High Road Whetstone, N20

Memories of Whetstone collated by http://www.friern-barnethistory.org.uk


Just before Swan Lane there was a long row of very old cottages which had neither
light nor water laid on. The Finchley Fire Brigade used these as an exercise for the
Auxiliary Fire Service, under the command of Capt Tozer, in the summer before the
war was declared in 1939. The houses, which were empty, were set on fire and the
Finchley Auxiliary Fire Service was called from Finchley Fire HQ to deal with the
situation. The Finchley Fire Brigade (Regulars) was in attendance in case things got
out of hand (Memoirs of a Whetstonian 1907-200 by Kenneth B Satchell. Page 21)
Brook Farm on the eastern side of Whetstone High Road shortly before its demolition
in 1914. Its lands had been acquired by Finchley UDC in 1912 to provide cricket and
football pitches and allotments (Finchley & Friern Barnet by Stewart Gillies and
Pamela Taylor. Plate 164)
While fields remained, the growing suburban demand for milk ensured that local dairy
farms flourished. Among those was Oakleigh Park Farm, also known as Manor
Farm, whose frontage on the High Road at Whetstone was immediately south of
where Chandos Avenue is now (Finchley & Friern Barnet by Stewart Gillies and
Pamela Taylor. Plate 164)
High Road Whetstone as it looked c1923. The old Swan with Two Necks seen on
the left was demolished in 1960 (Finchley & Friern Barnet by Stewart Gillies and
Pamela Taylor. Plate 153)
The approach to Whetstone c 1880. York Villa, on the corner of Green Road, is today
one of Whetstone’s few surviving villas of the mid-19th century. Whetstone Place,
the terrace on the left, came to a spectacular end in 1939 when it was burnt during
an Air Raid Precautions emergency services exercise (Finchley & Friern Barnet by
Stewart Gillies and Pamela Taylor. Plate 109)
Blue House Farm was between Chandos Avenue and The Black Bull (John
Heathfield FB&DLHS)
In 1883 the whole district of All Saints, which included Whetstone High Road,
contained 271 houses with 1,255 inhabitants and had the highest rateable value in
the Parish. (Victoria County History page 13)
Whetstone hamlet, recorded in 1398, grew up along the Great North Road, the northeastern
part being in Friern Barnet and the rest in Finchley. The Bull and Butcher,
licensed in 1765 and probably the Butcher and Conjuror which was licensed in 1731,
stood north of the junction with Totteridge Lane. (Victoria County History Finchley
Page 44)
Mr Edward Appleby of The Hollies, Oakleigh Park North, can just remember the
celebrations in Whetstone when the relief of Ladysmith was announced. He says
that the area in the High Road where Chandos Avenue now is, was once the turning
that led to Manor Farm Dairy which stretched from the High Road towards Oakleigh
Park station. A blacksmith’s forge, owned by Wally Lyons, stood where the office
block is, opposite Northway House. Older residents will remember Mr Dovey, the
village postmaster, and Mr Solomons, landlord of the former Bricklayers Arms, which
stood near the junction with Totteridge Lane where there used to be a police station,
tollgate, and a village clock which chimed every hour. Mr Appleby was a young lad
when Whetstone was a small village favoured as a stopping off point for long
distance travellers because of public houses and hostelries. The Bull and Butcher,
Hand and Flower, Black Bull, Blue Anchor and Griffin public houses were all well
patronised with beer at 2d a pint and beds a shilling a night. Green fields separated
the area from Barnet, Finchley and Totteridge and there was a real village
atmosphere. (Barnet Press, date unknown, probably 1970s)
Mr Prime remembers handing shoes for repair through the front window of 2
Whetstone Place, where Mr Sweeney would mend them. Mr Sweeney later moved
next door to Mr O’Leary the French polisher, to continue his business. Mr Prime
once bought a china doll for 61/2d for his young sister’s birthday from Wilson’s, three
doors down. In 1929 Wilsons was still there although Smeatons the butchers had
changed to Pulhams. (Barnet Borough Times Thursday 11 September 1986. Page 2)
There were three dairies in Whetstone at that time (first World War) and the cows
used to graze on Whetstone strays and be driven back across the road to what was
Halls Dairy (Interview with Mrs Ena Constable nee Blackbarrow and Gillian Gear at
43 Church Crescent, Whetstone on 7 Nov 1986. From Barnet & District Local History
Society Newsletter Spring 2007 Page 15)
In contrast to North Finchley and Church End, Whetstone and East End remained
predominantly working-class in the late 19th century. The Baxendales had left
Whetstone by 1890 and vainly tried to sell their land for building c 1901. There were
some ‘genteel villas’ at Oakleigh Park but most building was still cottages or terraced
houses like the 29 planned behind the Swan in 1871. In 1876 Whetstone consisted
of straggling groups of houses some of them old and many poor. In 1884 the vicar
estimated that three-quarters of the inhabitants were working class. Very few were
well to do in 1904 and by the 1920s most were artisans or lower middle class.
