N3: Two and sixpence from Golders Green

N3 is Finchley Church End according to the Post Office but I think most people would call this area Finchley Central.

When I hear the words Finchley Central I immediately think of that novelty song from 1967 called “Finchley Central”. And then I have to go on and sing “two and sixpence from Golders Green on the Northern Line. It is a kind of an odd song about an odd journey with someone making a date and then being stood up at Finchley Central.

It is by a group called the New Vaudeville Band. This was their follow up to “Winchester Cathedral” which is much in the same vein. Apparently they did not really exist as a performing group initially and only came together properly when Winchester Cathedral became a hit.

I cannot seem to find any vintage footage of the band actually playing, so here is the song with some pictures, old and new, which someone has kindly posted to go with the music on YouTube.

Now we are actually going to start our walk at West Finchley, and the reason is all to do with another tube connection as we shall see.

We start at the Lovesay newsagents at 219 Nether Street which although not a Post Office as such is part of something called “Local Post Office Solution”.


If this is the solution, not sure what the problem is. I guess it provides a few of the sub Post Office services but not the full set.

Turn right out of the shop and almost immediately you will see West Finchley Station

Stop 1: West Finchley Station

Now this is rather like a little country station, especially when you get on to the platforms. Seems wrong to see Northern line trains here.


This station is on the branch line that was built from Finchley Central to High Barnet in 1872. But the station itself although it looks quite old was only opened in March 1933.


According to Architectural Historian Pevsner, the fittings for this station came old stations in Northern England – the footbridge for example was from Wintersett and Ryhill, near Barnsley. So maybe this explains why it does not look its age.

The station was there to serve new housing developments and was always just a modest little station. Initially the line was operated by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) who presumably had a few bits of spare station up north which they could recycle here. The section of line from East Finchley to High Barnet was incorporated into the London Underground network through the “Northern Heights” project begun in the late 1930s. West Finchley station was first served by Northern line trains on 14 April 1940. LNER service stopped in 1941 and so the station became a station served only by the Underground.

Amazingly this station still has toilets!


Turn left out of the station, go along Nether Street and take the first right which is Courthouse Gardens. Keep to the right hand pavement. You will notice the house numbers go up to the low 30s and then suddenly jump to 64. If you look carefully you will see a street sign which shows we have moved from Courthouse Gardens to Courthouse Road. We have also strayed over the border into N12, but I thought we should come here as we will not able to fit this particular place into our N12 walk and there is an interesting N3 connection. We are looking for Number 60 which is just on the right.

Stop 2: Number 60 Courthouse Road

This house was the home of Harry Beck from 1936 to 1960. He of course is famously credited with creating the iconic tube map in 1933.


And there is even a blue plaque from the Finchley Society.


Now here’s a puzzle. When we get to Finchley Central Station, we will see a replica of his map and a plaque saying that Harry Beck used Finchley Central for many years to get to work. Now this does seem strange, given he lived much closer to West Finchley station. Well yes, but for the first few years he lived here, the trains from the relatively new West Finchley station were not Underground trains. They were steam trains which went off to Finsbury Park, so perhaps he just stuck to walking to Finchley Central after the Underground took over.

Return along Courthouse Road/Gardens. Turn right at Nether Street and then take a right into Eversleigh Road. Go to the end and ahead is our next stop.

Stop 3: Former drive to Nether Court

Immediately opposite Eversleigh Road is a gateway and a pathway leading into parkland. This leads on the Finchley Golf Course.


This was once the grand entrance drive to the 15 bedroom home of a wealthy Victorian businessman, Henry Thomas Tubbs. The house, called Nether Court, was built in the early 1880s. He had made his money from knicker elastic.

After his death the house and grounds lay unused for a time but eventually became Finchley Golf Club in 1929, with the house as its clubhouse. Lots of interesting info on the Golf Club website.


Now go along Gordon Road as if you had taken a left turn out of Eversleigh Road. As you walk along Gordon Road you will see across the allotments a railway viaduct (our next stop). At the end turn right into Dollis Road and find a place to view the viaduct.

