A bomb fell in Fortis Green Road, at the end of Princes Avenue, destroying four shops and sending shock blast waves in all directions. The buildings were so damaged that they had to be demolished. The site was purchased by Messrs Courage who planned to build a public house there sometime iin the future. After the Second World War there was a campaign to make the Borough more beautiful by opening small parks on derelict sites. Messrs Courage consented to this site being included in the scheme and contributed £2t00 towards the cost. A book called Beauty and the Borough' was later published, with photographs, including the one reproduced here. It shows the Princes Avenue site, with the end of the shop terrace rendered to keep out the rain, but before landscaping. In 1959 the John Baird pub was built on the site.

On the opposite corner is a small public open space with a conifer in the centre. One might be tempted to think that the bomb had destroyed a couple of shops on that corner too and a small park had been created. However, the flank wall of the shop terrace is completely undamaged and has original windows in it. The wall has not been rendered with sand and cement like the one opposite. The story goes back to 1900. When Edmondson bought Fortis House Estate, the entrance to Fortis House stood at the present entrance to Princes Avenue and on this corner was a magnificent Cedar of Lebanon, said to have been one of the most beautiful trees in London. It was so mature and beautiful that Edmondson could not bring himself to fell it. Instead, he presented the tree and the corner site to the public as a garden.

When the bomb fell the Cedar must have taken some of the blast, protecting the end of the terrace and perhaps it saved lives. It was not destroyed, surviving until the 1950s. Perhaps someday, when the present tree is very old, it may be replaced by a Cedar of Lebanon as a reminder of 1900, but there it is unlikely thet there will eve be room for such a large tree. My drawing shows it in about 1935.


The cleared bomb site at the end of Princes Avenue, on which the John Baird was built.

 

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A Walk Around Muswell Hill, by Ken gay, 1987

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