Enfield: Public services

Pages 243-245

A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5, Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1976.

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A private conduit served Whitewebbs in 1569 (fn. 1) and the brick conduit-house survived in 1873. (fn. 2) Under the inclosure Act of 1777 a water-pipe was provided from Sir Thomas Hallifax's conduit on the Chase for the inhabitants of Enfield (fn. 3) and in 1847 a parish pump in the market place was replaced. (fn. 4) A water-works undertaking was set up in 1850 (fn. 5) and in 1854 the local board opened a works in Alma Road, Ponders End, with a small reservoir in Southbury Road and a larger one at the top of Holtwhite's Hill, where a water-tower was built in 1887; (fn. 6) a pumping station in Hadley Road was built in 1902 and a water-tower in the Ridgeway in 1913-14. In 1904 responsibility for the water supply was transferred from Enfield U.D. to the Metropolitan Water Board. (fn. 7) The board built pumping stations near the northern and southwestern ends of King George's reservoir, opened in 1913, and on Rammey marsh. (fn. 8)

In 1825 water from Windmill Hill flowed through a sewer at Chase Green, (fn. 9) which in 1835 was replaced by a brick drain disgorging into the 'parish drain'. (fn. 10) The local board proposed a drainage system in 1854 and built a sewage works by 1857 but, after a dispute, was forbidden to use a watercourse which ran from the works through Edmonton parish. (fn. 11) A sewage farm was built in 1877 on Cuckoo Hill farm, Edmonton, and enlarged by 1911 to cover 110 a. (fn. 12) The sewage works were purchased by the county council in 1938 (fn. 13) and modernized in 1939. (fn. 14) By 1962 some of the sewage from the parish was being purified at the East Middlesex sewage works at Deephams Farm, Edmonton. (fn. 15)

Some influential inhabitants resolved in 1850 to establish a gas company in Enfield, where a gasworks had been built in Sydney Road by 1858. (fn. 16) Another works was opened south of Ponders End railway station in 1859. (fn. 17) In 1879 the Ponders End Gas Co. was amalgamated with the Enfield Gas Co. (fn. 18) and in 1911 the combined undertaking was transferred to the Tottenham and Edmonton Gas Light and Coke Co. (fn. 19) The works in Sydney Road were still in use in 1908 (fn. 20) but in 1921 most of the parish was supplied with gas from works in Edmonton, although Hadley Wood and Cockfosters were served by the Barnet and District Gas and Water Co. (fn. 21) The gas-works at Ponders End were closed in 1970. (fn. 22) An Act of 1898 gave the Enfield Gas Co. powers to supply the parish with electricity. (fn. 23) The North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Co. opened a power station at Brimsdown in 1907 (fn. 24) and was empowered to supply electricity to the parish in 1922. (fn. 25) The power station was extended from 1924, when 41 a. were acquired from Trinity College, Cambridge, (fn. 26) until 1955 and employed some 700 persons c. 1960. Thereafter the workforce contracted to 250 by 1974, when most of Enfield L.B. and adjacent areas in Essex were still supplied from Brimsdown. (fn. 27)

There was a pest-house for plague victims in the Chase, near Enfield Town, in 1658. (fn. 28) In 1875 a cottage hospital with 5 beds was opened in Chase Side, supported by voluntary contributions. (fn. 29) It was extended in 1888 (fn. 30) and again after the First World War, when it was renamed Enfield War Memorial hospital; in 1939 there were 39 beds. In 1948 the new Enfield group hospital management committee took over the hospital, which had 46 patients in 1971. (fn. 31)

Enfield and Edmonton isolation hospital was established in 1891 in huts at the southern end of World's End Lane. The first brick-built ward was opened in 1899. Some non-infectious cases were received during the Second World War and the hospital subsequently became a general hospital, where a maternity unit was opened in 1963. In 1948 the hospital came under Enfield management committee and was renamed South Lodge hospital. It was united with the nearby Highlands hospital, Edmonton, in 1968. (fn. 32)

