Shops reflect the changing habits and social conditions of an area. A high street of the 1950s, when housewives shopped almost daily, would have had bakers, butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and grocers. The coming of refrigeration, the widespread ownership of cars and the rise of large supermarkets meant that shopping could be done less frequently and the small family-run businesses disappeared.

In the 1950s and 60s there were a number of television rental shops but with the improved reliability of television sets, people bought their own and the shops disappeared. By the 1980s the advent of video recorders led to a boom in video hire shops. These have now disappeared – victims of satellite television and the internet. Yesterday’s tobacconists have been replaced by today’s electronic cigarette shops.

An example of how things change can be seen In Whetstone when in 1952 out of 107 shops, there were 5 Bakers, 5 Butchers, 2 Fishmongers, 6 Greengrocers, 7 Grocers and 7 Restaurants. Fifty years later, in 2002, there were no Bakers, Butchers, Fishmongers, Greengrocers or Grocers but there were 22 Restaurants!

From 2000, when the Society was formed, we have conducted annual surveys of the shops in the area and we also decided to investigate what had been happening before then. Fortunately Kelly’s Directories used to publish annual street directories from the 1880s up1939 and these have been invaluable. Kelly’s discontinued publishing during the War so no data is available for this period and production was not resumed afterwards, so we have had to consult other sources such as locally produced directories (i.e the 1950 Southgate Directory), council minutes, advertisements in local newspapers, old photographs, Finchley & Whetstone Chamber of Commerce journals and yearbooks, listings in telephone directories and Yellow Pages as well as people’s reminiscences.

The data is shown on the Detail spreadsheets for each street which makes it easy to see the changes. Where there is a change of name and trade, the new entry is shown in bold and highlighted in yellow. Where the type of business remains the same but only the name changes, the new entry is shown in bold.

We have also prepared Summary sheets for each street from which the number and types of trades can easily be seen and changes noted.

On the spreadsheets:

  • Retail premises are shown in capitals (i.e. Jones Brothers BUTCHER)
  • Manufacturing, Wholesaling etc. are shown in lower case (i.e. Smith Brothers Engineering)
  • Manufacturing, Wholesaling etc. are shown on the Detail Sheets but are not included anywhere on the Summary Sheets (i.e. they are NOT listed
  • under OTHER; this definition only applies to retail trades which do not fall into any of the main categories such as Dentists, Doctors, Solicitors etc.). The Summary Sheet only includes Retail Trades.
  • Where it is known that premises were empty, they are listed as VACANT, however both Kelly’s Directory and Southgate Directory do not contain this description.
  • Absence of a name at an address may be because the premises were empty, or that the data has been incorrectly collected. In view of the uncertainty over this, we have NOT assumed that missing details automatically mean the premises were empty.
  • The apparent fluctuation in the number of shops year to year can be due to the following factors:
    1. They are not listed in the Directories (see above)
    2. Adjacent premises may be occupied by two separate businesses one year, and by one business in another year, or vice versa. The figures on the Summary Sheet only refer to the number of businesses, not the number of premises
    3. Some premises may have been returned to domestic use
    4. Premises may have been changed from retail to manufacturing or wholesale use, or vice versa
    5. Premises may have been demolished
  • The term Supermarket is nowadays freely applied to any small business, even though it should strictly only be applied to large retail premises such as Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose. However, if a business calls itself a supermarket, it has been included under that category. Convenience stores have been included under Supermarkets

If you click on the drop down headings for each street, both Detail and Summary Sheets are available as pdfs.

We believe that Knowledge is for Sharing, so you are welcome to use the data as you wish. However, we ask that you cite the source as “Courtesy of Friern Barnet & District Local History Society”

When searching for details of shops, our photographic website has many photographs of the shops themselves as well as advertisements for them.


Friern Barnet & District Local History Society
46 Raleigh Drive,
London N20 0UU


Telephone: 020 8368 8314


Latest Image

See our Photo Gallery
Sitemap | Privacy Policy | © Friern Barnet & District Local History Society | by Plexus Media Ltd 2024 | Admin