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Wednesday, 2 June 2010


On this sunny June morning in Mill Hill Broadway a little history to read with your morning coffee. The pavement cafes are well populated today and the traffic is quiet.

As a name Mill Hill Broadway is a relatively new one, being the renaming of the lower end of what had been Lawrence Street, in the 1910s after the first shops had been opened. The later renaming of the station in the 1950s to Mill Hill Broadway and the building of the bus depot consolidated Mill Hill Broadway as a place name.

Before the 1860s this end of Mill Hill had only Lawrence and Bunns Farms, and no other buildings. Two railways companies constructed railway lines through the district in the 1860s. From east to west the first to be constructed ran from Finsbury Park to Edgware, but had no station. The other, running north to south, was an extension of the Midland Line from Bedford to London, with a station being opened in 1868. There was a row of four Midland Railway cottages, but there was no other development around the station even in the 1890s. In 1906 a halt, called the Hale, was opened on the GNR line, and this enabled passengers to be taken to Finsbury Park where they could catch the tube. During the succeeding thirty years land was purchased from the Bunns estate and Lyndhurst and Woodcroft Avenue were built. By 1910 the shopping district began to develop. But it was the opening of the Barnet - Watford by-pass in October 1928, providing very good communications that made the district ripe for considerable suburban development.

By the end of the 1930s the area had a fire and ambulance service (1929), and the Broadway Hall (1923), a concert and dance hall built by an estate agent T.G. Golby, which became the Capital Cinema (1933 - 1955). St Michaels and All Angels on Flower Lane ( 1922 ), Roman Catholic church of the Sacred Heart and Mary the Immaculate (1923), as well as the Union Church (1935) were all established in this period. When it was proposed to extend the tube from what is now Archway to Edgware and beyond, using the Great Northern Railway it seemed likely that the area was to become an important centre. However the decision not to extend the tube and to close the Hale to passenger traffic in 1939, combined with post war Green Belt laws, prohibited further development east and north. In 1967 the railway cottages were removed, and the Broadway bus depot was built for the development of the M1 motorway which cuts across the road at its western end . A building of note in the area is the London University Observatory ( 1925/1929) next to the bypass.

The railway station served the London Aerodrome which was to the south of the Broadway and dominated the area from the 1920s ( Later named Hendon Aerodrome ) until it was turned over to housing at the end of the 1960s - though part of the hangers still remain as the area’s largest museum complex The RAF Museum ( 1972).

( from Barnet Council Pocket Histories )

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