A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 6, Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey With Highgate. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1980.
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A well at Muswell existed in 1159 (fn. 1) and plentiful springs near by in 1544, (fn. 2) but until the late 19th century much of the parish depended on wells bored through the thick London Clay: in 1871 a well at Hornsey Wood House was 200 ft. deep and another was over 160 ft. deep. (fn. 3) At Crouch End water was drawn from a small common pond, which became polluted c. 1820 and was filled up in 1828. (fn. 4) A well and pump had been built without licence in 1820. (fn. 5) In 1828 a public meeting decided on the immediate provision of a public well and pump. The vestry's contribution was withdrawn on opposition from Highgate Side but the well was built in 1830 from private subscriptions. (fn. 6) Several houses at Muswell Hill had wells dating from c. 1780 (fn. 7) but as they contained inferior water and belonged mainly to the wealthy, most people relied on springs in Tottenham and on the well at Muswell, whose closure in 1861 led to legal proceedings, whereby the inhabitants' customary right was vindicated. The Muswell Estate Act, 1866, guaranteed access to St. Dunstan's well in Tottenham, which was reconstructed and supplied with a pump. (fn. 8) Hornsey itself may have been supplied by the New River but in 1850 a well and pump near Church Path were maintained by neighbouring propertyowners. (fn. 9) In 1868 small houses in St. James's Lane depended on a private well at the Priory. (fn. 10)
Highgate, in spite of chalybeate springs in Southwood Lane, (fn. 11) had poor natural supplies of water. (fn. 12) The rich could use their own wells or lay pipes, as Dr. Elisha Coysh had done from Swain's Lane in 1659; (fn. 13) water was also carted uphill from deep wells on either side of Southwood Lane, whose lower stretch was known as Wells Hill, until c. 1870. (fn. 14) In 1800 Robert Kilby Cox possessed the right to convey spring water on the highway from Barnet to a reservoir at Highgate. (fn. 15) Ponds were the sole source for the poor in 1819, when they were polluted, and in 1857, of 159 dwellings surveyed, only fourteen had water piped by the New River Co.; 75 depended on a parish pump and nine private pumps, of which that for York Buildings was polluted and another was often dry. (fn. 16) In 1851 the water from eight Highgate wells contained nitric acid which corroded lead tanks; in at least one case the acid represented contamination from the old chapel cemetery. (fn. 17) In 1857 four other dwellings depended on a pond teeming with frogs and many households bought water by the pail. (fn. 18) Model cottages under construction at North Hill in 1863 were to rely on a parish well. (fn. 19)
The New River Co., from 1904 the Metropolitan Water Board, supplied water to the workhouse in 1814, (fn. 20) to St. Mary's church in 1841-2, (fn. 21) and to houses in Highgate in 1857. (fn. 22) In 1858 the company and vestry agreed on a supply to 119 dwellings at Highgate at the owners' cost; all were connected in 1859. (fn. 23) In 1875 New River water had replaced the pumps in Highgate and the Crouch End pump was no longer needed. (fn. 24) The whole parish had some supply by 1894 (fn. 25) but only during the years 1902- 4 was a regular supply extended everywhere. (fn. 26) Between 1852 and 1855 the New River Co. built a pumping station east of Green Lanes, in Stoke Newington, which received water from filter beds on the west side in Brownswood Park. Two covered reservoirs were constructed in 1908 at Woodside Avenue, Fortis Green, and in 1953 a new contact tank was added; (fn. 27) in 1976 the station pumped 30 million gallons daily from the Thames to the Lea valley reservoirs or for local consumption. The New River and a well in the Campsbourne supplied filter beds north of Hornsey High Street by 1863, when a pumping station existed. In 1932 seven engines pumped 15 million gallons daily to the Hornsey Lane and Crouch Hill reservoirs for local consumption. (fn. 28) Covered reservoirs were built at Mount View Road, Crouch Hill, by 1885 (fn. 29) and at Finsbury Park c. 1867. (fn. 30) Water was supplied by the Thames Water Authority in 1976.
