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Potters Bar | The history

When Enfield Chase was enclosed as royal hunting ground in about 1140 it excluded all else from entering the enclosure. It was, therefore inevitable that road tracks would be formed as close to the chase boundaries as possible. The road from Southgate along its southern boundary met with the road to the west of the Chase. At its meeting point a small settlement grew, that settlement would later become Potters Bar.

The parish of South Mimms (as Potters Bar then was part of) was within the 'Edmonton Hundred', one of the 6 subdivisions of county Middlesex, outside the metropolis, situated in the N.E. part of the county.

The Great North Road through Hatfield became a turnpike road in 1730 yet it would have very little impact on this small village. Its location, almost halfway between the major staging posts of Barnet & Hatfield meant that little passing trade stopped at the place called Potters Bar, a place offering very little to the passing traveller.

High Street, Potters Bar

Up until 1835 Potters Bar was a very small settlement within the parish of South Mimms and included in their records. It was not until 1835 that Potters Bar became a parish in its own right. In 1871 the population stood at just 1,198 which included the hamlets of Bentley Heath and "Gannic Corner".

Although being on the route of the Great North Road, the 18th & 19th century version of the M1, Potters Bar remained unchanged. It was not until the coming of the Great Northern Railway in 1850 which was to bring its first transformation. The location of the Potters Bar & South Mimms railway station in Darkes Lane signalled what was to be the first major change for Potters Bar in many centuries. At the time of opening, Darkes Lane was nothing but open countryside, it was inevitable that the area surrounding the new station would be developed in time, yet it was not until the 20th century when the Darkes Lane we know today started to take shape.

WW1 saw the crash of the L-31 Zeppelin on the first day of October 1916 in the grounds of Oakmere House, this followed on from a Zeppelin crash exactly one month earlier at Cuffley.

Hill Rise, Potters Bar
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Following WW11 several areas of Potters Bar were earmarked for development. Housing estates such as Oakmere & Ashwood were planned in 1953. These estates were built mainly to take the overspill from the Edmonton & Tottenham areas of North London, much to the disgrace of Potters Bar residents. These new estates were the start of major development in Potters Bar and as time moved on the green open fields gave way to buildings of both residential and commercial purpose.

Potters Bar became part of Hertfordshire in 1965, trasferring from the county of Middlesex.

The completion of the M25 Motorway in the 1980's brought yet more change to the town. With the motorway running so close to Potters Bar thus improving transport links to other areas of the country businesses started to look at Potters Bar as an area for potential development. Office blocks were built in the town, once again having a radical impact on the appearance of the town.

Today Potters Bar is an active town with a resident population of around 22,000. The town has very little left of its past. A survey in 1980 revealed that less than 3% of the buildings standing at that time dated back to pre 1914. The oldest surviving building is Wylliots Barn, now the Old Manor Public House. Other buildings of historical note are Oakmere House, The Green Man Public House and premises to the north of the High Street near to the Police Station

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