Saturday, 11 July 2015

The Saturday List #79 - My Favourite landmarks in The London Borough of Barnet

So as I travel around our local manor, there are things I see which always bring a smile to my face. I thought it high time I catalogued some of them here.

1. Totteridge Ponds.
2. Whales Jawbones (in Barnet)
3. The University of London Observatory (Mill Hill)
4. St Josephs College (Mill Hill)
5. La Deliverance (Henlys Corner)
6. The Clock on Burnt Oak Station
7. Brent Cross Flyover
8. K Garage (on A41 at Mill Hill)
9. The Welsh Harp
10. The Odeon Cinema (Barnet)

And here's why.

1. Totteridge Ponds.
When I was a kid, I loved fishing. Whenever we drove past the Totteridge ponds, I'd see people sitting on the banks, fishing rod out and float in the water. There were also ducks and geese and I just thought the ponds were idyllic. 

2. Whales Jawbones (in Barnet)
On Sunday afternoons, my Dad used to load us into the car and take us all for a drive, whilst mum would go for a nap. This was the absolute highlight of the week. Do people "go for a drive" anymore? One of our favourite destinations was the Whales Jawbones in Barnet. Dad would explain how a sea captain had brought them back from his travels. They always seemed to be a strangely exotic sight to see in suburban Barnet.

3. The University of London Observatory (Mill Hill)
In my youth I was obsessed with Astronomy. The US missions to the moon inspired me. I wanted to be an astronaut. I never forgave the British government for cancelling our own space program. A highly short sighted move, as we'd be making a fortune in the satellite launch business now. For me the Observatory was like a muslim may view Mecca or a Catholic The Vatican. It was a temple to science and progress. I really must get round to visiting it on their open day.

4. St Josephs College (Mill Hill)

Sitting atop a tower on a  hill in Mill Hill, we have St Joseph. I think St Joseph is perhaps my favourite Saint. He is an ideal man to watch over Mill Hill. He is almost unique in the list of Catholic Saints in not being a Catholic or even a Christian. He was of course Jewish. He has many of the finest qualities a man can have. My Dad used to wake up every morning and say the blessing "St Joseph, the Worker, pray for us". He was a skilled carpenter, a fine upstanding citizen. According to the bible story, when he found out Mary was pregnant, even though he wasn't the father, he treated her with kindness and compassion, even before God revealed his plan to him. He took many personal risks bring up his stepson, fleeing persecution to Nazereth and training his son in the art of woodworking.  I am pleased that when St Josephs College was redeveloped from a seminary into luxury flats they left him there. You don't need to have any faith to recognise that Joseph is a great man to have watching over us.

5. La Deliverance (Henlys Corner)
If ever I become leader of Barnet Council, I will adopt La Deliverance as our Borough emblem. I love the statue. She stands for dignity and strength and, as much as any statue can be, is damn sexy. What more could you want. She was originally commissioned to celebrate an allied victory in World War One. There is a long story as to how she found her way to Henlys Corner, but I for one am pleased that she did. We used the image as our logo for the film "A Tale of Two Barnets".





6. The Clock on Burnt Oak Station
Thousands of people stand under this fine clock every day and never even notice it. It is beautiful. Next time you are on Burnt Oak Station, check it out. Our tube network is fascinating in many ways. The map is a design icon, as are many of the stations. For me though, the detail is perhaps the most fascinating thing of all. The clock sums up just how well we used to do things.


7. Brent Cross Flyover
Am I alone in loving this. It is a brutal piece of concrete, where two major roads intersect. When I was younger, the huge lights above it always fascinated me. I love travelling past it at sunset on the Northern line, in mid winter. It is beautiful to my eyes, but then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

8. K Garage (on A41 at Mill Hill)
The K garage on the A1/A41 at Mill Hill is, to my mind, what a garage should look like. The petrol pumps are long gone. It is now a Nissan showroom. It used to be the fill up point for the M1, before it was extended to Staples Corner. Built in the Mid 1960's I loved it. My Dad used to recon it was expensive to fill up there, but would occasionally as a treat, as he knew I loved the place. He was in the motor trade and so once got me a tour of the place and we even drove up the ramps to the top. For kids today, that would probably seem mundane in extreme, but for me it was the greatest possible treat.

9. The Welsh Harp
The Welsh Harp is the largest expanse of Water in the Borough. It is beautiful and is also a hive of water related activities. I have to force myself not to rubberneck it whenever I drive past. I love seeing boats under sail in urban settings.



10. The Odeon Cinema (Barnet)

When I was growing up, every major town centre in the Borough had an Odeon. Hendon, Colindale, Burnt Oak, Edgware to name a few. The one in Barnet is the last man standing. For me, Odeons are proper cinemas. I hate multiplexes. They are bland and functional. Odeons are sexy and exciting buildings. They were designed to make a statement and to stand out. The Barnet Odeon is a fine building and I for one mourn the loss of the rest of the cinemas. Our town centres are poorer places for the loss. 

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