N12: Tally ho!

North Finchley is centred on Tally Ho Corner, the junction of the roads to East Finchley, Finchley Central, Friern Barnet and Whetstone. and numerous local businesses have taken their name from this including a gym!


The phrase tally-ho! originated from hunting with hounds. It comes from an old French phrase and is shouted when a rider or follower sees the fox (or other quarry). The term has evolved to have other meanings. Apparently, it is sometimes used as slang in air traffic control to verify a radar contact has been visually confirmed. And it was also the name of a stage coach company as we shall see.

We start our walk at North Finchley Post Office which is situated at  751 High Road.

Turn right out of the Post Office and cross the road. Our first stop is just ahead.

Stop 1: artsdepot/ Aldi Supermarket
This monster of a building looks so out of place as it is much larger than anything around it. It houses an Aldi supermarket and an Arts Centre called the artsdepot (all lower case on the publicity material, how arty!) as amongst things. There is a car park underneath and a large apartment block above.

But this was the site of the massive Gaumont North Finchley which was located on the large island site of Tally Ho Corner. Tally Ho Corner was a terminus for the trams in this part of north London and in later years became a terminus for trolley buses. So it was an ideal place for a cinema.

The site was created in the 1930s for a road widening scheme and in July 1934, the land was purchased by Gaumont British Theatres. The cinema opened in July 1937 with seating for 1,390 in the stalls and 725 in the balcony . It had a brick exterior with a semi-circular tower on the left-hand side. Half-way up the tower was an elaborate bas-relief carving in Portland stone, created by artist and designer Newbury A Trent and depicting the shooting of a film, with lights, camera, director and actors. There was a restaurant with a large window which stretched across the main facade, just above the canopy level.

The Gaumont closed in October 1980 and lay unused for some years until it was demolished in February 1987. There seems to have been some effort to preserve the bas-relief panels but sadly they do not seem to have survived.

There were grand plans for a new building which would include a banquet hall, twin cinemas and offices. But it turned out that the Rank Organisation (who by that time owned the cinema) had put a restrictive covenant on the sale of the site, stipulating that it could not contain cinema use. The site then stood empty for the next 15 years with just some temporary use as an outdoor market and for car parking.

Finally in 2004, a new arts centre named artsdepot was opened on the site.



The artsdepot has a 395 seat theatre, 148 seat studio theatre, gallery, and a cafe and bar, but interestingly not a cinema, so maybe that restrictive covenant still had effect.

Just by the entrance to the artsdepot in a pedestrianised street to the left of Aldi is this strange step arrangement


But go round the other side and you see this is actually a model of the old Gaumont cinema.


Follow the building round in front of Aldi and on the side street you come to the pedestrian entrance to the Bus Station.

Stop 2: North Finchley Bus Station

This is possibly the worst modern bus station I have seen. It looks like a loading bay in a shopping centre and only seems to have one stop.



The bus station opened in 2004, but later had to be closed because a person was killed after they walked into the bus station through the wrong entrance and was hit by a bus. The bus station was reopened in March 2007 after safety improvements were implemented. They included the addition of a barrier at the exit and a public address system.

One curious thing about this bus station is that most of the bus routes which serve North Finchley do not actually go into the covered area of the bus station.

It is one thing to get public facilities as part of new developments, but they have to be done sensibly, which this one clearly was not.

Now head down the High Road away from Tally Ho corner (south). Our next stop is a few minutes walk on the left hand side.

Stop 3: Great North Leisure Park

You cannot really miss the Great North Leisure Park – which looks like a little bit of America dropped into N12.



Now often these kind of sites are built on old industrial land, but this one was not. It actually was the site of a 1930s Lido. The main heated pool opened in September 1931 and stayed open until 11 November. But the officially opening was the following spring. On 22 April 1932 the Duke of York (later King George VI) unveiled a ceremonial wall tablet made of Staffordshire marble. Apparently this tablet is on display behind the counter of Nando’s restaurant, which was built around the original site. However when I went in, I was greeted with blank stares when I asked about this.


It seems there was also a cinema on the site, although strangely I can find no reference to this on the bible of cinema building:  http://cinematreasures.org/theaters?q=finchley&status=all

The original Lido with its main pool and children’s pool was closed in 1992. The present multi screen cinema opened in July 1996 as the Warner North Finchley and it became the Vue cinema in 2004.

