Social life


Victoria County History



T F T Baker, R B Pugh (Editors), A P Baggs, Diane K Bolton, Eileen P Scarff, G C Tyack

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'Hendon: Social life', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5: Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham (1976), pp. 27-29. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=26884 Date accessed: 24 November 2014.


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There was a may-pole at Drivers Hill in 1734. (fn. 52) Rural sports were held at the Bell in 1801, possibly connected with the fair at the Burroughs, (fn. 53) and outside the King's Head, Mill Hill, on Whit Tuesdays in the 19th century. (fn. 54) Cockfighting at the Burroughs during the 1820s had the tacit approval of the vicar, Theodore Williams, whom Methodists called the 'cock-fighting parson'; (fn. 55) it persisted in 1865 at Childs Hill, where drunkenness and vice were said to be rife. (fn. 56) Ploughing teams met c. 1875 at the Bald Faced Stag on May Day (fn. 57) and mummers still performed at the large houses at Christmas in 1900, (fn. 58) when an observer at Highwood House found their performance 'sophisticated and debased'. (fn. 59)

By 1751 there were 20 licensed houses in the parish. (fn. 60) Tea-gardens adjoined the White Bear in 1828 (fn. 61) and a bowling green adjoining the Crown at Cricklewood in 1842 (fn. 62) may have been the forerunner of a pleasure-ground which was called the Abode of Bliss in 1877. (fn. 63) The White Swan had teagardens for summer visitors to Golders Green in 1882. (fn. 64) The Green Man at the Hale was a favourite meeting-place of boxers and other sportsmen, (fn. 65) until after the building of Brent reservoir the Old Welsh Harp was preferred. (fn. 66) The Welsh Harp also attracted a much wider clientèle on bank holidays, when the Midland Railway provided special trains. (fn. 67) In 1891 attractions there included rifle galleries and an abortive balloon ascent. (fn. 68) Pigeon-shooters (fn. 69) and anglers also came, (fn. 70) as well as skaters, who first held a championship on the frozen reservoir in 1880. (fn. 71) Jack Selby, a celebrated whip, is said to have driven a coach and four across the ice in the 1890s. (fn. 72)

Thomas Spalding of Shire Hall, founder of the Congregational church, gave magic-lantern lectures in the 1850s, apparently the only organized entertainments at that time. (fn. 73) The Band of Hope extended its activities to Hendon after 1876 under the patronage of Stephen Shirley, a prominent Baptist, and parades from Kentish Town to the Burroughs were enlivened by fireworks. In 1878 Shirley also built a Temperance hall in Finchley Lane, which was immediately let to the Baptists as a temporary church. (fn. 74) A church institute, opened at All Saints, Childs Hill, in 1896, was intended as a social centre and contained a library. (fn. 75) A new church-house was also opened in 1896 opposite St. Mary's parish church; it included a reading room, and was used by the Young Men's Friendly Society and similar organizations. (fn. 76)

The Court Buckingham of Foresters was founded in 1861 and the Hendon Flower of Oddfellows in 1865; they survived in 1925, (fn. 77) while the Pride of Mill Hill Court of Foresters followed in 1875 and lasted until 1913. (fn. 78) Brass and silver bands flourished at the end of the 19th century, (fn. 79) when dances and concerts were held at the Hendon institute, (fn. 80) opened in Brent Street in 1875 (fn. 81) and later a Post Office sorting office. A debating society, where theology was excluded, lasted from 1879 until 1919, attracting well-known speakers. (fn. 82) A ratepayers' association and a horticultural society existed in 1883 (fn. 83) and 'penny readings' were held in St. Mary's school until c. 1900, causing innkeepers to complain of loss of custom. (fn. 84) A branch of the Primrose League was opened in 1886, (fn. 85) followed by political organizations (fn. 86) which included a Social Democratic club for Schweppes's employees (fn. 87) and Mill Hill Constitutional Club, which existed in 1902. (fn. 88) The Hendon & Finchley Times was founded in 1875 (fn. 89) and was still published in 1970, with offices in Church Road.

Hendon's only theatre, the Golders Green Hippodrome, was opened in 1914 (fn. 90) but was no longer in regular use in 1970. The near-by Ionic cinema, so named because of its pedimented frontage to Finchley Road, existed by 1922, as did the Hendon electric theatre in Brent Street and the Mill Hill cinema in Lawrence Street (afterwards the Broadway). (fn. 91) Later cinemas included the Ambassador (later the Classic), Hendon Central, opened in 1932, the Capitol, Mill Hill, opened in 1932 and demolished after the Second World War, and the Odeon, at the corner of Church Road and Parson Street, opened in 1939. (fn. 92) The Cricklewood electric palace stood beside a dance-hall and skating rink in 1937. (fn. 93)

At Hampstead Garden Suburb (fn. 94) several societies used the club house and the institute. (fn. 95) Other local groups (fn. 96) included Mill Hill (later Mill Hill and Hendon) Historical Society, from 1928, and Mill Hill Preservation Society, founded in 1949. (fn. 97) An association was formed on the Watling estate in 1928, to allay the hostility of neighbouring owneroccupiers, and published a news-sheet called the Watling Resident. (fn. 98) In 1933 a community centre was opened in Orange Hill Road on the edge of the estate, where gatherings were also held in two church halls and a Labour hall. (fn. 99)

A rifle range was opened at Childs Hill in 1860. (fn. 1) In 1906 the Middlesex Gun Club, which had 120 members, owned 7 a. adjoining the Welsh Harp railway station (fn. 2) and in 1915 there were several ranges between Cricklewood Lane and the Brent. (fn. 3) Horse races were held at the Burroughs from 1864 but caused offence in 1882 (fn. 4) and were discontinued soon afterwards. The first mechanical hare, invented by a Mr. Geary, was tried out near the Welsh Harp in 1876. (fn. 5) Hendon Greyhound Stadium was opened by the North Circular Road in the early 1930s and enlarged to hold 5,000 persons in 1970. (fn. 6)

From 1911 Claude Grahame-White attracted large crowds by carefully managed flying displays, (fn. 7) spectators in that year including the Prime Minister and members of the royal family. Regular shows were started in 1912, when the millionth visitor was said to have entered Hendon Aerodrome. In 1913 51 race-meetings, two aerial fêtes, eleven demonstrations of street-flying and five of illuminated night-flying were held there. (fn. 8) After the First World War Grahame-White founded the London Flying Club, 'the last word in luxurious London life', (fn. 9) but from 1920 pageants were staged by the R.A.F. (fn. 10) and in 1934 the club's building became the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police College. (fn. 11)

Hendon cricket club played near the later Brampton Grove from 1852 to 1892 (fn. 12) and Mill Hill cricket club was founded in 1881. (fn. 13) Clubs for hockey were recorded in the 1880s, when Hampstead Town football club played in Cricklewood Lane, (fn. 14) and for tennis in 1890. (fn. 15) Hendon golf club was founded in 1903 on land which had formed part of Holders Hill farm; (fn. 16) the 18-hole course was remodelled after the First World War and a new club house in Devonshire Road was completed in 1965. Mill Hill golf club was founded as Moat Mount golf club in 1927; (fn. 17) the course, of 18 holes, was remodelled in 1931 and covered 160 a. in 1970, when 450 members (fn. 18) used a club house which had formed part of Coventry farm. In 1970 Finchley golf club occupied a large course in the former Nether Court estate east of Frith Lane. Mill Hill rugby football club was founded in 1937 but had no ground in the parish until 1958, when one was opened in Copthall playing fields. (fn. 19) Hendon association football club, which won the F.A. Amateur Cup in 1960 and the Athenian League championship in 1961, (fn. 20) played in Claremont Road in 1970.

