Hendon Central

While the old Butcher’s Lane which was a minor lane in Hendon, Middlesex had been officially renamed Queen’s Road for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1887, the contemporary 1900 Ordnance Survey map does not yet show this change. The lane connected Brent Street to the Burroughs. The map shows that  two large houses – Brent Lodge and Foster House flanked the lane at the Brent Street end. From here, the lane ran due west, past a small farm called Stoney Farm to form a junction with Gutters Hedge Lane. This lane came originally from the Edgware Road in the area of the Welsh Harp. Butcher’s Lane then bends to the northwest and continues past Burroughs Farm towards the Burroughs itself and Hendon “proper”.


This bucolic scene would remain largely untouched until the 1920s. Two transport developments were planned together.

In the 1830s, the Finchley Road had been built to bypass the steep hills and congestion of Hampstead. Nearly a century later, Finchley – or rather the Great North Road (A1) needed its own bypass. Thus Hendon Way and Watford Way were planned.

A series of other arterial roads were laid out this part in north London. The North Circular Road was built along the as-yet undeveloped (due to its regular flooding) course of the River Brent, to complement the Hendon/Watford Way (A41) and the Great North Way (A1).

Further north, at Fiveways Circus, the new A41 and A1 combined for a while for a trip through Mill Hill, before dividing again at Apex Corner.

Meanwhile, finally the long planned northward extention of the Northern Line was finally constructed. From the old terminus at Golders Green, recently built houses there had to be demolished before the new line started to run across fields. The first station north was named Brent, serving the new Hendon greyhound stadium – itself later the site of Brent Cross Shopping Centre.

Next came, Hendon Central – the feature of this article – before the new line entered a tunnel immediately to the north of the new station, re-emerging before Colindale and then Burnet Oak before a new terminus at Edgware.

The bend in Butcher’s Lane became the site of Hendon Central Circus, with the new station built on the circus itself. Queen’s Road ran east towards Brent Street. Along the line of the rest of Butcher’s Lane and Gutters Hedge Lane came Watford Way.

The photo below depicts the bend in Butcher’s Lane as viewed from the north in the year 1895. Taken in 2015, the photographer would be standing in the middle of Watford Way, near to the outside of KFC and pointing the camera towards Brent Cross. There is a large tree on the left of the photo. Behind the tree in the photo to the right of this, on the opposite side of Butcher’s Lane lies a fence.

Behind the fence, but unseen in the photo, is the line of Gutters Hedge Lane which leads from a junction situated just behind the bend southwards towards the Edgware Road.

Moving on a few years, this next photograph is taken a few yards south compared to the picture above. Instead of looking south, we are looking east along Queen’s Road.
Tracking down exactly what we are seeing, we have had to use a little bit of photographic forensics. This is because there is a building – the wooden one depicted – which is not there on the 1900 map.
Knowing that it shows the future site of Hendon Central Circus, it is as first unclear which direction we are facing in this photo. The bend in the road straight ahead suggests that we are looking south along the future Hendon Way and the old Guttershedge Lane. On the 1900 map this road has the bend in the correct position. But there is a road with a signpost  going to the right – this might be Vivian Avenue but this would not exist yet. The signpost seems to say “Way” as the second word.
If the view looks east however, despite the new building, the bend is in the right place showing the old Butcher’s Lane bending east with a fine old car turning it. We have to look at other contemporary photographs – there is one in the London Transport Museum Collection.  It is entitled “Future site of Hendon Central Underground station” and includes the wooden building.
This 1928 photo – taken some six years later – shows a completely transformed scene with shops starting to line the new Watford Way.
Further up Hendon Way you can see an island site between the two carriageways with a pond and war memorial. The houses here were demolished in the 1940s.
The United Dairies occupied the domed building, a prestigious site.

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