Of course the best church is the one at the top end of Queens Avenue, on the corner with Tetherdown. That was designed by Morley Horder. I liked his work. He always wore a velvet jacket and a monocle.

St James's is a fine landmark. Of course there was a church there before the present one. That was smaller and had a wooden spire but it's gone now. I like the vicarage that was built soon after the church.

The building of Dukes Avenue I think followed on immediately after the building of the centre of the Broadway. There was no interval. Edmondson's, I think, were involved down there as they were in Hillfield Park and Hillfield Gardens.

At the time the building was going on in houses in Grand Avenue, the single fronted ones were sold for about £450 leasehold. The people who bought them were middle class but all sorts. I suppose they all had a living-in maid. I married in 1929 and we had a living-in maid for a long time - for five or six years. We came here in 1934 and had two living-in maids for some years.

My father did a lot of building in Crouch End, Crouch Hill and Stroud Green as well as Muswell Hill. I did the Fortis Court in 1925 and three blocks in Fortis Green between 1930 and 1932. These include the Twyford and Long Ridges blocks. I woudn't call myself an architect because I am not a registered architect. I am a designer but have always been interested in architecture. I also did twelve houses on the east side of Eastern Road, in Fortis Green. They are in a style looking like early 19th Century, with hipped gables, not vertical gables.

In the Rookfield Estate I did Cranmer Way, Rookfield Avenue (east side), a lot of Cascade Avenue and Rookfield Close. In those days you always had to keep the ugly effect of rows and rows of parapet walls in mind. Under the by-laws party walls had to extend through the roof so it projected at least a foot above the tiles from the front to the back. You always were trying to draw the eye away from parapet walls with lots of gables and so forth. I tried to get the council to let me do the Rookfield Estate without party walls but they told me I would need a special Act of Parliament as was needed for Hampstead Garden Suburb. But they did accept gables in one place with a solid concrete block along the top of the gable instead.

In a lot of Victorian and Edwardian houses, the front sitting rooms are wider than the rooms at the back and the corners were rounded off instead of having a square angle. In Church Crescent my father built the houses and he thought I should learn how to use some of the carpenters' tools and I had to fix the chair rails around the corners and elsewhere.

Queens Avenue was built by Edmondsons, and Kings Avenue by Pappin. My father, W.J.Collins did Grand and Collingwood and that estate was done in four years, or maybe it was five. The front doors probably all came from Clapton Joinery Works although they didn't do the stained glass or the leaded lights. They were bought in.

21 Sheldon Avenue N6, 15 December 1975.

 

Billy Collies died only eighteen months after this interview and a short obituary was published in the Finchley Press on 26 June, 1977.

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Obituary, Finchley Press,14.6.1977

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