(Victoria County History Finchley Page 53)
17 Jun 1937. The High Road is being renumbered (Friern Barnet UDC Minutes)
One of the biggest employers in 1977 was Ever Ready Co (GB) with c 400 in offices
at Ever Ready House, which opened in 1966 at the corner of Totteridge Lane and the
Great North Road. (Victoria County History Finchley Page 73)
Ivy Cottage (near Rasper Road), one of a pair of cottages was once a policeman’s
house. Apparently he kept his horse at the back of the house, reached through its
central arch, which is now blocked up. For many a month I kept confusing Ivy
Cottage with Ivy House (No 1337), which was attached to the beautiful The Limes
(no 1339), opposite the quondam Woolworth’s building. Ivy House started life in
1678 as a timber framed building, was given a brick shell in the Georgian period and,
by the time I arrived on the scene, had become a sadly-neglected wreck – the fate of
many a fine old property in English towns. The council redeemed itself by replacing
the wreck with a building that almost perfectly matches The Limes and Ivy House
became Walsingham House. As you know, I am involved with The Milestone Society
and, apparently, Ivy House stood opposite the 9th milestone (nine miles from
Regent’s Park, that is). No 8, one mile south, stands outside Sainsbury’s in North
Finchley and no 7, another mile south, is in Church End, Finchley, in Regents Park
Road, just past the fork with Hendon Lane, on the left. (Donovan’s Diary 12 October
Whetstone Lodge. John Donovan’s picture of Whetstone Lodge set me thinking. It all
goes back to 1005. In that year there was a boundary survey for the Abbot of St
Albans recording the boundary between Barnet and Little Barnet which became
Friern Barnet. It is interesting that even at that remote age the two Barnets were
separate. The boundary ran from Betstyle (Betta’s style – an old word for an animal
enclosure giving us the word “pig sty”) north roughly along the line of the railway to
Wakeling Moor.That stands in Netherlands Road near the junction with Temple
Avenue. Wakeling is the same as Watling (Street) and is Saxon. A moor is a wet
place. The boundary then runs West past Aggengate to Dollis Brook and along the
brook to Totteridge. The boundary between Friern Barnet and Barnet was also the
boundary between Middlesex and Hertfordshire and at one period between Mercia
and Essex. It was therefore very important. There may well have been a gate there
across the main road leading up Barnet Hill, hence the term Aggengate. In order to
guard this important boundary “Duplices Crucis” (early boundary markers) were put
up and a house for the Bailiff of Friern Barnet. The house was called Wallfield. The
earliest record I have is in the St Paul’s Cathedral manuscripts. In 1486 John Pratt,
the bailiff left to his son, John Pratt, a croft of land containing 3 acres called Walfield.
I have a complete list of transactions up to 1914. They include 26 Aug 1796 when
Henry Lauzan bought Walfield and a messuage which had been erected in 1792.
