this was where Tony Blair and Gordon Brown agreed in the summer of 1994 on their approach to a future Labour government, following the death of Labour Party leader John Smith on 12 May that year.

It is said that Brown agreed that he would not challenge Blair in the election to become leader of the party. This gave Blair a clear run and allowed him to lead Labour into the 1997 general election (which Labour won). In return, it is said Brown would be granted wide powers over domestic policy in a Blair administration. Blair would stay in the job for an unspecified period. It is alleged he would then resign and support Brown to follow him as Leader of the Labour Party and Prime Minister.

The existence of any deal was denied for many years by both Blair and Brown. But the story has surfaced in a number of forms, not least in BBC journalist James Naughtie’s 2001 book “The Rivals: The Intimate Story of a Political Marriage” and a 2003 made-for-television film called “The Deal”, based in part upon Naughtie’s book.

Continue along Upper Street until you reach Islington Green where you turn left.

Stop 3: Number 10 Islington Green

This is site has had a long history of entertainment.

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It started as a pub with a ‘saloon theatre’ in the 1790s. In the early 1860s, it was purchased by a man called Samuel Collins, who renamed it Collins’ Music Hall.

It was later rebuilt and enlarged, re-opening in December 1897 as Collins’ Theatre of Varieties. After a brief flirtation with programming films as part of the shows in the early 1900s, it settled down as a variety theatre under the name Collin’s Music Hall. It ran successfully until September 1958, when a fire destroyed Anderson’s Wood Merchants at the rear of the theatre, and did considerable damage to Collins’ Music Hall.

It stood empty and unused for several years. In April 1963, the remaining contents, fixtures and fittings were auctioned off and the remains of the building became a wood store for Anderson’s. This continued until around 2000 when the building was demolished, apart from the facade.

Today, the facade provides an entrance to a Waterstone’s bookstore. Housing was built on the site of the theatre and adjacent wood yard. There is a Blue Plaque on the facade marking the history of the theatre.

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Return to Upper Street and ahead you will see our next stop.

Stop 4: Screen on the Green cinema (Number 83 Upper Street)

This is one of the oldest cinema building still in use in Britain.

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The Empress Electric Theatre opened in October 1913. It was a simple building with a centrally placed entrance, with a paybox. There was no foyer – a pair of double doors led directly into the auditorium. The initial seating capacity was for 600 on a single floor.  Shortly after opening it was renamed Empress Picture Theatre.

It was refurbished in 1951 and became known as the Rex Cinema. It was taken over by Screen Cinemas, who re-opened it in September 1970 as the Screen on the Green.

It was modernised in February 1981 and in particular it gained a foyer which the original building never had. This reduced the seating capacity to 300. The independent Screen Cinemas circuit continued to operate it until 2008, when the circuit was sold to the Everyman Media Group, who continue to run it. This cinema is now known as the Everyman Screen on the Green, although it is hard to see this on the outside signage, even when it is lit up.

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In November 2010, the seating capacity was reduced from 300 to 120, with the installation of luxury armchair seats with footrests, individual cushions and lots of leg room, plus a licensed bar.

Here is a great little film from 2010 about being the film projectionist at the Screen on the Green, and doing it the old fashioned way.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow/2010/10/04/130331693/projection

I was curious to find out whether this cinema had gone over to digital projection, so I popped in as I was passing. A nice young man who worked there said that at present they were using digital projection because there was a problem with the sound on their 35mm projection system. But once they got that fixed, they would use traditional projection when they could get films in 35 mm, as they regarded the old way as superior to digital projection.

Just by the by, the Caffe Nero here at Number 75 Upper Street was also an old cinema.

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It was called the Electric Cinema but closed in 1916, and has been used as a shop in recent years. The full story at

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/21252

But note how the world keeps changing in that we now have a coffee chain shop here whereas until fairly recently it was a branch of Blacks, the outdoor clothing people.

Keep walking along Upper Street. 

Stop 5: Number 72a Upper Street

You may be wondering why we have stopped at this Tapas bar.

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But look up and there is a blue plaque to none other than Gracie Fields (1898 – 1979).

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Dame Gracie Fields was actually named Grace Stansfield. She was an English stage and screen performer who had huge success in the 1930s. Her most famous song was “Sally”. It became her theme song and was even worked into the title of her first film, Sally in Our Alley. This was a major box office hit in 1931.

She spent the later part of her life on the Island of Capri in Italy. She had been made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for “services to entertainment” in 1938, but just seven months before her death, she was invested as a Dame.

