Childs Hill, now a select area, was formerly reknowned for bricks and laundering.
It was the south-easternmost point of the ancient parish of Hendon. The settlement at Childs Hill is certainly medieval, possibly the 10th century settlement Codenhleawe (which has come down to us as Cowhouse
), and was owned by Westminster Abbey.
Although a John Knot de Childes Hill is associated with the Peasants’ Revolt, the earliest known use of the place name Child’s Hill is 1593. The name is probably taken from a family of the same name who held land in Hendon in the 14th century. It has been suggested that the Castle Inn was a small Civil War (1642-49) gun emplacement guarding the Edgware Road. The first record of the Castle Inn however is 1751.
Child’s Hill was a centre for brick and tile making during the second half of the 18th century, supplying material for building Hampstead (which is to the east nearby), and run by a Samuel Morris. Being more than 259 ft above sea level (at the Castle Inn), Child’s Hill is visible for miles around. From 1808 to 1847 there was an optical telegraph station, one in a line from the Admiralty to Great Yarmouth. Only the name, Telegraph Hill
An Act of Parliament in 1826 allowed for the construction of the Finchley Road
(completed by 1829) with a tollgate at the Castle Inn. In the early 1850s a Colonel Evans built houses in a field called The Mead (later renamed Granville Road
). By the 1870s a number of laundries, servicing much of Victorian era West London, were established in The Mead. Clothes washed in London were thought to be susceptible to water borne disease, such cholera and typhoid, and Child’s Hill, then still in the countryside was supplied by a series of small streams coming off Hampstead Heath
The population in the area was growing quickly. In 1856 a new church, All Saints’, was built (the third church in the parish of Hendon).
Further extensions were added between 1878 and 84, and in 1940 the church was so badly damaged by fire that it had to be substantially rebuilt in 1952. In 1884 the Pyramid Light Works, a candle manufactory, was established, the first factory in the Hendon area.
The opening of Child’s Hill Railway Station, now Cricklewood Station, in 1868 led to an increase in population, and the subsequent overcrowding reduced Child’s Hill into poverty, with cock-fighting, drunkenness, and vice.
Housing in 1903 was described as a disgrace to civilisation
and in 1914 Hendon Urban District Council built its first council estate, with 50 houses.
In 1901 the land between Child’s Hill and Golders Green
to the north was still farmland, but with the motorbuses (1906), the tube at Golders Green
(1907), the trams (1909), and finally The Hendon Way
(1927) farmland succumbed to suburbia, and the distinction between Golders Green
and Child’s Hill was blurred. For entertainment Child’s Hill had The Regal in the Finchley Road
(1929), which was first a skating rink then a cinema then a bowling alley. In the early 1960s many of the small Victorian houses in the Mead and around the Castle Inn were demolished.
A district on both sides of the Hendon-Hampstead border, Childs Hill took its name from Richard le Child, who in 1312 held a customary house and 30 a., probably on the Hendon side. A similar estate was held at the same time by Richard Blakett, who gave his name to Blacketts well, which in 1632 was one of the boundary markers in the area and in 1801-2 was disputed in ownership. By the mid 18th century the Hampstead part of Childs Hill was divided in two by the road later called Platt’s Lane, which ran from West End and Fortune Green
to the heath, Hampstead town, and Hendon. It was entirely occupied by two estates, both of which may have originated as land of the Templars. A farmhouse on the edge of the heath in the north part of the larger estate had apparently become detached from the farmland before 1811, when it was enlarged by Thomas Platt as a ’pleasing and unostentatious’ brick house set in well wooded grounds.
The arrival of the Finchley road lessened the area’s isolation. A house called Temple Park was built on the smaller Temples estate probably in the 1830s by Henry Weech Burgess, a prosperous Lancastrian. About the same time farm buildings were erected on Platt’s estate fronting Platt’s Lane. In 1843, on the western portion of Childs Hill estate, T. Howard built Kidderpore Hall, a stuccoed Greek revival house with a slightly projecting colonnade, side pediments, and a semicircular bay, for John Teil, an East India merchant with tanneries in the district of Calcutta from which the house took its name. The grounds became a private park and two lodges were added, one on the Finchley road in 1849, the other on Platt’s Lane in the late 1860s. On a field of Platt’s estate which jutted westward south of Teil’s estate, four houses fronting Finchley Road
were built in the 1840s in the district called New West End
. By 1870 the farm buildings at Platt’s Lane had been replaced by a house. Two cottages were built in Platt’s Lane by P. Bell of West End in 1875 and 13 houses, mostly by George Pritchard, between 1884 and 1886.
