Mill Hill East, Barnet

An ‘intens­i­fication site’ for north London housing, situated midway between Finchley and Mill Hill proper

This photograph has been used on its own website by the company that decon­tam­inated the area. They did so without requesting permission, which was a bit naughty.

The discovery of radio­active contam­ination delayed new house­building at Inglis barracks

The fields here belonged to All Souls College, Oxford from 1442. The medieval manor of Frith and Newhall lay to the north-​​east and was divided into Dollis, Frith, and Partingdale Farms by the mid-​​18th century.

The modern era came early to Bittacy Hill when Mill Hill (later Mill Hill East) station opened on the Great Northern Railway’s suburban line to Edgware and the North Middlesex Gas Company built a gasworks in the 1860s. A pub and a few gasworkers’ cottages appeared nearby but the railway service to London was slow and indirect so commuters were not interested and the surrounding area remained as farmland.

In 1909 the Middlesex regiment moved into the Inglis barracks, which replaced Bittacy Farm. A council estate, including flats, was built at the foot of Bittacy Hill in the mid-​​1920s.

South of the station, Mill Hill Homesteads bought Devonshire Farm in 1933 and laid out an estate. Further up the hill and over on the Frith manor lands, roads were laid out in the years before and after the Second World War. The barracks later became the base for the British Forces Post Office, which has since moved to RAF Northolt.

By 2016 it is planned that 2,000 new homes will have been built on the 94-​​acre site between Bittacy Hill and Frith Lane, but several contro­versies have impeded progress. These have included the discovery of low-​​level radio­active contam­ination, the excessive scale of some proposals and objections from local residents that “the concept of ‘social’ housing does not match the character and profile of the whole of Frith Lane.” Meanwhile, Crest Nicholson have redeveloped the disused gasworks site with 250 homes, a super­market and a health club.

The Inglis barracks were named in honour of Lieutenant-​​Colonel William Inglis of the 57th infantry regiment, who was killed at the battle of Albuhera in 1811. Inglis coined the phrase ‘die hard’, which was his last order to the troops. The 57th were afterwards nicknamed the ‘diehards’. In 1988 23-​​year-​​old soldier Michael Robbins was killed and nine others were injured by an IRA bomb at the barracks.

Postal district: NW7
Station: Northern line branch terminus (zone 4)


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