New Barnet

Before the railway line was built there was no New Barnet. In order to build the railway the Great Northern Company had to buy land from different farms and estates.

The owner of one of these estates through which the line had to pass, known as Lyonsdown, forced the railway company to purchase the whole of the estate rather then just the fields which were needed. The railway company sold the rest of the Lyonsdown estate to The British Land Company in 1850.

Development was slow, and the New Barnet we see today was not fully built until the First World War in 1914. First, Lyonsdown Road and Station Road (then called Lionsdown and New Barnet Road) were laid out in New Barnet. By 1857 the British Land Company were selling houses on New Barnet Road.

By January of 1860 there was Leicester, Lytton and "Lionsdown", roads. Many of these Victorian roads, such as Leicester, Richmond and Plantaganet Road take their names from the Battle of Barnet.

In 1864 the Anglican Christians built Holy Trinity church, which by 1869 had its own parish called Lyonsdown. The railway station originally provided for the whole of Barnet was called Barnet Station. In 1872 a Gasworks, the East Barnet Gas and Water Company, was built to provide power for the gas lamps that lit the houses.

The same company provided water from a 500-foot artesian well at the water works for people to drink. In 1892 a town hall was built for the local board. Even so the roads did not fill up all at once. A school was built for 400 children in 1871. By the 1880s there were already shops in New Barnet.

A police station was opened at the junction of Edward and Margaret Roads in 1884, with one inspector, three sergeants and 15 constables, but was closed in 1933, and the building demolished in 1985. There was a volunteer fire brigade at Hope Villas (c1870), East Barnet Road, which was replaced by a purpose-built station with a full-time force in 1903.

In 1871 there were 2,340 people in the new parish Lyonsdown, which increased only to around 4,230 in 1881. By the 1890s New Barnet had established itself as the political centre of the parish of East Barnet. But despite all of these new institutions the Ordnance Survey map of the mid 1890s shows that many of the Victorian roads, some at least thirty years old by that time, were still empty of houses.

New Barnet was fully built by the First World War. A war memorial was unveiled in March of 1921 by Lord Hampden, Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, opposite the town hall. It was originally dedicated to the 278 men of East Barnet who were killed in the First World War.

It cost about £1,000, and the figure on the top represents victory. The Hippodrome cinema was opened in 1926, later renamed the Regal (1933). In 1934 John Ward established the Abbey Folk Museum in Park Road. It was England's first outdoor museum and was based on Skansen in Sweden.

The museum's collection was quite large and included a medieval barn. After Mr Ward died in 1945 the museum closed and the collection went to Queensland, Australia in 1986.