E10: Not Eton

E10 is Leyton.

It seems Leyton was mentioned in the 1086 Doomsday Book. According to a sign I came across near the station, “In the Doomsday Book Leyton is entered as Leintun at which time the population was numbered at 43.” What an odd turn of phrase to use.

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Anyhow, we start out walk at Leyton Post Office which is at 244 High Road, Leyton. Turn left out of the shop and walk along the High Road. Soon on the right you will see some warehouse style out-of-town shops and then there is a bridge. This crosses the near motorway now called A12. Built as the Hackney – M11 link, originally it was going to be the southern end of the M11 (which is why the M11 starts at Junction 4!)

You can see the city skyline from here. Plus you can just see the distinctive roofline of the Aquatics Centre in the Olympic Park

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Our first stop is just on the left after we have crossed the bridge over the road.

Stop 1: Leyton Underground station

Although the Underground only arrived here in the late 1940s, there has been a station here since 1856.

It was opened by the Eastern Counties Railway. Originally called “Low Leyton”, it was an intermediate station on a branch line that ran to Loughton. It was renamed Leyton in 1868 by which time it was operated by the Great Eastern Railway. The station was rebuilt in 1879 when the original level crossing replaced by a bridge.

If you walk a little over the bridge and look back, you will see a road way at the level of the railway.

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There was apparently a ticket hall on the northern side which was added in 1901 but removed when the M11 link road was built in the 1990s. You can see how the buildings have been altered if you look from the bridge.

Stand to the left of the station building on the bridge and you can see the backs of the buildings on the eastbound platform or in some places the lack of buildings

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The line became the eastern end of the Central line in May 1947.

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It is worth popping down to see the platforms, which were designed with full size trains in mind but are now served by the smaller tube trains.

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But look at the eastbound platform near the stairs and you will see windows to a building that is no longer there, the back of which we saw earlier.

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And if you look along the platforms under the bridge you get a view of the link road and the Aquatic Centre.

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Return to the street, turn right out of the station and head back towards where you came from.

Our next stop is ahead on the left on the corner of Ruckholt Road.

Stop 2: Leyton Library and former Town Hall

Here we have a pair of civic building which are much larger and grander than the rest of the High Road here. First comes the Library.

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This was built in 1883 as offices of the Leyton Local Board, established in 1873 it was a forerunner of the Borough Council. The area became an Urban District Council on 1894.

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And it was during this time it became clear this building was too small, so they built a rather grander Town Hall next door which was completed in 1896.

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Architectural bible, Pevsner describes this as “Fussy but enjoyable, in an eclectic and enriched Italianate style.”

The Urban District Council  became a Municipal Borough in 1926 and lost its independence in 1965 when the area became part of London Borough of Waltham Forest.

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Continue walking along the High Road and soon on the left you will see our next stop.

Stop 3: Coronation Gardens

This was laid out in 1902, and was named in commemoration of the coronation of King Edward VII.

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The first thing you see from the road is a triple decker fountain. This looks old but in fact only dates back to 2000 – though it is a replica of one that was here in the 1920s.

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Not looking too good either with the weed dangling off it.

Just nearby there is a sign as a reminder of the old borough.

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It looks old but may be isn’t. By the way the motto of the old borough council was “Ministandi Dignitas” which translates ad “Dignity in Service”

Leyton Council clearly had ambition as it also had its own trams. This started in June 1905 when the then Urban District Council took over ownership of the Lea Bridge, Leyton and Walthamstow Tramways Company lines which were within the council’s area. Then in June the following year they took over the North Metropolitan Tramways services within the boundary of the council.

In June 1921 an arrangement was reached with the London County Council that they would work and manage the urban district council’s trams. But Leyton Council retained responsibility for overhead equipment and the trams continued to be branded Leyton.  I guess this was because Leyton was at the time in Essex and so outside the boundary of the County of London.

When Leyton became a borough in 1926, the undertaking was renamed Leyton Corporation Tramways and the borough’s coat of arms was applied to the tramcars. This lasted until 1933 when London Transport was formed and took over all the tramways in what we now think of as Greater London.

Walk into the gardens and ahead you will see a real old item – a bandstand which although renovated dates from the early years of the gardens.

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Now take the exit to the right of the bandstand as you approached it. This leads you opposite Brisbane Road. Our next stop is ahead on the left, a football ground tucked away in a suburban back street.

Stop 4: Leyton Orient Football Ground

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Note the sticker on the street name plate!

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The ground itself cannot be seen from the street and in fact the whole thing looks like an ugly industrial shed.

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The team play in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system, and are known to their fans as the O’s. Even though they are not in the top flight, this must get pretty busy on match days. It seems kind of crazy to have a football ground like this in a residential area.

