High Barnet – Totteridge walk

High Barnet is a London Underground station and, in the past, a railway station, located in Chipping Barnet. It is the terminus of the High Barnet branch of the Northern line and is the start of a walk which takes us on to Totteridge and Whetstone station. You can see our version of this walk by clicking on the accompanying YouTube link.

High Barnet station was an idea of the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway and was opened on 1 April 1872 by the Great Northern Railway which had taken over by then. It was situated on one of the original sites of the Barnet Fair and was the terminus of the branch line that ran from Finsbury Park via Highgate.

The section north of East Finchley was incorporated into the London Underground network because of the Northern Heights project begun in the late 1930s. High Barnet station was served by Northern line trains from 14 April 1940 onwards.

The station retains much of its original Victorian architectural character, with some platform buildings dating from the pre-London Transport era.

If you are walking this route along with us, it’s a steep climb out of the station. Once you reach the main road – Barnet Hill – the station becomes quite hidden.

Barnet Hill was part of the Great North Road which ran through Barnet – the main highway between England and Scotland from medieval times until the 20th century. The Great North Road was a coaching route used by mail coaches travelling between London, York and Edinburgh.

Cross the road where you can, find the footpath marked in the direction Underhill and follow this downhill. The path reaches the point where Barnet Lane enters Mays Lane. The latter is an ancient east-west lane of Barnet running along the south of Underhill towards Barnet Gate.

Barnet Lane, meanwhile, runs south from this junction. It is one of a series of roads with this name in the area. As we cross into Barnet Lane, the Potteries (sheltered housing) has an interesting mural.

Continue south along the lane until the end of Westcombe Drive – turn along this road. The whole area was the home of Barnet FC from 1907 until 2013.

Modern housing (which we don’t pass) is on the site of the former stadium and lies behind the 1930s housing on the right (south) side of the road as we walk along it.

At the end of Westcombe Drive, there a T junction. Turn right here into Fairfield Way which after a few hundred metres splits into two – take the right fork called Grasvenor Avenue.

In the late 1920s, Barnet Urban District Council bought land which became Barnet Playing Fields. It also acquired the adjoining land which it designated for private housing. The area had been farmland and was by then used in September each year for the Barnet Fair. Just over one acre of this land was acquired by the
Jesus Hospital in September 1930. Twelve cottages were completed as almshouses in 1934 with the architect being Miss J.E. Townsend.

Nine women were accepted from Chipping Barnet and three from East Barnet. These almshouses are secluded cottages which cannot be seen from the road but are beautifully designed examples of 1930s architecture.

Indeed we leave Grasvenor Avenue before we reach them and into Barnet Playing Fields at a sign pointing out the direction of the Dollis Valley Greenwalk.

We can now follow this path until Totteridge & Whetstone station.

 

 




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