Road Widening in Fortis Green

In 1966 the Ministry of Transport wanted to widen Fortis Green as part of a large road improvement scheme. Road traffic was going to increase,and the North Circular Road would become overloaded, so new orbital roads would be needed. The Ministry proposed to improve the A504 road to link Edgware Road at Hendon and Tottenham High Road. The route was to run from West Hendon, through Barnet, along East End Road Finchley, Fortis Green, down Muswell Hill, along Priory Road to Turnpike Lane, and through to Tottenham. It would destroy the rural character of Fortis Green, fell the trees and turn it into a three-lane highway.

The proposed orbital road

The Minister of Transport offered a grant and, in 1969, Haringey Council served a Compulsory Purchase Order on the householders in Fortis Green. Westside would lose approximately 445 square yards of its front garden; Bernard Johnson House, 175 square yards; 288 from Priory Grange; 103 from Albion Cottage; 90 from Albion Lodge; 232 square yards from Lynton Grange; and so on along the road. Each garden would be truncated and the traffic brought nearer.

Immediately the Muswell Hill and Fortis Green Association protested. They claimed that traffic flowed smoothly and rapidly along Fortis Green, any congestion occurring at the two ends, at the bottlenecks of The Bald Faced Stag and Muswell Hill Broadway. Residents should come before traffic and they accused the Council of having a hidden motive. In recent years eight old houses had been demolished and five blocks of flats erected in their place, increasing the number of housing units from 8 to about 110. The sewers were decayed and overloaded. The Council would have to bear the full cost of replacement but, if the road were widened, the Ministry of Transport would pay threequarters of the cost. They suspected that the Council was prepared to sacrifice both the residents and the area for the sake of the grant.

Several householders made personal protests. I have kindly been given access to a thick file created by Mr Corfield, who was then the owner of Albion Lodge and a driving force behind the protest. He began his objection in this way:-

'Albion Lodge, erected 1815, stands some 90 feet from the road with its other half, Albion Cottage. Both houses are attractive in appearance, with great charm and character. The old, established gardens have two very fine old horse chestnut trees, one to each plot, which are under a Tree Preservation Order.'


File lent to me by MRS McKnight

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