In 1935/36, the local population became concerned about the preservation of Russell Lane - a forested area known locally as Lovers' Lane - because a similar area in Osidge Lane had been totally decimated by the making of a roadway. The site, owned by Ideal Homes, was to be developed for housing which involved the felling of many trees. In negotiation with the council, who could not afford to buy the land, the Russell Lane site was given to the council on the understanding that it would be preserved for future generations to enjoy. The council had to find £3,000 to carry out necessary work of tree preservation (cost of 5 bungalows at the time). There was a great deal of argument within the council about the cost and the value of preserving the Russell Lane site, but with the support of the majority and local homeowners and residents, Cllrs Bennet and Judge asked for a loan from the government, which they got. This was repaid by putting a farthing on the rates.
Lovers' Lane as it was around 1900
This area was maintained up until the 80's, but since then it has been destroyed piecemeal by the felling of trees leaving the Russell Lane green area in the parlous state it is today.
We have had meetings with council representatives who have assured us that the dozen or so trees which had been removed recently were replaced in the spring of 2014 along with 3 or 4 extra (hornbeam and oak). A budget was been set aside for this. Trees will be in keeping with the ones found in the area. We are hoping that it will be possible to restore the area to some of its past glory.
Because of the council's budget restrictions, we are hoping to investigate sources of free trees and grants to enable to us to pay for planting. This will be done in close contact with the council so we are aware, at every step, what it is possible to do. We do feel we can do this without jeopardising the current use of the Russell Lane green space by local residents to cross the lane and also help to reduce traffic noise and improve air quality.
On Saturday 28th February 2015, an information board was unveiled by the Mayor:
From left to right: Brunswick Park Ward Councillor - Lisa Rutter,
Local historian and author John Heathfield, Chipping Barnet MP - Theresa Villiers,
Mayor of Barnet - Hugh Raynor,
and Barnet Museum Archivist and one of the founders of the EBRA - Dr Gillian Gear BEM.
Thanks to Lockie Bramzell for the photo
Here are some documents from the time when the residential development was being planned and built:
BUILDERS SAVE A BEAUTY SPOT
LANE OF TREES TO HIDE NEW HOUSES
Picture a country farm . . . grazing cattle . . . piggeries . . . ancient farm buildings . . . green fields. And a typical country lane bordered with towering trees - a veritable "Lovers' Walk" This is the scene you can find to-day at Oakleigh Park, Whetstone, within eight or nine miles of the centre of bustling London, writes an Evening News representative.
In a few months' time that scene will disappear for ever and in its place will be . . . houses.
Not all the scene will be destroyed, however, for the company which is to develop the farm estate intend to leave Russell-Lane - "Lovers' Lane" to the neighbourhood - as it is - a beauty spot for all time.
The Old Farm
The farm - Gallants Farm - is the nearest farm to central London, and the estate is also the nearest undeveloped tract of land to Charing Cross. The farm will cease to exist as such at the beginning of next month, and a start will then be made on the 430 houses to be built on the site.
London Evening News - 12th March 1935
OAKLEIGH PARK ESTATE, WHETSTONE, MIDDX.
A Beauty Spot for All Time
We present this book to you in the hope that you will find the description and photographs sufficiently interesting to persuade you to visit our modern homes at Oakleigh Park Estate.
"Picture a country farm . . . grazing cattle . . . ancient farm buildings . . . green fields. And a typical country lane bordered with towering trees - a veritable "lovers' walk." This is the scene you can find to-day at Oakleigh Park, Whetstone, within eight or nine miles of the centre of bustling London. In a few months' time that scene will disappear for ever and in its place will be . . . houses." 5o wrote the "Evening News" on 12th March, 1935. Not all the scene has been destroyed, however, for New Ideal Homesteads intend to leave Russell Lane - "lovers' lane" to the neighbourhood - as it is - a beauty spot for all time.
We are building a road behind the lane of tall trees and from the lane it will not be possible to see the new houses that are now taking form. The estate is being built on lines which will not offend the susceptibilities of anyone who knew the district as it was in March. Roughly triangular in shape, the site is bounded on its three sides by Whetstone, Oakleigh Park, and Southgate. This area is described as one of the healthiest in London because of its height.
On visiting the Estate you are invited to inspect the furnished Show Houses of all types ; these are open till 9 p.m. every day, including Sundays. Although Oakleigh Park (L.N.E.R.) Station is the nearest to the Estate, you will find that Arnos Grove Tube Station gives a far superior service. Here will be found New Ideal Homesteads' private saloon cars waiting to take you to the Estate. If you come by buses Nos. 251 or 34 from Arnos Grove Station, alight at Russell Lane, Oakleigh Road.
New Ideal Homesteads Limited 11th July 1936