Friern Barnet
Social and cultural activities


Victoria County History



T F T Baker, C R Elrington (Editors), A P Baggs, Diane K Bolton, M A Hicks, R B Pugh

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'Friern Barnet: Social and cultural activities', A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 6: Friern Barnet, Finchley, Hornsey with Highgate (1980), pp. 23-25. URL: Date accessed: 28 November 2014.


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Inns were often used by the vestry in the 18th century (fn. 11) and it was claimed in 1883 that the sole place for meetings was a public house. Room was therefore provided in the new Congregational lecture hall (fn. 12) and in 1883 the ratepayers of New Southgate determined on their own hall. (fn. 13) Various buildings were used but none was satisfactory until the opening of the hall at Holly Park school. (fn. 14)

The Congregational elders intended their hall for purposes such as temperance meetings. (fn. 15) Temperance never obtained a strong following, although the local branch of the British Women's Temperance Association was a regular user by 1895. (fn. 16) In 1887 total abstinence was favoured by only one member of the Friern Barnet and New Southgate Mutual Improvement Society, (fn. 17) which produced a magazine. (fn. 18) In 1887 scandalized parishioners were assured that St. Peter's mission hall offered educational opportunities for the 'young roughs' who openly gambled in the Freehold. (fn. 19) Clergy of all denominations assisted parishioners in educating themselves: several parish rooms were opened at public demand, including St. Peter's mission hall in 1887 and one at Finchley Park in 1896, (fn. 20) and the Congregationalists' hall had a room where working men could study newspapers. (fn. 21) Evening classes were provided thrice a week at Friern Barnet and Colney Hatch in 1891-2, (fn. 22) and when many labourers were temporarily employed in 1886, a representative of the Navvy Mission Society ministered to them. (fn. 23)

The proximity of Colney Hatch asylum was not welcome to all residents. The Revd. Henry Hawkins, chaplain to the hospital 1867-1900, founded an association to help with aftercare, later part of the National Association for Mental Help, (fn. 24) and a Guild of Friends of the Insane at Colney Hatch, which lapsed. A league of friends of the hospital had only recently been established in 1974. (fn. 25)

Clothing was given to the charity school children (fn. 26) and a fund organized in 1850, to help the poor save for coal and clothing, survived in 1932. (fn. 27) In 1883 the rector had been encouraging a C. of E. working men's club for 12 years. (fn. 28) St. John's working men's club was at no. 61 Holly Park Road by 1889 (fn. 29) and subscriptions were raised for a Conservative working men's club in 1891. (fn. 30) All Saints' working men's club existed by 1883 (fn. 31) and from 1912-13 had premises at Oakleigh Road North beside the school. (fn. 32) An institute in the Freehold and a youth club active in 1887 (fn. 33) may have been precursors of the Freehold social institute in Pembroke Road which existed by 1912-13. (fn. 34) The Revd. George Hennessy promoted a co-operative society in 1894 at the Freehold, which was said to have a tradition of mutual assistance (fn. 35) and whose ratepayers' association was a formidable pressure group immediately after the formation of the local board. (fn. 36)

Although previous ratepayers' meetings had been only occasional, (fn. 37) the first local elections were dominated by ratepayers' associations in spite of the councillors' alleged membership of the Conservative club. (fn. 38) The Conservatives opened the Constitutional club in 1895 (fn. 39) and a New Southgate and Friern Barnet Conservative association had offices at Holly Park in 1900, (fn. 40) with branches in each ward by 1926. (fn. 41) Friern Barnet and New Southgate Liberal association dissolved itself in 1889 on the election of a new committee as a branch of the Central Liberal and Radical Committee. (fn. 42) A Liberal and Radical club was established in 1895 (fn. 43) at Carlisle Place and had premises there from 1904 until 1932, when it housed the Betstyle hall and social club. (fn. 44) A central ward Liberal club existed in 1926, (fn. 45) a Muswell Hill Socialist society by 1907, (fn. 46) and a Friern Barnet branch of the Communist party in 1945. (fn. 47)