Now return along the High Road and turn right down Churchfield Avenue. At the end turn right into Woodhouse Road. Our next stop is just along on the left.

Stop 4: Woodhouse College

Today this is a sixth form college but it was once the home of Woodhouse Grammar School.


According to Wikipedia,

“After the First World War, the former residence of ornamental plasterer Thomas Collins (1735–1830) in the Woodhouse area of Finchley was reconstructed; the house became The Woodhouse School in 1923. A blue plaque commemorating Thomas Collins is on the wall outside the present college office. The school coat of arms with the motto ‘Cheerfulness with Industry’ is still displayed above the stage in the college hall. A pink chestnut tree was planted behind the main school building to mark the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937. This tree had been presented by the Third Reich authorities to a member of the British team who attended the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and subsequently became known as ‘the Hitler tree'”.

The latter point is marked “citation needed” so maybe that is just a local urban myth. And being a school behind security gates, I could not get to see the plaque or the tree, or indeed the coat of arms.

Return along Woodhouse Road. At the end you will see the big building which houses the artsdepot, the bus station and Aldi supermarket. Turn right at this junction.

As you head up the main road note the Bathstore on the ground floor of the  This was apparently the location of the entrance to the former Gaumont which we heard about earlier.


Keep walking along the main road. Our next stop is just on the left.

Stop 5: Grand Arcade

Now here is another little bit of the 1930s, but unlike the Gaumont and the Lido is still standing.


Even though the shops are a little sad, it does look nice – especially with this wonderful floor, which has echoes of the new floor in the rotunda at Tate Britain



Turn right at the end at the end of the Arcade. Our next stop is just a little way along.

Stop 6: The Tally Ho pub

This pub is a Wetherspoon’s. According to Wetherspoon’s website, the junction here became known as Tally Ho Corner in the 1830s, when a coaching company of the same name established a staging post here. So the name is not because of a hunting connection but because of a stage coach company.



Just at the corner at the apex of the junction is a little public seating area (outside of the pub’s garden) and there are some interesting information panels giving some of the local history.

Keep walking along the High Road and soon on your right you will see a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Stop 7: Sainsbury’s supermarket

Nothing too remarkable about that, but in front it has a couple of interesting things. First a milepost. This apparently is the smallest listed building in Barnet. (well that is what it said on one of the information panels by the Tally Ho!)


And then to the left is a little model of a building, which is actually just around the corner as we shall see.


Take the right immediately after the supermarket. This is Ravendale Avenue. Our next stop is just a little way along.

Stop 8: North Finchley Library

This is the local library, which appeared as a model outside Sainsbury’s.


Return to the High Road and turn right. Our next stop is a little further on the right hand side of the main road.

Stop 9: site of Odeon cinema (894 High Road)

Today this site is being redeveloped but once this was the site of the Odeon Cinema and a parade of 1930s shops.


The Odeon cinema was one of the original Odeons built for Oscar Deutsch. It opened in October 1935. It had a 270 feet long facade, taking the entire block between Friern Watch Avenue and Mayfield Avenue. There were two wings with shops and two floors of flats above and the cinema had its auditorium behind parallel to the High Road with an entrance at the centre of the parade.

The Odeon was closed in December 1964 and the building was taken over by Halls (Finchley) Ltd. as a garage and car showroom. The company had operated out of one of the shop units since it was built in 1935.

From the pictures on the cinema treasures website, it looks like the central section which contained the cinema entrance was rebuilt after the cinema closed. In the early 1980s, it became as a furniture store named Furnitureland. This seems to have lasted until around 2006. The whole block was then demolished in Spring 2013 and redevelopment is now taking place.

Continue along the High Road and turn left down Woodside Lane. Our next stop is a little way along as the road bends.

Stop 10: Finchley Catholic High School

Today this is Finchley Catholic High School, but the current school site is centred on an old house called Woodside Grange, which you can just see through the fence.



This castellated folly was built by a local doctor Dr James Turle as a home and consultancy. It was later owned by Sir Arthur Douglas Derry, some time owner of Derry and Toms Store in Kensington. In 1928 it was purchased as the home of Finchley Catholic Grammar School and which today is known as Finchley Catholic High School.