Now head towards the pointed end of the green (on the other side from the buildings in Upper Street) where you will see a statue.

Stop 6: Statue of Sir Hugh Myddleton

Sir Hugh Myddleton (1560 – 1631) was Welsh and turned his hand to many things: merchant, clothmaker, entrepreneur, mine-owner, goldsmith, banker and engineer. So why you may ask does he have a statue in Islington.

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The reason his statue is here is because he was the driving force behind the construction of the nearby New River. This was an ambitious engineering project to bring clean water to London from the River Lea, near Ware, in Hertfordshire to a place just near Sadler’s Wells Theatre called the New River Head. Myddelton helped fund the project through to completion, obtaining the assistance of King James I. The New River officially opened on 29 September 1613 and was originally around 38 miles long. Parts of it are still in use today to supply water, although not at the southern end here in Islington.

Continue walking along Upper Street and stop at the break in the buildings.

Stop 7:  Business Design Centre (formerly the Royal Agricultural Hall)

The Business Design Centre sets back from Upper Street. It has a modern front but behind is the Victorian Royal Agricultural Hall.

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It is  a Grade II listed building dating from 1862 and intended to be used agricultural shows. It was the home of the Royal Smithfield Club’s Smithfield Show from 1862 to 1938. There is even a plaque to remind of us of this, at the front.

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It hosted the Royal Tournament from its inauguration in 1880 until the early 1900s when the event became too large for the venue and it moved to Olympia. It hosted the first Crufts dog show in 1891.

During the Second World War, the hall was commandeered by the Government, and from 1943, following the destruction of Mount Pleasant sorting office in an air raid, it became a Parcels Depot. After the war, the hall remained unused until it was converted to its present use of an exhibition hall, conference centre, showrooms and offices in 1986.

The new frontage is uninspiring. But you can get a glimpse of some of the old glass work from outside.

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But if you want to get a better view of the hall go round to the Liverpool Road facade, where you see how grand it really is.

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(to do this take the road to the left of the Hall, go left into Parkfield Street, then right into Bromfeld Street and right again into Liverpool Road)

Once though the the Agricultural Hall complex went right up to Upper Street. There was a structure here built in 1869, and originally intended to be used for the showing of pigs! It later became a concert hall known as St. Mary’s Hall. It began showing films in August 1900. From 1902 to 1908 it was a variety theatre known as the Empire Music Hall, but films were retained as part of the bill.

Then in 1908 it was a full time movie house known as the Palace Cinema. It was renamed the Blue Hall Cinema in 1918. Gaumont British Cinemas took over ownership in 1928, but the cinema kept its name until 1951 when it became the Gaumont.

It closed on 5th January 1963. The building was converted into a Top Rank Bingo Club which remained in operation until 1975. It was during this period that the building was Listed as Grade II.

Even though it was listed and presumably could have been used as part of a renovated Agricultural Hall complex, it was demolished in 1985 to make way for the opening which allowed sight of refurbished Agricultural Hall from Upper Street.

Now take the small side street (Charlton Place) across the main road and at the end of Charlton Place turn right.

Walk along Colebrooke Row which is to the left of the little garden, Duncan Terrace being to the right. Take the second turning on the left, which is Noel Road.

Stop 8: Number 25 Noel Road

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And high up is an Islington Green Plaque.

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I have to say I was not expecting to see this given this was where 1960s playwright Joe Orton was murdered by his partner. It just says he lived here and tactfully does also say he died here. Must be a little strange to live in a house which had such a high profile murder even though it is almost 50 years ago.

Return to Colebrooke Row and turn left.

Notice the green in the middle here. Until 1870 the New River ran through the middle of Colebrooke Row and Duncan Terrace in an open channel. It was then put into a pipe but in 1946 the water supply at the southern end of the New River was truncated at Stoke Newington. Not sure if the New River pipe is still under here somewhere.

And look down to your left. You can still see the Regent’s Canal as it pops into a tunnel which takes it under Colebrooke Row and then Upper Street and on towards the back of King’s Cross station.

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The Regent’s Canal was constructed in tunnel which must have gone below the New River.

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A sort of aquatic subway/flyover. And it is hard to believe you are just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Angel and it is strange to think that there is a canal running under the streets and buildings here.

Now go down Duncan Street (which is ahead of you if you stand with your back to the canal

Stop 9: Former tramway building

Our next stop is ahead just as you reach Upper Street

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This building dates from 1906 and was built by the London County Council as an Electrical Transformer station for the local tramways. Angel was a major focus for the tram network in north London, as indeed it is today for buses.