There is more information about Lauzan in a splendid book called “Finchley &
Whetstone Past”. At this time (i.e 1796), the plot was split into 2. Plot number 1
contained 4 acres of meadow, a house and garden and plot 2 had “Whetstone Lodge
and 3 rods of land”. Attfield’s survey of 1815 shows the property owned by Henry
Lauzan and occupied by Thomas Gillam. The Tithe award of 1844 shows it still
owned by Lauzan and occupied by William Emerson. The 1851 census shows the
house occupied by Henry Brewerton, aged 46 and a proprietor of houses. He died in
1886 when the house was put up for auction. It was bought by Frederick Bliss, who
later moved to Oakleigh Park – there is a memorial to him in All Saints Church. The
property extends into Finchley where the rate book of 1880 shows Brewerton’s
frontage rated at £2 5s and Bliss at £1.0 showing that Bliss’s was the smaller, though
Brewerton owned them both. Kelly’s for 1892 shows it as Walfield House occ Fredk
Hallows F I A. The 1914 rate book for F B has Walfield owner Benj Oscar occupier
John Wilson and Whetstone Lodge owner W Smith occ Eden Smith, who was still
there in 1926. Kelly’s for 1933 has Fredk Boulton. Confusingly the owners changed
the name at various times from Whetstone Lodge to Walfield Lodge or Walfield
House and back again.
Solomon’s Terrace was a little alley that went down just before you get to Waitrose
going north, over a stone arch with eight little cottages. A family named Beaumont
had one of the cottages and the cottages were on the righthand side and they had
little gardens on the left hand side and as you went under the arch you got a
marvellous view over and towards Mill Hill because it was all fields. It was a brick
cottage, one up and one down with a kitchen and an outside loo. Tiny little places but
very attractive with all the old English flowers in the garden in the front, honeysuckle
and hollyhocks, nasturtiums (Interview with Mrs Ena Constable nee Blackbarrow and
Gillian Gear at 43 Church Crescent, Whetstone on 7 Nov 1986. From Barnet &
District Local History Society Newsletter Spring 2007 Page 13)
On Sunday evenings it was the custom in Whetstone to go to the top of Oakleigh
Road and Totteridge Lane to watch the horses from the Rest Home of the Great
Northern Railway. They were exercised by being led from the stables in the yard of
the station to the Metropolitan water trough in the forecourt of the Griffin public
house. There were quite a number of them, perhaps thirty or more. There was
always the delight of seeing the odd motorcar. One Sunday evening we were
standing watching what little traffic there was, when we were surprised to see an
open touring car heading towards London with my cousin Connie, from St Albans, in
the back, with a smart young man. She was even more surprised to see us! There
were also many cyclists returning from Mimms Wood, between South Mimms and
North Mymms. We were upset to see them carrying masses of bluebells because
their life is very short once they are picked. (Memoirs of a Whetstonian 1907-2000 by
Kenneth B Satchell. Page 20)
In the early part of the twentieth century there was a cinema, which later became
Carrimore Six Wheelers who manufactured and enlarged motor lorries. Further down
the lane there was a building belonging to De Dion Bouton, the French car
manufacturers. At lunchtime they sounded a hooter to mark the beginning and end of
the lunch hour. As there were no loudspeakers or wireless sets the hooter could be
heard some distance away. Just before Swan Lane ther was a very long row of very
old cottages which had neither light nor water laid on. The Finchley Fire Brigade used
these as an exercise for the Auxiliary Fire Service, under the command of Capt
Tozer, in the summer before war was declared in 1939. The houses, which were
empty, were set on fire and the Finchley Auxiliary Fire Service was called from
Finchley Fire HQ to deal with the situation. The Finchley Fire Brigade (Regulars) was
in attendance in case things got out of hand. At the bottom of Swan Lane, in the field,
which is now a recreation ground, there were several sand pits, which were flooded
in the winter. The local lads made rafts that were not very safe resulting in the death
of two young fellows. Continuing north, immediately we come to the Swan with Two
Necks public house. It is said that the title should have been the Swan with Two
Nicks relating to the marks which the Swan Uppers made on the beaks of Royal
swans. After St John’s Parish Church was Hopping’s Timber Yard, Trounsom &
Knights garage and then Woodside House, followed by Totteridge Lane. The lodge at
Woodside House was used by the Special Constabulary both during the 1914-18
War and also the General Strike in the 1920s. There is a sizeable lake in the
grounds, which was regularly fished by a chosen few. The National Fire Service
installed a pump there and laid steel piping for emergencies, should the water mains
have been blown up (Memoirs of a Whetstonian 1907-2000 by Kenneth B Satchell.
