KINGSBURY (Jubilee Line - Stanmore) A LONDON TUBE RAMBLES WALK
(about 3 miles in total)
1 Quirky buildings fest - Flats imitating castles, picturesque thatched wooden houses with weird windows – is this the most eccentric architecture in the UK? Even those who aren’t normally interested will find it worth the climb (fairly steep hill involved, I’m afraid). This section takes about an hour, though you can cheat and get a bus back to the station which will save you around 15 minutes walk.
2 Fryent Country Park - visiting this is a strange experience, as you are walking through a kind of ghost landscape. There are ancient hedges, hay meadows, ponds, etc. - but no farming activity. It has been preserved as an example of the Middlesex countryside before suburbia swallowed up most of it. The ‘park’ is an unusual and intriguing place to wander around, and an excellent resource for various kinds of nature study. It's about a mile from the station.
First, the architecture. Be prepared for your jaw to drop at the first Trobridge house you see - and remain that way the whole time you wander round this extraordinary area. Just as you think you are in a rather boring, standard 1920’s/30’s road, up pops yet another loopy building. The architect responsible for all this was Belfast-born Ernest George Trobridge (1884-1942). During the First World War he had developed methods of constructing houses that echoed those of ancient times, using timber framing, wood cladding and even thatching. He took out a patent on his ‘Compressed Green Wood Construction’ but the hoped-for Government building grants fell through and he was left bankrupt. Eventually a co-partnership scheme was established and he was able to go ahead with his highly unusual designs that were both economical to carry out and comparatively maintenance free. By the 1930’s wood was no longer a cheap option and Trobridge began to build a series of flats in more conventional materials, but they were far from conventional in appearance.
To get to these exciting dwellings, turn right on leaving the Tube station and walk (past lively exotic fruit and vegetable stalls) until you are opposite Roe Green Park .Where the road forks, continue right into a residential road. This is Kenton Old Lane. At the end (about ten minutes from the Tube) is Slough Lane. Straight ahead is your first 1920’s thatched house. Turn right and walk as far as No. 134 for two more splendid examples, then go back to the top of the street for the spectacular range of No.'s 152, 154 and 156. Cross over Kingsbury Road at lights and walk up Roe Green. From the view you will realise how high up you are – about to get even higher as you turn left into Highfield Avenue. Keep a watch for 'medieval' stonework and other unusual details as you climb the hill. Just as you are running out of puff you will be rewarded by the sight of the ‘castles’ at the crossroads. Highfort Court is the most spectacular, with steps spilling out towards the road. Diagonally opposite is a smaller version, with a pair of towers that look as though they could withstand a siege. Please do not get so carried away that you wander into the middle of the road to get a better camera angle, as there is more traffic around here than you might expect.
Turn left into Buck Lane. Almost immediately comes Buck Cottage, a large dwelling with steeply pitched thatched roof. Opposite are Tudor Gates and Upminster House. At first glance they are ordinary 1930's buildings, but they seem to have an identity crisis, as each has a mini brick tower and a twisty Tudor chimney! Continue down Buck Lane for more intriguing houses, then turn round at No.5 (thatch again) and walk back over the crossroads, still in Buck Lane, towards Kingsbury Road (downhill here!). Pop into Ash Tree Dell to see some more oddities in the shape of strangely detailed doorways. Many other houses in the area also have chimneys and details in the Arts and Crafts style reflecting Trobridge’s interest in traditional craftsmanship and his belief in the concept of the hearth as a focal point of the home.
A note of warning. Although some of these properties are listed, sadly many have suffered inappropriate alterations and additions, in particular ugly double glazing. The estate is now a Conservation Area but although the Council says it is doing its best to keep a watch on what is going on, there is an issue with the funding for such an initiative. However, the listed thatched buildings are well maintained and the whole area well worth a visit, especially if off-beat architecture is your thing.
No.142 Slough Lane
North End of Slough Lane
Whitecastle Mansions (2 photos)
Buck Cottage: No.45 Buck Lane
Washing line on Tudor-inspired chimney, Buck Lane: Tudor Gates, Buck Lane
Horses, Fryent Country Park
Hedgerow, Fryent Country Park
Incidentally, there is wonderful Asian food of all kinds to be found in this area. Those following a diet should on no account enter one of the sweetmeat shops!
Fryent Country Park is not really a suitable destination for buggies or wheelchairs owing to the uneven ground.
Kingsbury is just one walk from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings to be found in the area covered by the outer London Underground stations. Usually the discoveries are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the above link and see the other destinations explored. You'll be amazed at what's out there!