Pevsner suggests that this building was inspired by Newgate Goal (demolished in 1902). It was repurposed as an antiques shopping arcade in 1979 and then more recently into a single shop, first Jack Wills and now Superdry.

The walkway to the right of the building is actually called Islington High Street and a few years back this and the adjoining (and confusingly named) Camden Passage was a major location for the antiques trade. There is still trading going on but it is a shadow of its former self.

Turn towards the tube station and look at the building to your left.

Stop 10: Number 40 Islington High Street

This may today be an uninspiring brick office block but for around 100 years this was a place of entertainment, first as a theatre and then a cinema.

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Originally opened as a concert hall known as the Philharmonic Hall in 1860, it became the Philharmonic Theatre in 1874. It was destroyed by fire and re-built in 1883 to a design by renown architect Frank Matcham. This building was destroyed by fire and was rebuilt in 1888, again designed by Frank Matcham.

By now known as the Grand Theatre it was destroyed by fire and yet another theatre designed by Frank Matcham, opened here in January 1901 – this time known as the Islington Empire Theatre. The facade of the former Grand Theatre was retained in the rebuilding. The Empire Theatre mainly put on variety shows although there were some film sequences.

It became a full time cinema in March 1932. Although owned by Associated British Cinemas Ltd (ABC), it seems to have kept the Empire name. It suffered yet another fire in February 1938 but reopened the following February. It continued as a cinema on the ABC circuit until March 1962.

The auditorium was largely demolished and became a car park. The end came finally in 1981 when what was left of the facade was taken down. Apparently this went to the Museum of London for preservation, although I could not find it listed on their online catalogue. A bland office block for the Royal Bank of Scotland was built on the site.

You can go round the back (if you venture int Torrens Street which is EC1) and see what looks like the back wall of the old building. There was also a tank there when I visited!

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Much more info and pictures at the wonderful Arthur Lloyd site:

http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Philharmonic.htm

What a story and what a fated site!

Now look across the road from the station.

Stop 11: Number 7 Islington High Street

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This look like it should have been a theatre or cinema building and indeed it was.

The Angel Picture Theatre opened on 19th March 1913. It had two separate entrances. This one on Islington High Street served the balcony, whilst the other entrance round the corner in White Lion Street served the stalls seating.

By 1929, the cinema was owned by Provincial Cinematograph Theatres who were a subsidiary of Gaumont British. It became the Angel cinema and seems to have kept this name until 1963 when it was renamed the Odeon (Gaumont having merged with Odeon to form the Rank Organisation)

The cinema closed in March 1972 and in 1974 the auditorium was demolished and offices built on the site. Amazingly the former balcony entrance with its tower feature survived but was bricked up for some 25 years. But it was refurbished and is now in use as a Starbucks coffee shop. This part of the former Angel Picture Theatre was designated a Grade II Listed building in 1991.

Now walk to the corner

Stop 12: “The Angel Building”

We cannot leave Angel without mentioning why this area is called Angel and the reason lies in what was once at the corner now occupied by the Co-operative bank.

This is the site of the Angel Inn which dated from the 16th century on lands belonging to the Clerkenwell Priory. It was rebuilt many times and it gave its name to Angel tube station, opened in 1901, and the surrounding Angel area of London. The present building in pale terracotta stone was completed in 1899. The pub ceased trading in 1921 and the building was sold to J. Lyons and Co.

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It was adapted and reopened on 21 February 1922 as the Angel Cafe Restaurant. In 1959 it was acquired by the London County Council to make way for a new road scheme at the Angel intersection, which would have seen a roundabout like at Old Street station. Fortunately the plans were abandoned and the building was saved from demolition.

The building was renovated between 1979 and 1982, with a branch of the Co-operative bank on the ground floor and offices above.

Fascinating fact: You will probably know that “The Angel Islington” is a property in the British version of Monopoly where it is the third-cheapest property on the board (how times have changed!). Victor Watson, of John Waddington Ltd (who made the British version), and his secretary Marjorie Phillips stopped here for afternoon tea in 1935 when choosing London sites to be included. It was here that Watson decided to include Angel, even though it is not a street.

Go in the bank and you will find a plaque just inside the door on the right hand side which was put up in 2003. As the inscription notes Angel is the “only site on the board named after a building”.