At Highgate in 1840 Dr. Robert Moger reported numerous deaths from infectious diseases in an overcrowded lodging-house, inhabited largely by Irish beggars. (fn. 31) In 1848 ratepayers appointed a sanitary committee, (fn. 32) whose four sub-committees found houses served by drains intended merely for the roads and that there were many open drains, including one from the wells to the foot of Southwood Lane; in York Buildings four privies were shared by 40 families. (fn. 33) In 1863, after an epidemic of scarlet fever, Moger drew attention to the poor sanitation, which was complicated by the division of Highgate between three parishes. The drain towards Holloway was often blocked, others had no suitable outlets, and there were badly sited slaughter houses, offal pits, and pigsties. An inquiry placed the main responsibility on St. Pancras and Islington parishes but also blamed Hornsey and suggested that wider powers were required. Hornsey highway board decided that the drainage of Highgate was easily remedied but in 1868 Townsend's Yard and York Buildings, housing 135 people, were still served by only six open privies not connected to water. (fn. 34)
In 1853 the vestry considered that the Stoke Newington division had the worst sanitation in the parish in spite of its temporary inclusion in the metropolitan system under the Metropolitan Sewers Act, 1848. Hornsey had avoided absorption and in 1860 had amended the Metropolitan Local Management Act Amendment Bill, which provided for a sewer to Hornsey. Vigilance was needed to avoid interference: a drainage committee was appointed in 1850 and a highway board in 1854. The main problem, arising from new houses in Hornsey High Street and at Muswell Hill, was serious in 1851 but was not thought expensive to solve. The necessary works, considered to be nearly finished in 1856, were ready only in 1860. Committee and board opposed in principle 'imposing works' to relieve individuals at public expense (fn. 35) and emphasized private responsibilities. They purified public ditches and encouraged the maintenance of private cess-pits, prosecuting offenders, but even in 1866 open sewers were common. (fn. 36)
Sewage was discharged into the Moselle before it flowed into Tottenham. After the local board had vacillated over a scheme to co-operate with Tottenham, (fn. 37) its drains were connected to the northern high-level sewer of the metropolis under the Hornsey Local Board Act, 1871. (fn. 38) The internal and out-fall system were designed by Baldwin Latham. (fn. 39) A pumping station was built in 1884 to raise the sewage from the Wright's Park estate (fn. 40) and in 1888 the smallest farm in the country was built to handle the drainage of 300 a. at Muswell Hill. (fn. 41) Clerkenwell detached had paid metropolitan sewer-rates from their inception (fn. 42) but its sewage was a nuisance to its neighbours by 1882 and the Clerkenwell vestry could not afford a separate system. By 1893 houses were connected to public drains which discharged via a roadside ditch into the sewers of Friern Barnet and Wood Green. Hornsey had received the sewage in 1887 and Friern Barnet accepted it under a 30year agreement until 1899, when the district was included in Hornsey. In 1902 Coppetts Wood sewage farm was enlarged to meet the extra demand. (fn. 43)
In 1904 Hornsey was claimed to have as perfect a drainage system as any part of the country. (fn. 44) South Hornsey had used the metropolitan system from its construction but paid no sewer-rates after 1855. (fn. 45) The local board built no sewers itself, requiring builders in Brownswood Park to connect their drains to the Hackney board of works' sewer in Green Lanes, but it was acquitted of gross neglect in 1873. (fn. 46) Threats by Hackney to have South Hornsey annexed to the metropolis under the Metropolis Local Management Act, 1855, resulted in the Metropolitan Board of Works Act, 1874, by which South Hornsey was connected to the high- and middlelevel sewers and was subjected for the first time to sewer-rates. (fn. 47) The Coppetts Wood sewage farm was closed c. 1970 (fn. 48) and in 1976 a depot of British Road Services stood on the site.
