Birkbeck Road is the last of the roads running south off Hornsey High Street before Middle Lane.
It was built on the site of Grove House. A loop of the New River used to cross the Grove House land where the road is now, before flowing on to run through the tea gardens of the Three Compasses.
The sale advertisement below from 1816 gives us some idea of what the estate was like when the house was still occupied.
Morning Post 15 July 1816
For the last twenty-five years or so that it was occupied as house, up to 1865, the occupant was retired wine merchant Henry Woods. He lived there with his wife and five children. He also employed three house maids, a cook and a gardener.
The house and its land was acquired by the Birkbeck Freehold Land Company and Birkbeck Road in 1865. Three years later, the house itself became Alexandra Park College, a boarding and day-school specialising in science and modern languages. The school survived until the early 1890s.
Middlesex Gazette Saturday 14 May 1892
In the meantime, behind it, Lightdoot Road and Birkbeck Road were laid out. Lightfoot Road was built up from the late 1860s and was completed by 1880. Birkbeck road was built up more slowly with the east side completed five years later. The mansion blocks on Birkbeck Road and Middle Lane were built in the 1890s.
Grove House Estate Plan, attributed with a date between circa 1840-1860 by National Archives. Contrary to the Victoria County History of Hornsey (1980) (and thus also the Horney Historical Society), the map suggests that Rectory Road and most of Holland Road were part of the Grove House estate and not the St Mary's estate.
Occupations of those residing in the houses above in 1891 included,
A short history of the Birkbeck land company, produced by Birkbeck College, is attached below.
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