Page 21)
North of Totteridge were a few shops. First came Harpers, the bakers, then J Salmon
& Sons, grocers, and then Friday, the butcher whose manager was Mr Wright. His
daughter, Connie, was a great friend of my sister, Doris, both working in Barclays
Bank Trustee Department at Head Office. After this came Appleby (the greengrocer)
and Solomon’s Terrace, a small group of very old cottages. In order to approach
them one had to walk under an archway, where there were living quarters above.
One year, at the time of the Barnet Fair, two different gangs of gypsies, after having
consumed several pints of Benskin’s beer, among other brews, turned out of The Bull
and Butcher and The Green Man public houses, confronted each other and a fight
started. The fences of the cottages opposite were broken up and used as staves.
After some time the Whetstone Police managed to get control. There was no Flying
Squad in those days. Further along the High Road was a fairly long row of terraced
dwellings, in one of which lived the Thorogood family. The two boys, William and
Walter, sang in All Saints choir. Then came another row of shops where the Post
Office now stands. On this exact spot used to be Oliver Bros, the oilmongers and
hardware store. During the spring of the year, they would display many bundles of
pea sticks and beanpoles. Two brothers ran the business at that time – the elder was
a very kindly man, who was a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I.
Next came the old house “The Limes”, latterly lived in by Mr Hall, the dentist, and his
daughter. After this was another row of very old cottages without lighting or inside
sanitation. Before St Margarets Avenue was built, it was all fields down to the railway
line. These fields belonged to the De Rivas family who ran the A! and Dollis Dairies.
Further on were, and still are, the Brook Farm allotments \and then more fields to the
County boundary (Memoirs of a Whetstonian 1907-2000 by Kenneth B Satchell.
Page 21)
Returning south, on the east side of the main road, it was all fields reaching to the
main line of the Great Northern Railway with perhaps two houses until a footpath was
reached which ran to the footbridge just north of Oakleigh Park Station. After this was
the Palace Hotel, a large square building standing in its own grounds and finished in
stucco. It was popular at weekends for elderly gentlemen to entertain their young
ladies. There never seemed to be any guests about. Next door was the Black Bull
public House of the Cannon Brewery. A hall was built at the rear in which a boxer,
Len Harvey, used to train for his championship fights. During the 1930s the American
boxers also trained there for the “Golden Gloves” tournaments. After some old three-
storied cottages was The Blue Anchor public house which I am sad to say has been
pulled down. It was a quaint but very friendly pub. The first time I entered it I was
about 16-17 years old. We played a football match across the road – All Saints
versus Finchley Baptists – and what was later the Saloon Bar we used as a dressing
room. Just past there was a small meadow which in the early 1930s was used by
Terry Bean and his partner, Cecil Parks, to store and sell second hand cars. I bought
my first car from them in 1934 for £14. It was an 11.9 Morris Cowley open car. As I
had already opened a man’s wear business by then, it came in very useful for
delivering parcels to customers. After that was Sandridge House, which was owned
by a Mr Porter who also ran a marine engineering business next to his home. This
was next door to Mr Baldwin, the blacksmith. There was always a queue of horses
and carts waiting their turn to be shod. I remember the surprised look on a traveller’s
face when, looking out my shop window, he exclaimed: “There’s a horse looking out
of a window in the house opposite!” Then came Chandos Avenue and on the other
side of it was Friern Watch farmhouse and yard. The bailiff was a Mr Hall whose son,
Cyril, sang in All Saints choir – he was a very fine alto. The farm premises were of
tarred weatherboarding surrounded by a white fence. Chandos Parade had been
built around 1930 Moving on was the large residence of the Jelks family who owned
a large furniture business in Holloway Road with branches at North Finchley and
Southend-on-Sea. Their home was named The Grange. There were a number of
shops amongst which was a cycle repair business owned by Mr Coulon who was a
native of Ceylon and was a most helpful man, especially if you were in trouble. There
was also a fresh and fried fish shop owned by Mr Morley, whose son had a dashing
way with him when on delivery. He always had a nice high-stepping young horse.