Again as this is a school site, we cannot get any nearer.

Continue walking along Woodside Lane. You will cross the railway and the road becomes Holden Road. Our next stop is quite a walk along this road on the right.

Stop 11: site of Number 127 Holden Road

Just about opposite a building called Barchester Lodge, you will a modern development and at the end of the terrace going away from Holden Road you will see a blue plaque.


This was the location of a house (numbered 127 Holden road) which was for a time the home of comedian Spike Milligan. As we heard in N3 he was one of the founders and a strong supporter of the Finchley Society. His old house here in Holden Road is now demolished but a blue plaque was placed at the site in 2004.


Continue walking along Holden Road and take the turning on the left called Station Approach. At the end is a station (as one would expect).

Stop 12: Woodside Park station

We are now at Woodside Park station, one of the lesser known stations on the Underground.


Like West Finchley, this just does not feel like an Underground station. And of course as we heard in N3, this line was originally not part of the Underground but was actually built as a suburban route going into King’s Cross.

It opened in 1872 as Torrington Park station. There does not seem to be an actual park called Torrington Park, but there is a road of this name which comes into the High Road just south of Sainsbury’s. In other words nowhere near this station. Presumably as the name was a bit misleading, it was renamed Woodside Park in 1882. It finally became part of the Underground in 1940, as part of the Northern Heights project.

You are approaching the station from the west side which has the northbound platform and there is a public bridge across to the east side with the southbound platform.


The main station building is on the east side.


Unusually for an Underground station, there are no shops whatsoever on either side of the tracks. You could almost be in the country.

Whilst we are here in Woodside Park, I should just mention one other famous former resident. Woodside Park is the area where ex-Spice Girl Emma Bunton grew up. Not sure where though.

So we reach the end of our N12 walk. As so often happens when I started it looked like there was not that much of interest and yet I have found the sites of two 1930s cinemas and a Lido, plus a couple of old houses now schools, and a Spike Milligan connection.

We are at an Underground station for onward travel, so that makes life easier!



N11: Not Colney Hatch

N11 is New Southgate according to the Post Office. But this area was not always known by this name. Much of New Southgate was once the hamlet of Betstile or Betstyle, and this is recalled today in a couple of road names Betstyle Road and Betstyle Circus. The more southerly part of the area was known as Colney Hatch Park, but the name Colney Hatch was associated with a Lunatic Asylum, which lay over the border in the neighbouring parish of Friern Barnet. So the name New Southgate was adopted in the 1870s to appease local residents.

In fact for convenience sake, we are starting at Friern Barnet Post Office, 215 – 217 Woodhouse Road which is actually just in N12. Turn left out of the Post Office and head to the roundabout which is at the border between N11 and N12. Our next stop is on the other side of the roundabout.

Stop 1: former Friern Barnet Town Hall

This is the former Town Hall of the Friern Barnet Urban District Council. This was a small council which was actually in Hertfordshire but surrounded on three sides by Middlesex, until the boundaries were tidied up in 1965 with the creation of the London Borough of Barnet.


English Heritage’s site provides the following information:

“Friern Barnet had become an Urban District Council in 1895. A competition for new civic premises, assessed by C. Cowles Voysey, was held in 1937: the winning design was much influenced by Voysey and Brandon-Jones’s Watford Town Hall, designed in 1935. The foundation stone is dated 16th September 1939; the hoppers, 1940. Work on the town hall continued after the outbreak of war, as it housed a large air raid shelter capable of housing up to 600 persons and a control centre for local civil defence. This opened in July 1940: the town hall as a whole was opened on 16th June 1941. Friern Barnet ceased to be an independent borough in 1965, from when the building was used for council offices. Little altered, the building is a good example of pared-down modernism, showing clear European influences, but executed in traditional materials and techniques, and with elements of neo-Georgian as well. Its unusual date of construction (cf. Walthamstow Town Hall), the extent of survival, its subtle form and pronounced sense of civic pride mark it out as an exceptional civic building, on this scale, of its day.”

It has a rather nice clock tower feature.


And it still says Friern Barnet Town Hall over the door, although I guess it has been some years since this was a council office.


I often wondered about the name “Friern” as I used to travel on the 43 bus which terminates here (but which I used further south). Well it seems “Friern” derives from the French for “brother”, and refers to the fact that the local manor was under the control of the Brotherhood or Knights of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in the Middle Ages.

