New Southgate (Finchley N11)
New Southgate often includes Brunswick Park and parts of Colney Hatch. Up until the 1850s the area was called Betstile - the name probably means Betta's Path. By 1822 there were a handful of houses and in 1851 the Great Northern Railway opened a station called Colney Hatch.
Colney Hatch, with its association with the lunatic asylum, was unattractive to the new residents and 'New Southgate' (mimicking New Barnet) further north, was chosen. The railway station's name changed in 1876 to include New Southgate, and eventually the name Colney Hatch was dropped altogether.
From the 1850s the area developed as a town centre. The Avenue district, a small triangle between Friern Barnet Lane, and Oakleigh Road, developed after 1854 to house workers employed by the Colney Hatch Asylum. It was very overcrowded, and had the reputation as the roughest district in Middlesex.
South of Friern Barnet Lane was the Colney Hatch Estate. Originally a middle-class area, its close proximity to the Asylum affected the value of the houses. Various institutions were established such as public houses, a gas company, a water company, schools, chapels and churches, a police station, and, by the 1920s, a cinema.
Expansion of New Southgate was envisaged from very early on. The town was divided between East Barnet, Friern Barnet and Southgate, and the county authorities of Hertfordshire and Middlesex. This made planning difficult. The Anglican church of St Paul's (1873) was built to seat 700 but was a little over half full by 1903.
Trams ran to Wood Green in 1907 and North Finchley by 1909 helping the population to rise to 7000 in 1921. Further transport links, including the building of the North Circular Road (1929) and the opening Arnos Grove tube station (1932), led to further suburban development east of New Southgate.
During World War Two there was extensive bomb damage. In 1956 Southgate Council planned to re-develop, starting with construction of the tower blocks in Highview Gardens (1960). In 1965, the new London Boroughs of Barnet and Enfield came into existence and the area was split between the two. The name survives due to the mainline railway, but as a centre it has never succeeded in the way that other Victorian new towns, like New Barnet, did.
Famous people of the area include James Selby (d.1888), the coachman, who was brought up at the Railway Hotel (Turrets public house) in the 1860s. He achieved the longest distance ever driven by one coachman, as well as the fastest time a team of horses could be changed for another (47 seconds). Jerome K Jerome spent part of his childhood in Springfield Road.
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