Next came A E Wilson, electrician, whose business was run later on by Mr Mead who
had started there as an apprentice. Then came The Green Man public house (later to
become Lloyds Bank), a School of Dancing run by Miss Peggy Shilling (and now a
repair garage), Mr Bromley, the chemist, and, on the corner of Athenaeum Road
stood Barclays Bank whose manager, in the 1920s-30s was Mr Sayers. They had
three sons, one of which was Freddie, a very popular young man who was secretary
and manager of the Direct Cleaning Company in Athenaeum Road, a big concern
with a large fleet of delivery vans. On the opposite corner was a coffee shop, then Mr
Blackborough’s tailoring shop. The three daughters all had very nice blonde waist
length hair. Then came Garrods sweet shop, the Post Office and Stationers, which
was run by two elderly ladies who did not like change. When one entered the
premises, one steeped back a century. There was another public house, The
Bricklayer’s Arms, The Griffin and, on the corner of Oakleigh Road, A J Wills & Son,
family grocers. Continuing south on the opposite side of Oakleigh Road was another
newsagent and confectioner, Wilson’s, then a watch and clock repairer, a Mr Dovey,
with two daughters. Soon after our marriage, Jess took an alarm clock, which was a
wedding present, to him for repair. After inspecting it with his eyepiece, he almost
threw it down and exclaimed “trash!” After filling out our address, he then wrote on
the repair ticket “Satchell-down the village.” There was also a café, or as it was called
in those days “A good pull up for Carmen” and a greengrocer. There was a fair-size
square of gravel which became a market with one or two stalls. Also standing back
from the main road was The Hand & Flower pub behind which was the first Car Hire
in Whetstone, run by Hussey’s, who also had a garage in Barnet. The original Police
Station was of yellow brick, not unlike a double fronted cottage. Three times a day
the duty policemen would march out of the station in single file led by their sergeant,
the last one falling out to commence and patrol their beat. Just before the Police
Station was the Whetstone section of the Finchley Fire Brigade. It consisted of a not
very large green-painted wooden structure and housed a wheeled escape ladder with
reels of canvas hose, stand pipes etc. exactly the same as the Friern Barnet Brigade
in Oakleigh Road. Then there were some cottages which were set back from the
road and fronted by quite large gardens. One of these had in it a coffee stall while
another had a flower and vegetable stall. At the corner of Friern Barnet Lane were a
few shops; the main being a Corn Chandler and baker, owned by Alf Cook, whose
main business was in Barnet High Street. Next to these premises was Floyd’s Farm
kept by Mr Floyd who had a small herd of cows in milk and grazed them on most of
the Glebe Field, part of which was the sports field of Friern Barnet Grammar School.
