Crest from the Firemen's Flats, Fortis Green


Rookfield Estate

This book does not pretend to consider Rookfield Estate in depth. Readers should refer to the excellent article by Anne Trevett in the Hornsey Historical Bulletin, 1988,but the transition from Fortismere Estate to Rookfield is relevant. Rookfield contains a history of the family building styles. At the corner of Muswell Hill and Cascade Avenue is a house which turns the corner exactly as the houses in Grand Avenue turn into Firs Avenue. They are typical of W.J.Collins, the father.

The west side of Cascade Avenue, built by Herbert Collins, copies the Fortismere Avenue houses which he had also built. These houses have the projecting party walls which were then required by the building regulations. The rules about party walls were later relaxed and the 1913 drawings by Herbert and Co, on the next page, show the effect. The party walls no longer project and the roof is one long sweep, instead of a set of separate slices.

William J. Collins, the father, lived in Rookfield until he left in 1911 to develop his Southampton estates. Then Rookfield, the old house on the estate, was demolished in its turn.

In 1912, Billy Collins formed Rookfield Garden Village Ltd to complete the estate. Billy continued to build in Muswell Hill and North London for the rest of his life while Herbert later took over the Southampton developments.

The last block of houses in Cascade Avenue, on the south side nearest to Muswell Hill, was not built until 1936 because it was a very awkward site and so left to the last. Because of the steep slope, the houses had to be built on heavy steel girders, which incidentally provided very useful air raid shelters during the War. The girders are not obvious, of course, so these appear to be typical Billy Collins houses, with their arched tunnels between each pair of houses, something never seen in the Fortismere Estate. Herbert also used tunnel-backs when he went to Southampton. In these houses the upper floors spread over the tunnels giving space for an extra bedroom in alternate houses. Thus four-bedroom and three-bedroom houses alternate down the road.

 

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HHB No28 Rookfield Garden s: a study of the influence of the Garden City, byAnne Treven.

Information from Mrs Niblett, teacher at the school.

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