Stop 4: Dollis Brook Viaduct


If you time it right you will see a train go across. And perhaps you will do a double take because it is a Northern line Underground train high up there on that viaduct. It all seems so wrong, but this is another bit of the Northern Line which was built as a “normal” railway. In fact this is the branch line that runs between Finchley Central and Mill Hill East, which is an odd hangover from the Northern Heights project of the 1930s, as we heard in NW7.

Apparently the greatest elevation above the ground level is here on the Northern line at Dollis Brook viaduct over Dollis Road – some 18 metres (60ft) above the ground. But this is not the highest place above sea level. The Underground station highest above sea level is Amersham, at 147 metres (482ft), but I guess there may be a bit of line that is slightly higher

Now retrace your steps along Dollis Road. At the end, do a right into Nether Street. Go over the railway bridge (you will have to cross to the left hand pavement) and continue to the end. At the cross roads, go straight across into Chaville Way, which leads down to Finchley Central  station.


Stop 5: Finchley Central Station


I should just mention in passing that this dull looking road is named after one of Barnet’s twin towns (Chaville is in France). Apparently this road never used to have a name so when they were looking for a name they chose one of the twin towns. Is this the best road, Barnet Council could come up with – not much of a compliment to your twin town is it?

So go down to the station and go onto the nearest platform (the platform for central London) where there are a couple of things to see. First is this board put up by the local amenity society, the Finchley Society. One the left it is advertising the Stephens Collection Museum (we are headed that way soon) and on the right there is a little bit about the first train here in 1867. Very nicely done.


But go along the platform towards the toilets and there is a little plaque to Harry Beck and a copy of his original schematic map of the Underground network.



Now leave the station by the footbridge. Turn left into Station Road, right into Wootton Grove and left into Lichfield Grove. Our next stop is just on the left.

Stop 6: Number 53 Lichfield Grove

This was where the comedian and character actor Terry-Thomas (1911 – 1990) was born. He is best remembered for playing disreputable upper class characters – what were termed “cads” or “bounders”.


His real name was Thomas Terry Hoar Stevens. When he started off as an actor he he billed himself as Thomas (or Thos) Stevens, then he spelt it backwards (Mot Snevets) and moved on to Thomas Terry. He inverted these names when it became apparent that people were mistaking him as a relative of the famous actress Dame Ellen Terry.

Quirkily he added the hyphen in 1947. He is said to have explained that it was “not for snob reasons but to tie the two names together. They didn’t mean much apart; together they made a trade name”.

Continue along Lichfield Grove. Turn right into Sylvan Avenue and at the end go right and soon on the left you will see a gateway into a park. Go in there.

Stop 7: Avenue House and Gardens

You are now in the grounds of Avenue House.

This was the home of Henry Charles Stephens (1841 – 1918). He was known as Inky Stephens. However it was his father Dr Henry Stephens (1796–1864) who invented in 1832 an indelible “blue-black writing fluid” which would become famous as Stephens’ Ink and form the foundation of a successful worldwide company which lasted for over 150 years.

He left the house and grounds to be opened to the public and today they are run by a charitable trust. There is a nice little inky museum in the house. Open three days a week

More info at: http://www.stephenshouseandgardens.com/

Now once in the park, go straight ahead and then after the building called “the Bothy” turn right just before the exit gate. This leads towards the house.

But before we get to the house you will come across a sculpture on the left as you approach the main house. It is of a man sitting on a bench. Not any old man, but it is none other than Spike Milligan.


You may ask what he is doing sitting in a public gardens in Finchley.

Well Spike lived in Finchley from 1955 to 1974. When local amenity group, The Finchley Society, was set up in 1971, he was one of the first to join. He became its President and later its Patron.

In 2004, a group of his friends and family combined with The Finchley Society to raise funds for the creation of a bronze statue and here it is.

More info at: http://www.theguardian.com/culture/2014/sep/04/spike-milligan-statue-unveiled-north-london-finchley

Ahead is the house.


Note it has the Finchley motto we heard about in N2 (Regnant Qui Serviunt – He who rules serves)


Now leave the house and grounds and turn right into the street (East End Road). Than turn right into Regents Park Road and continue to the junction with Arcadia Avenue.

Stop 8: Site of New Bohemia Cinema

This very sad looking building is on the site of an old cinema – with the unusual name of the New Bohemia.


