Enfield Town

Enfield Town, Enfield

A market town turned suburban centre, situated towards the western side of the wider Enfield district, nine miles due north of the City of London


Enfield Register Office, Gentleman's Row, Enfield Town
1 Gentleman’s Row, now Enfield’s Register Office

The green that lay to the south of St Andrew’s church was an early focus for parish activities, holding markets and fairs from 1303. Homes soon began to encircle the green, joined by inns from the 16th century.

The establishment of a marketplace in 1632 created the nucleus for the development of the modern street plan, with residences rapidly spreading along Church Street, Silver Street and London Road.

During the 18th century fine houses dotted the surrounding fields and the path facing the Chase to the west became known as Gentleman’s Row.

The Reverend John Ryland opened a school on Nags Head Road that included the poet John Keats among its pupils. In 1849 the schoolhouse became Enfield Town station, at the end of the Great Eastern Railway’s new branch line. However, the 45-minute journey to London was a deterrent to potential commuters and significant expansion did not begin until the introduction of workmen’s fares and a shorter route to the city in the 1870s, when the station was rebuilt.

Most of the town’s older buildings were demolished at the end of the 19th century and the centre began to take on its present streetscape.

Of the properties that survive, the finest group is the collection of Georgian and early Victorian houses in Gentleman’s Row. Pearsons department store, founded in 1903, moved into its present premises on the site of Enfield manor house in 1928.

The most visible change in the modern era has been the construction of the 12-storey Tower Point in the late 1960s. The block was radically revamped in 2005 and converted from office to residential use. A shopping mall called Palace Exchange opened in 2006, and Pearsons has been enlarged to connect with it.

The Town ward is the most upmarket part of the Enfield district, where adults with degrees outnumber those with no qualifications and households with two cars outnumber those with none.

The comic actor Reg Varney unveiled the world’s first ATM cash dispenser at Barclay’s Church Street branch on 27 June 1967.

Postcode areas: Enfield EN1 and EN2
Population: 14,906 (Town ward, 2011 census)
Station: London Overground (zone 5)
Further reading: Graham Dalling and Valerie Carter, Enfield Town, Enfield Preservation Society, 1988