Postcard Memories

How a small part of Barnet changed in a Century
By Mark Amies

Whilst browsing through old photos of North West London online, I happened upon this wonderful postcard image of Finchley Bridge on Hendon Lane. It just happened to be a postcard that was available for sale on eBay, so I bought it. I find it to be a fascinating example of how an area of Barnet has been radically changed in the course of a century.

Getting a date for it, at first, seemed easy enough, given that it was postmarked for the year 1921, 100 years ago. However, on closer inspection of the image itself, it seemed the original photograph was much older. Based on the two small boys in the image, who were in period Edwardian dress, I guess it was taken within a decade or so before. I wonder what happened to these two young lads? Did they serve in the Great War, and if so, did they survive the conflict?

In the photo, one of the boys stands on a bridge, looking over green fields. The brick-built bridge, with simple but elegant ironwork, was probably relatively new at the time, having replaced an earlier 19th Century stone bridge. It’s likely the revision was made because the earlier bridge had a pronounced rise, which may have been an issue for the increased, heavier traffic on the road.

One very noticeable thing about the postcard is that it shows a landscape that has now changed beyond all recognition. In fact, the only thing that has remained is the Dollis Brook and the weir that it flows over. In 1923, just two years after the postcard was sent on its way to its recipient in Essex, the A1 Great North Way ploughed its way through the area, bringing with suburban development of homes that now fill so much of the once open countryside.

Despite all this change, you can still pass through the area on the pleasant Dollis Valley Greenwalk, a ten-mile green corridor that starts at Moat Mount in Mill Hill, and ends in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

To read more about the Dollis Valley Greenwalk have a look at this article by author David Fathers: weekend-walks-a-green-walk

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