(Oh and by the way if you are not sure how to pronounce the word – it is said “Fry  Urn” or at least that is how the nice lady announcer on London Buses says it).

But what a disappointment Friern Barnet turns out to be. As American writer Gertrude Stein said of her home town Oakland “There is no there there”. Well I think the same could be said of Friern Barnet which does not appear to have much going for it apart from the Town Hall – and confusingly it not even anywhere near Barnet.

Walk along Friern Barnet Road. You will not miss our next stop which is on the right.

Stop 2: Princess Park

This rather grand entrance drive looks a bit forbidding with the security post by the gateway.


But actually the public can go in this gate as there is a public park inside.


When you get to the main building you might be at a grand spa or a railway station.


But it was neither. This is the “lunatic asylum” which caused New Southgate to get its name. It was opened in 1851 by Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, no less. It was initially known as the second Middlesex County Asylum (the first being in Hanwell which we did not quite get to when we were in W7). It was known as Colney Hatch but was later renamed Friern Mental Hospital and then just Friern Hospital. It closed in 1993.

Initially it housed some 1,250 people but at its height Colney Hatch was home to 3,500 patients. It was also said to have the longest corridor in Britain (did people really go round measuring corridors to find this out?)

It has been redeveloped retaining this quite impressive building and with new developments elsewhere on the vast estate site. But by giving it the name “Princess Park”, they are clearly trying to erase all memory of what was here before.

The main building by the way has a massive entrance hallway which has been converted into a swimming pool on the lower level and a gym above. If you go in the front door you can see this. But almost everything else seems to be converted to apartments.

Apparently it is (or has been) home to numerous celebs. Here is an article about this from the Wall Street Journal – of all places! It dates from 4 October 2012.


Now keep walking along the main road and after Regal Drive, take the next right, an unlovely track called Station Approach. This will lead you down to what is today New Southgate station.


Stop 3: New Southgate station

The station is accessed from this horrible bridge.


And there is this rather nasty mural panel which is I guess supposed to make the place look better, but which is just plain ugly.


It has an even more uninviting ticket office.


Hardly a great advert for rail travel, and sad given at some point this station must have had proper buildings.

The station first opened in August 1850 as Colney Hatch station. The Great Northern Railway provided a station here for the benefit of the Second Middlesex County Asylum which as we have seen is very close by. Interesting that unlike some of these Asylums, this one was not hidden away. It was right by a main railway line, with a station practically on its doorstep.

The station went through several name changes: Southgate and Colney Hatch in February 1855; New Southgate and Colney Hatch in October 1876; New Southgate for Colney Hatch in March 1883; New Southgate and Friern Barnet in May 1923. It finally got its present name in the 1970s.

Cross over the bridge . On the other side, do a left along Station Road and then a right into Woodland Road. At the end of Woodland Road across High Road is our next stop.

Stop 4: The Bombie

Today you see a little green called “The Bombie”, so called by the locals because it was a Second World War bomb site.


There is an information panel with a map showing how much devastation was caused by bombing.


A little fragment of one of the garden of one of the houses survives.


Now go along High Road (as if you had done a right out of Woodland Road.)

At the end you will see another green – and a path called Weld Place). Go along this and our next stop is across the road you soon get to.

Stop 5: Millennium Green

This is one of a number of Millennium Greens across the country which as the name suggests were developed to celebrate the turn of the Millennium.


Millennium Greens are areas of green space for the benefit of local communities. As local people had an input into the design of their green, each one is different. 250 were planned but in the end 245 were actually created across England, funded in part by the National Lottery through the Countryside Agency. They are run by local volunteers and not the council.

This is an interesting green space. It is not a conventional looking park.  And at its heart it has an artwork which reminds us that New Southgate was home to Jerome K Jerome, writer of “Three Men in a Boat”. He is commemorated here with this.


But I have to say this is not the most attractive setting. We are close to the North Circular Road here and next to the gardens up looms a hulking great builders merchant.


Now retrace your steps across the road and through the other green. At the end of that green space, do a right into Springfield Road.

