The Anonymous Widower

Was It Wrong To Cancel The Northern Heights Plan?

The Northern Heights Plan was a pre-Second World War project to extend the Northern Line  onto the steam-haled suburban lines of the London and North Eastern Railway.

This map from Wikipedia shows the Northern Heights routes North of Archway station.


  1. The branches would have been converted to electric operation.
  2. Terminals would be Alexandra Palace, Bushey Heath, Edgware and High Barnet.
  3. A new deep-level Highgate station would be created.

But the war broke out and the much-simplified layout, that we have today was opened during and after the war.

  • The extension to Bushey Heath didn’t fit in with post-war Green Belt plans, so was scrapped.
  • Traffic on the Alexandra Palace branch suffered badly through competition with the new electrified High Barnet branch, buses and cars.
  • Mill Hill East became the end of a single-track branch instead of a station on a double-track line between Finchley Central and Edgware.
  • Eventually the Alexandra Palace branch was turned into a Parkland Walk.

As a teenager cycling around the Barnet and Edgware area, you sometimes came across the remains of the network.

I particularly remember, the remains of a half-completed viaduct sitting by then A41 in Edgware.

Note the series of holes to the North East of the roundabout. These are the remains of the viaduct.

Green Lane at the bottom of the map, was the road where my Uncle Leslie and Auntie Gladys lived.

Intended Service Levels

Wikipedia has a section, which gives the Intended Service Levels.

The peak-hour service pattern was to be 21 trains an hour each way on the High Barnet branch north of Camden Town, 14 of them via the Charing Cross branch and seven via the Bank branch. 14 would have continued on beyond Finchley Central, seven each on the High Barnet and Edgware branches. An additional seven trains an hour would have served the High Barnet branch, but continued via Highgate High-Level and Finsbury Park to Moorgate, a slightly shorter route to the City. It does not seem to have been intended to run through trains to the ex-Northern City branch from Edgware via Finchley Central. Seven trains an hour would have served the Alexandra Palace branch, to/from Moorgate via Highgate High-Level. In addition to the 14 through trains described, the ex-Northern City branch would have had 14 four-car shuttle trains an hour.

As I read it, this surely means that the following services would have been run in the Peak.

  • Twenty-one trains per hour (tph) between Camden Town and Finchley Central, of which seven tph continued to each of Edgware and High Barnet, with presumably the other seven tph terminating at Finchley Central.
  • Of these twenty-one tph, fourteen would have used the Charing Cross Branch and seven would have used the Bank Branch.
  • Seven tph would have run from both Alexandra Palace and High Barnet via Highgate High-Level and Finsbury Park to Moorgate.
  • A fourteen tph shuttle on the Northern City Branch.
  • As it is not mentioned, should it be assumed, that an independent service with an appropriate frequency serves the Edgware Branch directly from Camden Town.

It looks to me that two aims of the service levels were to provide.

  • A 28 tph service from Moorgate to Finsbury Park.
  • A by-pass to the East of Camden Town.

It looks to have been a well-thought out plan.

My Recent Experiences

Over the last couple of months, I’ve had cause to visit the Northern Heights’ territory on a number of occasions.

Going to and from Central London, from areas like Barnet, Edgware and the Western parts of Enfield and Harringey has much improved since I lived in Cockfosters as a child.

  • Trains and Underground have a higher frequency.
  • Northern City services provided a  big improvement in the late 1970s.
  • Thameslink and Northern City will provide extra services in the next few years.
  • There appear to be more bus feeder services.
  • Modern ticketing is probably much more convenient and affordable.

Circular routes were the real problem, as I wrote about in The Cross Barnet And Enfield Express.

So would a full Northern Heights  Plan helped my journeys?

The Bushey Heath Branch

This Google Map shows where the Bushey Heath Branch would have run.