The cinema was built in 1920. There had been a cinema called the Bohemia just up the road (in Ballards Lane) but this seems to have lasted only a short time around 1914. So I guess that is why this was the New Bohemia. Curious name for respectable suburban Finchley.

In March 1928, it became part of Gaumont chain and carried on as a cinema for just over 30 years until it was closed in April 1959. Not sure if this ever got renamed. The usually informative Cinema Treasures site is rather light on both these Finchley cinemas and does not even run to an old photograph of either building.

The cinema was replaced by this office block known as Gateway House. Although the ground floor shops are empty now, there is a sign to suggest that Waitrose are opening a small store here.

Now cross the main road and take the road which runs off at an angle to the right (Hendon Lane). Our next stop is just a little way on the right.

Stop 9: St Mary’s Church

This is I guess the Church that gave its name to Church End before the area became better known as Finchley Central.


It seems to be the only really old building round here, some of it dating from 15th century, although altered in both the 19th and 20th centuries.


And here tucked away at the side – and looking half forgotten is a seat for the Mayor of Finchley dating from 1933.


Perhaps a reminder of how different things used to be in local government. I cannot imagine a church installing a special seat for the Mayor these days.

On leaving the church, turn right and then take the second right (Hendon Avenue) and follow this round as it veers to the left. Our next stop is way down the end of this road where you turn left into Village Road.

Stop: 10 Finchley Garden Village

This single street forms Finchley Garden Village, a lovely garden suburb built between 1909 and 1914.


It was designed by a man called Frank Stratton who is commemorated by this memorial. It also serves as a war memorial.



You leave the suburb and the road becomes Cyprus Avenue. Go to the end of this. Then at the main road, turn right, cross over and take the first left (Cyprus Road). Then take the first right (Salisbury Avenue). Go to the end and our next stop is ahead.

Stop 11: College Farm


First you see the entrance, but as you now turn left along Fitzalan Road, you will see a large open space, with a fenced driveway running parallel to you.



This is all College Farm. The website for the farm itself is “being redesigned” but there is quite a lot of info about the shop which seems to be extensive and claims to be North London’s largest equestrian and pet store. Apparently the farm was developed by Express Dairies in the 1880s as what was called a “Model Dairy”. I wonder how it survived the encroaching suburban development.

At the end of Fitzalan Road turn right. 

You can look back along the drive of the farm.


Continue to the big road junction ahead of you.

Stop 12: Henlys Corner

This is Henlys Corner, another of those places which is named after some long vanished building – in this case Henlys Garage.


Although the road we have used to approach Henlys Corner is important, it is not as important as the road it crosses here. This road is for a short distance both the A1 (one of the main roads north out of the capital) and the A406 North Circular Road, which is the main orbital route within suburban North London. No wonder it is a so busy.

Just before the  junction, though there is an interesting looking sculpture on the green to the right of Regents Park Road as you come to Henlys Corner.


This is called “La Délivrance” by Émile Guillaume and dates from 1920. The statue was created as a celebration of the First Battle of the Marne when the German army was stopped from capturing Paris in August 1914. There were supposed to be 11 copies which were to be offered to cities in France and Belgium. But that does not explain why one is here in Finchley.

In 1920 Guillaume exhibited the statue at the Paris Salon, where it was bought by newspaper magnate Lord Rothermere. Lord Rothermere presented the statue to the Urban District of Finchley. Finchley Council intended that this would serve as a war memorial and be placed at the main entrance of  Victoria Park, which is just off Ballards Lane. Lord Rothermere did not like this and told the Council that it could only have it if was placed at its present location. This was so that he might see it when driving to visit his mother, who lived at Totteridge.

And that is why there is a French statue sitting on a green by Henlys Corner.

That brings us to the end of N3, which proved quite a mix. I have to say that I was a little disappointed to discover that there was not much of a centre to Finchley Central. But there were some interesting connections what with Harry Beck and Inky Stephens.

You are now between Finchley Central and Golders Green, slightly nearer the former. Probably easiest to get a bus to either station for onward travel. Indeed if the hapless singer of the song “Finchley Central” had researched his travel options properly, he would not have gone 10 long station on the Northern line via Camden Town. He would probably have found it quicker to hop on a bus which goes a more direct route, but then we would not have this wonderful mad song!