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Well that brings us to the end of our N1 walk. What I find fascinating is how much of the character has been lost in places like this. And I have not even mentioned all the pubs which have been lost, the ghostly reminders of which you see if you care to look.

We are just by Angel tube now for onward travel – and of course there are plenty of buses too.

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NW11: Design for Living

NW11 is Golders Green and Hampstead Garden Suburb. And the eagle eyed amongst you will have spotted that this breaks the general rule about the names of the post code districts being in alphabetical order. I guess the reason was that this was probably part of NW3 or perhaps even NW2 when the numbers were first allocated, but got its own number later.

We start out walk at the Post Office at Number 879 Finchley Road, Golders Green. Turn right out of the Post Office and our first stop is a little way down the road on the other side.

Stop 1: Number 612 Finchley Road

This dull looking Sainsburys supermarket is on the site of the Ionic cinema which was built in 1913.

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As the name suggests it had a greek style facade. Here is a picture from the wonderful Cinema treasures site:

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/26434

Sainsbury’s bought the site for development in the early 1970s. The planners did try to secure a cinema in the new building and in fact one was included – opening in 1975. It carried on to 1999 and it seems the space is still there, but obviously not used a cinema. Here is a picture of the “new” Ionic cinema when it was operated by Cannon.

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/6290

So now that big white space on the facade makes sense.

Now return along Finchley Road and at the main junction by the war memorial turn right. Our next stop is just over the road

Stop 2: Golders Green Hippodrome

Interestingly the Golders Green Hippodrome was also built in 1913. Designed by renowned theatre architect Bertie Crewe, it started as a music hall with some 2,245 seats on three levels.

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It became famous as a try out pre West End venue. I see from Kenneth Williams Diaries that he appeared here in February 1965 in the fated first run of Joe Orton’s play Loot. The play went on to Bournemouth, Manchester and Wimbledon where the run ended before it got to the West End. But it was revived successfully the following year and went to Broadway in 1968, after Orton’s death.

The theatre was taken over by the BBC in 1968, initially as a television studio and then from 1972, it was used as a radio concert venue. The audience was seated in the rear stalls and the circle, with the upper circle closed off.

The BBC Concert Orchestra made the theatre their home and for many years the popular ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ programme was broadcast live, in front of an audience. The BBC moved out of the Grade II listed building in December 2005.

It was bought by El Shaddai International Christian Centre.  A condition of the sale was that some live entertainment should be provided. It does not seem to have much theatrical use (unless church services count) although it appears there is an African Comedy show once a month on a Friday.

Our next stop is just next door.

Stop 3: Golders Green Station

The tube is why Golders Green is here. In 1907, Golders Green consisted of just a handful of houses, but the arrival of the railway lead to the whole area being developed.

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Golders Green station was opened by the Charing Cross, Euston & Hampstead Railway (CCE & HR) in June 1907. This was one of the three lines built by Charles Tyson Yerkes whose stations have the distinctive dark red tiles. Golders Green was one of the CCE & HR’s two northern terminals – the other being at Archway. It was also the location of the railway’s depot.

Interestingly this station does not have the standard red tiles. Maybe it never did as it was an above ground station or else this feature was lost when the station was rebuilt later.

Before the First World War plans were made to extend the line north from Golders Green to Hendon and Edgware. But the war intervened and work did not begin until 1922.

The station has an odd layout with five platforms but only three tracks. So platforms 1 and 2 serve one track.; platforms 3 & 4 serve another, whilst platform 5 serves the third. Morden also has this strange arrangement and like Morden, Platform number 1 is not in public use.

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Leave the station forecourt and turn right under the railway and continue along Finchley Road. Turn right at the traffic lights into Hoop Lane. Our next stop is just ahead.

Stop 4: Golders Green Crematorium

Cremation was not legal in Great Britain until 1885. The first crematorium was built in Woking and it proved a  success. At that time cremation was championed by the Cremation Society of Great Britain.  Out of this Society was formed the London Cremation Company which built this one – the first crematorium to be opened in London.  The land for the crematorium was purchased in 1900 and the crematorium was opened in 1902.

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This is a very striking set of buildings and unlike most crematoria, they are not hidden away in a parkland but are hard on the road with the memorial garden areas behind.

A veritable who’s who of well known people have been cremated at Golders Green. Wikipedia has a list: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golders_Green_Crematorium

Across the road is a cemetery. But it is somewhat unusual as for a substantial part the gravestones lie flat on the ground. This is because it is a Sephardic Jewish cemetery

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And there does not seems to be any planting which makes for a very stark outlook.