An Act of 1774 authorized trustees to light the streets of the hamlet of Highgate, whether in St. Pancras, Islington, or Hornsey, and to levy rates. (fn. 49) By 1868 the trustees had an income of c. £400 (fn. 50) and from at least 1825 (fn. 51) they bought gas from the Imperial Gas Light and Coke Co., which also supplied the lighting districts in the Stoke Newington division (later South Hornsey) from 1854. (fn. 52) The 1774 Act was repealed in 1868 and the fittings of the trust were vested in Hornsey local board. (fn. 53) The rest of the parish was unlit in 1866 (fn. 54) but in 1868 Hornsey adopted the lighting provisions of the Lighting and Watching Act, 1834; 120 lamps were bought in 1868 and the streets were lit from 1869, (fn. 55) although the provision was remembered as sparse in 1904. (fn. 56) Gas was supplied by the Hornsey Gas Co., which was incorporated in 1857 to supply Hornsey (except South Hornsey) and Clerkenwell detached. It started trading in 1861 and served Muswell Hill, Fortis Green, and Crouch End in 1862, and North Hill, Highgate. (fn. 57) In 1865 the G.N.R. bought back the site of the gas-works, which in 1866 was replaced by a new works in Clarendon Road, Hornsey. (fn. 58) The company was authorized to enlarge its capital in 1866, 1884, and 1902, gradually extending the works into Wood Green, and in 1929 completed a new gasholder. (fn. 59) In 1937 it was controlled by SEGAS and after nationalization in 1949 by the North Thames Gas Board. From 1957 the works has been a gasholder station. (fn. 60) The Imperial Gas Light and Coke Co. was taken over in 1876 by the Gas Light and Coke Co., which was nationalized in 1949. (fn. 61)
In 1883 the Metropolitan (Brush) Electric Light and Power Co. was authorized to supply electricity in Hornsey, starting in Highgate. (fn. 62) In 1900 Hornsey U.D. opposed the North Metropolitan Electricity Supply Co. and decided to supply electricity itself. (fn. 63) Under powers of 1898 the borough assumed responsibility in 1903 and built a generating station in Tottenham Lane. (fn. 64) By 1904 lighting was mainly by electricity. (fn. 65) The plant was extended between 1923 and 1927 and sub-stations were opened at Muswell Hill c. 1920 and Highgate in 1924. (fn. 66) After 1936, when a change from direct to alternating current began, six new sub-stations were built. (fn. 67) The borough co-operated with the Central Electricity Generating Board from c. 1931 (fn. 68) and its service was nationalized in 1947. (fn. 69) The former generating station was damaged in 1944 and later demolished but the battery room was converted into the C.E.G.B. Radiochemical Laboratory in 1964 (fn. 70) and there was also a transformer station on the site by 1976, when responsibility for supply rested with the Eastern Electricity Board. South Hornsey was supplied from 1908 by the Stoke Newington municipal generating station and after nationalization by the London Electricity Board. (fn. 71)
Subscriptions for a fire-engine were collected at Highgate in 1731, after Dr. Lewis Atterbury had left money towards its purchase and the governors of the free school had agreed to keep it in the chapel yard. An engine-house was built, two engines were bought, and in 1739 there were efforts to establish a fund for expenses. (fn. 72) A fire-engine for Hornsey parish was mentioned in 1775-6. (fn. 73) In 1811 the vestry bought two engines, (fn. 74) for Hornsey and Highgate Sides, and in 1813 appointed two engine keepers. The Highgate engine-house thereafter stood immediately north of the watchhouse, on copyhold land of Cantlowes. (fn. 75) Both engines functioned efficiently in 1839 (fn. 76) but in spite of more expenditure in 1842 (fn. 77) the Highgate one was in disrepair in 1851 and in 1860 it was alleged that neither could put out fires; the Hornsey engine was then found to be satisfactory and the Highgate machine to be unsuitably housed. In 1869 a new manual engine of the type used in the metropolitan areas was acquired for the Highgate volunteer fire brigade, which had been formed in 1868 with a hired machine; the local board was also given two escapes. (fn. 78) As engines from neighbouring parishes could no longer