A mixed area of rented and privately owned housing lying ‘under’ Barnet Hill
The settlement at Underhill first grew up at a confluence of several old lanes (marked with a pin on the map below), where Silver Crispin rebuilt a cottage alehouse as the Red Lion in the mid-18th century.
Poor children were cared for at Underhill Cottages at the start of the 19th century; the one nearest Mays Lane was formerly a toll house on the turnpike road.
When Barnet Fair was at its height, the main fairground filled the fields of Underhill, though it took over streets right across the town too.
The Edgware, Highgate and London Railway Company planned a line to Barnet in 1866 and its proposal to build the terminus at Underhill was approved. However, the company was bought out by the Great Northern Railway, which changed the route and pushed on to High Barnet.
Underhill still had only a few dwellings when construction of Chipping Barnet sewage farm began here in 1874, and dairy cattle continued to graze on Sharpe’s Farm into the 20th century, while common lodging houses stood nearby.
The Three Horseshoes and Queen’s Arms were closed in 1928 as part of the council’s drive to reduce the number of pubs in the area, a policy known as ‘the Barnet comb-out’. In the early 1930s the Grasvenor estate was laid out beside the railway line and the Old Red Lion was rebuilt. Shown in the photo at the top of the page,* Underhill Baptist church opened at the foot of Elton Avenue in 1936.
The London Borough of Barnet built the Dollis Valley housing estate on the site of the former sewage farm in the late 1960s. The estate is presently undergoing full-scale regeneration. As ever with such schemes nowadays, this will involve the creation of new community facilities and the construction of a significant number of homes for sale on the open market. The project is due for completion in 2020.
At the last census, 61 per cent of Underhill’s residents were white British. No other ethnic group accounted for more than 5 per cent of the ward’s population. Similarly, at Underhill junior school on Mays Lane, the majority of pupils are of white British heritage, with other pupils coming from a wide range of backgrounds – including native speakers of Bulgarian and Japanese.
Underhill stadium was the home of Barnet football club from 1907 to 2013. The stadium presently serves as a training ground for the London Broncos rugby league club. The departure of Barnet FC led to a decline in trade at the Old Red Lion and the pub was sold for housing development in 2015.