  1. Bushey Heath in the North West corner of the map.
  2. Centenial Park is on the site of the Aldenham Works, where the trains would have been stabled.
  3. Edgware station in the South East corner of the map.
  4. Stanmore station is also incorrectly shown with both rail and Underground logos.

The change of Green Belt policy probably did most to kill off the branch, but improvements in public transport and the growth of car ownership since the 1950s, have probably squashed any need for revival of the plan for the Bushey Heath Branch.

Finchley Central To Edgware Via Mill Hill East And Mill Hill (The Hale)

This short route was probably never completed, as after cancellation of the Bushey Heath Branch, it was an easy way to cut costs.

This map from shows the route.


  • The sidings at Edgware station.
  • The closeness of Mill Hill (The Hale) station to Mill Hill Broadway station.

It could prove a useful link between the two branches.

From the service levels given earlier, it would appear that this route would have been served with seven tph, which is better than the current train every 11-15 minutes.

I doubt that the connection will ever be completed, but various plans  involving property development arise from time to time.

The Alexandra Palace Branch

As with the Finchley Central to Edware route, much of this route is still visible on Google Maps.

But housing and other developments probably mean that reinstatement is impossible.

As with the previous link, I doubt it will ever be completed.

A Very Light Rail Alternative

Perhaps the only transport system that might work would be a very light rail system, such as is used between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town stations.




February 23, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Cross Barnet And Enfield Express

I grew up in Cockfosters on the boundary between the two London Boroughs of Barnet and Enfield.

I was in walking distance of Oakwood tube station and I used to use it regularly to go to school in Southgate, my father’s printing works at Wood Green or on very occasional trips to London. We weren’t a poor family, but until the 1960s, my parents had to count every penny, so often if I went to Central London, then we’d go on the 29 bus.

But it seemed a lot of the time, if we went anywhere on public transport, we used the 107 bus to go East to Enfield or West to Barnet, Elstree and Queensbury, if my father didn’t drive the family.

These days the route numbers have changed but when I went to Enfield last Monday, I went to Oakwood and used a bus to Enfield Town station to see the new Overground line.

The bus was moderately full and quite a few people were collected between Oakwood and Enfield, many of whom were on shopping trips to the town centre and others like me were going to the station.

In the 1960s, I used a 107 bus to get to my vacation job at Enfield Rolling mills at Brimsdown and the bus was used by many commuting to work along the route.

Now there are several high-frequency rail lines to Central London, that serve the historic 107 bus route in Barnet and Enfield. From West to East they are.

1. Elstree & Borehamwood on Thameslink – This is just to the West of the London Borough of Barnet.

2. High Barnet on the Northern Line of the Underground

3. New Barnet on the Northern City Line

4. Oakwood on the Piccadilly Line of the Underground

5. Enfield Chase on the Hertford Loop Line

6. Enfield Town on the Enfield Town branch of the Lea Valley Lines

7. Southbury on the Southbury Loop of the Lea Valley Lines

8. Ponders End and Brimsdown on the Lea Valley Lines

These nine stations have very limited car parking and if you bear in mind that the population of the Boroughs of Barnet and Enfield are both over 300,000, there will be a large number of people going regularly to Central London by public transport.

The only way to deal with those who want to drive to the stations, is to build a Park and Ride site in the area, as I proposed in The M25 South Of Waltham Cross or perhaps at Hadley Wood station, which would be difficult and probably resisted heavily.

As the services are improved on all the rail and Underground lines to Central London, it would seem not too outrageous to expect that more and more people will be using buses and probably bicycles and walking to get to the stations, as cars will not be  very easy.

Since, I moved away in the 1960s, there are now more circular bus routes linking the stations, so buses will definitely serve more residents and give them more options.

One thing that has changed dramatically since the 1960s has been the ticketing system. Travellers are also flexible with their plans and are very likely to go to and from London using different routes, which modern countless ticketing doesn’t discourage one iota or impose any penalties.