Stop 6 Garfield School

Our next stop is Garfield School on the right. We only stop briefly here to note that this site was the location of both the houses where Jerome K Jerome lived when he was in New Southgate. (at least that is what one of the information panels in the Millennium Green says)


Well as he seems to be the only vaguely famous person connected with New Southgate you have to make the most of it!

At the end of Springfield Road turn left into Palmers Road. Our next stop is on the main road at the end of Palmers Road.

Stop 7: Arnos Grove station

Arnos Grove tube station was opened in September 1932, as part of the extension of the Piccadilly line to Cockfosters.



The ticket hall is quite well preserved including the original ticket office.


There are some good information panels but some of them are hard to reach as the detritus of a modern station gets in the way.



How different this feels from the depressing spectacle of New Southgate station. And also odd that there is no proper centre here – or indeed around New Southgate station. Here there are just a couple of dozen local shops and New Southgate does not even have that.

Now go past the station and take the side road by the pub on the left (Arnos Road). This leads you to our next stop, Arnos Park.

Stop 8: Arnos Park

This park was the southern most part of the grounds of a large house purchased by Southgate Urban District Council in the late 1920s.



There was a Tudor manor house but this was demolished in 1719. A man called James Colebrook bought the estate and built a mansion called Arnolds. Locals called the estate Arno’s and the next owner, Sir William Mayne (later Lord Newhaven), renamed the house and estate Arnos Grove. It should have an apostrophe but apparently never has. So it really should be Ar-noes Grove rather than Ar-noss Grove which is how most people say it.

The house itself was much further north than where we are – in Cannon Hill. In fact this is N14 so we skip over that for now.

Retrace your steps back along Arnos Road and then turn left. Our next stop is a little along on the right.

Stop 9: Bowes Road Library and Swimming Pool

Almost all the area around Arnos Grove station was built in the 1930s. And here we have Bowes Road Library and Swimming Pool. This is a nice example of late 1930s municipal architecture dating from 1939 – as architectural historian Pevsner points out, this was unusual combination at the time.


The sign says the library is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. One wonders how long a library with these limited opening times can carry on.

Keep walking along Bowes Road to the junction with the main road, which is none other than the North Circular Road

Stop 10: North Circular Road

This is the missing link in the North Circular. We are here between the stretches of high quality dual carriageway and this main road actually does an almost 90 degree turn at this junction.


There have been many plans to sort out this over the years and it even got to point where there were large numbers of houses bought up. But although there has been some modest improvement it looks like this will never be properly addressed.

Whilst it is said that building roads just encourages traffic, surely willfully ignoring a bottleneck like this for decades is crazy. The traffic is already there on either side, so why not do a proper job and tidy this up. However it looks like the pass has been sold because there are new buildings going up right by the road here, when that space could well have been used to straighten the main road and improve the junction.

Continue ahead under the footbridge. Our next stop is a little way along on the left.

Stop 11: former ABC Cinema

This is not the prettiest of 1930s cinemas but it has somehow survived.



According to the great Cinema Treasures website, this cinema was built and designed by Major W J King as one of several Ritz Cinemas planned for a small chain. Although the project was sold to Associated British Cinemas (ABC) prior to completion, it opened as the Ritz Cinema on 21st December 1933. Cinema Treasures describes it as  “Styled in a rather plain Art Deco style…  Inside the auditorium, the main features were a central dome in the ceiling and abstract decorative designs on the splay walls each side of the proscenium.”

It was renamed ABC from 1969 but closed in February 1974, never having been split up. After laying empty for a while, it was taken on by the Jehovah’s Witnesses who now use it as an Assembly Hall.

Well that brings us to the end of the N11 walk. When I first started this I thought there would not be much to detain me but as I have discovered we have a mental institution, a classic 1930s tube station, a typical 1930s cinema and an unexpected literary connection celebrated in an unusual little park.

For onward travel you are about midway between Arnos Grove and Bounds Green tube stations. For the former, head back the way you came. For the latter go right down Brownlow Road.




N10: The Folks who live on the Hill

N10 is Muswell Hill and I am indebted to fellow guide Jenni, a local resident, for showing me round this lovely part of London and also lending me a little book on Muswell Hill by Ken Gay.

Ken Gay sums it up nicely by saying “The key fact about Muswell Hill is its height and remoteness. This meant it was slow to be developed and only really got going in the late 1890s. But when it was developed it was on a grand scale with massive shopping parades and large family houses.” It is certainly an impressive centre – and unusual for a place of this size in that it is not served by any railway station. But more of that anon.