A bowling green at Halliwick manor-house was disused in 1628. (fn. 48) The Orange Tree inn was recommended in 1817 to sportsmen in pursuit of the plentiful wildfowl at Colney Hatch. (fn. 49) There was a cricket field at Friern Barnet Road by 1862 (fn. 50) and a football club for Holly Park by 1875. (fn. 51) At first sport was played mainly in Oakleigh Park, where there were cricket and lawn tennis clubs in 1889. (fn. 52) From 1899 there was a private lawn tennis club in Athenaeum Road, (fn. 53) where the Congregational cricket club had a ground in 1900. (fn. 54) New Southgate and Friern Barnet lawn tennis club existed by 1895, when Friern Barnet cricket and lawn tennis club was founded, (fn. 55) and used grounds between the asylum and Colney Hatch Lane before acquiring its own field in Woodhouse Road by 1906. (fn. 56) By 1922 the railway clearing house acquired a field off Friern Barnet Lane and adjoining the glebe, (fn. 57) which was used as playing fields by the grammar school until 1939. (fn. 58) The Kennard lawn tennis club had courts in Colney Hatch from 1922, (fn. 59) when a rifle club was established there. The L.C.C. took over sports fields cut off from the asylum after the construction of the North Circular Road. (fn. 60) Some of the grounds were built upon but in 1939 there were new tennis clubs at Torrington Park and Wetherill and Wilton roads. (fn. 61) In 1964 the largest non-municipal playing fields were the L.C.C.'s (later the I.L.E.A.'s) 7 a., the railway clearance ground of 6 a. and glebe of 2 a., and the grounds off Chandos Avenue of 6 a. and between there and Athenaeum Road of c. 10 a. (fn. 62) The railway clearance ground and glebe also provided the site for Queenswell school. (fn. 63)

Brunswick recreation ground in Oakleigh Road South, East Barnet (Herts.), was opened in 1892 and Friern Barnet U.D.C. contributed towards its maintenance from 1895. (fn. 64) It included cricket pitches and tennis courts in 1909 (fn. 65) but in 1895 was too distant to benefit Holly Park. (fn. 66) Friary park was acquired in 1909, when it was equipped with a bowling green, (fn. 67) and had tennis courts and a putting green c. 1948. (fn. 68) In 1924 the council acquired 33½ a., which became Bethune recreation ground in 1926; parts were devoted to allotments, (fn. 69) to a 9-hole golf course, (fn. 70) and, after levelling, to a cricket pitch and running track. (fn. 71) Halliwick recreation ground, 5½ a. adjoining Coppetts Road, was probably purchased with the near-by allotments in 1927 (fn. 72) and included tennis courts c. 1948. (fn. 73) All municipal open spaces in 1935 were much used by sports clubs and schools lacking their own grounds. (fn. 74)

After the break-up of John Miles's estate in 1902, (fn. 75) 81 a. were bought in 1906 by Ernest Arthur Lazarus and passed in 1907 to the North Middlesex Golf Co. Outlying parts were sold and 74 a. settled in trust for use as a golf course. (fn. 76) The council acquired the land as an open space in 1928 (fn. 77) and thereafter leased it to the North Middlesex Golf Club (1928) Ltd., whose course covered 60 a. in 1946. (fn. 78)

Friary park consists mainly of formal gardens and has a children's bathing pool and playground. By c. 1948 there were playgrounds at Halliwick and Cromwell recreation grounds, the second of which covered 1 a. and was solely for children. (fn. 79) In 1975 there was also a playground at Sweet's Way, Whetstone. Until the early 20th century there were pleasure grounds at the Green Man, Whetstone, (fn. 80) the Orange Tree, Colney Hatch, and the Railway hotel, New Southgate. (fn. 81) Private gardens were used for childrens' treats by 1880 (fn. 82) and church fêtes and concerts were regularly organized. (fn. 83) The Railway hotel was licensed for music and dancing in 1855, (fn. 84) Whetstone coffee tavern in 1885, (fn. 85) and the Freehold social institute by 1913. (fn. 86) Entertainments by sports clubs and schools (fn. 87) were often held in schoolrooms, (fn. 88) at the Congregational lecture hall, (fn. 89) and from 1930 at the church hall. In 1883 musicians and gymnasts performed at the Athenaeum, Oakleigh Park, (fn. 90) but by 1887 bookings had declined. The building survived as photographers' studios in 1906. (fn. 91) By 1926 plays were produced by the Friern Strollers and there was an orchestral society. (fn. 92)