N2: The Burg(h)ers of Finchley

N2 is East Finchley. This area is mainly residential, although N2 is also home to the UK headquarters of the fast food giant McDonald’s and has a rather special cinema. For this walk I had fellow Footprints of London guide Jenni Bowley to show me round. So thank you, Jenni.

We start the walk at the N2 Royal Mail office in Market Place (It is a lovely Edwardian building which unaccountably I failed to take a picture of). It is perhaps the only attractive thing about this street. And curiously although it is called Market Place there is no sign of a market or even a shop today.

Our first stop is just off Market place – a street called Prospect Ring.

Stop 1; Prospect Ring

This is an intriguing little estate dating from the late 1950s and grouped around a traffic circle. On the far side is an 11 storey block of flats – it is quite a surprise to find a council built tower block here.


On the left hand corner is a rather old fashioned looking stone plaque.


This explains the foundation stone was laid by the Mayor of Finchley on 25 April 1959 in the silver jubilee year of the incorporation of the borough. How different local government was in those days, when even a small municipal borough like Finchley (population under 70,000) called its senior councillors aldermen and had its own Architect.

The motto of the borough was “Regnant Qui Serviunt”, which apparently translates as “They rule who serve”. Now that is a no nonsense motto and entirely fitting for the area that chose Margaret Thatcher as its MP.

Now leave Prospect Ring cross over Market Place and go down Kitchener Road. Cross over the High Road and almost immediately opposite is Huntingdon Road

Stop 2: Huntingdon Road

According to Wikipedia, Thomas Pierrepoint, the official British hangman, lived in Huntingdon Road  in the early 1900s – and by chance this was not far where the 18th century gibbet stood in Lincoln Road.

Not surprisingly there is no plaque to show which house. So I do not know where to point you, so here is a view of the street and the street sign.



Go to the end of Huntingdon Road and turn right into Durham Road. As you will note the streets here are named after English places. There is also Hertford, Bedford, Leicester and Lincoln. Local Estate Agents call this group of streets “The County Roads”. Now if you were being pedantic you would say this is strictly not right as the roads are named after towns and cities rather than counties. But that is a detail that would probably not worry Estate Agents.

At the end of Durham Road turn left into Fortis Green. Our next stop is across the road after Western Road.

Stop 3: Number 85 Fortis Green

This was the home of poet, Coventry Patmore (1823 – 1896), who is apparently best known for “The Angel in the House”, his narrative poem about an ideal happy marriage.


And there is a plaque to prove it.


This by the way appears to be the only memorial plaque on a building in N2. There are certainly no English Heritage blue plaques in N2 and this is the only local one I could find. So I thought I would include it even though I have to confess never to have heard of Mr Patmore!

Retrace your steps along Fortis Green and turn left into Eastern Road, then left again into Francis Road and right into Lynmouth Road

Stop 4: Martyrs Memorial House, Lynmouth Road

The Martyrs Memorial House is the last house on the left. I was slightly thrown by this street sign at the junction with Lauradale Road.


Is “Cheddington aviv riposa roselle dunottar” some kind of motto or foreign quotation? I was puzzled but then looking at the houses all became clear. They have no numbers, only names and these are the names of the 6 houses here – the end one being called “The Martyrs Memorial House”


Here is an article from September 2011 which sort of explains this unusual house.


I have not been able to find anything more recent. But whoever lives here clearly has a parking permit which runs to May 2015.


At the end of Lynmouth Road turn right into Southern Road. Continue along this until you reach Summerlee Avenue where you turn left. Go to the end.

Stop 5: Cherry Tree Wood

We have now reached Cherry Tree Wood where the sign says “Welcome to Cherry Tree Wood. This is a locked park”. How welcoming can Barnet Council be?


If you venture in (assuming it is not locked!), you will see a sign with a map. This explains the wood used to be called Dirt House Wood. When the railway was built, this area became boggy and watercress beds were created as a source of revenue for the local community. The wood was acquired by Finchley Council in 1914 and became known as Cherry Tree Wood a year later in 1915.

Still looks a bit waterlogged today, but perhaps not suitable for watercress anymore.


Now retrace your steps along Summerlee Road and turn left into Baronsmere Road. At the end turn right and our next stop is at the next corner.