We start at the Post Office at 420 Muswell Hill Broadway. Turn left out of the Post Office and head for the roundabout. Our first stop is just between Boots and the Giraffe restaurant.

Stop 1: Keith Blakelock memorial


Keith Blakelock was a London Metropolitan Police constable who was killed on 6 October 1985 during rioting on the Broadwater Farm housing estate in Tottenham. The trouble broke out after a local black woman, Cynthia Jarrett, died of heart failure during a police search of her home. He was according to Wikipedia the first constable to be killed in a riot in Britain since 1833, when PC Robert Culley was stabbed to death in Clerkenwell, London.

Despite three investigations over the years and a number of people being brought to trial, no one has been convicted of his murder.

So why is the memorial here in Muswell Hill? Well it is because at the time of his death he was the local beat officer assigned to Muswell Hill.

Our next stop is just over the way in the middle of the road.

Stop 2: Bus turn round

Here we have a roundabout and in the middle is a bus stand and a little building – a most unusual arrangement.


But if you actually venture on to the island you will see a little London Transport roundel on the door and if you go round the building (to what looks most like the “front”) you can look inside.


There are tables and chairs and a hot drinks machine, so this is presumably for the bus drivers. But although there were plenty of buses siting at the terminus, no one was inside.

Now this set me off wondering why there was such an unusual arrangement and I thought maybe this started off as a tram terminus. But no. Ken Gay’s book explains on page 87 that Middlesex County Council had considered applying for an order to allow the building of a branch of the tramway up from Archway Road. But there was a lot of local opposition, so it never happened. Trams never got to Muswell Hill.

But Gay”s book does explain on page 83 that this unusual arrangement was for horse buses which had started running from here to Charing Cross in 1901. One of the local developers, Thomas Finnane, objected to a horse bus stand being at the road side by his newly built properties, so it was put in the middle of the road. Later in 1904, a shelter was provided for the bus drivers, and this is what we see today.

Now look to the left of the shelter (assuming you are still at the Blakelock memorial). Our next stop is over the way there.

Stop 3: The future “Mossy Well”


My reference book Pevsner refers to a building at the top of Muswell Hill described as a “low Swiss Chalet … dated 1900 [which] began life as an Express Dairy.” Well in later life it seems to have been a pizza restaurant and now it is being converted to a Wetherspoons pub, although the hoarding does seem to promise rather a lot …


Not the normal way in which Wetherspoons advertise their coming!

By the way, the name Muswell is said to be derived from the “Mossy Well” which was a natural spring (or well) said to have miraculous properties. Indeed a Scottish king was cured of disease after drinking the water. The River Moselle, which has its source in Muswell Hill and Highgate, derives its name from this.

I must say I had never heard of the Moselle as being a river in London. When the Footprints guides did a River Walks festival earlier this year another fellow guide, Jen, joked she would do a walk following the Moselle. She did and it turned out to be the best selling walks of the three week Festival!

Now proceed along Muswell Hill Broadway on the right hand pavement. Our next stop is just on the right.

Stop 4: W Martyn, Number 135 Muswell Hill Broadway

W Martyn is an amazing survival of an old fashioned grocery store. This shop has traded here since the building was built in the late 1890s. In fact it even gets a mention in the architectural bible, Pevsner.



Continue walking along Muswell Hill Broadway our next stop is just across the road at the corner with Hillfield Park.

Stop 5: Numbers 74 – 80 Muswell Hill Broadway

This was the location of the home of William Barlow (1845 – 1934). Although actually the plaque is actually in the side street, Hillfield Park



Well you may well ask: Who is he? I thought maybe he might be the man who built St Pancras Station but then what has that to do with mineralogy.

Well it turns out he was an English amateur geologist specialising in crystallography which is the experimental science of determining the arrangement of atoms in the crystalline solids. Wikipedia tells me the word derives from the Greek words crystallon “cold drop, frozen drop”, with its meaning extending to all solids with some degree of transparency, and grapho “I write”.

Note too there is a great view of Canary Wharf from here down Hillfield Park, reminding us of how high up we are here.