Some 9 and a half acres of Henry Weech Burgess’s estate had become a brickfield by 1864 and Temple Park had become the Anglo-French College by 1873. A few houses had been built in what became Burgess Hill
by 1878 and in 1880 Weech Road
was constructed between Fortune Green
Road and Finchley Road
on the portion of Teil’s estate purchased by the Burgesses in 1855. Four houses were built there in 1880 and another 12 in 1887 by A. R. Amer and Becket. In 1886 there was building at the AngloFrench college. In 1890 Kidderpore Hall was acquired by Westfield College, which made considerable additions to it in 1904-5, and the rest of the estate given over to the builders. Building, mostly of detached or semi-detached houses fronting Platt’s Lane, Finchley Road
, Kidderpore Avenue
, and Cecilia Road (later Kidderpore Gardens
), was complete by 1913. C. F. A. Voysey designed Annesley Lodge, no. 8 Platt’s Lane, an L-shaped, roughcast house with sloping buttresses, ’astonishingly ahead of its date’, for his father in 1896 on the corner with Kidderpore Avenue
. Next to no. 14 Kidderpore Avenue
, built in 1901 by the artist George Swinstead, was St. Luke’s church, designed by Basil Champneys in 1898. At the southern end of the road was no. 4, built in 1900 in a highly decorated Tudor style.
In 1886 Joseph Hoare, son of Samuel and brother of John Gurney Hoare, died after living for some 40 years at Childs Hill House, to which he added a storey. Although not pulled down until c. 1904, Childs Hill House was empty by c. 1897 when building began on the estate. Between 1897 and 1913 Ferncroft, Hollycroft, and Rosecroft avenues were laid out and mostly semi-detached houses were built by George Hart. There were also several detached houses designed by C. H. B. Quennell, nos. 7 and 20 Rosecroft Avenue
, designed in 1898, and Phyllis Court, no. 22, designed in 1905. Quennell designed several houses on the neighbouring demesne estate and Sir Guy Dawber, one of the architects of the nearby Hampstead Garden Suburb, was responsible for no. 46 Hollycroft Avenue
, built in 1907. At much the same time building was proceeding on the Burgess Park (Temples) estate: the same builder, George Hart, was responsible for Briardale Road and Clorane Gardens, where the houses were built between 1900 and 1910. In 1905 on the Burgess Park estate 18 houses were built in Finchley Road
, possibly including nos. 601 and 603 designed by Voysey, and by 1913 building was complete in Burgess Hill
, Ardwick Road
, and Weech Road
and two houses had been built in Ranulf Road
. In 1901 a small piece on the western side of the Burgess Park estate was added to the cemetery. A few years before, two houses had been built in Fortune Green
Road on the estate facing the cemetery by undertakers. One, no. 128, noted for its Graeco-Egyptian stucco pastiche, survived. All Souls Unitarian church was built to the south at the junction with Weech Road
in 1903 and Burgess Park Mansions to the north about the same time.
The cemetery did not blight development to the north and east as it had to the south and west, possibly because building north and east was necessarily later. Whereas in the 19th century proximity to cemeteries was disliked, by the 20th the open space in a built-up district was regarded as an asset. The whole of the Childs Hill area was classed in 1930 as middle-class and wealthy. There was building on all sites by the opening of the First World War and the only development between the wars was in Ranulf Road
, where 13 houses were built by 1920 and the rest by 1930, at Westfield College to which additions were made in 1920-3, and at the corner of Fortune Green
and Weech roads, where a block of flats, Weech Hall, replaced the Unitarian chapel in 1937.
During the Second World War bombing destroyed several houses on the Burgess Park estate, including some in Ardwick Road
and two of Voysey’s houses, nos. 601 and 603 Finchley Road
, which were replaced by houses designed by R. Seifert. A new block was added to Westfield College in 1962 but from 1945 until the 1980s Childs Hill remained essentially unchanged. Inhabitants have included Thomas Masaryk, later first president of Czechoslovakia, at no. 21 Platt’s Lane during the First World War, Leslie Brooke (d. 1940), the illustrator and father of Hampstead’s M.P. Henry, at no. 28 Hollycroft Avenue
, and Jonas Wolfe, cinema pioneer, at no. 4 Kidderpore Avenue
during the 1940s. The musical Craxton family owned no. 14 Kidderpore Avenue
from 1945 and during the 1960s James Gunn (d. 1965), the portrait painter, lived at no. 7 Kidderpore Avenue