He also must have had business worries even in those days as he was found dead
one day, hanging from a beam in his cowshed. On the other side of Friern Barnet
Lane stood the Three Horseshoes pub. Then cam a row of small shops, a butcher,
fishmonger’s (in later years kept by a Mr Cod) , a greengrocer, a draper and outfitter,
finishing up with and off-licence, run by a Mr Balls, which was opposite the Swan with
Two Necks, now displaced by a block of flats named North Mount. The, still going
south, were Green Road and Rasper Road, after which was a large house in quite
sizeable grounds in which was a film studio. A lot of the filming took place in a large
glass structure. This was not far away from the cinema, which was just past
Woodside Lane on the other side of the High Road. Moving further south were a few
nice houses with an entrance to the Myddelton Lawn Tennis Club that backed on to
the North Middlesex Golf Club. This was quite near Britannia Road, which was just
about the southern boundary of Whetstone (Memoirs of a Whetstonian 1907-2000 by
Kenneth B Satchell. Page 23-24)
WHEN THE CIRCUS CAME TO TOWN by David Berguer In September 1955 the
Bobby Roberts Circus came to Whetstone. The circus was sited on Finchley Field,
opposite Totteridge & Whetstone Station and was there for just two days, Monday
19th and Tuesday 20th, with two shows on each day. Prices ranged from 2/- to 7/6d
and amongst the attractions were baby elephants, polar bears and black bears, sealions,
lions and lionesses, Arabian stallions, performing dogs, an “unrideable mule”,
as well as acrobats, clowns and tight rope walkers. Bobby Roberts was born in 1912,
the son of Paul Otto, a clown and tumbler, and Mary Fossett, sister of Sir Robert
Fossett who was one of England’s leading circus owners. Bobby spent all his life in
the circus business and was a skilled animal trainer. His son, Bobby junior, first
performed in the ring at the age of 4 and did juggling, acrobatics, high wire, horse
riding and sharp shooting. The Bobby Roberts Circus continues to this day, although
there are no plans to visit Whetstone and parade elephants in Totteridge Lane!
(Article in Newsletter No 38, September 2009. page 1)
The High Road in Whetstone has been named as the healthiest high street in
London. The Royal Society for Public Health compiled a league table of high streets
across the capital by comparing different business types’impact on public health and
placed Whetstone at number one. The table was compiled by comparing the number
of businesses deemed ‘best’ for public health, such as leisure centres, museums and
pubs with ‘worst’ such as takeaways, bettin g shops and payday lenders. Shirley
Cramer, chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health says: “High streets are
an important tpart of vibrant communities and a critical engine for economic growth in
local areas, However high streets can also be home to business activities which can
have a detrimental effect on our health. We believe that business has a responsibility
to ensure that what they offer doesn’t undermine the public’s health and it is in the
interest of business to ensure that the public, who are ultimately their customers, live
longer and healthier lives.” (Barnet Times 16 Jul 2015 page 14)
A first-of-its-kind community street party “exceeded expectations” as thousands lined
the streets las Sunday (24 April 2016). Maria Jordan, lives in Whetstone. Was one of
ten people who organised the Wake Up Whetstone street party in High Road, and
described it as a “great success”. Ms Jordan said: “It was such a great day,
thousands of people turned up, it really exceeded our expectations, we think we have
woken up Whetstone now. The bands, schools, were brilliant, and since the event,
we have received dozens of messages to us and our team, and cards through the
door. We were quite toucheds.” Wake Up Whetstone is a festval organised by a
group of neighbours, with the aim to unite community groups and raise money.
People were delighted with our turn out as well as the variety of stalls and business
owners who lined the street. The street party showed off talent from pupils at All
Saints’ Primary School in Oakleigh Road, as they performed dance routines during
the day and a saxophonist, a magician and Barnet Ukele group also entertained the
crowds. The event was organised by Love Whetstone, a group of people living in the
area who work to promote a sense of community and engage local people in events.
They are a not for profit group, and are currently working out how much money was
raised for the North London Hospice and Noah’s Ark Choldren’s Hospice. Ms Jordan
also thanked all the volunteers, as well as Deputy Lieutenant of Barnet Martin
Russell, deputy Mayor Cll Alison Cornelius and Threesa Villiers MP for attending the
official opening ceremony. She said: “The weather stayed dry we just had
overwhelming support from everyone, and since the event, many people have asked
us and told us to make it an annual party, but I think you can over do an event like
this, so we are not sure.” (Barnet Times 27 Apr 2016)

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