Wednesday 10 May 2023

Focus on Edgware - everything you need to know about the most north westerly ward in the Borough

This week, the focus of the Barnet Eye is on Edgware. 

Today we have a look at the history and some of the characters from around Edgware.

For those who are unfamiliar with Edgware, it is the most North Westerly ward in the London Borough of Barnet. Perhaps the biggest claim to fame of Edgware is that it is the end of the Northern Line, so anyone who uses the line, will know of Edgware, even if they've never been there. What not so many people know is that this was not supposed to be the case. If it was not for the actions of a certain Mr Adolf Hitler, then the line would have been extended to Elstree in the early 1930's.

At  the time there were two railways into Edgware, the Northern Line and also a Branch line of the LNER, that had a station and goods depot at the site of what is now the Broadwalk shopping centre. There were plans to convert this into a tube line, all that now remains of this branch is the spur to Mill Hill East from Finchley. Jay Foreman made a fascinating video about the line, which is well worth a watch.

When the underground arrived in Edgware, it caused massive change and development. This picture from @time_nw on Twitter shows just how much the area has changed. This was taken in 1926

By the 1950's Edgware had become a bustling town centre, with a good selection of shops and other services

By the 1960's it had become a successful and pleasant suburban town centre

For many of us who grew up with a great affinity to Edgware, the cinema was the centre of many activities. Although the frontage changed over the years, it was a much loved an appreciated building, which just about everyone who lived locally would have watched films such as The Sound of Music, Gone with the wind, Star wars and the Indigo Jones films. Sadly the cinema got bulldozed and is now a block of flats.

Another important facility was Edgware General hospital, as I was born there, I had a particular affinity for the place. Broken limbs and other ailments warranted many a visit. In the mid 1980's, I spent six weeks in there following a burst stomach  ulcer, so I knew it well. I thought for a time it would be where I both entered and left the planet! The hospital has morphed into Edgware Community hospital, which sadly no longer has and A&E department. Despite the efforts of the then local MP, Sir John Gorst, who voted against his own party to save it, the hospital was closed. His successor, Labours Andrew Dismore was elected on a manifesto of saving it, but this was the first promise he broke. The new hospital has some great facilities, but for locals a trip to Barnet or Northwick Park is not the easiest journey and many still feel bitter about the closure.

As for local businesses, there were and still are some car show rooms, perhaps not quite as glamourous these days.

In the late 1980's the former LNER station was redeveloped into the Broadwalk shopping centre. This more or less spelled the end of the thriving high street. Sainsburys moved from one end to a much larger premises in the Broadwalk. Sadly this development was a very soulless and bland design, that never really generated much love.

ST Anthonys, Edgware

Another important part of Edgware was the lively pub scene. Edgware had some marvellous pubs. The biggest and best of these was The Railway Hotel on Station road. A grade II listed building of Mock Tudor design, originally serving the busy local railway stations.

The Barnet Eye got together with local historian to make a short film explaining the appalling decline of the building, which shut over 10 years ago and has gone to rack and ruin.

Another pub of note was the Beehive. This great picture of the pub from Kevin Fenaughtys flickr collection brings back many memories. The Beehive was the centre of nightlife for many youngsters. Much favoured by Au Pairs, this attracted many local lads. There was also a lively alternative scene with bikers setting up camp at the back of the pub to deal various illicit substances to the local youth population. Each group had its own little spot in the pub, but all got along with a friendly nod and trouble was rare. Other pubs were The Masons Arms, The White Hart (Latterly The Change of Hart) and the White Lion. All ofthese are now gone. There is one half decent pub left in Edgware, the Three Wishes, over the road from the Beehive, which is now The Zanzibar Indian Restaurant.

There is a nice shot of the White Lion in 1904 here

Around the back of The White Lion was Jingles nightclub, scene of many shenanigans. Another major Edgware Landmark was also at the back of the pub, with the former home of Edgware Town, yet another lost Edgware icon.

For the record, Edgware Town are now playing at the home of Kingsbury Town.

For us music lovers, Edgware was rather spoiled with two excellent records shops. There was Stephen Seiger's on the corner of Station Road and the High Street (now a fruiterer) and Loppylugs at the other end of Station road, opposite the Nat West bank. Stephen Seiger specialised in Bluesy Jazz and Rock, whereas Loppylugs was for the lovers of Pop and Dance music and later Rock and Metal music.

Sadly, like many trades, the record shops have long departed Edgware.

There are a few business of note to recall in Edgware. Green Shield Stamps, an iconic 1960's brand were based on Station Road, Edgware

Music Manufacturer Boosey and Hawkes, the UK's top music brand of years gone by also had a factory in Edgware.
Sadly these days, the only factories you read about in Edgware these days, are of a rather different kind

We will finish our tour of Edgware with some of the famous local people to have emerged from Edgware. The former speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow was an Edgware local.  One of my favourites was Tony Currie, one of the best footballers of the 1970's

Legendary music promoter Harvey Goldsmith was also an Edgware boy.

If you want to have your say on the future of Edgware, why not attend this meeting

We will finish with a good friend of this blog. Local ace guitarist Boz Boorer. Now touring the world as the musical director of Morrissey, but here on Top of the Pops with fellow local legends The Polecats! Boz is the one in the Pink and Black shirt  playing guitar.


james016 said...

That cinema looks amazing. If I recall it correctly the cinema there in the 80s and 90s had blue cladding on the front.

The Symphony Close development was built on the site of Boosey and Hawkes factory. The blocks are named after instruments: Clarinet Court for instance. I lived there for 11 years

Even though I don't live in Edgware anymore. I hope those in charge will get their act together and save the Railway Hotel. It is a beautiful building that should be preserved.

P/S My wife and I both have objected to the proposed car park.

Anonymous said...

I trained as a Nurse at Edgeware General Hospital between 1979-1982, many many happy memories of my time there. Loved Burnt Oak, also lived in Stanmore for a year or two after I married. (On the RAF base).

Anonymous said...

Remember a school outing to Boosey & Hawkes factory made me convinced never to work in a factory !