Regents Park and Ballards Lane (Finchley N3)
In 1826 an act of parliament allowed the construction of a new turnpike road between Marylebone and Finchley which in Finchley was called Regents Park Road. This meant that travellers had to pay to use the road, and the money raised was spent on the road's repair.
When the road got as far as Finchley it continued on the same route as the old Ballards Lane (known since 1424). This is why there is a sudden change in the road name at its junction with Hendon Lane. The new turnpike was completed in 1829.
The new road replaced an old lane called Ducksetters Lane. This lane had connected Finchley and Temple Fortune since 1475. It joined Ballards Lane via Gravel Hill and Hendon Lane. Ducksetters was closed off after the turnpike was opened.
Local people continued to use the old lane however, as the tollgate, where people had to buy tickets to use the road, was situated in Ballards Lane at the junction of Nether Street. This meant the people of Finchley had to pay to use their own thoroughfare.
After much protest the gate was moved to just south of the junction of East End Road and was shortly afterwards removed. It is now commemorated with a blue plaque put up at the new Queen's Head by the Finchley Society.
There were a number of houses in Ballards Lane during the 18th and late 19th century. Of these only the 18th century Cornwall House in Cornwall Avenue, and Grove Lodge, in front of Pardes School, now remain.
By 1845 Peter Kay had established a garden nursery on Ballards Lane, which was closed by 1895, and in 1874 William Clements started a nursery at the junction of Regents Park Road and Hendon Lane.
Ford Madox Brown lived at 1 Grove Villas on Regents Park Road between 1853 and 1855 where he painted a number of agricultural scenes, most notably 'The Last of England'.
In 1867 Finchley and Hendon station was opened by the Edgware, Highgate, and London Line (called Finchley Central Station after 1940). The area remained a village until news of a possible tramline between Golders Green and North Finchley encouraged suburban development in the 1890s.
From the railway station north as far as Long Lane, parades of shops had been built by the time the trams started to run in 1909. In 1911 King Edward's Hall replaced Clement's nursery. It was used as a hospital during World War One for wounded soldiers.
The Alcazar Cinema (1913), between Princes and Redbourne Avenue, was renamed the Bohemia in 1915 and during the 1920s relocated to where Gateway House is today. At the furthest end of the road is Finchley Police Station.
There had been a police station in Finchley from 1873 but the present location dates from 1886 when Wentworth Lodge in Ballards Lane was bought. The old police station continued from 1889 until 1965 when it was rebuilt.
Across the road from the police station is Victoria Park. Opened in 1902 it was intended to mark Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and was Finchley's first public park. From 1905 it was the location of Finchley Carnival.
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