I can see a time, when the historic 107 route gets upgraded to handle increased traffic. In some countries like probably The Netherlands, Sweden or Germany, some form of light rail or tram would probably be built connecting all of the stations, but I don’t think this will be acceptable or feasible for a couple of decades.

However, buses like new Routemasters running frequently could act as traffic magnets and actually reduce the numbers of car commuters and help to increase the traffic on the rail lines.

It is going to be very interesting to see how the transport network in Barnet and Enfield develops in the next few years.

June 6, 2015 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

To The Hive To See Ipswich Town

Barnet have a new ground called The Hive and I went there yesterday to see Ipswich play.

As new grounds go, it is a good attempt to create a 6,000 or so capacity stadium.

Note Edgar Davids playing for Barnet and Titus Bramble for Ipswich.

July 20, 2013 Posted by | Sport | , , | Leave a comment

Home Via New Barnet Station

After my walk through New Barnet, I intended to come home using the Northern line from High Barnet station and I informed the driver of the 384 bus, I boarded outside The Warwick, that that was what I was doing.

But I changed my mind, as the bus stopped in the forecourt of New Barnet station, so I thought I’d come home on the main line train.

It was really sweet and totally professional, as when I got off, the driver questioned if I was at the right stop. Little bits of service really improve a day.

On the platform there is now a little cafe/shop.

Frothy Coffee At New Barnet Station

Frothy Coffee At New Barnet Station

Something that would never have been there when I used the station in the 1960s or 1970s. and if it had been it would have been a terrible British Rail monstrosity.

Things are looking up for those who want to travel and drink. I think it’s a case of the more the merrier!

January 29, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

The Warwick Hotel, New Barnet

Before I went to university, when I was still living at home, I used to go drinking in this pub, with an old school friend called Pete.

The Warwick Hotel, New Barnet

The Warwick Hotel, New Barnet

In those days in the 1960s, it was called the Warwick Hotel and although it is now closed its last name seems to have been The Bell And Buck.

I really don’t know why we went there.  it might have been, because I looked under-age and they would accept any customer with money. But we’d usually have some beer and a couple of games of cribbage.

Little did I realise that my future wife was probably tucked up in bed, just round the corner.

January 29, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 6 Comments

My Mother-In-Law’s Funeral

After Oakwood, I thought I take a bus through Barnet and come home on the Northern line, but I got off near where my mother-in-law used to live.

This picture shows St. James’s church in New Barnet. which was where my mother-in-law worshipped.

St. James's Church In New Barnet

St. James’s Church In New Barnet

C, my late wife, also used to worship there as a child, but as a teenager she just didn’t get on with the vicar, so she moved her patronage to the church where we got married at Cockfosters.

By the time my mother-in-law died, there was a new vicar, who we’d not met until her funeral. He was incidentally an ex-policeman and we did know that my mother-in-law liked him a lot. She was taken into the church and the vicar started to go through the funeral service.  Every time, he spoke of my mother-in-law he called her Frances and her many cousins in unison would chant her birth name of Edith.

After the cremation, we came back to her house round the corner and sandwiches and soft drinks were partaken. Most of the cousins left and we were left with a couple of my mother-in-law’s half-sisters and their family. We did then have a bottle of wine and about an hour later, when everybody had left, we were drinking by ourselves in the empty house, when the door bell rang.

It was the vicar! He’d been unable to come to the cremation or even back to the house, as he had had two funerals that day!

He congratulated us on our drink, as he felt it was a good practical idea.  He then asked us, what all the hissing was about and we told him, how my mother-in-law had hated her first name and had always used her second. but the cousins had continued to use Edith.

He then said, that the first day, he’d met her, she’d walked up to him and said hello, indicating she was Frances and in the six months they’d known each other, he’d not used anything else.

So as she was virtually a friend, he felt that he didn’t need to check with the family.  As it was, we’d have given the same name.

Today was probably the first day since then, that I’ve gone anywhere near that church.

January 29, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment