The same type of slow development is to be seen in Eastern and Western Roads by looking at the houses. In 1865 development had started, but instead of a uniform development such as we shall see in the Collins and Edmondson Estates later on, The houses by Eastern Road, Western and Southern Roads reveal a wide variety of styles and dates. Almost every house is different showing that they were built by different small builders and not by one man who had a lot of money.

Towards Muswell Hill, many of the large estates persisted to the turn of the century. Walk a couple of hundred paces from Fortis Green along Fortismere Avenue, for example, and you are standing on the site of the elliptical carriage entrance to Fortismere, with one large house facing you and another to your right, both called Fortismere on the 1881 Census form. Today there are rows of houses on either side, with a steep slope ahead, looking down into the valley where the Waterboard buildings now lie, with Highgate Woods rising up and crowning the opposite hill. The view of fields and hedgerows must have been stunning; south facing, clear of houses, an ideal place for an estate owner to build his house.

To the west was Midhurst, in smaller grounds but with a similar prospect to Highgate Woods, over the valley below. On the other side of Fortismere, looking more to the east and the distant view of the Thames Valley, was Firs. Slightly lower down the slope, at the top of Muswell Rise, that sharp, curving hill from Cranley Gardens to St James's Church, were Highfield and The Hall. These houses looked more directly than Firs over the expanse of the Thames.

Beyond Firs, where Fortis Green Road turned into Muswell Hill Road at St James's Church, the roadway skirted the very edge of the cliff to reach the top of Muswell Hill. That angle made by Fortis Green Road and The Broadway was occupied by two large estates, with Fortis House, at what is now the end of Princes Avenue, and The Limes which occupied most of Queen's Avenue and stretched down the hill behind Colney Hatch Lane. The Limes, which was on the sites of the present Public Library and Barclays Bark, was later bought by Edmondson and developed, with other estates, to form Queen's, Princes' and King's Avenues, and all that fine parade of shops along the north side of Fortis Green and the Broadway, with their their characteristic arched fronts.

Shops in Fortis Green Road and the Athenaeum (demolished).

 

89

From Highgate to Hornsey: A Portrait in Old Picture Postcards, by Ken Gay and DickWhetstone, by permission

Page 88
Page 90