Stop 6: Phoenix Cinema, 52 High Road

This is quite a survivor. Although started in 1910, the developers went bust and it only opened its doors in 1912. It is one of the oldest continuously operating cinemas in the UK. It has gone through a number of names: Picturedrome, Coliseum, Rex and finally since 1975, it has been known as the Phoenix. It had a makeover in 1938, so it’s auditorium has an odd combination of an Edwardian barrel vaulted ceiling and art deco features on the sides.

There is extensive information about the history of the cinema on its website. Here is a link to the first page of many pages:


Demolition was threatened in 1983 so an office block could be built on the site, but the Cinema and its supporters put up a fight and in 1985 ownership was passed onto a Trust that was set up to operate it, which continues today.

Here is a nice piece by BBC’s Mark Kermode for whom this was his childhood cinema.


Now walk back along the High Road towards the railway bridge. Our next stop is across the road.

Stop 7: McDonald’s

It is a favourite of pub quizzes to ask where the first McDonald’s opened in the UK (Answer: Woolwich 1974), and a lot of people know that.

But not many people will know that the UK headquarters of McDonald’s and its “Hamburger University” is here in High Road, East Finchley. So if this pops up in a pub quiz you will now know the answer.


Last November, the Daily Telegraph (of all newspapers) published what they described as 15 fascinating facts about McDonald’s to celebrate 40 years in the UK.


Number 14 reads “McDonald’s UK head office is in Finchley. It was opened in 1983 by Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister but also the local MP. She described a Big Mac as “absolutely enormous” and doubted how anyone could hold it in one hand. ”

But there is also something called Hospitality House on this site.


It is home to an organisation called the Hospitality Guild which was established in 2012. This describes itself as “an alliance of employers, skills bodies, individuals and training providers dedicated to simplifying and promoting the professionalism of the hospitality industry.”

Needless to say McDonald’s was a founder member along with Hilton Hotels, the Compass Group and City and Guilds. Well it is good to have a body with these aims. Let’s hope they can make a different in this sector. Goodness knows, hospitality service can after all be a bit hit and miss in the UK.

Our next stop is just past McDonald’s ahead on the right.

Stop 8: East Finchley Station

Today East Finchley station  presents a very 1930s image to the world but actually there has been a station on this site since 1867. When it opened it was called East End Station. It was initially on the route that ran from Finsbury Park to Edgware. This is the line we saw the remnants of in NW7. A branch line to High Barnet was added in 1872, diverging at the next station, Finchley Central.

The station was given its current name in 1886, apparently after representations that the name East End was associated with the poorer parts of London.

The section of the High Barnet branch north of East Finchley plus the Mill East branch became part of the London Underground network in 1939 through the “Northern Heights” project which begun in 1935.

For the introduction of London Underground services, the Victorian East Finchley station was completely demolished and was rebuilt to an Art Deco/Streamline Moderne design by Charles Holden.


Dominating the main entrance is a 10 foot tall statue by Eric Aumonier of a kneeling archer who has perhaps just let go of an arrow along the railway line towards central London. The archer supposedly is to remind us Finchley’s historic association with hunting in the nearby Royal Forest of Enfield.

It can also be seen as a visual joke in that the archer is facing towards Archway. Apparently when this was put up there was an arrow at Morden at the southern end of the Northern Line, but it soon disappeared and no one seems to know where it went!

Fascinating fact: For many years, the tunnel from here to Morden was claimed to be the longest tunnel in the world at just over 17 miles (if you go via Bank). It is not now – there are around 20 railway tunnels longer than this, including of course the Channel Tunnel.

As part of the rebuild, the station was provided with two additional platforms, giving four in total . The two inner platforms were on the route from Finsbury Park whilst the two outer ones were on the new line coming from Highgate as an extension of the Northern Line. The original plan was for underground trains to serve both routes.

Underground trains first served the station on 3 July 1939 which acted as a temporary terminus for the Northern line until the electrification of the line north was completed the following spring. But the line between here and Finsbury Park was never converted to an Underground line with the abandonment of the Northern Heights project after the war. The inner platforms are now used only by trains starting or terminating at East Finchley from Barnet, or coming from or going to the depot south of the station.

If you can do go into the station and have a look around. It is one of the really great Underground stations of the 1930s.


