Histories of Harrow Weald Highways - Volume 2
Ronald S Brown, 1974

pages 6 and 7.

Mountside

 

Mountside is one of the most recently 'made up' roads in Harrow Weald; for scores of years it was merely a track which formed a junction with Kenton Lane where the 'Duck in the Pond' public house is located.  It then passed four old cottages behind 'The Duck' (which were the only habitations along this track) before climbing The Mount and crossing Stanmore Golf Course (see page 26) to Gordon Avenue (somewhat to the left of the existing concrete footpath).  Joining the Mountside track at the foot of The Mount was a footpath which wound across fields to the Harrow and Stanmore branch line of the London and North Western Railway and then continued over more fields to Honeypot Lane, Stanmore.  In the 1930's Vernon Drive was built on the route of this footpath.

At a later date the Mountside junction was surfaced up to the end of the 'Duck in the Pond' site but beyond this point the narrow track remained.  About sixty yards farther on was a stile beyond which was a pond on the right with tall hedges on both sides.  These in turn were bordered by two rows of elm trees almost to the base of The Mount.  Before the development of the 1930's the Mountside track crossed old Kenton Lane, passed Rose Farm (on the site of which are now flats) and continued to Wealdstone on the route which at a later date became Bishop Ken Road.

At the end of the last century the residents of the four old cottages in Mountside would have known the 'Duck in the Pond' as a modest wooden building - not much more than a 'shack' - with no upper floor; it was managed by a brother and sistern amed Ben and Mary Willoughby.  A duck pond was located at the Mountside junction and a five foot hedge (some of which remains) surrounded 'The Duck'; within the boundary were apple trees and a beehive.  It was then only an alehouse and most of the drinking was done on tables whilst customers were seated on forms in the open air.  Ordinary beer was a penny a pint - with strong ale at double that price!  Business was more brisk when farm labourers received their meagre stipend at the weekend and in the hay-making season.

Among the many interesting anecdotes which come to light from time to time about 'The Duck' is one which dates back to 1852 when it is remembered that soldiers were billeted in this famous old pub when they were on their way to London to attend the funeral of the 'Iron Duke' (the 1st Duke of Wellington).

Further reference to the four old cottages (sometimes known as the four Belmount Cottages) may be of interest to the reader.  They are thought to be about two hundred years old but verification is difficult since the deeds were stolen from the present owner, Mr W.J. Jones, in 1972.  Some local residents believe that the cottages were condemned as long ago as 1914 (when they were in their original state) but in 1948-49 Mr Jones renovated them externally and some internal improvements have also been carried out, especially to number 4 (see photographs numbers 1 and 2 in the centre pages).

A footpath connected Mountside with the Drummond Drive/Woodcroft Avenue junction (and still does) but even after the development of those highways and that of Vernon Drive, our little track continued to evade the attentions of the concrete mixer.  At this time its only geographical function was that of a boundary line between Hill House Estate to the north and the Davis Estate to the south (which extends to Belmont Circle).

During the war the need to 'dig for victory' saw an extensive allotment site developed on the south side of Mountside between the houses in Kenton Lane and Beverley Gardens: the allotments are still operative to this day.  Mountside was also involved in other aspects of the local war-effort.  Besides providing a site for an air-raid shelter, the official A.R.P. post was located on the corner where Vernon Lodge is now situated.  There was also an anti-aircraft gun on the summit of The Mount, the activities of which caused vibration and shrapnel damage to some nearby habitations, including the four old Belmount cottages.

In the 1930's the area was administered by the Hendon Rural District Council (there was a special threepenny rate for the Parish of Harrow Weald) and the intention was to provide a direct route from Headstone Lane via Long Elmes, College Avenue, College Hill Road, Mountside, Vernon Drive, Wemborough Road and Whitchurch Lane to Edgware.  Only one feature prevented this objective being achieved and that was the branch line of the L.N.W.R. at the end of Vernon Drive.  Arrangements were in hand to put a bridge across the shallow cutting but this was never completed.  In the 1960's the scheme was revived and the appropriate section of College Hill Road was straightened and widened and Mountside finally succumbed to the road builders.  A fine broad road was built and shortly aftwards a row of council properties was erected on the south side.  Houses and flats (of recent construction) now line the north side beyond the four old cottages.  But the link road between Vernon Drive and Wemborough Road remain just a dream.

At the time of writing this narrative in 1974, Harrow Council are once again contemplating the building of a link road - a threat which local residents on the affected route are resisting strongly.

Yet another interesting proposal which affected Mountside was propounded in early 1930's.  London Transport secured options on three local corner sites, namely (1) Canons Comer, (2) the site at the junction of Harrow Weald High and College Avenue (opposite the 'Red Lion' where a filling station now stands) and (3) the site on which Vernon Lodge was later built at the junction of Mountside and Kenton Lane.

The intention was to extend the Northern Line from Edgware to Watford and the corners in question were possible station sites; all three remained undeveloped until more recent times and the now defunct Middlesex County Council doggedly kept the Mountside corner available for many years with various unfulfilled promises including that of building a fire station.

The need for an alternative major traffic route through Harrow Weald will inevitably turn the one-time rural Mountside into a busy 20th century highway: it has to come one day.