North Finchley

North Finchley, Barnet

The primary commercial – and would-be cultural – centre of Finchley, linked to its Church End by Ballards Lane

Hidden London: North Finchley, Artsdepot

From the late 15th cen­tu­ry this was an iso­lat­ed spot called North End and there are no records of per­ma­nent­ly inhab­it­ed dwellings here until the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry, although the com­mon land was occa­sion­al­ly used for troop encamp­ments.

The com­mon was enclosed in 1816 and Bal­lards Lane was extend­ed here to meet the Great North Road, now the High Road, in 1826. From around this time a London–Birmingham stage­coach called the Tal­ly Ho stopped here to change hors­es, giv­ing its name to the junc­tion.

By the late 1830s Tal­ly Ho Cor­ner had a clus­ter of dwellings, a chapel and the Tor­ring­ton pub­lic house. A hand­ful of arti­sans, includ­ing a female black­smith, were based on Lodge Lane. A horse-drawn omnibus ser­vice ran from the Tor­ring­ton to Char­ing Cross by 1851.

Finch­ley and North End began to coa­lesce after the open­ing of sta­tions at Finch­ley (now Finch­ley Cen­tral) in 1867 and Tor­ring­ton Park (now Wood­side Park) in 1872, where­after the vil­lage came to be known as North Finch­ley.

Hidden London: Stonegate Pub Company's Tally Ho North Finchley
The Tal­ly Ho

Christ Church and the Park Hotel were built in the late 1860s. North Finch­ley Board School (now North­side) opened in 1884 and new mid­dle-class res­i­den­tial streets began to branch off the High Road.

The intro­duc­tion of trams in 1905 brought fur­ther growth and shops soon lined this sec­tion of the High Road in an unbro­ken con­tin­u­um. By the out­break of the First World War, North Finch­ley offered leisure attrac­tions too, includ­ing an ice rink and two cin­e­mas.

Between the wars the Tal­ly Ho pub­lic house (shown in the small pho­to) replaced the Park Hotel, sev­er­al major retail­ers built impos­ing stores and an Odeon (lat­er Gau­mont) cin­e­ma opened in 1939. All this com­mer­cial­ism dragged the neigh­bour­hood down a lit­tle and flats replaced some larg­er old hous­es.

Some of the biggest retail­ers have since moved away but Bar­net coun­cil still con­sid­ers North Finch­ley one of its three major town cen­tres, along with Chip­ping Bar­net (as it calls it) and Edg­ware.

The Gau­mont closed in 1979 and Arts­de­pot has been built on its site. In addi­tion to the arts cen­tre, the devel­op­ment (which is shown in the pho­to at the top of this arti­cle) includes flats, a health and fit­ness cen­tre, a bus inter­change and more shops.

With assis­tance from the Out­er Lon­don Fund, Bar­net coun­cil over­saw fur­ther invest­ment in North Finch­ley in 2013–14, with the aims of attract­ing more peo­ple to its cafés, restau­rants and shops and – per­haps a lit­tle opti­misti­cal­ly – mak­ing the local­i­ty ‘a cul­tur­al des­ti­na­tion’.

In May 2016 JD Wether­spoon announced its inten­tion to sell the Tal­ly Ho pub­lic house as part of a nation­wide cull of its (pre­sum­ably under­per­form­ing) premis­es. It was bought by the Stonegate Pub Com­pa­ny.

North Finchley has been home to a roll call of British comic talent: Spike Milligan lived in Holden Road, Eric Morecambe in Torrington Park and David Jason in Lodge Lane. Jason attended Northside School from the ages of five to fifteen, and opened the newly refurbished school in 2002.

Postal district: N12
Further reading: David Berguer, Under the Wires at Tally Ho: Trams and Trolleybuses of North London, 1905–1962, The History Press, 2011