A distinctive feature of the station is the glazed stairways leading to the enclosed bridge over the tracks occupied by staff offices. These and the narrow deck-like platform buildings, give the impression of a ship.

However it is a curious design. Here we are high on an embankment with the station accessed by passengers through a subway. And yet the design included a totally unnecessary bridge across the tracks. But you have to admit it does make for an interesting scene.

Go under the bridge and we see the Old White Lion pub.


According to the Barnet website this was once known as the Dirt House.


The road here was improved in 1712 and a tollbooth was set up near the White Lion to pay for the road to be repaired.  In the 18th century, there was quite a trade in the waste products from the streets and cesspits of London. And much was brought to Finchley to be used to manure the fields. The carters of the manure did not want to pay the extra cost of the toll so stopped at the inn. I would guess therefore this is how Dirt House Wood (which we saw at stop 5) got its name. Strange there is no mention of this on the sign there.

The toll ceased in 1862 but the toll gate was only removed in 1903.

Now go under the railway bridge and take the first road on the right (The Bishops Avenue). Continue to the junction with the A1 dual carriageway where you turn right. Our next stop is the housing development just on the right.

Stop 10: Belvedere Court

This late 1930s apartment development was where American chat show host and former mayor of Cincinnati, Ohio, Jerry Springer lived for a time as a baby.


Wikipedia includes in its East Finchley station entry that he was born inside the station on 13 February 1944, during the Blitz and cites a 2007 interview.


Although East Finchley is undoubtedly the closest station to Belvedere Court, this does seem unlikely as it is not Underground and so would probably not have had a shelter. Springer’s own Wikipedia entry has him born at Highgate, which is the next station into town and which is underground. This is confirmed by an article based on a 2009 interview.


Maybe one day someone will get round to tidying up this contradiction. But it is one of the pitfalls (some may say charms) of Wikipedia, that you can never quite believe everything you read.

Now continue along Lyttelton Road and take a right into Norrice Lea, then right into Linden Lea and finally left into Lytton Close.

Stop 11: Lytton Close

I had to include this street as it is the most complete example of 1930s moderne style houses I have seen – all dazzling white still with original metal window frames in curved bays. Not just one, but a whole street.


Is this really England?

Now retrace your steps to Lyttelton Road and turn right, without crossing over. Go past Belvedere Court (which is on the other side of the road) and take the second right which is The Bishops Avenue. 

Stop 12: The Bishops Avenue

I am treating this as a single stop but in reality it is a long street which is worth a look, just because there is nowhere else quite like it in Britain. This is known as Billionaires Row because it has some of the most expensive property in Britain.

Most of the buildings are single houses on large plots – almost all are vulgar displays of wealth. Like this one.


One or two have a bit of gravitas, like Number 59. Known today as Heath Hall it was built in 1910 as East Weald as the London residence of William Park Lyle, son of sugar magnate Abram Lyle (whose company went on to become part of Tate and Lyle).


According to this article in the Daily Mail this 14 bedroom house was on sale for £65 million in 2013.


But a number of site are in the process of redevelopment.


And then there are some which are just boarded up and rotting, like Number 58, which apparently is on sale as an ambassadorial residence set on 1.8 acres with planning permission for a new 30,000 sq ft house



This may boast some of the most expensive property in the country but I have to say it strangely soulless. And it must be annoying to have constant building work together with virtually abandoned properties as your neighbours.

We are now at the end of our N2 walk.

The Bishops Avenue is actually served by a bus route – the H3 which runs the full length of the street and will take you back to East Finchley or on to Golders Green. But it only has 7 journeys a day (Monday to Saturday) and the last one is at 14.15, so you might have a long wait.

If you have walked to the end you will have reached Hampstead Lane where you can get a 210 to Highgate or Golders Green. Otherwise head back to East Finchley.

So that is N2. Thanks once again to Jenni for showing me round.

We actually saw a lot more that I did not have space to include, such as the Bald Faced Stag pub and the East Finchley Constitutional Club And we failed to find 211b High Road which is where Peter Sellers lived with his mother in the late 1940s.

Nor did we venture into the St. Pancras and Islington Cemetery. This was established in 1854 and is the oldest municipal cemetery in London. The Victorian painter Ford Madox Brown is buried there.

But I hope there was enough in N2 to keep you amused!