pages 4 and 5
Narratives about two of the highways on Hill House Estate were published in Volume I (they were Drummond Drive and Woodcroft Avenue) but on this occasion we shall talk about the third major road on this Estate, namely The Highway.
First, it is worth mentioning that this Estate has an unusual feature inasmuch that there are only two direct access points for the three roads. Entry to the northern end of Drummond Drive is possible from Gordon Avenue but at the other end access must be achieved via The Highway. It was originally intended that the southern end should have a junction with Mountside but two additional houses erected in Woodcroft Avenue effectively blocked this right of way (apart from a footpath).
The lower level of Woodcroft Avenue joins up with Drummond Drive but the elevated end is obstructed by Stanmore Golf Course: The Highway suffers a similar restriction due to a row of concrete spurs which prevent the passage of vehicles into Gordon Avenue. The original plans intended that The Highway should link up with Chartley and Masefield Avenues with access to Stanmore Hill but this objective was never achieved.
Hill House Estate was bought by a Mr Jeffries and developed by Standard Estates Limited. The building contract went to a Michael Bellis of Wallasey and construction began in The Highway at the Kenton Lane end in 1933 after the road had been made up. The next group of houses (north of the Drummond Drive inter-section) was completed in 1934 but a difference of opinion between Jeffries and Bellis halted operations at number 28. Subsequently the properties from number 30 to the top of the hill were built under a sub-contracting arrangement and are of different design to the earlier houses.
In those days, what was termed as a 'Type C.1 house could be bought freehold for £665 on a deposit of £35 (including legal and road charges); larger houses ranged up to £900.
Despite these bargain prices the sale of properties was not running at a satisfactory level and Jeffries offered £5 to any resident who could introduce a new purchaser but some houses were eventually rented to tenants.
An interesting facet of The Highway (which also applied to many other roads int he district) was that lighting was originally supplied by electricity but gas proved to be a more economical proposition and so mantels replaced bulbs in the late 1930's. Later electricity was reintroduced. mAn unusual feature of many houses in The Highway is that the window frames were manufactured in Russia, which suggests that it may have been necessary to build the houses around the window frames!
In a 40-year-old brochure published by Standard Estates Limited, The Highway is described as being situated on 'gently moulded hills, surrounded by verdant lanes and age-old trees giving a quiet pastoral beauty that is an ideal setting for one's home'.
An interesting theory has developed over the years about the 'moulded hill' which is known locally as 'The Mount'. Because of its incongruous geographical position it is thought possible to have been man-made at the time of the Roman occupation of the area. The support for this theory is based on the fact that the Romans were anxious to survey London from suitable high ground (in case of invasion). Harrow-on-the-Hill presented an ideal opportunity for this purpose but unfortunately the view of London was blocked by Barn Hill, Wembley. And so The Mount was created.....
For three hundred yards on the west side of the elevated end of The Highway there are no houses as the golf course boundary fence extends to the pavement. The view from here is superb and Harrow-on-the-Hill can be clearly seen, topped by the slender spire of St. Mary's, the Parish Church which was built by Lanfranc in the reign of the Conqueror and consecrated by St. Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1094. It is reputed that the spire can be seen from ten counties. At the top of the hill on the opposite side to the golf course is situated a group of nine detached properties (in the form of a Close) which house senior R.A.F. officers from various stations in the district.
The summit of the hill up which the road climbs is 400 feet above sea level and no doubt this elevated position earned it the name of 'The Highway'. Being a 'no thoroughfare' road however, the term 'highway' is somewhat ambiguous since the dictionary describes this designation as a 'main route, a through road'.
Although the residents of The Highway enjoy a peaceful life away from maddening crowds, the crossroad with Drummond Drive has on occasions seen some frightful accidents. A boy cyclist was killed at this point a few years ago and on other occasions cars have collided and overturned.
As in the case of other adjoining roads, consequent upon the amalgamation of rail-ways under the Act of 1921, railwaymen from Manchester (previously employed onthe London and York Railway), Derby (Midland Railway) and Stoke-on-Trent (Northernand Scottish Railway) were amongst the earliest residents and a few still remain;six of the original families were still in residence in 1974.
Should mechanical conveyance not be available, the physical effort required by residents to climb The Highway (particularly when loaded with shopping) must sometimes be considerable but this is the price one must pay for seclusion and freedom from the heavy traffic which destroys the pleasure of living in some adjoining highways.