Now here’s a funny thing. Julian Lloyd Webber, the rather less famous brother of composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, is a fan of Leyton Orient. In the late 1970s, the two brothers had a bet on a Leyton Orient match. Andrew lost and so was forced to write a cello work for his brother. Andrew chose the theme of Paganini’s 24th caprice and added 23 variations for cello and rock band. This became the album, Variations. And the introduction is the tune that was used to open the television arts programme, the South Bank Show.

Continue down Brisbane Road, turn right into Windsor Road and left into the High Road. Our next stop is opposite the junction of Grange Park Road

Stop 5: Former Co-Op shop

Right at this corner, is an old stop dating from 1909.

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Look up and you can see the date and also a relief of a beehive.

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The use of the beehive has a long history in the Co-operative Movement. The symbolism of the Beehive is that one bee cannot survive alone, but a hive full of them (and co-operating) thrives. And of course the beehive is often seen as a symbol of industriousness.

Lower down, there are two panels to show this was a branch of the Stratford Co-Operative and Industrial Society.

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This was formed in 1862 and so was well established by the time this shop was built.

The Stratford Society merged with the Edmonton Co-operative Society in 1920 to form the London Co-Operative Society which went on to be the dominant Co-Operative Society in London north of the river.

Although there seems to be a large number of Co-Op food stores still around today, the Co-Op used to be much more important in terms of other retailing. There even used to be department stores but none of these are left.

Now head down Grange Park Road and at the cross roads turn left. Our next stop is just a little way along on the left.

Stop 6: Number 28 Church Road

According to the Notable Abodes site, the writer and broadcaster Frank Muir (1920 – 1998) lived at Number 28 as a child.

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Although he was born and spent his early years in Ramsgate Kent, he lived in Leyton as a child and went to Leyton County High School for Boys.

Despite that, he did always sound a bit posh and when he became a broadcaster, people used to assume that he had been to a public school. Muir had a great response to this. He would say: “I was educated in E10, not Eton”.

That was very much his style as a comedy writer, radio and television personality, and raconteur. He had a writing and performing partnership with Denis Norden which last most of their careers. He was also well known on television as a team captain on the long-running BBC2 series Call My Bluff. And his distinctive tones were heard in voice-overs for advertisements.

Retrace your steps and keep going along Church Road until you reach the High Road, where you will turn left. Keep walking along the High Road. Our next stop is on the left, starting at the corner of Crawley Road.

Stop 7: Leyton Sports Ground

Today Leyton Sport Ground is used by local schools and community groups.

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But it was once the home of Essex County Cricket Club. The club purchased Leyton Cricket Ground in 1886 and it became their headquarters. In 1921, the ground was sold relieving the club of a £10,000 mortgage  But the headquarters remained until the expiry of their lease in 1933. They returned to play matches in 1957 and continued to play here until 1977. The rather lovely pavilion is Grade II listed.

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Stop 8: site of “The Great House” (544/546 High Road)

Now about halfway along the side of the Sports Ground on the other side of the High Road, I spotted a little plaque on a terrace of houses.

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Look closely and what it says it a bit unexpected.

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It says:

“The site of The Great House erected by Sir Fisher Tench Bart.circa 1700. Thomas Oliver lived there 1758 – 1803. Erected by L.U.D.R.A 1909”

My research tells me that Fisher Tench was a City of London financier and also a Member of Parliament. His father Nathaniel passed property at Leyton to Fisher and his wife Elizabeth in 1697. He inherited the rest of his father’s estate in 1710, and probably soon after began to build the Great House at Leyton. According to Wikipedia (which cites “A History of the County of Essex: Volume 6 (1973)” as its source) ,

“It was a large mansion of two storeys, basement, and attics, built in the ‘Wren’ style of the period. The walls were of dark red brick with dressings of lighter brickwork and stone. The entrance front faced the high road and consisted of a central block flanked by lower and slightly recessed side wings. The main block had full-height Corinthian pilasters and a central pediment, while the wings had rusticated stone quoins. The whole façade, of thirteen bays, was surmounted by a modillion cornice, a panelled parapet, and hipped roofs with dormer-windows; six large stone vases broke the line of the parapet. The garden front was of similar size and character. The cupola from the house (demolished in 1905) is now on the tower of St. Mary’s church.”

The House had passed out of the Tench family and on to the Olivers in the mid 18th century. But why mention Thomas Oliver. Well there is a whole lot more information about the Great House in “The Survey of London Monograph 4, the Great House, Leyton. Originally published by Guild & School of Handicraft, London, 1903.” which I found on British History Online: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/survey-london/bk4/pp11-22

Thomas Oliver seems to have been a part the campaign to get the proceedings of Parliament published, if one follows the rather convoluted story from the Survey of London Monograph. I have not been able to establish who or what was L. U. D. R. A.

So here is a little reminder of Leyton before it was built over by terraces of working class housing.

