Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Saturday list #6 - 10 Great things we've lost in the London Borough of Barnet

Sometimes I get a bit nostalgic. One such day was yesterday. When I was a small child, as a special treat, my dad would take us all out for a drive on Sunday afternoon. Do people do that anymore? I was reminded of this as I went to Barnet Museum yesterday. I saw the Whales Jawbones on Barnet Lane. This was always one of the highlights. Happily they are still there, but many of the other things have gone. Here is a list of a few places my Dad would take me (and a few places he wouldn't!), which have bitten the dust over the years.

1. Tonibel Ice Cream shop in Burnt Oak. As a kid that was Mecca !

2. Mill Hill Swimming Pool. Open air, with diving boards, fountains and a slide. I feel great guilt that my kids never experienced the thrill of it.

3. The public Weighbridge in Flower Lane Mill Hill. There used to be a railway goods depot in Flower Lane. I am not entirely sure when it shut, but there was a public weighbridge at the entrance. My Dad  would take us there in the car and weigh us. It was great. 

4. The Pigs in St Josephs College Farm. My Dad also knew Herman, the famer at St Josephs college on Lawrence Street. He would take us to see Herman and visit the piglets. The farm is long gone, although horses graze the lands. 

5. The garden at the Railway Tavern in the Green Man. As children, on warm summers days, we'd go for a drink at lunchtime in the garden of the Railway Tavern. It consisted of a glass of warm lemonade. The pub used to have a huge grassy garden, filled with families on a hot Sunday afternoon. The brewery sold 9/10ths of the garden to property developers about 15 years ago. 

6. The Disused Railway Bridge on Flower Lane Mill Hill. This was a beautiful old red brick Bridge, where Flower Lane joined Bunns Lane. In about 1975, the Council remodelled the road and so it no longer crossed the Bridge. The Bridge was demolished in about 1983 when the Bunns Lane Industrial Estate was built. As a kid, I used to play under the bridge and loved it dearly. 

7. La Katarina Restaurant in Mill Hill. My Dad new the boss and we'd occasionally go there for a meal on a special birthday. The specialities were the steaks and the crepe suzettes, complete with pyrotechnics. There was no other restaurant like it. It is now the Pizza Express, which although is a fine establishment, is not la Katarina and is not unique. 

8. The Betta Cafe in Burnt Oak. Now this isn't a place my Dad ever took me. It was a place I learned to love whilst at Orange Hill Senior High School. Boz Boorer (he of Polecats/Morrissey fame) was once ejected for complaining because his spoon was clean and asking if the automatic cup greaser was broken. The meals used to arrive on a hand driven pulley lift. You didn't really know Burnt Oak until you'd drank a cup of tea in the Betta Cafe.

9. Barry Edgars Garden Centre in Mill Hill. This was sited where "el Vaquerra" restaurant is now situated. It was a small friendly garden centre, with an interesting range of plants. I bought the pear tree in my garden there in 1978. It went out of business in about 1984 as a result of the council selling the swimming pool lease in daws Lane to Wyevale Nurseries, who opened a larger rival. I never had any affection for Wyevale as a result. I used to deliver Barry Edgar's papers at his home in Woodcroft Avenue. He had an amazing garden. 

10. La Carp D'or. This used to be the best fish and chip shop in Barnet. It was situated in Mill Hill where the Olive Restaurant is now. The fish and chips were cooked by Mario and his family and were to die for. It was fresh food and friendly staff. I doubt anyone who likes fish and chips and lives in Mill Hill has anything other than the fondest memories of it. 

Is there anything you miss?


Mr Mustard said...

Yes Roger, any commonsense at the council

Nancy Callegari said...

The Co-op store Burnt Oak at corner of Stag Lane where you could go in the lift to the top floor and view over Burnt Oak. Aladdins Cave of interesting stuff that place. A loss to Burnt Oak and to the borough

Mrs Angry said...

I HATED the outdoor swimming pool, as we used to be marched there for lessons in what seemed like mid winter, the water practically had ice on it, & the dressing rooms stank. Eurgh. Good riddance.

I remember Brother Herman, who was lovely. And his pigs, and cows. He taught the missionary students to have practical farming skills before they went out to Africa or wherever. St Joseph's was a very special place: we used to go to Midnight Mass there every year in the chapel. Such a shame it is empty now.

Sasha said...

Loppylugs record store, the best little cd shop I ever knew, back when people still bought music.

Michael Schwartz said...

Someone else who knew and loved La Katerina! For me it was always the moussaka - I did not encounter a more delicious or artistically presented moussaka anywhere and that includes Greece!

My father did accountancy work for a menswear shop called Nalson's, which was opposite La Katerina. In 1968, we looked for somewhere to eat and we stayed loyal until 1991. I tried my rudimentary Ancient Greek on owner Tony, only to discover that the Ancient Greek for "the food was very good" had in Modern Greek come to mean "the corn was a superlative adjective."

It did not stop a wonderful friendship between my own family and Tony and his son, another Tony, who was also a local councillor. I never did meet the lady of the restaurant, though...