Weekly Photo Challenge: Relic

East Barnet Signpost

Motorists driving north through Hadley Green on The Great North Road pass the monument to the Battle of Barnet at which Richard Neville – Earl of Warwick – died. Shortly before they reach the monument they will pass an antique roadsign – A survivor of the many Highways Agency purges. The sign dates to pre-1935, a fact that can be gleaned from the initials of East Barnet Valley Unitary District Council proudly emblazoned on the headpiece. We can narrow the date down a bit further by considering that the A1 Barnet Bypass was completed in 1927 and the old Great North Road became the A1000.

Made of cast iron the sign carries an interesting glimpse into the past with the nearby settlments of Finchley to the south and Hadley Woods to the east posted. However, the arm pointing north presents a conundrum in that it mentions Hatfield and Welwyn but makes no mention of Potters Bar – the nearest large town along The Great North Road. It would appear that in the early 1930’s Potters Bar was still not considered large enough to warrant a mention on a roadsign on the major route between London and York – despite having grown rapidly after the Great Northern Railway opened a station there in 1850!

Actually, there is an interesting omission to the south as well – Whetstone. A major stagecoach stop of the past, perhaps a clue to its omission was in the original name given to the GNR station there – Totteridge. Was 1930’s Whetstone just a one horse town you passed by with barely a thought? It certainly isn’t now and knowledge of all the local backroads is invaluable on a Saturday afternoon if you don’t want to be spending half-an-hour in a traffic jam there!

You can read about this week’s photo challenge at http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/relic/


  1. I love the local history hidden in these little signs. I used to cycle past the one you have pictured. It is showing signs of its advanced age, and I’m torn – should it be refurbished, cleaned and repainted as a local landmark, or left to decay back into the soil from which it was raised. I’m minded to the latter…

    1. It’s an interesting decision isn’t it Ali – a bit like keeping the old style phone box. I know that it was partially restored circa 2002. Don’t know if they’ve touched it since then.

      1. I started out on exchange maintenance in Strowger days which will tell you that I’m winding down towards retirement πŸ™‚ Currently I’m in application support which can be boring or exciting according to whether something has fallen over or you’re just doing routine work to stop things from falling over πŸ˜‰

  2. I spent so much of my childhood in this area. Went to secondary school in Mill Hill. Rode horses in North Finchley. This post brought back such pleasant memories for me. Thanks so much … πŸ™‚

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