A series celebrating the unsung quarters of London. This time: the town of Enfield (and a few surrounding landmarks).
None more north
For those nervously relocating from the north of England to London, may we introduce you to Enfield. It is the most northerly-reaching of London's boroughs; cross the M25 just past Crews Hill Golf Club, and you hit the heady heights of Potter Bar (essentially, Tyneside). While many balk at its here-be-dragons geography, Enfield Town is nicely-connected — as of 2015, it's been comfortingly coloured-in orange, as part of the London Overground. This means many Londoners have now been forced to admit Enfield exists. Before too many cotton on, snap up one of London's cheapest houses. You can stock up on chairs/beds/jars at the nearby Ikea in Edmonton. If you're not quite ready to move in, at least acquaint yourself with Enfield over the course of a day.
It's named after a mythical beast called The Enfield
Before we take you around the town, we'd like you to meet Enfield's mascot. The enfield looks like a cross between a dragon and a kangaroo. It is utterly ridiculous, and therefore makes us smile a lot to think it's printed on the side of tens of thousands of bins.
A priceless bit of history
When judgement day arrives and god asks different parts of London "what did you do?" (for that is how judgement day will work) Enfield can rest easy. "Why, God," Enfield will say, lighting up a Cohiba, "I gave the world its first cash machine." God will check that Enfield isn't telling porkies, probably by reading this Londonist article. He will summarily blow his all-knowing mind when he realises Reg Varney opened said world's first cash machine. "In you go," God will say, pointing to the pearly gates and still shaking his head in disbelief.
Now we've got the image of a gropy bus driver stuck in your head, let's blast it out with some of Enfield's unexpected beauty. We begin at the Jacobean Forty Hall — the kind of country pile you would never equate with the word 'Enfield' — and yet here it is larger than life, even boasting the odd Civil War reenactment.
On the outskirts of Enfield Town is Trent Park, "413 acres of rolling meadows, enchanting brooks, exquisite lakes, ancient woodland, and imposing historical sites" (it also allegedly has a moat haunted by an earl). Or, stretch your legs along the New River at Gentleman's Row.
In fact, the more you explore it, the more you find beauty in Enfield; from the town centre fountain dripping with ornate ironwork, to the white slatted, cherry blossom-ensconced home of Joseph Whitaker — original publisher of Whitaker's Almanack. And you thought it was all going to be Nando's (there is a Nando's too).
The other transport museum
We are not talking about TfL's Acton depot, nor the Motorcycle Museum, London Motor Museum, or RAF Museum. This, is Whitewebbs — a zany outpost of automobile-related clutter, that smells like your grandad's shed. As you gawp your way through Ford Model Ts, vintage Routemasters and light aircraft dangling from the ceiling, a steady stream of museum volunteers will ask if you want to see their well (you say yes). You may also encounter a classic Jaguar-owners' meet-up and a fibre glass horse (see above). You are guaranteed to come across London's strangest mannequins:
En route to Whitewebbs, you'll encounter another experience unique to Enfield — Garden Centre Land. Rumours that it is ruled by real life garden gnomes remain unconfirmed.
A sequel to the beer mile?
Until recently, Enfield's good beer scene could have been described as, er, watered down. Now there's Enfield Brewery, which — slightly confusingly — makes Enefeld beer (a nod to Enfield's ancient moniker). These brewers will soon be joined by London giants Camden Town, who've decided to make a second home out of Enfield. With relatively cheap rents in the area, could Enfield become a sequel to Bermondsey's beer mile?
"But I don't like beer!" you scream. Nae bother. Enfield is one of the few places in London that makes its own sparkling brut. Let's charge our glasses then, and raise a toast... to Enefeld... sorry, Enfield.