At your convenience in Potters Bar
PUBLISHED: 11:38 07 November 2008 | UPDATED: 15:34 20 February 2013
Sue Armstrong finds everything is easily to hand in this thriving town
People living in Potters Bar don't have to worry about their choice of airport when they book a flight. It doesn't matter whether they check-in at Stansted, Luton, Heathrow or City airport, they are all practically equidistant - just half-an-hour's journey.
And with St Pancras station just 15 miles away, the lure of Eurostar trains is very tempting - lunch in Paris maybe?
This town's close proximity to London explains why it is a relative newcomer to Hertfordshire. Surprisingly, up until 48 years ago it was still part of Middlesex. The Greater London Authority swallowed up most of the areas covered by Middlesex in 1965 but Potters Bar was one of the few exceptions and was transferred to Hertfordshire County Council. A reminder of this can be found in Warrengate Lane, where a small road bridge, across the Mimms Brook, still displays a River Authority sign with the heading 'County Council of Middlesex'.
Today Potters Bar sits in the south of the county, surrounded by beautiful countryside. Little Heath joins to the north and the villages of South Mimms and Ridge are to the west.
It is interesting to trace the town's gradual development from a small Iron Age camp, back in 600BC, to the bustling place it is now. The Potters Bar Museum has many items on display to help visitors relive the history of the area, including Roman pottery and artefacts. The museum looks across to the timber framed Wyllyotts Manor, part of which dates back to the 14th century and is now used as a restaurant and public house.
The coming of the Great Northern Railway in 1850 signalled the first major changes to the area. Until then it had been a small settlement for centuries. When the station first opened, on the London to Peterborough line, it was located in Darkes Lane with open countryside all around. Although it was inevitable that the land would be developed, Potters Bar managed to retain its village atmosphere until the early 20th century. When building started, it brought with it a dramatic rise in population together with some light industry.
After the Second World War, more and more green fields gave way to commercial properties and housing estates, mainly to accommodate the overspill from the Edmonton and Tottenham areas of North London.
The continuing development of good road and rail links, particularly the completion of the M25 in the 1980s, has allowed Potters Bar to grow into the modern town it is today, popular with businesses and commuters alike. This active community has grown to more than 22,000 people.
The town's expansion has resulted in not one but two shopping areas, centred on Darkes Lane and the High Street. Plenty of sports and entertainment facilities have sprung up, to meet growing demand, including a theatre and cinema at the Wyllyotts Centre, together with a good mix of places to eat and drink in and around the town.