Mill Hill Broadway – Mill Hill Village Walk – 29.03.2013

Setting out from “Bunns Lane, Mill Hill” we both expected to be greeted by the wonderful smells of hot cross buns and fresh baked bread half way along the road. Sadly we were disappointed we could not find any bakeries whilst we were walking :-(. Instead, I think that the name “Bunns” derives from a family name, when the land was bought from the Bunns Estate, rather than anything edible which is a shame 😦 . If anyone has any other ideas, please comment. Just down the lane, we came across a brick built bridge which did not seem to cross anything particular. Therefore, our curiosity got the better of us, so we decided to investigate.

Crossing over the road, we found that the could explore the bridge further, as footpath ran next to it in“Lyndhurst Park”. Upon entering the park, we felt that it was divided into two distinct areas, an open grassy space and a wild woodland, which was behind the bridge. This expanse of land seemed very difficult to walk in as it was very overgrown and there was no footpath to walk along. We were still able to examine the bridge a bit more carefully despite it being a little tricky to get to. We soon discovered that this bridge had some of it’s archways bricked in, which indicated that it had been part of a railway at some point. As we walked further along we noticed some odd looking concrete poles which seemed to be carry some sort of electricity cables at some time. It seemed that we had discovered a stretch of land which had been part of the underground, which had been closed quite some time ago.

Some of the difficult parts which had been trying to walk on had actually been the original platform of a disused Underground Station, Mill Hill (The Hale), which was officially closed in 1964. The route, which went from Mill Hill East to Edgware, had been in existence since the late C19th. During the early C20th the line was to be upgraded as it was seen to be an important interchange with the overground station in Mill Hill and was closed temporarily to carry out the upgrade. Despite the alterations and expansion to the station, the line was never officially reopened to passenger traffic, therefore only Freight trains ran on the line until its closure. The small part of the closed line we had found was to be integrated into a walk but instead became a nature reserve.

From 2013 – 29.03.2013 – Mill Hill Broadway – Mill Hill Village Walk

We left “Lyndhurst Park” behind and continued to proceed down Bunns Lane. We passed by “Flower Lane”, which I naturally assumed came from the beautiful looking flowers that were in the surrounding park or perhaps from Flower Market that once stood here. Instead, “Flower Lane” derives it’s name from Sir Charles Flower Bart a former Mayor of London, who once lived in Mill Hill. Much further along the road we passed by a large house which had the word “Laing” on it. The house once belonged the construction company “Laing”, which was run by Sir John Laing. Laing Construction moved their offices from there small beginnings in Carlisle to Mill Hill, where they grew and are known for constructing Coventry Cathedral which had been destroyed in the Second World War, Regent Park Mosque and building the M1.

Past the Laing House it seemed like the next section of our walk was mostly pavement walking. Our route took Devonshire Road, where discovered another bridge which crossed neither railway or river, but a muddy trail instead. We both felt that this was probably another section of the abandoned tube line we had found earlier. Once we had crossed over the road we found that were able to join the footpath that was beneath the bridge, using the concrete footway from the road. Unlike the previous section of deserted line, which had been left to nature, this part had been into proper footpath. It was clear to see that it had been well used as we could see quite a few hoof marks where horses had been treading this way before! The only disconcerting part of this walk was when I stumbled on a concrete sign stating “cable 32,000 Volts under”, which I was rather I hoped would not be the case as that is a lot of electricity to walk next too!

With the trail being particularly muddy and the trees surrounding the trail it really did give us a feeling of no longer being in an built up area. The only clues that made us feel that we were in urban place were the brick bridges that still spanned the old line. The route seemed to end abruptly at one of these bridges, which is in terrible state and I am really surprised it is still standing as the supports have terrible cracks in them. I presume that the recent weather has not helped its condition and we could still see evidence of this when we saw some huge icicles hanging from it! As we were leaving this section of the line behind, we discovered the path had been incorporated into one of “Brents Leisure Walks”. As we turned to cross the bridge, we had a real surprise, despite the state of structure underneath it, the path had been freshly tarmacked. Personally I did not feel very comfortable crossing it!

From 2013 – 29.03.2013 – Mill Hill Broadway – Mill Hill Village Walk

Somehow our walk rejoined Devonshire Road, which was to take us to Holders Hill Circus. I cannot find out much about the name, which is shame, as I was hoping to find something out something on a Circus with Clowns and Acrobats which had been held here in the past! We turned uphill here to walk towards Mill Hill Village. En-route we passed by Mill Hill East Station, which is quite small. The station opened in the C19th, when it part of the Great Northern Railway, but it was not until 1941 that Mill Hill East became part of the Underground. This was when a shuttle service was provided to Mill Hill East in order to serve the local barracks. The Mill Hill East branch did not suffer the same fate as the rest of the line with the track closures at the early C20th. This was after the scheme named the “Northern Heights” which have taken the Northern line beyond Edgware did not materialise.