Continue walking along the High Road. Ahead you will see a bridge over the road, which is by our next stop

Stop 9: Leyton Midland Road station

This station opened on 9 July 1894 as part of the Tottenham & Forest Gate Railway and was originally just called Leyton.

Fascinating fact (according to Wikipedia). On 17 August 1915, three explosive bombs from the German Zeppelin L.10 landed on or near the station, destroying the ticket office, a billiard hall in the arches under the platform and damaging several houses nearby; four people were killed.

The station got its current name on  1 May 1949. It has lost all its buildings but at least now TfL are in charge of the station, it looks bright and clean.

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Today it is served by trains on the Gospel Oak – Barking line, although at present there are no trains here because the line is being upgraded and electrified.

Now go under the bridge and turn right down Midland Road and take the first left. Our next stop is a ahead on the right.

Stop 10: Number 14 Wesley Road

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Number 14 was the birthplace of Harry Beck, who designed the iconic diagrammatic London Underground Map. We came across him in N2 where there is a plaque put up by The Finchley Society and mention of him at Finchley Central Station. But this one is a “proper” English Heritage plaque.

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Note the type face is slightly different from the usual. That is because like the Frank Pick plaque in NW11 and the Edward Johnston one in W6, they use a Johnston type face. This of course is the distinctive typeface used by the Underground and then London Transport and its successors.

Retrace your steps to the High Road and turn right. Continue along the High Road past the bus garage. Our next stop is on the right.

Stop 11: Former ABC cinema, Number 806 High Road

So here at Number 806, High Road there is a building that looks very much like an old cinema.

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And it was. It was built as the Ritz Cinema by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) and opened in July 1938. The street facade hid the fact that there was quite a large cinema auditorium behind seating over 2,400 people (1,532 in the stalls and 886 in the circle, according the wonderful Cinema Treasures site)

It seems to have had an uneventful life. It was renamed the ABC in October 1962. It was taken over by an independent operator and re-named Crown Cinema in December 1978. This lasted a year or so and then it closed completely. The auditorium was converted into a B&Q DIY store, which later became a KwikSave supermarket, using the stalls area only. The circle level was sealed off by a false ceiling.

Today a Ladbrokes betting office operates from the foyer, with the remainder of the building converted into offices, according to Cinema Treasures. One does wonder what kind of offices they might be given, there do not seem to be any obvious windows, on much of the building!

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And just along the way at Number 832 – 836 High Road was another former cinema. Originally built as the King’s Hall in 1910, it was taken over by the Granada circuit in 1949. It was rebuilt and reopened as the Century Cinema in January 1952. It finally closed in July 1963 and was replaced by a Tesco supermarket. That later moved to larger premises across the street and today there is a Poundstretcher store here. It does have that rather distinctive 1960s look on the upper floors.

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Continue walking along the High Road and our next stop is at the cross roads where the High Road meets Lea Bridge Road.

Stop 12: the former Bakers Arms

We are at the Bakers Arms, a local landmark.

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But sadly the Bakers Arms is no longer a pub. It is a betting shop. How depressing, when you feel it could have been a welcoming focal point to the area.

But the name lives on as a destination for buses, although weirdly the buses seem to carry on past the Bakers Arms. They go along Lea Bridge Road and then round the corner  into the High Road and actually rest up by the bus garage, which is a fair distance from the corner where the Bakers Arms stands.

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Almost opposite the Bakers Arms here on Lea Bridge Road you will see a former Woolworth’s building, which dates from the late 1930s. This is symbolic of how this area has declined as a shopping destination but at least this is still a working shop.

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Our final stop is just along from here on Lea Bridge Road on the right. And why this area has a connection with Bakers. This is the London Master Bakers’ Benevolent Institution completed in 1866.

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Pevsner describes the style as “debased rustic Italianate crammed full of quirky details”

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This was housing connected to the Bakers Company, one of the City Livery Company. The Bakers claim to be one of the oldest recorded companies. The first known records of the existence of the Bakers’ Guild are contained in the great ‘Pipe Rolls’ of Henry II which listed the yearly ‘farm’ paid to the Crown. This indicates that the Bakers of London paid a Mark of gold to the King’s Exchequer for their Guild from 1155 onwards.

But the Baker connection site ended in the late 1960s when the Greater London Council purchased the site for a road widening scheme. The Bakers moved their housing provision to Epping where it continues today. But the road scheme did not happen. Eventually the site ended up in the hands of Waltham Forest Borough Council and today remains in residential use.

We are now at the end of our E10 walk. As ever an area that does look that promising on paper throws up some interesting nuggets from stations and old cinemas to indications of municipal ambition via connections with well known people.

For onward travel there are lots of buses. Closest tube is Walthamstow Central (which is up along Hoe Street – the continuation of the High Road).

 

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”.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

http://www.finchleygolfclub.com/club/history/

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

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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.

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Stop 5: Finchley Central Station

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!