An ‘intensification’ site for north London housing, situated midway between Finchley and Mill Hill proper. The
fields here belonged to All Souls College, Oxford from 1442. The medieval manor of Frith and Newhall lay to the north-east
and was divided into Dollis, Frith, and Partingdale Farms by the mid-18th century. The modern era came early to Bittacy Hill
when the Great Northern Railway opened Mill Hill (later Mill Hill East) station and the North Middlesex Gas Company built
a gasworks in the 1860s. A pub and a few gasworkers’ cottages appeared nearby but the railway service to London was
slow and indirect so commuters were not interested and the surrounding area remained as farmland. In 1909 the Middlesex regiment
moved into the Inglis barracks, which replaced Bittacy Farm. A council estate, including flats, was built at the foot of Bittacy
Hill in the mid-1920s. South of the station, Mill Hill Homesteads bought Devonshire Farm in 1933 and laid out an estate. Further
up the hill and over on the Frith manor lands, roads were laid out in the years before and after World War II. The barracks
later became the base for the British Forces Post Office, which has recently moved to RAF Northolt. By 2016 it is planned
that 2,000 new homes will have been built on the 94-acre site between Bittacy Hill and Frith Lane, but several controversies
have impeded progress. These have included the discovery of low-level radioactive contamination, the excessive scale of some
proposals and objections from local residents that “the concept of ‘social’ housing does not match the character
and profile of the whole of Frith Lane.” Meanwhile, Crest Nicholson have redeveloped the disused gasworks site with
250 homes, a supermarket and a health club.
The Inglis barracks were named in honour of Lieutenant-Colonel William Inglis of the 57th infantry regiment, who was killed
at the battle of Albuhera in 1811. Inglis coined the phrase ‘die hard’, which was his last order to the troops.
The 57th were afterwards nicknamed the ‘diehards’.