Our walk was now to take us up Bittacy Hill, where we passed by “Bittacy Hill park”. It was nice to see daffodils blooming there, despite all the terrible spring weather that we have been suffering. We finally reached the top of the hill, where we treated some great views over London, looking carefully we could see St Mary’s Church, Harrow and Wembley Stadium. As we continued on our journey, it was not long before a scary and daunting building loomed in front of us. This art deco building is the “National Institute of Medical Research”, designed by Maxwell Ayrton who designed the original Wembley Stadium and built during the late 1930’s. It really does feel like it should be in a horror movie, I don’t think it has been used for such a film. It has been used in the movie “Batman Begins”, when the exterior for the “Arkham Asylum”, somehow I am not surprised!

As we continued along the Ridgeway, we could see on the opposite side of the road a church, but there did not seem to be any information about it. It looked very odd as it was attached to a house, if anyone has any information I would like to know. The road then took us onto “Mill Hill Village”, which surrounded a large pond. As we started to walk around the village, we found it bereft of shops, which seemed very odd to me. We found ourselves strolling along the “High Street” and passing by residential buildings with names like “Old General Store”. Nowadays, Mill Hill village relies on shops outside of the village centre! Upon leaving the High Street, we spotted “Rosebank Barn”, which had been a Quaker meeting place in the mid C17th. Just along the road we discovered Plaque to the Botanist and Naturalist Peter Collinson. He was Quaker and it was more than likely he attended the meetings at Rosebank Barn whilst he lived in Mill Hill. Collinson, although a Cloth Merchant, studied plants and with his overseas trade was able to obtain many seeds and plants internationally. He had regular correspondence with Benjamin Franklin as was a supporter of the Philosophical society, Collinson was also one of the governors of the London Foundling Hospital.

From 2013 – 29.03.2013 – Mill Hill Broadway – Mill Hill Village Walk

We proceeded on our journey, passing by Mill Hill school and as we did I caught sight of the “Patrick Troughton Theatre”. Nothing unusual about a theatre being named after a TV star, but Patrick Troughton attended this school as he was born and bred in Mill Hill. The Theatre was recently renamed in his honour and apparently as part of the celebrations, whilst a production was being put on, a Dalek from the Dr Who series came to watch! Just across the road from the school I spotted a plaque on a church, so I immediately crossed over to read the inscription. The church had been built by William Wilberforce, who was one of the key figures in the abolition of the slave trade. I was aware Wilberforce lived in the area, when we walked this way before, but I was not aware of the churches existence. Apparently, he undertook to build this church at his own expense, as unfortunately there was not a nearer church that he was able to attend. Sadly the chapel was not consecrated until Wilberforce had passed away so he was never really able to attend the church he had commissioned 😦

Coming along the road we came across a large pond, known as “Sheepwash Pond”. The name “Sheepwash pond” derives from when farmers used to wash their cattle and sheep through the pool when they were en-route to the Smithfield market in London. I am pretty sure that the sheep and cattle would have preferred to remain here than carry on their journey! The creation of the pool was from when Sir Charles Flower dredged the site for gravel for a local toll road, nothing to do with sheep at all! Although we can hear the sound of sheep today as “Belmont Farm” lays just behind the pond, which we had discovered a sign for in one of our previous walks. It was a shame we did not get time to visit as it was just so late in the day :-(.

Passing by the pond, we walked on by Hammers Lane, where we discovered “Mill Field”. It is here that a windmill once stood giving the whole area the name “Mill Hill”. It is certainly a great shame that the windmill is no longer around to admire 😦 . The field certainly commands some amazing views as it was quite high up. It is a great position for a mill, as on a gusty day I can just imagine the sales whizzing around! It was here we rejoined our previous walk which we was to take us down Highwood Hill, past St Josephs College, eventually back to Mill Hill Broadway where we ended our walk for the day.

The route for the our walk was as follows. Please click on the photos below for the photos from the walk –

2013 – 29.03.2013 – Mill Hill Broadway – Mill Hill Village Walk

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3 responses to “Mill Hill Broadway – Mill Hill Village Walk – 29.03.2013

  1. Pingback: Edgware – Chipping Barnet Walk – 07.10.2012 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

  2. Pingback: Ruislip Manor – Ruislip Lido Walk – 01.04.2013 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

  3. Pingback: Mill Hill East – Totteridge and Whetstone Walk 09.03.2014 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

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