Barnet Museum historian on 150 years of London Underground

'Nothing has had a bigger influence on the borough in recent history'

Hendon Central Tube station in 1923 is barely recognisable compared with the bustling scene today

Busy main roads and coffee shops have replaced the sweeping fields that surrounded the station when it was first built

First published in News
Last updated
Times Series: Photograph of the Author by

It is 150 years since London Underground first started connecting the towns and cities of the capital - a transport revolution that changed the borough of Barnet beyond recognition.

From the early 1920s, the once sweeping meadows on the outskirts of the city were quickly built up with the introduction of Northern Line stations at Golders Green, Hendon, Edgware and later High Barnet.

To mark the anniversary, the Times Series took a look through the London Transport Museum’s archives to see what the borough’s main Tube stations looked like in their infancy and compare them with the landscapes that exist today.

To see our full picture gallery, click here.

Local historian Andrew Christie, from Barnet Museum, explained the impact the railways had on the borough when they first began to spring up in the 1920s.

He said: “They essentially brought about the spread of suburbia. The convenience of travel into central London brought in contractors and the fields were eaten up by main roads, shops and houses – the whole area would have changed.

“High Barnet, which was not converted to a Tube station until the 1940s, would have brought more of a convenience than a sudden boom but over time the accessibility of central London had a big impact on housing.”

The building of Edgware Tube station in 1924 caused the population of the town to quadruple in less than six years as people flocked to live in the new ‘garden suburbs’ around London.

Mr Christie added: “Golders Green and Edgware town centres were pretty much built around the stations - nothing has had a bigger influence on the borough in its recent history than the introduction of the tube.

“It created the commuter belt we know today and with the advent of cars and roads it transformed the look of the place.”

Many landscapes of the 1920s are barely recognisable compared with the urban sprawl surrounding some of the stations today.

Major roads and motorways, including Watford Way and the North Circular, provided more transport links that began to shape the borough as we see it now.

Mr Christie added: “There were perhaps some negatives in terms of the speed of the sprawl but that was inevitable with Barnet’s proximity to London.

“Some areas of Hendon and Edgware have experience decline over the years, with more and more boarded up shops being seen.

“That said, the building of the Tubes was an important time in the borough’s history and we would not be looking at the same borough today had it not have happened.”

Comments (2)

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5:19pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Jon10 says...

What we need nowadays is an east-west light-rail line across outer north London.

The big development sites in Barnet could partly fund this, instead of more use of the private car.

A "North and West London Light Railway" has been unanimously supported by full council meetings in Ealing, Harrow and Brent.

In the 2020s, such a line could reach Brent Cross, Colindale, Mill Hill East, Finchley Central, and then east along the North Circular road corridor to Alexandra Palace or New Southgate/Arnos Grove..

But where is the political will in Barnet?
What we need nowadays is an east-west light-rail line across outer north London. The big development sites in Barnet could partly fund this, instead of more use of the private car. A "North and West London Light Railway" has been unanimously supported by full council meetings in Ealing, Harrow and Brent. In the 2020s, such a line could reach Brent Cross, Colindale, Mill Hill East, Finchley Central, and then east along the North Circular road corridor to Alexandra Palace or New Southgate/Arnos Grove.. But where is the political will in Barnet? Jon10
  • Score: 0

11:20pm Sat 2 Feb 13

Mill-Hill-Boy says...

Agree John. We need an east to west light railway to look after the future of the borough and boost the economy by reducing commuting time and helping people move around faster as more cars come on the road and the population increases. What are the politicians doing about this?
Agree John. We need an east to west light railway to look after the future of the borough and boost the economy by reducing commuting time and helping people move around faster as more cars come on the road and the population increases. What are the politicians doing about this? Mill-Hill-Boy
  • Score: 0

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