attend, the Stoke Newington divisional lighting inspectors acquired a new engine and employed a keeper in 1861; there was a volunteer fire brigade by 1864. (fn. 79) Hornsey Side had a volunteer fire brigade by 1874 (fn. 80) and a new central fire station on land south of Hornsey High Street from 1885. A room in North Road, Highgate, was hired in 1882 and a portable fire station was opened in 1887. By 1894 there was a street fire station in Stapleton Hall Road, Stroud Green, and there were 26 alarm posts throughout the district. (fn. 81) A brick station was built at Muswell Hill in 1899 and in 1904 there were also iron rooms at Highgate and Stroud Green. (fn. 82) The latter was manned only at night and later moved to Alroy Road, Harringay, before being closed on the adoption of self-propelled vehicles and motor pumps. (fn. 83) The North Road fire station was rebuilt in 1906. (fn. 84) In 1926 there was a central station, with new branches at Muswell Hill and Highgate, (fn. 85) and in 1956 there was only a single branch at Fortis Green. (fn. 86) In 1963 a new central station was opened on the corner of Priory Road and Park Avenue South, the site of St. George's church, which was to replace stations in Tottenham Lane and Fortis Green. (fn. 87) In 1953 the county council became the fire authority. (fn. 88)
In 1774 the hamlet of Highgate acquired its own watchmen, but in 1840 both Hornsey and Highgate were included in the Metropolitan Police District. (fn. 89) The old lock-up at Priory Road, Hornsey, was retained as a police station until 1868, when it was returned to the parish, which used it as a mortuary. (fn. 90) It was not replaced until the opening of a new station at Tottenham Lane in 1884. (fn. 91) There was a police station in High Street, Highgate, in 1845, (fn. 92) at no. 51 South Grove (later no. 49 Highgate West Hill) from 1850 until c. 1900, (fn. 93) and in Archway Road by 1902. (fn. 94) By 1886 Hornsey was in Y division, which included Wood Green and Islington in 1903. An additional station was erected at Fortis Green in 1904-5 and in 1915 the Tottenham Lane station was rebuilt. (fn. 95) The Archway Road station was bombed in the Second World War and rebuilt in 1960. (fn. 96) A station was opened at Blackstone Road, Brownswood Park, in 1958-60. (fn. 97)
Petty sessions were held at Highgate police station from 1870 (fn. 98) and later at the Gatehouse and, c. 1888, Northfield hall. In 1898 a police and petty sessional court-house, in the style of the Middlesex Guildhall at Westminster, was built in Archway Road on part of the site which was soon afterwards used for the new police station. (fn. 99) After damage during the Second World War courts were held at Hornsey town hall until the completion of the modern building, designed by the county architect's department, in 1955. (fn. 100) A coroner's court was opened at High Street, Hornsey, in 1886 (fn. 101) and rebuilt in 1972. (fn. 102)
The Libraries Act was adopted by Hornsey in 1896 and a library was opened in 1899 in Tottenham Lane (fn. 103) on a site shared with the fire station. The existing libraries at Shepherd's Hill and Quernmore Road, Stroud Green, were opened in 1902 and by 1903. (fn. 104) A site in Duke's Avenue was given in 1899 by Edmondson & Son for a library but in 1910 reverted to the donor; a branch was finally opened in Muswell Hill in 1931. (fn. 105) Although enlarged in 1935, the central library was too small in 1949, when the site at Haringey Park was acquired for Hornsey central library, which opened in 1965. (fn. 106) Highgate branch library, built by St. Pancras M.B. in 1906, (fn. 107) stood south of the village, in Chester Road. In 1948 a temporary library at Queen's Drive, Brownswood Park, was opened by Stoke Newington M.B.; it was rebuilt in 1960-1. (fn. 108)
A dispensary for the poor was established at Highgate in 1787 by 61 subscribers of Highgate, Hornsey, Muswell Hill, Crouch End, and Holloway. It was managed by elected officers and employed a surgeon and an apothecary. Subscribers could nominate patients, whose number increased from 159 in 1787-8 to 406 in 1817. Treatment ceased to be free in 1840, when a self-supporting principal was adopted. It was at Rock House in 1873 and survived in 1887. (fn. 109) The vestry, which contributed towards the dispensary in 1818, (fn. 110) employed a medical officer for the poor from 1750. (fn. 111) Edmonton union employed two until 1849, whereupon the doctor's residence at Highgate was held to be inconvenient for Hornsey Side. (fn. 112)
Coppetts Wood hospital originated in 1888 as an isolation hospital for Hornsey on former waste land at Irish Corner. When new it was regarded as a model institution. Additions in 1893-4, (fn. 113) 1906, and 1926-7 increased its capacity to 130. (fn. 114) From 1922 responsibility was shared with Finchley and Wood Green, whence patients had been admitted since 1899 and c. 1906. After nationalization in 1948 it was included in the Northern hospital group until 1963 and then in the Archway group. One ward was reconstructed in 1957-8 and the other four were reconstructed in 1963, when one was adapted for general medicine. The others were taken over by the infectious diseases department of the Royal Free hospital on its move from Hampstead and in 1968 Coppetts Wood became an integral part of the Royal Free hospital. In 1976 there were 109 beds, 87 for infectious diseases. (fn. 115)
Hornsey Central hospital in Park Road was opened in 1910 as Hornsey Cottage hospital. On 1½ a. given by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, (fn. 116) it was extended in 1920 and 1938 and had 61 beds in 1956; (fn. 117) in 1962 a physiotherapy wing was opened. (fn. 118) In 1948 it was included in the Archway and from 1963 in the North London group. In 1976 38 beds were occupied by geriatric patients of the former Highbury Home and 22 more had been given as a unit to the local general practitioners. (fn. 119)
St. Luke's Woodside hospital was founded by St. Luke's charity, which ran asylums in London until 1916-17. In 1928-30, with proceeds from the sale of its Old Street premises, the charity adapted three villas in Woodside Avenue, Fortis Green, as a 50-bed hospital for nervous disorders. The hospital was enlarged to hold 100 beds to qualify as a teaching hospital in 1948, when it became part of the Middlesex hospital's department of psychological medicine. (fn. 120) The Noel Harris wing for acutely disturbed psychiatric patients was added in 1964 and Simmons House for adolescent drug dependency patients in 1968. (fn. 121) In 1975 there were 80 beds. (fn. 122)
A home for the aged was opened in conjunction with Hornsey Housing Trust at no. 47 Cecile Park in 1939 by a committee chaired by Margaret Hill, wife of the Nobel prize-winner Professor A. V. Hill. (fn. 123) It was moved to no. 21 View Road (later Delia Grotten Home, accommodating 24) in 1940, when homes for bomb refugees were opened at nos. 9-11 Hampsted Lane (Gate Home), Southwood Home for the more infirm, and no. 14 Bishopswood Road (later Woodlands, accommodating 34). After the incorporation of the committee as Hill Homes Ltd. with charitable status in 1944, it established the Trees, extended in 1949, at no. 2 Broadlands Road, and in 1945 took over Woodlands and Gate and Delia Grotten homes. Gate Home had been closed by 1948 but Nuffield Lodge, no. 22 Shepherd's Hill, and Stanhope residential club, no. 22 Stanhope Road, had been opened and there were altogether 131 inmates in five homes. Designed for those in fairly good health, the charity co-operated closely with hospitals. In 1950 the King Edward's Hospital Fund established Whittington Home as a halfway stage between home and hospital and leased it to Hill Homes until 1967, when it was taken over by the National Health Service. Gwendolen Sim, no. 22 Broadlands Road, was opened in 1954 as a home for the mentally ageing and worked closely with Friern hospital. The only purpose-built home is Goldsmiths of 1964 in Denewood Road, where 15 of the 30 beds were assigned to the local geriatrician in 1976. There were seven homes with 230 inmates in 1960 and 216 in 1976, when Homfray House at no. 4 Broadlands Road had replaced Stanhope residential club. To permit the conversion of Nuffield Lodge into self-contained flats, Hill Homes was registered in 1975 as a housing association.