Saturday, 8 November 2014

The Saturday List #73 - 50 things that have changed in Mill Hill in my lifetime

The Long since demolished Bunns Lane Rail Bridge
My oldest friend (by that I mean the person I have been friends with the longest, not the most elderly) is my old next door neighbour Luke. He moved in when I was four and he was two. His mum rented the flat formerly occupied by Mrs Bent. Mrs Bent was an elderly lady who had a garden with a tidy lawn and a fine display of standard rosebushes, neatly laid out. I can remember my parents announcing that someone was moving in and they had a boy. I was quite excited, because this meant I had someone to play with right on my doorstep. When Luke moved in, I remember our very first conversation. Sadly Luke doesn't, but then he was two years old. I said "Hello, what's your name?" Luke replied "Chair!". Over the years, we've had many far more interesting conversations, most of which I have no recollection of at all. He now lives near Brighton, so I see him every couple of years at best. Like many people, we now largely keep in touch via Facebook. Facebook reminded me earlier this week that Luke hs just turned fifty. I had hoped to blag him tickets for Motorhead & The Damned at Wembley, through my studio contacts, but that didn't work out. So I thought I'd do a special Saturday list for Luke's 50th. It is 50 things in Mill Hill that have changed in my and his lifetime.

1. Mrs Bents roses are all gone.
2. The Methodist Church in Goodwyn Avenue has been knocked down and turned into flats.
3. Lukes old Primary School St Anthonys on Hale Lane has gone. It is now Matilda Marks.
4. Callis Bike Shop has gone. It is now Marks and Spencers.
5. Woolworths in Mill Hill Broadway has gone. It is now Iceland.
6. Hendon County Council has gone. Mill Hill is now ruled by Barnet Council.
7. The railway from Mill Hill East to Edgware has gone. This was still operational when Luke was born.
8. The public Weighbridge in Bunns Lane has gone.
9. The Rail bridge at the junction of Flower Lane and Bunns Lane has gone.
10. The Sacred Heart church in Mill Hill Broadway has been knocked down and rebuilt.
11. St Josephs college missionary training college has gone and is being transformed into luxury flats.
12. The Royal Engineer pub in Mill Hill East has gone
13. The Royal Engineers army barracks in Mill Hill has gone and is being transformed into a mini city as we speak.
14. St Vincents school on the Ridgeway has been redeveloped and moved across the road.
15. The Old Mill Hill Broadway, a classic Midland Railway design was rebuilt when the M1 was built, in the neo brutalist style of BR circa 1967.
16. The rail freight depot at Mill Hill behind Millway has gone and been replaced with the M1.
17. Most houses in Mill Hill have lost their front garden for a car port.
18. The line of Poplar trees, demarking the line of the railway at the back of Millway has gone.
19. The Royal Scot pub at Apex corner has gone and is currently KFC.
20. The Model Shop has gone and is now a fireplace surround shop, and Kentfields toy shop is a mobile phone shop.
21. Mac Fisheries fish mongers in Mill Hill Broadway has gone.
22. Mill Hill Swimming Pool has gone and is now Etz Chaim free school.
23. The golf putting course at Mill Hill Park has gone.
24. Lambs sweetshop at the top of Milespit Hill has gone and is now a private dwelling
25. Gerrards butchers at the top of Hammers Lane has gone, this is now a private dwelling.
26. The Olde Forge Tearooms have gone and are now a private dwelling.
27. The old BT junction box at the bottom of Millway, that we had hours of fun climbing on as kids has gone.
28. The Doctors surgery in Millway has gone. The Millway surgery is now located in Hartley Avenue.
29. Featherstone Garage in Bunns Lane has gone and is now a small housing development.
30.  All of the greengrocers in Mill Hill Broadway have gone. There were three when Luke moved to Mill Hill.
31. There are no green front doors in Millway. When Luke moved in, over 50% of front doors were painted green.
32. There are almost no privit hedges in Millway. Nearly all of the houses had them when Luke moved in. In the war with car drives, the hedges lost. Strangley, Lukes old house is one of the few with a hedge still in front.
33. Dogs no longer roam Millway unsupervised.
34. Children no longer play in the street with their friends.
35. Houses no longer have coal bunkers.
36. The pond in the middle of Simmonds Meade (AKA Mill Hill Village green ) no longer has goldfish in. In fact it isn't a pond at all, it has silted up.
37. Mill Hill Broadway Station no longer has a Red Star parcels office.
38. When you leave Mill Hill, heading towards Edgware, you no longer see a sign on the A41 saying "Cripples crossing".
39. You can take a train from Mill Hill direct to Brighton. They used to stop at St Pancras.
40. Fanning Builders yard next to Mill Hill Station has gone. Now we have Bunns Lane car park, which is the highest earning car park for Barnet Council.
41. You can no longer take a no 52 bus to Victoria or a 140 bus to Heathrow Airport from Mill Hill.
42. Coal trains no longer thunder through Mill Hill to bring coal to Battersea power stations.
43. Steam trains no longer pass through Mill Hill (apart from the odd Vintage Charter train), and the trains that stop at Mill Hill are electric powered.
44. There is no Laundrette in Mill Hill.
45. There is no Early closing day for shops in Mill Hill Broadway on a Thursday.
46. There are no cows in the fields of St Josephs college. There are some horses grazed.
47.  Hartley Hall has been knocked down and redeveloped.
48. You can't get a single screw in Mill Hill, but you can get a decent curry. Leaches hardware shop has been replaced by the Day of the Raj indian restaurant.
49.  We are no longer disturbed by military aircraft landing at nearby Hendon Airodrome, which is now the RAF museum and Graham Park Estate. We no longer see the Red Arrows fly over as part of the Hendon Air Show either.
50. The arches of the M1 overbridge now dominate Mill Hill Broadway.

As I made the list I contemplated how sad it is that shops such as the Model Shop (H.A. Blunt and Sons) and Kentfields Toy Shop have departed. When I first met Luke, these were the two revered temples we'd visit as kids. It seems there is no place in the modern high street for such small specialised retailers. When we were tiny, our parents would take us to these shops and we'd be allowed to select a toy on a birthday or for Xmas. As we would rather save a few pennies, we now buy everything on line and in the process have deprived our children the sheer joy of visits to such magic palaces. Is this important? I believe it is. Luke is one of the worlds leading designers of mass transit systems. I believe (never actually asked him though) that if he hadn't lived around the corner from the model shop, he'd probably never have developed his fascination with engineering. I suspect if he'd been brought up in Somerset, he'd be the countries leading cidermaker, but here, in the shadow of the M1 and the Midland mainline, the model shop spurred him into thinking about transportation.

Where is the inspiration for todays generation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The butcher at the top of Hammers Lane was Vincettes. Gerrard is, and always has been, in Dawes Lane.