Continue along Hoop Lane. At the end go through the little garden with the archway and into Meadway, which is our first sight of Hampstead Garden Suburb. Our next stop is just on the right.

Stop 5: Number 8 Meadway

This was the home of Robert Donat (1905 – 1958). He only made about twenty films in the 1930s and 1940s but a couple of these mean he is not totally forgotten.

He played the part of Richard Hannay in Hitchcock’s 1935 film “The 39 Steps” and he was also the school teacher in the 1939 film “Goodbye Mr Chips”. For this latter part he won an Oscar for Best Actor, which is pretty incredible given that the competition included Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind and Lawrence Olivier as Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights.

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This house is unusual in that most of the houses in Hampstead Garden Suburb have retained their front gardens with their hedges. For some reason Number 8 seems to have been allowed a paved standing and has lost most of its hedge.

Continue along Meadway and turn right into Heathgate. This strangely does not have a pathway after a while and you are forced to walk in the road.

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As you get to the end of Heathgate have a look back to see one of the vistas which are part of the design of Hampstead Garden Suburb.

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We are now at the edge of the Heath – or perhaps more accurately the Hampstead Heath Extension. It was the preservation of this land as open space which meant that the station which had been planned near the Old Bull and Bush was not built, as we heard in NW3.

And just here at this edge of the heath is an unusual feature. It is called the Great Wall.

Stop 6: The Great Wall

Pevsner describes the Great Wall as picturesquely dividing the heath from the gardens of the houses to its north and in inspiration it is like a medieval town wall but punctuated with Lutyenish pavilions rather than conventional bastions. Only the western half of the planned wall was actually built.

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Now you have a choice. Either go onto the heath, turn left and walk along the edge and turn right when you get to the road (Wildwood Road) or else if you do not want to get muddy return to Meadway and turn right and then go right into Wildwood Road. Our next stop is on Wildwood Road just past the little roundabout on the right.

Stop 7: Number 15 Wildwood Road

This lovely house was the home of Frank Pick (1878 — 1941).

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He trained as a solicitor. Initially he worked for the North Eastern Railway, then he moved to Underground Electric Railways Company of London (UERL) in 1906. At UERL he rose through the corporate ranks, picking up responsibilities for marketing and traffic development.

Pick, together with UERL General Manager, Albert Stanley, devised a plan to increase passenger numbers: developing the “UNDERGROUND” brand and establishing a joint booking system and coordinated fares throughout all of London’s underground railways, even the lines not controlled by UERL .

Pick became joint assistant managing director in 1921 and managing director in 1928. When the new London Passenger Transport Board was created in 1933, he was its first chief executive officer and also vice-chairman.

Pick had a strong interest in design and its use in public life. He understood the need for a strong corporate identity for the Underground in advertising and signage using the first versions of the now familiar “roundel” and the Johnson typeface – a version of which is still used today. He also commissioned bold new station buildings, which have stood the test of time. Under his direction, the Underground and associated bus services expanded considerably and stimulated the growth of London’s suburbs.

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An interesting citation on the plaque, don’t you think?

Keep walking along and our next stop is just a little further on across the road.

Stop 8: Number 48 Wildwood Road

This was the home of Dame Myra Hess (1890 – 1965). Hess was a concert pianist and is perhaps best remembered for organising lunchtime concerts during World War II when the concert halls were blacked out at night to avoid being targets of German bombers. She organised some 1700 lunchtime concerts over a period of six years. The concerts were held at the National Gallery, in Trafalgar Square; Hess herself played in 150 of them. For this contribution to maintaining morale she was given the honour of Dame Commander of the British Empire in 1941.

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Now retrace your steps along Wildwood Road.  As we walk along Wildwood Road, note the little close on the right, called Raeburn Close.

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I was struck by the two benches placed either side of this little close.

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No idea about who this couple were or what they did but their names live on with these benches.

Continue walking along Wildwood Road and turn right into Meadway. Take the second turning on the right.

Stop 9: Number 10 Grey Close

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This was the home of legendary comedian Tony Hancock (1924 – 1968) in 1947 and 1948 and is commemorated by a plaque from the Dead Comic’s Society.

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He had a major success with his BBC series Hancock’s Half Hour – first on radio from 1954 and then on television from 1956. His scriptwriters in the 1950s were Ray Galton and Alan Simpson but once he broke with them in 1961, this was the beginning of the end.

Return to Meadway and cross over into Lichfield Way, taking the first turning on the left (Southway). As this road turns, you get another vista of St Jude’s Church.

