For most travellers Epping, High Barnet, Morden, West Ruislip, Uxbridge and Amersham remain the never- visited far-flung corners of the London Tube network — and then there is Cockfosters to bring a smile to your face. It, and the other Tube stations along the northern extension of the Piccadilly line, opened in 1933 and are worth visiting in themselves for their architecture.
The stations were designed by Charles Holden who worked in what is now considered the golden age of transport design. Unashamedly modern but with an art deco twist, these stations brought great style to the new neighbourhoods that developed in their wake.
Southgate station is one of Holden’s best. A circular building topped by a strange little lantern with a semi- circular bus station and shopping arcade behind it, it is like a little spaceship landed in a suburban corner.
The area has mainly Thirties houses built after the arrival of the Tube and the opening of the North Circular Road in the same year. These homes come in all shapes and sizes, from grand detached mansions to mock Tudor semis and modest terraces. There are fine Georgian houses on The Green, which is south of Southgate town centre, where Waterfall Road meets the High Street and Cannon Hill, and scattered about are two-bedroom Victorian cottages and three-bedroom Edwardian houses.
Exclusive Hadley Wood, a short distance north of Cockfosters, has some very large Victorian homes close to the station in Crescent West and Crescent East. The rest of Hadley Wood and Cockfosters Road are now firm favourites with north London footballers and pop stars, attracted by the big new houses and extended mansions protected by security fences and electronic gates, and by the 24-hour security service which patrols the area. Residents include pop stars Kimberley Walsh, Emma Bunton, Lemar and footballer Robbie Keane.
The area attracts: Ozi Salih from the Southgate branch of estate agents Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says that Southgate and Cockfosters attract families looking for good-value family houses. “It is on the edge of London with good parks, good schools, quick access to the countryside, and yet still within easy commuting distance of the West End and the City and within striking distance of both the North Circular and the M25.”
Hadley Wood is a quiet, almost self-contained community, with real star appeal. Estate agent Nick Staton from Statons, the only agency based in Hadley Wood, says that most of the top private schools in north London and Hertfordshire operate a coach service to the area.
Staying power: there is scope for trading up — with the ultimate goal being a home in Hadley Wood — so families tend to stay.
Postcodes: N14 is the Southgate postcode, which also includes Oakwood and parts of Arnos Grove. Cockfosters and Hadley Wood are in the Enfield postcode EN4, which also includes East Barnet and New Barnet. The EN4 postcode is the more desirable.
The best roads: these include Crescent West, Crescent East, Camlet Way and Beech Hill in Hadley Wood, and Cockfosters Road, the Meadway Conservation Area and The Green in Southgate.
What’s new: Buckley Court (Statons 020 8440 9797) in Cockfosters Road is a development of nine flats in a block built to look like a large mock Tudor mansion. One three-bedroom flat remains at £795,000. Housing Association L&Q wants to build 275 homes on the old Middlesex University campus on Cat Hill but has run into stiff local opposition from residents who want to retain the trees on the site.
Up and coming: there are no undervalued pockets waiting to be discovered.
Southgate’s state schools are a big draw. It is not hard to find a top-performing primary or comprehensive school. Walker on Waterfall Road and Monkfrith on Knoll Road are the two primary schools judged “outstanding” by the Government’s education watchdog Ofsted. Osidge on Chase Side, St Andrew’s CofE in Chase Road, Wolfson Hillel, a Jewish primary school, and St Monica’s RC are all judged “good”.
The two comprehensive schools — Southgate and Ashmole — are both co-educational and take pupils from ages 11 to 18. They are judged “outstanding”. Queen Elizabeth’s is a boys’ grammar school in nearby Barnet. Salcombe (ages four to 11) is the local private prep school; Palmers Green High (ages two to 18) is a popular private girls’ school; St Martha’s Senior School in Monken Hadley is a private Catholic girls’ school.
Shops and restaurants
Shopping is not Southgate’s strong point, but eating out is. There is a 24-hour Asda in Southgate town centre, while interesting independent shops include Ruby Blu, for gifts, toys and children’s clothes, also in the town centre. Made Man, a men’s fashion boutique, and Jamaica Plantations for tea and coffee, are both in Cockfosters.
This area must have one of London’s highest concentrations of restaurants. There is a wide choice around The Green, with the House of Cakes and its seemingly endless varieties of cup cake, and the newly refurbished Ye Old Cherry Tree standing out; and in thetown centre there are chain restaurants such as Pizza Express and a large and glitzy fish restaurant Thalassa. In Cockfosters there is a branch of Prezzo and the always-busy Brooklyn’s Grill.
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Open spaces: Grovelands Park was landscaped by Humphry Repton and is overlooked by a John Nash-designed classical mansion, now part of The Priory hospital group. Broomfield Park has a baroque water garden and a ruined mansion still no closer to restoration following funding cuts.
Oak Hill Park, between Cockfosters and East Barnet, has a café and bowls green and a 15-acre ancient wood. Trent Country Park is a 400-acre country park west of Cockfosters Road. Once a royal hunting ground, it now boasts meadows, woodland, lakes, grazing deer and a large campus, part of Middlesex University.
Leisure and the arts
There are three council-owned swimming pools — the Southgate Leisure Centre in Winchmore Hill Road, the Arnos Pool in Bowes Road, New Southgate and Church Farm Swimming Pool in Church Hill Road. Private gym LA Fitness, also in Winchmore Hill Road, has a swimming pool. The Chicken Shed Theatre on Chase Side is a theatre company that has pioneered the concept of inclusive theatre, with anyone regardless of age, race and ability encouraged to participate.
Many of Southgate’s sports clubs are based at the Walker Ground, which is run by a charity. And there are several golf courses and clubs within easy reach. There is a public golf course in Trent Park, while the Hadley Wood Golf Club is a membership club.
Getting around: Southgate and Cockfosters are situated between the North Circular and M25. The Tube service from Cockfosters takes 39 minutes to Piccadilly Circus and from Southgate 34 minutes. Cockfosters is in Zone 5 (an annual travelcard costs £1,576) and Southgate is in Zone 4 (an annual travelcard costs £1,880). Hadley Wood (Zone 6; annual travelcard £2,016) has trains to Moorgate in 34 minutes.
Council: most of Southgate and Cockfosters are in Enfield (Labour-controlled) and band D council tax for the 2011/2012 year is £1,410.16. The western edge is in Barnet (Tory-controlled), where band D council tax is £1,423.02.
Photographs: Graham Hussey