High Road (Finchley N2)

Shortly before 1300 a new road north out of London was made through Finchley, which we now call the High Road. At the bottom of the hill just where the railway crosses the road there was a bridge, later called Hanson's Bridge (1444), over a stream called Mutton Brook.

The road was improved in 1712. It passed up the hill from Hanson's Bridge to Fortis Green Road. We now call this part of the road Stag Hill, but it was formally New Gate Lane.

Tickets were sold to travellers at a tollbooth near the White Lion to pay for the road to be repaired. At the top of the hill beyond the Bald Faced Stag the road ran across the infamous Finchley Common.

The White Lion's name then was The Dirt House. 'Street manure' (effluent from the streets and cesspits of London) was brought to Finchley to be used on the hay fields. The carters of the manure did not want to pay the extra cost of the toll so stopped at the inn.

Here the farmers and carters probably conducted their transactions and the carts would return to London with hay. By the 1830s railways made the high road less important. The toll ceased in 1862 and the tollgate was removed in 1903.

East Finchley station opened in 1868 as part of the Great Northern Railway. At first it was called East End Finchley station, but during the 1880s the name East End became associated with the poorest parts of London, and locals asked the railway company to rename the station. It became East Finchley in 1886.

Where the Phoenix Cinema is today was Nevil Smart's tile and brick yards from the 1820s until the 1860s. On East End Road is the old building of Holy Trinity School which was opened in 1847 by local Anglicans.

It was the first Industrial National School. Children were taught practical skills. Girls were taught how to cook, clean, and sew. Boys were taught to look after farm animals (husbandry), and gardening. The school moved to Market Place in 1974.

Where Budgen's is today, a Congregational community built a church in 1878 with a 130-foot spire and clock. In 1965 it was demolished and a new modern church built. In 1989 the new church was sold to a Muslim group and after refurbishment it reopened in 1996 as the North London Jamatkhana, an Islamic community centre.

Park Hall House on Fortis Green was sold in 1877 to builders. They built the Park Hall Estate shops (Cavendish Terrace, Camden Terrace and Park Hall Place), and houses including Park Hall, Lincoln, Bedford, Hertford, Leister, and Durham roads.

A tramline (1905) promoted further developments and by 1914 the High Road become East Finchley's main shopping district, and most of the streets were full of houses. There were two cinemas, the Athenaeum and the Picture Palace (now the Phoenix Cinema), and a temperance inn, The Black Bass Tavern, from the mid 1880s until 1965.

In 1913 Great North Road school opened, which became Martin Primary School, named after Finchley's head of education, around 1936. East Finchley Library opened in 1938, and on it is the Finchley Coat of Arms. Peter Sellers lived with his mother on the High Road in the late 1940s.

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