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When you get to the end turn right and then left into Central Square.

Stop 10: Central Square

This is the centrepiece of Hampstead Garden Suburb.

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The Suburb was founded by social reformer, Henrietta Barnett at the beginning of the 20th Century. In the 1880s,  she and her husband Samuel, an ordained Minister, had sown the seeds of the Whitechapel Art Gallery and established Toynbee Hall, a social reform charity working to bridge the gap between people of all social and financial background.

In 1906, Barnett set up the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust Ltd, which purchased 243 acres of land from Eton College and appointed Raymond Unwin as its architect.  The Suburb was inspired by the garden city movement of Ebenezer Howard and aimed to provide a development which catered for all classes of people and all income groups in low density housing with woods and gardens which were free to all. However unlike a Garden City, it was never envisaged that there would be any factories or other commercial developments to provide employment for the inhabitants.

Central Square has three set pieces around a green. We have already seen St Jude’s church which stands on the south side of the square. Then there is another church – a “free” church on the north side and finally on the east side is an educational building, now Henrietta Barnett school. The fourth side is looks rather unfinished with some decaying tennis courts.

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I thought the dedication of the C of E church to St Jude was an interesting choice for the social reformers behind the suburb. He is after all the patron saint of lost causes. But I guess the reason for this dedication was that St Jude’s was Cannon Samuel Barnett’s church in Whitechapel.

The church is by Lutyens. Here is a link to the Church website which has a comprehensive history.

 http://www.stjudeonthehill.com/2010/02/guide-to-st-judes.html

The initial plans for the suburb included shops on the approaches to the sqaure, but this were omitted in the final build. In fact there are no commercial building as far as I could see in this part of the suburb. This means it is somewhat lifeless.

Pevsner puts this delightfully “Institute education and divine worship have not proved to be much of a lively attraction as the social reformers hoped for”

There are two reminders of Dame Henrietta. First is a monument – a rather strange affair of a pillar in the centre of an archway of metal. It looks like there is something missing from atop the pillar – maybe a sundial or a statue.

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The other is at the first house in South Square – that is to the right of the church as you look at it from the monument. If you go to this house (which is Number 1, South Square) you will see a memorial plaque to Dame Henrietta showing she lived here from 1915 to 1939.

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Now retrace your steps to Central Square and go out the other end (past the non-conformist church)

Looking back you get some nice views of these set piece buildings.

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Turn down Erskine Hill ( which is the road opposite the entrance to the church driveway). At the cross roads turn left into Temple Fortune Hill. Continue along this until the end and then turn right into Hampstead Way. Our next stop is just ahead as the road turns to the right.

Stop 11: Numbers 140 & 142 Hampstead Way

These two houses were the first to be completed in Hampstead Garden Suburb

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This was the first part of Hampstead Garden Suburb to be developed and it was intended for artisans and workers. I doubt there are too many “artisans and workers” living in these houses today.

Continue walking along Hampstead Way to the end and turn right into Finchley Road. Take an opportunity to look back at this junction as it was (according to Pevsner) intended to the the main gateway to the suburb – its Germanic silhouettes inspired by medieval towns.

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Walk a little way along Finchley Road and our final stop is on the right.

Stop 12: Birnbeck Court and the Pantiles

Birnbeck Court is built on the site of the Orpheum Theatre, later the Odeon Temple Fortune.

The Orpheum Theatre opened in October 1930 with full stage facilities. Initially it was independently operated and had a mixed programme of cinema and live variety. It changed hand a couple of times and was finally taken over by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd. in 1937. It was re-named Odeon in 1945, initially known as the Odeon Temple Fortune but later the Odeon Golders Green.

The Odeon was closed in April 1974  It lay empty and unused for many years, eventually being demolished in May 1982, to be replaced by this housing development.

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Sadly this temple of the 1930s is no longer with us, but we can get a glimpse of Hollywood in the magnificent Deco block of flats next door. This is called The Pantiles and dates from 1935. It has these distinctive green roof tiles which evoke this period.

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So that brings us to the end of our NW11 walk. Hampstead Garden Suburb is lovely but it is a little sad that the vision did not quite work out. However if there had been shops around the Central Square, they are unlikely to be serving the community’s everyday needs today. Most likely they would be exclusive specialist shops for designer clothes and trinkets, with artisan bakers and the like. So maybe it turned out for the best after all.

For onward travel probably best to catch a bus back to Golders Green (Numbers 82, 102 and 460)