Bramley House, Clay Hill, was being used as a mental home in 1921 and was formally established by the county council as a mental deficiency institution in 1930. In 1948 it came under the control of South Ockendon management committee and in 1971 catered for some 70 high grade mentally handicapped female patients. (fn. 33)

A home for old people was established in 1938 in the former Chase Farm schools, (fn. 34) which were extended by two new wards. In 1939 it was turned into an emergency hospital with 800 beds and in 1948 it was placed under Enfield management committee as a general hospital. By 1971 the number of beds had been reduced to under 400 and work had begun on a new building. (fn. 35)

The old union workhouse school at Chase Side, in whose grounds an infirmary for 40 children had been built in 1855, (fn. 36) became the infirmary of Edmonton union in 1886. (fn. 37) It was a public assistance institution containing about 100 chronic sick, 100 healthy adults, and 50 mentally handicapped boys by 1939, when it was extended to take another 200 patients. In 1948 the institution came under Enfield management committee and was renamed St. Michael's hospital. In 1971 it catered for the elderly and had 310 patients, mostly women. (fn. 38)

A parish fire-engine, in the care of a paid keeper, was housed by the church porch in 1805. (fn. 39) In 1843 a new engine-house was built on the eastern side of the King's Head. (fn. 40) A volunteer fire brigade existed in 1869 (fn. 41) at Ponders End, where the fire station was purchased by Enfield local board in 1891. (fn. 42) In 1971 there were two fire stations in the parish, in Carterhatch Lane and in Holtwhite's Hill.

The watch-house which had been built in 1830 served as a police station in 1868. (fn. 43) It was superseded in 1873 by a new station in London Road, which itself was replaced in the 1960s by one at no. 41 Baker Street. (fn. 44) Stations had also been opened in Enfield Highway and Enfield Lock by 1890. (fn. 45) There was a police station in Ponders End High Street in 1971, (fn. 46) when the old watch-house survived as part of an office.

A burial board was set up in 1871 and a 9-acre cemetery at the top of Brigadier Hill was opened in 1872 on part of the Hundred Acres belonging to the parish. (fn. 47) The cemetery was enlarged by 3 a. in 1897. (fn. 48) Enfield crematorium, Great Cambridge Road, was opened in 1938 by Tottenham and Wood Green burial board; the brick buildings, with a central tower flanked by two chapels, were designed by Sir Guy Dawber, Wilson and Fox. (fn. 49)

The first public open space in Enfield was Chase Green, containing 12 a., which was left uninclosed under the Act of 1806 and later placed under the management of the vicar, churchwardens, and overseers. Culloden Rowan gave £500 for its upkeep c. 1880 and in 1898 it was transferred to Enfield U.D.C. (fn. 50) The following pieces of land were bought by the U.D.C. as public open spaces: Town park (23 a.), Albany park, Enfield Lock (18 a.), both opened in 1902; Durants park, Enfield Highway (34 a.), opened in 1903; Hilly fields, Clay Hill (62 a.), opened in 1911; and Bush Hill Park recreation ground (27 a.). (fn. 51) Ponders End recreation ground (8 a.) was purchased in 1920 and 1925. (fn. 52) Enfield playing fields, 128 a. north of Southbury Road, were open by 1938. (fn. 53) The Forty Hall estate (265 a.) was acquired in 1951 and Forty Hall was opened as a museum. In 1971 Whitewebbs park (232 a.) was also a public park, administered by Enfield L.B., (fn. 54) and Trent Park was administered by the G.L.C. (fn. 55)

The Public Libraries Act of 1855 was adopted in 1892 and a lending library opened in 1894 in part of the local board offices in Little Park. (fn. 56) In 1912 the library moved to a new red brick building with stone dressings in Cecil Road, financed by Andrew Carnegie. (fn. 57) By 1908 there were branch libraries at Ponders End and Enfield Wash (fn. 58) and in 1910 a new building at Enfield Highway was opened with a gift from Carnegie. (fn. 59) In 1971 there were additional branch libraries in Kemp Road, Enfield Road, Fourth Avenue, and Ponders End High Street.

