Spotlight on Enfield

Countryside, good schools, lots of period family homes and the world's first ATM. Enfield is a great place to settle

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What’s Enfield ever done for us? Well, it gave us Whitaker’s Almanack, the famous Lee-Enfield rifle of the First World War, the world’s first ATM and London’s last manually operated telephone exchange.

The town sits on the very edge of north London where the suburbs give way to beautiful Hertfordshire countryside. It has a quick and easy train journey into the City and West End, an attractive town centre, good schools and fine period properties.

River View
One of the desirable parts of Enfield is River View, a picturesque street of charming terrace houses

Enfield has a thriving modern shopping centre but there are still reminders of the time when this was a small country town. St Andrew’s Church dates mainly from the 14th century and the thrice-weekly market on the square in front of the church was first granted a charter in 1303. In Silver Street there is a pretty weather-boarded house where in 1868 Joseph Whitaker first published his famous Almanack, which is still going strong today.

The town gave its name to the Lee-Enfield rifle which was manufactured at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield Lock on the River Lea. The factory, which was built in 1816 after the end of the Napoleonic wars, closed down in 1988 and its historic buildings were later converted into flats.

Part of the capital’s last manual telephone exchange is displayed in the local museum. And the town was the first place in the world to get a cash machine, or ATM, at the local branch of Barclays in 1967. Launched by the actor Reg Varney of On the Buses fame, the event is commemorated with a blue plaque.

Property for sale in Enfield
Enfield town centre has some fine Georgian houses and in the Clay Hill conservation area to the north of the town there are even older houses along country lanes.

A loop of the New River — the waterway built by Sir Hugh Myddelton at the beginning of the 17th century to bring fresh water from Ware in Hertfordshire to Sadler’s Wells in north London — runs through Enfield Town. Picturesque, flat-fronted early Victorian cottages overlook or back on to the river in both Gentleman’s Row and River View. They sell for between £315,000 and £430,000.

Bush Hill Park conservation area has good-looking detached and semi-detached Edwardian and Twenties houses along wide roads with thickly planted verges. Elsewhere in Enfield there is a plentiful supply of Victorian, Edwardian, Twenties and Thirties semi-detached and terrace housing.

The area attracts: families move to Enfield for the schools and the affordable homes. Julian Weenen, from Enfield Chase estate agents James Hayward, says buyers come from the likes of Crouch End and Muswell Hill because they can get a three-bedroom Victorian house for the price of a two-bedroom flat in those areas.

“There is a strong local market, too, and this is driven by school catchment areas. St George’s RC, St Michael’s CofE, St Andrew’s CoE and Raglan are all very popular primary schools. And people may even move again to be closer to Enfield Grammar, a top-performing boys’ comprehensive, and Enfield County, the girls’ comprehensive, or to the two Enfield postcodes which are in the catchment area for the very popular Dame Alice Owen’s School in nearby Potters Bar.”

One of the best roads in Enfield Town is Gentleman's Row
One of the best roads in Enfield Town is Gentleman's Row

Staying power: families tend to stay in Enfield if they are happy with their children’s schooling.

Best roads: in Enfield Town itself the best road is Gentleman’s Row; the last period detached house in this road sold for £950,000. In Bush Hill Park, it is Wellington Road and Queen Anne’s Grove, Gardens and Place. Houses in these roads sell for between £450,000 and £650,000.

What’s new: Bellway Homes launched Enfield Central (0845 676 0263), a large development close to Enfield Town station, last week. When complete there will be a total of 191 studios, one- and two-bedroom flats and two-bedroom duplexes in a combination of an office-to-residential conversion and newly built blocks. Prices for the studios start at £163,000, the one- bedroom flats are from £175,000 and the two-bedroom flats, which come with a parking space, start from £249,000.

Up and coming: the Hilly Fields Park area off Browning Road has streets of Victorian terraces which sell for between £230,000 and £330,000.

Schools: Enfield has many top-performing state schools and few parents here look elsewhere for their children’s education.

Local primary schools judged “outstanding” by the Ofsted government education watchdog are St Andrew’s CofE in Churchbury Lane and St George’s RC in Gordon Road. The following are judged “good”: George Spicer in Southbury Road; Case Side in Trinity Street; St Michael’s CofE in Brigadier Hill, and Lavender in Lavender Road.

Both the boys’ and girls’ comprehensives in Enfield Town, Enfield Grammar (boys ages 11 to 18) and Enfield County (girls ages 11 to 18) get excellent results at GCSE. The two co-educational comprehensives, Chace (ages 11 to 18) and Kingsmead (ages 11 to 18) in Southbury Road are both popular. Dame Alice Owen’s School in Potters Bar, which gets good results and is judged “outstanding” by Ofsted, is sought after.

Enfield market is part of a thriving shopping centre
Enfield market is part of a thriving shopping centre

Shops and restaurants: Enfield has a busy town centre with a recently upgraded shopping centre, the Palace Gardens, a department store called Pearsons of Enfield, and branches of Waitrose, Marks &Spencer, H&M, Next and Topshop, among other big high street names. There are chain restaurants Pizza Express, Prezzo and Nandos. The Pied Bull at Bulls Cross is a lovely old country pub.

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Open space: Enfield is on the edge of the capital so the countryside is on the doorstep. There are also famous gardens to visit, such as Myddelton Gardens, home of the famous early 20th-century gardener EA Bowles, the gardens at Capel Manor College and Forty Hall, a fine early 17th-century house and gardens, owned by the local council and recently restored with a large Lottery grant.

Leisure and the arts: The Dugdale Centre in Enfield Town has a theatre and small museum. The Bush Hill Park Golf Club is in Bush Hill, the Enfield Golf Club is in Old Park Road and Whitewebbs Golf Club is in Clay Hill.

Travel: Enfield sits close to the M25. Enfield Town and Bush Hill Park stations have trains to Liverpool Street (journey times 35 minutes); some commuters change at Seven Sisters on to the Tube. Enfield Chase station has trains to Moorgate (journey time 35 minutes), with some commuters changing to the Tube at Finsbury Park. All stations are in Zone 5 and an annual travelcard costs £1,992.

Council: Enfield (Labour-controlled); Band D council tax for the 2012/2013 year is £1,407.06.

Photographs by Graham Hussey


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