Walk 4: New Southgate walk to New Barnet

NEW SOUTHGATE walk to NEW BARNET 1 3/4 hours

This train line is the main line from King’s Cross opened in 1850. Suburban trains using this line run from Moorgate (King’s Cross on weekends) to Welwyn Garden City.

Routing note: Connects with route 3 at New Southgate and with route 5 at New Barnet.

NEW SOUTHGATE station

New Southgate station

New Southgate station

The station was opened with the train line itself in 1850 as “Colney Hatch and Southgate”, serving the Lunatic Asylum that had just been built nearby. Colney Hatch was actually a small hamlet, a hatch being a gate in the countryside, but the asylum changed the situation. Residents asked to make the name less connected to the asylum and it became “Southgate & Colney Hatch” in 1855.

Because of the elevation of the village of Southgate to a separate parish in 1881, it became sensible to make clear that the station actually stands in the old hamlet of Betstyle and not in Southgate, so that the name was changed to “New Southgate & Colney Hatch” in 1876 and to “New Southgate for Colney Hatch” in 1883.

I suppose residents got fed up by sniggering comments on their sanity (Colney Hatch having become a byword for madness) and the name changed again in 1923 to “New Southgate & Friern Barnet”, Friern Barnet being an area a bit further west named after a property given to “friars”, the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem, in 1199. The present name of the station dates back to 1971.

There is no noticeable station building; it was apparently located on the platform and burnt down in 1978.

Parish church for Betstyle

Exit station through the main exit on the east side. Cross Station Road into

Woodland Avenue

(Ahead) cross the green space towards the church and walk around the front part to

L Bowes Road

Walk around the big roundabout (called Betstyle Circus after the former name of the area) and take

Oakleigh Road (called here Oakleigh Road South)

R into a recreation ground

This unremarkable open space actually stands on the grounds of a former train station used to transport deceased persons and the relatives to the nearby cemetery.

Cross to the opposite side and turn

L Brunswick Park Road

New Southgate Cemetery

Detour R into New Southgate Cemetery. This large cemetery was opened in 1861 and is now part of a privately-owned commercial venture owning 15 sites. It is one of the most interesting cemeteries in London in terms of sociological attitudes to death. The original core is a mature woodland with Victorian memorials and the usual chapel, but you can also find a Caribbean section with tombs covered in flowers and garlands and a Greek section with tombs featuring small wooden boxes with glass doors containing statues or an altar. There are also a few very dignified Baha’i memorials centred around an enclosure with a monument to Shoghi Effendi Rabbani, who was the so-called Guardian of this faith from 1921 to 1957. It is ironical that his monument should be in London as he was normally living in Akka -now Haifa in Israel, but this is convenient as many members of the Baha’i faith (in particular Iranians) would be unable to travel to Israel because of visa requirements.

Otherwise continue along Brunswick Park Road until

R Nurseryman’s Road

L footpath into Brunswick Park

Walk ahead and left towards the brook and turn L along the brook to the end of the park.

West Way with Pymmes Brook

(Ahead) West Way, a green slice of grass along the brook

(Ahead) enter Oak Hill Park

Oak Hill Park was opened in 1933 when it was bought by the Council from the last private owner, the Baring Family. There are some modest flower beds at the south entrance, several sports grounds, a café and a wood that is actually classified as a local nature reserve. The large white building to your right on the hill crest is Oak Hill House, an 18th century mansion now used by the very respectable Oak Hill Theological College; you can go there using a public footpath through the wood if you are interested. There are impressive views from their front step.

View towards Oak Hill College

There are some fanciful reports about ghost sightings in the park. The ghost would be that of Geoffrey de Mandeville, who died an outlaw and an excommunicate in 1144. There is no real reason why he should be connected with this location.

You can continue on either the left or the right side of the brook until you reach a bridge with a paved cycle path. Turn here L on the cycle path, going at a slant away from the brook (ignore the path going left at a 90° angle).

At the end of the cycle path, cross Church Hill Road into

Cedar Avenue

R Rosslyn Avenue

L Oakhurst Avenue

(Ahead) Footpath across railway tracks

R Netherlands Road to

OAKLEIGH PARK station

Oakleigh Park station

The station was built to serve a new development in 1866 and should have been called Whetstone because the development was supposed to be called Whetstone Park Estate, a logical name as the nearest hamlet was indeed Whetstone. The developper was unable to find buyers for several years and only achieved a milestone of 25 houses in 1873, by which time it had decided to call the area Oakleigh Park Estate. The station was called Oakleigh Park for East Barnet from the 1930s to the 1970s and reverted then to the original name, Oakleigh Park. The small but rather nice whiteboard station building dates back to 1891.

The name Oakleigh Park has no historical basis and has been invented by the developper, possibly in order to remind of Oakwood and Oak Hill Park.

Continue along Netherlands Road

R The Hook

(Ahead) footpath to

L Longmore Avenue

R York Road to

NEW BARNET station

New Barnet station

New Barnet is obviously named after the nearby town of Barnet and the station was opened along with the first opening of the train line in 1850. It is 1 mile away from the town centre, but it would have been impossible to build a train climbing the hill to the town.

The main reason why a new part of town could develop is because one of the local landowners forced the train company to buy his whole estate. The train company then sold the unneeded fields to a developper and this made it possible to develop the area around the new station. The urbanisation was steady but slow because the other landowners sold their estates in bits and pieces over time. The station was originally called Barnet and this became New Barnet in 1884.

The station building looks like a modern suburban bungalow and replaced a more typical building. I have found no information about what happened.

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