Public baths were opened in Newbury Avenue, Enfield Lock, in 1893. (fn. 60) An open-air swimming pool in Southbury Road was opened in 1933. (fn. 61)

There were 1,746 council houses in Enfield by 1939. A further 347 prefabricated bungalows were built by the U.D.C. after 1945 on Manor farm, Great Cambridge Road, and near Enfield Town and 1,795 other houses and flats between 1945 and 1955. (fn. 62)


  • 1. Robinson, Enfield, i. 245.
  • 2. Ford, Enfield, 83.
  • 3. 17 Geo. III, c. 17.
  • 4. Vestry order bk. (1840-52), 172.
  • 5. Whitaker, Enfield, 345.
  • 6. Ind. Arch. in Enfield, 31-3.
  • 7. 2 Edw. VII, c. 41.
  • 8. O.S. Maps 6", Mdx. III. SW.; VII. NE.; VIII. NW. (1920 edn.).
  • 9. Vestry order bk. (1823-39), 85.
  • 10. Ibid. 374.
  • 11. New Enfield Hist.
  • 12. Whitaker, Enfield, 344.
  • 13. New Enfield Hist.
  • 14. Boro. of Enfield, Official Guide [1955].
  • 15. Ibid. [1962]; see above, p. 180.
  • 16. Tuff, Enfield, 210.
  • 17. Ind. Arch. in Enfield, 3.
  • 18. 42 & 43 Vic. c. 159.
  • 19. 1 & 2 Geo. V, c. 42.
  • 20. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1908).
  • 21. Kelly's Dir. Enfield (1921).
  • 22. Enfield libr., photographic coll.
  • 23. 61 & 62 Vic. c. 57, s. 46.
  • 24. Ind. Arch. in Enfield, 4.
  • 25. 12 & 13 Geo. V, c. 77.
  • 26. Trinity Coll. Cambridge, Estate MSS., box 43(s).
  • 27. Ex inf. the station superintendent. See plate facing p. 177.
  • 28. M.P.C. 50A (D.L. 31/50A).
  • 29. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1890); ex inf. the hospital sec.
  • 30. Whitaker, Enfield, 92.
  • 31. Ex inf. the hospital sec.
  • 32. Ex inf. the sec., Highlands hosp.
  • 33. Ex inf. the sec., South Ockendon hosp. group.
  • 34. See p. 254.
  • 35. Ex inf. the sec., Chase Farm hosp.
  • 36. Tuff, Enfield, 227.
  • 37. Whitaker, Enfield, 234.
  • 38. Ex inf. the sec.
  • 39. Vestry order bk. (1797-1807), 360; Robinson, Enfield, ii. 4.
  • 40. Vestry order bk. (1840-52), 23.
  • 41. Meyers' Enfield Observer, 1 Jan. 1869.
  • 42. Whitaker, Enfield, 345.
  • 43. Tuff, Enfield, 218.
  • 44. Ford, Enfield, 111.
  • 45. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1890).
  • 46. Enfield L.B., Official Guide [1970].
  • 47. Ford, Enfield, 287; Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1890).
  • 48. Whitaker, Enfield, 242.
  • 49. Builder, clxx. 305.
  • 50. Char. Com. files.
  • 51. Kelly's Dir. Enfield (1921).
  • 52. Ibid. (1931).
  • 53. O.S. Map 6", Mdx. VII. NE. (1938 edn.).
  • 54. Enfield L.B., Official Guide [1970].
  • 55. Ex inf. Mr. A. H. Hall.
  • 56. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1908); Boro. of Enfield, Official Guide [1955].
  • 57. Enfield U.D., Official Guide [c. 1921].
  • 58. Kelly's Dir. Mdx. (1908).
  • 59. Kelly's Dir. Enfield (1921).
  • 60. Whitaker, Enfield, 345.
  • 61. Boro. of Enfield, Official Guide [1955].
  • 62. Ibid.