11 M.R.O., D.R.O. 12/I/C/1; D1/1.
12 Barnet Press, 25 Aug. 1883.
13 Ibid. 10 Mar. 1883.
14 Ibid. 9 Jan. 1909.
15 Ibid. 25 Aug. 1883.
16 Ibid. 19 Jan. 1895.
17 Ibid. 19 Mar. 1887.
18 Barnet Press, 12 Mar. 1887.
19 Ibid. 11 June 1887.
20 M.R.O., D.R.O. 12/I/K2/3 (1896); Barnet Press, 11 June 1887.
21 Barnet Press, 25 Aug. 1883.
22 M.R.O., D.R.O. 12/I/K1/2 (Oct. 1891); Barnet Press, 17 Jan. 1891.
23 M.R.O., D.R.O. 12/I/K2/2 (1886).
24 Walford, Gtr. Lond. i. 344; Hunter and Macalpine, Psychiatry for the Poor, 67.
25 Hunter and Macalpine, Psychiatry for the Poor, 67-8.
26 M.R.O., D.R.O. 12/I/G1/3.
27 Ibid. K2/1-6 (1850-1932).
28 Barnet Press, 3 Feb. 1883.
29 Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1889).
30 Barnet Press, 12 Jan. 1895.
31 Ibid. 24 Feb. 1893.
32 Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1912-13).
33 Barnet Press, 11 June 1887.
34 Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1917-18).
35 Barnet Press, 12 June 1895.
36 See p. 27.
37 Barnet Press, 23 June 1883.
38 See p. 27.
39 Barnet Press, Jan. 1895.
40 Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1900-1).
41 Barnet Press, 20 Mar. 1926.
42 Ibid. 23 Apr. 1889.
43 Ibid. 9 Feb. 1845.
44 Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1904 and later edns.); Finchley (1926 and later edns.).
45 Barnet Press, 20 Feb. 1926.
46 Ibid. 19 Jan. 1907.
47 Barnet Press, 25 Mar. 1926; B.L.H.L., Friern Barnet U.D., min. bk. (1945-6), p. 38.
48 C 54/2777 mm. 15-16 no. 19.
49 J. Hassell, Picturesque Rides and Walks (1817), i. 194.
50 M.R.O., D.R.O. 12/I/C1/4.
51 Barnet Press, 30 Jan. 1875.
52 Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1889).
53 Ibid. (1899).
54 Ibid. (1900).
55 Barnet Press, 9 Mar., 13 Apr., 20 Apr. 1895.
56 Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1899-1901, 1906); Barnet Press, 9 Mar. 1895; M.R.O., D.R.O. 12/I/B/1 (plan, 1908).
57 Kelly's Dir. Finchley (1922).
58 M.R.O., D.R.O. 12/I/G8/2, p. 59.
59 Kelly's Dir. Finchley (1922).
60 Hunter and Macalpine, Psychiatry for the Poor, 152.
61 Kelly's Dir. Finchley (1939).
62 B.L.H.L., Acc. 9888; Friern Barnet U. D., educ. cttee. min. bk. (1946-9).
63 See p. 36.
64 Barnet Press, 23 Feb., 1 Jan. 1895.
65 Friern Barnet U.D. Opening of Friary Pk.
66 Barnet Press, 9 Mar. 1895.
67 Friern Barnet U.D. Opening of Friary Pk.
68 Friern Barnet U.D. Official Guide [c. 1948], 15.
69 Friern Barnet U.D. Ann. Rep. of M.O.H.; Petit. for Incorp. as Municip. Boro. (1953), 8-9 (list of by-laws).
70 O.S. Map 6", Mdx. VII. SW. (1938 edn.).
71 Friern Barnet U.D. Official Guide [c. 1948], 15-18.
72 B.L.H.L., Friern Barnet U.D., educ. cttee. min. bk. (1946-9); Kelly's Dir. Finchley (1927).
73 Friern Barnet U.D. Official Guide [c. 1948], 18.
74 B.L.H.L., Friern Barnet U.D., min. bk. (1935-6), pp. 66-7.
75 See p. 18.
76 B.L.H.L., Acc. 9888.
77 Ibid., Friern Barnet U.D., min. bk. (1927-8), pp. 38, 91 sqq.
78 Friern Barnet U.D. Official Guide [c. 1948], 13; B.L.H.L., Acc. 9888.
79 Friern Barnet U.D. Official Guide [c. 1948], 15-18.
80 M.R.O., Acc. 410/19.
81 O.S. Map 6", Mdx. VII. SW. (1863 edn.).
82 e.g. M.R.O., D.R.O. 12/I/G5/1.
83 M.R.O., MR/M and D 25/4.
84 M.R.O., D.R.O. 12/II/B1/11; I/K1/4 (par. mag. Aug. 1894).
85 M.R.O., MCC/M and D 5/50 a-b.
86 Ibid. 11/15.
87 Barnet Press, 20 Apr. 1895.
88 Ibid. 19 June 1895.
89 Ibid. 20 Apr. 1895.
90 Ibid. 31 Mar., 21 July, 18 Aug. 1883.
91 Kelly's Dir. Barnet (1906).
92 Barnet Press, 17 Apr. 1926.