Having demolished Fortismere, Collins had to deal with the lake. He had built Leaside and Firs Avenues up to the two ends of the lake and had probably started to fill it with the spoil from their foundations. A detailed section drawing still exists, dated Oct lst 1909, of the 'private street works' in Fortismere Avenue. It shows 9 inch surface and sewage pipes running down the centre of the road to Grand Avenue. No doubt the last of the lake water was directed into them.

Much of Fortismere Avenue was bomb damaged in the 1939-45 War, as we shall see, but both ends of the road were untouched. Nos. 4 and 6 appear to be as Herbert Collins built them, apart from new machine-made roof tiles, while right at the other end of the road, No 48 is completely unaltered. They are typical Arts and Crafts houses, completely different from the houses in the roads on either side. The photograph below and the drawing at the bottom of the previous page appear to be identical, but the drawing is of Fortismere Avenue and the photograph is of Rookfield Avenue. Late Fortismere Estate houses were being repeated in Rookfield Avenue, as the builders moved on from one estate to the next. Herbert Collins, who designed and built both terraces, lived in No 31 Rookfield Avenue, the first house on the left in the photograph.


Rookfield Avenue, designed and built by Herbert Collins, 1906-1911

 

The Collins Flats in Fortis Green

The Fortis Green and Fortis Green Road flats present a history of flat building from about 1906 to the 1930s, Children have always called Leaside Mansions 'The Firemen's Flats' because of the plaster helmets still over the entrance doors. The shields bear the initials LM, for Leaside Mansions, with a fireman's helmet above, while behind are crossed flags and firemen's axes with sword-hilt handles.

Birchwood Mansions and the other blocks are fine examples of Arts and Crafts work. About 1925 came Woodside Mansions and Fortis Court which reflect the buildings Lutyens was putting up at the same time, in warm orange brick with a sandy mortar. Longridges, facing the end of Midhurst Avenue, and Twyford Court, at the end of Twyford Avenue, take us right up to the Second World War. The same orange brick was used for the small houses at the top of Eastern Road, built on the Nursery grounds. This brick had become a fingerprint of Billy Collins at this period.

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RIBA Drawings Collection

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