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Northern Line By Tom Page

10 Amazing Facts About Finchley

Northern Line by Tom Page

Finchley is a beautiful area in London only a few miles from Charing Cross. This area has a long fascinating history. For example Finchley has been attracting intellectual and artistic residents for many centuries. Spike Milligan and Charles Darwin both wrote some of their works here. Unfortunately there are a number of interesting facts about Finchley many people are simply not aware of. Thus we have put together our top ten list of facts, ones we believe you will find interesting.


#1 Harry Beck, a Finchley resident, designed the original Tube map Finchley

Harry Beck designed the first London tube map. To celebrate this, London Regional Transport created a Beck gallery at London’s Transport Museum in the 1990s. Here you can see that original map along with other works. They also installed a commemorative plaque at Finchley Tube station.

Beck lived at 60 Courthouse Road in Finchley. Beck was born Henry Charles Beck and was a technical draftsman. He designed the London Tube map in 1931. Beck was born in Leyton, London on 4 June 1902 and died on 18 September 1974. The London Underground were originally very skeptical about his map proposal, which he drafted during his spare time whilst working for the London Underground Signals Office as an engineer draftsman. Fortunately once the London Underground showcased his map in a pamphlet in 1933, it became an instant success.

#2 Emma Bunton of the Spice Girls was Finchley born

Emma Lee Bunton is known around the world as one of the Spice Girls. She was born on 21 January 1976 and is a top English pop singer. She was fondly known as Baby Spice, being the youngest member of this all-girl group.

Emma lived with her mother, a karate instructor, after her parents split when she was only 11 years old. She and her brother both attended St Theresa’s Roman Catholic Primary School, which is located in Finchley.

In recent times she worked as a radio presenter with Jamie Theakston on the Heart Breakfast show in London in 2009. She also presented her own show every Saturday from 5pm to 7pm.

Emma Bunton grew up in Woodside Park, which is a large and pleasant estate in the Finchley area.

#3 The Phoenix Cinema is one of oldest purpose built cinemas in the UK

The Phoenix Cinema is now a Grade II listed building due to the outstanding auditorium which has the original ceiling dating back to 1910. The auditorium ceiling has gold panels which are from the redesign project which took place in 1938. The exterior went through a remodel in 1938 replacing all the original 1910 domes and turrets with a sleek and modern facade.

This cinema is known as one of the oldest cinemas in the country and offers a mix of films from classic to foreign films and latest releases to independent films. Phoenix Cinema has been described as the best single screen cinema in the London area by Time Out Magazine.

This cinema was purpose built and has remained a cinema over the years. The cinema has played a wide host of films to millions. They showed silent films combined with live music through both world wars.

Since 1985 a charitable trust has been responsible for keeping the doors open to ensure visitors can continue to enjoy all this archirectural masterpiece has to offer.

#4 Margaret Thatcher was Conservative MP for Finchley between 1959 and 1992

Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990 was the Conservative MP in Finchley from 1959 through to 1992. She never actually lived in Finchley, but instead lived in Chelsea and Dulwich before moving to Downing Street.

Margaret Thatcher is the only woman to have served as the British Prime Minister.

#5 Spike Milligan made Finchley his home for nineteen years

Spike Milligan was a popular UK comedian and creator and writer of The Goon Show. Milligan lived in Finchley from 1955 through to 1974 in Woodside Park. He was also president of the Finchley Society.

Milligan was a poet, author, script writer and comedian. He was also a musician and campaigned extensively for the environment. Spike Milligan was born in Indian in 1918 and died in England in 2002.

He created a number of The Goon Show episodes in Finchley, where he lived for nineteen years until 1974. He was also known for his children’s poetry where he took inspiration from his own children.

Spike Milligan’s home was located in Holden Road. A beautiful Edwardian style home with large garden. He was one of the first members of The Finchley Society which started in 1971 and became the first president of the group.

#6 Finchley Golf Club was designed by James Braid, a five times Open Champion winner

Finchley Golf Club was designed by James Braid, five times Open Champion winner. The 18 home course is 72 par. It is a beautiful course with an abundance of stunning parkland offering one of the best golf experiences in North London. The club house and course are set in lovely surroundings and offer easy access from Central London.

James Braid was a professional golf player from Scotland. He was born on 6 February 1870 and died on 27 November 1950. He was a member of Great Triumvirate with John Henry Taylor and Harry Vardon. He was five times winner of the Open Championship.

#7 The Bishops Avenue is one of the wealthiest streets in the world

The Bishops Avenue is one of the wealthiest streets in the world and has been compared to exclusive roads in Hong Kong, Beverley Hills and Monaco. All properties sit on a large plot, often ranging from two to three acres. The smallest house on this affluent street was on the market for £5 million in 2006.

Many of the properties currently on the market have price tags of up to £65 million. This road has become a sought after choice for international buyers and has been named “Millionaires Row” by the residents. The road is home to 66 properties.

Some of the homes in this street belong to Richard Desmond, a newspaper magnet and publisher, the Sultan of Brunei along with members of the House of Bolkiah and Lakshmi Mittal, an industrialist.

Former residents of this road include Heather Mills, the former wife of the famous Paul McCartney, Asil Nadir, a businessman and Sir Peter Saunders, the producer of The Mousetrap.

#8 Finchley Lido was used in the 1948 Olympics for water polo

Finchley Lido was used during the 1948 Olympics. The art deco swimming pool which was set where the Lido is today was used for water polo. Later the pool was replaced with a new pool which is only one third of the size.

The original open air pool was designed by PT Harrison who was on the Finchley Borough Council. The heated pool opened for the first time on 17 September 1931 and remained open until 11 November. The pool was then officially opened on 26 March the following year. The Duke of York, King George VI, unveiled a wall tablet on 22 April 1932 which is still in place today. In fact the tablet is on display behind the counter at Nandos, which is built on the original site.

#9 Ken Aston, the late Finchley Football Club president, invented the red and yellow card system

Finchley Football Club was founded in 1874. Ken Aston, the late Finchley Football Club president, invented the red and yellow card system which is used in international football today.

Aston was the first League referee that wore black with white trim after returning from military service in 1946. Before then, referees wore tweed jackets covering a white shirt, with French cuffs.

In 1947, Aston introduced coloured flags, one was yellow and the other red. He came up with the idea on a foggy day and explained that the colours being used by the team, namely chocolate and beige, were almost impossible to see in the poor visibility conditions.

Ken Aston became a Head Teacher in 1953 at the Newbury Park School in London, he also taught a number of referee courses.

#10 Charles Dickens wrote Martin Chuzzlewit in Finchley

Charles Dickens lived at Cobley Farm in North Finchley in 1843 where he wrote Martin Chuzzlewit. During his many walks along the Finchley lanes he came up with Mrs Gamp, the immortal character.

Martin Chuzzlewit was published over nineteen installments, each one consisting of thirty two pages of text along with two illustrations, and completed by Halbot K “Phiz” Browne.

The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, better known as Martin Chuzzlewit was the last of the picaresque novels by Charles Dickens. The series started in 1843. While Dickens believed this to be his best work, it wasn’t his most popular novel.

Photo Credit: Northern Line by Tom Page. License.