Now continue to the roundabout and across the way you will see St James’s Church on one side and a 1930s block sweeping round the other way. The latter is our next stop.

Stop 6: Everyman cinema (formerly Odeon)

This cinema was until recently operated by Odeon and has now been taken over by Everyman, along with three others (in Gerrards Cross, Barnet and Esher). When I visited it had lost its Odeon branding but not yet gained its new Everyman identity.


This was one of the original cinemas in the Oscar Deutsch owned Odeon chain designed by architect George Coles and opened in September 1936.

The whole corner was redeveloped with a parade of shops on the ground floor and flats above. These largely hide the bulk of the auditorium.


The entrance to the Cinema is round one side and not given pride of place at the corner as you might have expected. According to Gay (p110) this was because St James’s Church opposed having the entrance directly opposite the church.

This is a wonderful example of art deco Odeon style with creamy faience tiles in the central section and in black faience tiles either side. Inside the building, the decorative Art Deco styling continues, although the cinema itself was tripled in May 1974, creating one screen in the former circle and two smaller screens under the circle in the rear stalls area The front stalls area was unused, and as far as I know this arrangement continues today.

Now look across at the Sainsbury’s opposite the cinema.

Stop 7: Site of the Atheneum


This Sainsbury’s store in Fortis Green Road is on the site of another place of entertainment. Built in 1900, there was a building here called The Athenaeum. Inside were two halls, seating 466 and 200. Films were a regular attraction in the early days.

The wonderful Cinema Treasures website says that the Athenaeum Picture Playhouse (as it became known) was operating until at least 1937, when Home Counties Theatres Ltd. were the operators. No doubt the arrival of the Odeon (and another modern cinema – the Ritz also opened in 1936, just down Muswell Hill and demolished in the 1970s) killed off what was probably a rather old fashioned movie house.

The Atheneum was also used as the Muswell Hill Synagogue from the 1920s until 1963. The building was demolished in 1966 to be replaced by this supermarket.

Now continue along Fortis Green Road to the corner of Birchwood Avenue where you will see a hall.

Stop 8: former St James Church Hall


One thing I tend to do is look at the inscriptions on foundation stones and the like to see if there are any interesting connection. And I happened upon the one on this unprepossessing church hall.


This shows the architect was G G Wornum. Now George Grey Wornum (1888 – 1957) has a special place in my heart. His most well known building is the HQ of the Royal Institute of British Architects in Portland Place and it was this building I had to give a 5 minute presentation on when I was interviewed to get my place on the City of Westminster Guiding course.

He is not particularly well known. But apart from his RIBA building, his other claim to fame in London is that he was responsible for laying out Parliament Square in 1950 and for designing a street lamp for the City of Westminster – rather a large and a small variant of the same design.

Here is a bit of an obscure post about the Grey Wornum lamp post. Although the design can still be seen in the streets of Westminster, it would seem the City Council has replaced most, if not all, with replicas.


Now retrace your steps to the Odeon and turn right along Muswell Hill Road. Stop just by the mini roundabout.

Stop 9: Cranley Gardens

I will just show the street sign here because the reason I am including this street is that this is the location of the flat where the notorious mass murder Dennis Nilsen lived and did some of his murders.


Dennis Nilsen (1945 – ) was a serial killer and was known as the Muswell Hill Murderer. He murdered at least 12 young men between 1978 and 1983, some at a flat in Melrose Avenue, NW2 and from 1981 at flat at Number 23 Cranley Gardens.

Now notice you look like you have gone over a bridge and there are some steps going down on the left. Follow these.

Stop 10: Parkland walk

You are now in what is described as a “Parkland Walk”. It is actually a linear park which follows the line of an old railway which ran from Highgate to Alexandra Palace.


And this holds the key to the mystery of how all this area got developed when it has no railway connection. Well when this area was being developed there was a railway and this was where it was. It was a branch off the line from Kings Cross and Finsbury Park to Edgware and High Barnet. It was built to go to nearby Alexandra Palace and it opened in 1873 well before Muswell Hill began to be developed.

Gay tells us that in 1910  there were 61 trains a day – some going to Kings Cross, some to Moorgate (presumably via Farringdon, as they were not electric trains and could not use the Underground section between Finsbury Park and Moorgate) and some to Broad Street. The main Muswell Hill station was a little further along the line towards but a stop was added at Cranley Gardens in 1902 just here where we joined the walk. And there appears to be nothing left of it.

Follow the pathway. This clings on to the side of the hill but then the land drops away completely and you go over a viaduct.


From here you have a view over to the City and you can also see Canary Wharf.


This stretch of walk ends by a subway where you have a choice of either going right and up to the street or continuing under the subway. Do the latter. Once through the subway, the path veers to the right and ahead is Muswell Hill Primary school. Once this was the site of Muswell Hill station, which opened at the same time as the line in 1873.


So how was it that this area lost its railway. Well it is all tied up with the Northern Heights project which we have already heard about in various previous NW and N posts. The plan would have involved taking over this branch line along with the lines to Edgware and High Barnet, modernising them for use by electric trains and incorporating them into the Northern line.

Works began in the late 1930s but were halted by the Second World War. The works between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace were postponed and the line continued operation as before, but with wartime economies, services were reduced to peak hours only.

After the war, the dwindling passenger numbers and a shortage of funds led to the cancellation of the unfinished parts of the Northern Heights project in 1950. Passenger services to Muswell Hill station were ended in July 1954 along with the rest of the line between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace. Goods traffic staggered on until complete closure of the line in May 1957. The track was removed and the platforms and station buildings were demolished. Today there is no trace there was a station here.

Follow the path round to the road and turn left down the hill, which is actually called Muswell Hill.

Take the third turning on the right.

Stop 11: Number 101 St James’s Lane

Go a little way down St James’s Lane and soon on the right you will see a detached house standing high above the road. This is number 101, our next stop.


This was home to William Tegetmeier (1816 – 1912) between 1858 and 1868. He was a correspondent and friend of Charles Darwin. Tegetmeier was influential in developing ideas on evolution and is thought to have been of value to Darwin in compiling his seminal work “On the origin of Species”.

Tegetmeier did research work on bees, some of it carried out here at this property. According to Gay, he also pioneered pigeon racing, with some pigeon racing beginning from Alexandra Palace.


Retrace your steps along St James’s Lane. Turn right at the end of St James’s Lane and keep going down the hill until you reach the junction. Veer round to the right into Park Road and take the first right.

Stop 12: Number 33 Etheldene Avenue


This modest house was the home of one Walter J Macqueen-Pope (1888 – 1960).


He was was a theatre historian and publicist. From a theatrical family which could be traced back to contemporaries of Shakespeare, he was involved in the management of a number of West End theatres including the Queen’s, Duke of York’s and the Whitehall and then he specialised in publicity. He was in charge of publicity at Drury Lane for some 21 years. But after the Second World War he became a prolific author of theatrical related books.

If you want to stop here, go back to Muswell Hill (the street) where you can get a W7 bus to Finsbury Park which is probably best for onward travel. Or else you can get a 43 or a 134 from Muswell Hill centre to Highgate.

But I should just just mention there is one other Haringey green plaques you might want to search out.


So what you need to do is go back up the street called Muswell Hill and at the roundabout, head back towards the Post Office. Keep going. The road becomes Colney Hatch Lane and eventually you will reach Alexandra Park Road on the right. Go down there and our extra final stop is at the corner of Windermere Avenue.

Number 51, Alexandra Park Road


This was the home of Oliver Tambo (1917 – 1993), South African  anti-apartheid politician and a central figure in the African National Congress, (ANC) along with Nelson Mandela.


In 1958 he became Deputy President of the ANC and in 1959 was served with a five-year banning order by the government. Tambo was then sent abroad by the ANC to mobilise opposition to apartheid. He settled with his family in Muswell Hill, where he lived until 1990. Sadly he did not live long enough to see the election of 1994 which led to ANC coming to power in South Africa.

(By the way isn’t it a shame that Haringey chose to use painted metal for their plaques. As we can see from the various examples here in N10, some have not weathered well, unlike the blue English Heritage ceramic plaques which seem indestructible.)

So that finally does brings us to the end of our N10 walk in lovely Muswell Hill. Thanks again to Jenni for showing me round and for the loan of the Ken Gay book which gave me some fascinating insights – indeed far more information than I could possibly use!

Now for onward travel from here, you can get a 102 or 299 to Bounds Green station. Or else head back to Muswell Hill for the other options previously mentioned.