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Childs Hill, now the southernmost ward of the London Borough of Barnet, although of historic origin, is a late-19th-century suburban development situated 5 miles (8 km) northwest of Charing Cross bordered by the A41 (Hendon Way) and Dunstan Road, and centred on the junction of Cricklewood Lane and Finchley Road. It is adjacent to a part of Hampstead Heath known as the West Heath.
It is the most densely populated ward in the borough. It is represented on Barnet Council by two Conservatives, Shimon Ryde and Peter Zinkin, and one Liberal Democrat, Jack Cohen. As part of the Finchley & Golders Green constituency, its Member of Parliament is the Conservative Mike Freer. The area has a thriving Residents' Association, called CLAN (current chairman: Andrew Sanger), representing three residential streets at the heart of the neighbourhood - Crewys, Llanvanor and Nant roads.
The earliest known use of the place name 'Child's Hill' is in 1593. (Today, the apostrophe in the name is optional.) In the 18th century, Childs Hill was a centre for brick and tile making, supplying material for building Hampstead. The Castle Inn dates from this period: the first record of it is in 1751.
With an altitude over 259 feet above sea level (at the Castle Public House), Childs Hill is visible from afar, and from 1789 to 1847 was the site of an optical telegraph station. In 1808 this became one of a line of telegraph stations stretching from the Admiralty to Great Yarmouth, erected as part of Britain's national defences. Only the name, Telegraph Hill, remains; it has been covered with housing (this part of Childs Hill is now inside the boundary of the London Borough of Camden).
Following an Act of Parliament in 1826, Finchley Road was constructed; it was completed by 1829. There was a tollgate at the Castle Public House. The road is now the main thoroughfare through Childs Hill. In the early 1850s a Colonel Evans built houses on a site called The Mead, where the Morris brick works had been. The road was later renamed Granville Road, its name today. By the 1870s a number of laundries were operating in Childs Hill. The very last laundry site in the area, the Initial Laundry in Granville Road, closed in 2006.
With streets of modest terraced housing, but also characterised by four high rise blocks of flats.
The first block of the four was built by the building company Tersons for the Metropolitan Police in about 1956. These were 'police flats' or quarters for police families. Orchard Mead House, on the Finchley Road, later became Quarters for Services families for a short time before moving into the private sector.
The second and third blocks, in Granville Road were built in about 1960, by the local borough as housing in the local community. The fourth block, presumed to be the same, was built some time later.
Childs Hill has a public library, as well as Childs Hill park, which also contains the Childs Hill Bowls Club,an 18th-century pub (The Castle), several shops and restaurants, small businesses, offices, primary schools and two churches (All Saints C of E with Primary School and Childs Hill Baptist, whose pastor of 25 years is Gary Brady).
At the northern extremity of Childs Hill, on the Hendon Way, is the Palm Hotel, formerly the Garth Hotel. Alexei Sayle's short story "Barcelona Plates" goes into some detail about the hotel, as its protagonist stays there for a while, noting, amongst many other features, the idiosyncratic design of the building, which was formed by the amalgamation of several suburban houses.
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Childs Hill has blue plaques commemorating two famous former residents: Sportsman C. B. Fry who lived at Moreland Court, Lyndale Avenue, and Aviator Amy Johnson, who lived at Vernon Court on the Hendon Way.
Though not a resident John Constable, who lived in nearby Hampstead, painted Childs Hill in oils in 1825. (The work is entitled Childs Hill with Harrow in the Distance). The painting shows the view northwest along what is now Cricklewood Lane, with Harrow on the Hill visible beyond.
- British History Online - Childs Hill pages - a serious look at the area's history