Volunteers were raised in Hendon in 1798 but were disbanded in 1813. (fn. 21) A troop was again formed in 1885 as part of the 3rd Middlesex Rifle Volunteers with headquarters in Burroughs House, whence they moved in 1889 to the former Wesleyan chapel in Chapel Walk. (fn. 22) A detachment of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry Cavalry was also active in 1889 (fn. 23) and a drill hall was opened in Algernon Road in 1900. (fn. 24)


52 M.R.O., Acc. 174/5.
53 Mill Hill Hist. Soc., Add. Items 44. For the fair, see above.
54 Brett-James, Hist. of Mill Hill Sch. 30.
55 Mill Hill Hist. Soc., Add. Items 36, 43.
56 Gravatt, And We Their Deeds Record, 14.
57 Hendon & Finchley Times, 30 Jan. 1925, p. 8.
58 Ibid. 2, 10.
59 Home Cnties. Mag. iii. 246.
60 M.R.O., L.V. 7/1.
61 Whishaw, Map of Hendon (1828) and ref. bk.
62 M.R.O., TA/HEN.
63 Rees, 'Extra-Metropolitan Mdx.', 237.
64 Walford, Greater Lond. i. 280.
65 Hitchin-Kemp, 'Notes on a Survey', 29.
66 Mdx. Quarterly, i (1953), 18.
67 Hendon & Finchley Times, 30 Jan. 1925, p. 6.
68 Hopkins, Hendon, 55.
69 St. Barts. Hosp., EO 8/2, ff. 213-15.
70 Mdx. Quarterly, i. 18.
71 Hopkins, Hendon, 90.
72 Hendon & Finchley Times, 30 Jan. 1925, p. 8.
73 Walker, Hendon 1831-1951, p. 7.
74 Gravatt, And We Their Deeds Record, 18-19.
75 Dexter, Cricklewood, 68.
76 Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1906).
77 Hendon & Finchley Times, 30 Jan. 1925, p. 2.
78 Mill Hill Hist. Soc., Add. Items 67.
79 Hendon & Finchley Times, 30 Jan. 1925, p. 2 ; Hopkins, Hendon, 92.
80 Walker, Hendon 1851-1951, p. 7; Mill Hill Hist. Soc., Add. Items 2.
81 Hendon & Finchley Times, 30 Jan. 1925, p. 6.
82 Walker, Hendon 1851-1951, p. 8.
83 Ibid.
84 Mill Hill Hist. Soc., Add. Items 27.
85 Hopkins, Hendon, 91.
86 Hendon & Finchley Times, 30 Jan. 1925, p. 2.
87 Hitchin-Kemp, 'Notes on a Survey', 3-4.
88 Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1902).
89 Hopkins, Hendon, 64.
90 Ibid. See below, plate facing p. 336.
91 Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1922).
92 Hopkins, Hendon, 99, 100, 102.
93 Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1937).
94 Residents' Assoc., Hist. of Hampstead Gdn. Suburb (1954), 18-21.
95 See p. 14.
96 Hopkins, Hendon, 96, 103.
97 Ibid. 98, 103.
98 Durant, Watling (1939), 22.
99 Ibid. 92, 97-8, 108, 126.
1 Evans, Hendon, 342.
2 Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1906).
3 O.S. Maps 1/2,500, Mdx. XI. 11 (1915 edn.).
4 Walford, Greater Lond. i. 280.
5 Mdx. Quarterly, N.S. xix (1959), 5.
6 Ex inf. Hackney & Hendon Greyhounds Ltd.
7 R. D. Brett, Hist. of Brit. Aviation, 331-2; see above, p. 14.
8 C. C. Turner, Old Flying Days, 46.
9 G. Wallace, Claude Grahame-White, 222.
10 See p. 14.
11 Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1937); Hopkins, Hendon, 84.
12 Walker, Hendon 1851-1951, p. 8.
13 Hopkins, Hendon, 90.
14 Hendon & Finchley Times, 30 Jan. 1925, p. 2.
15 Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1890).
16 Hendon golf club, Official Handbk. (1968).
17 Mill Hill golf club, Official Handbk. (1969).
18 Ex inf. the sec.
19 Hendon Libr., DD. MHS. 544.
20 Boro. of Hendon, Official Guide [1961].
21 Evans, Hendon, 336-7.
22 Ibid. 341-4.
23 Ibid. 337-8.
24 Hopkins, Hendon, 93.