The Barnet Squeeze

The Barnet Squeeze
The Barnet Squeeze

Hopscotch, at 88 High Street, stands in the old Great North Road at a section once known as The Squeeze, which used to be longer when there were shops forming an island in the middle of the road in front of the college. These shops were called Middle Row and were the original location of the Barnet market which received it’s charter from King John in 1199. Middle Row was demolished after a fire in 1889.

Over the last 800 years this small medieval gap has witnessed a stunning parade of historical figures and events, from Kings and Queens to great armies .

14th April 1471 saw King Edward IV and his 11,000 strong army pass through to reclaim the throne, beating the Earl of Warwick’s army of 15,000 in the Battle of Barnet.

William Hale

In August 1555, during the catholic rule of Bloody Mary, Bishop Bonner had the martyr William Hale burnt at the stake as a heretic. The pyre was lit just over the road in Church Passage.

Three years later the protestant monarchy was restored when in November 1558 the new Queen Elizabeth left Hatfield for London.

Riding on horseback dressed in purple velvet, she passed through the Squeeze with an escort of 1,000 men.

In 1660 General Monck marched some 5,800 soldiers through The Squeeze, to spend the night in  Barnet before marching on to London to restore Charles II to the throne.

Samuel Pepys was no stranger to The Squeeze and wrote of eating the finest cheese-cake in the Great Room above Umi’s Pizza & Chicken shop.

Hopscotch is in a designated Area of Archaeological Significance on the site of an old timber building which survived until at least 1921. Notable for it’s gabled facade and an oriel window, which appears in many old  illustrations, the site included a yard to the left and stables at the back with the rear extending at least to what is now Moxon Street.

This was part of a medieval burgage plot that comprised a market shop, dwelling and a tiny smallholding for vegetables and little animals such as pigs. That there are no parallel lines in the layout of the property is testament to the shop’s  medieval heritage, where there has been give and take during repeated construction over the last 900 years.

In the 1890s the shop sold pianos and sheet music, later it was a confectioners named Lorraine’s, then a trendy restaurant (knocked through to the curry house), then a charity shop and finally a computer game shop. 

A church has stood over the road since the 11th century. Rebuilt in the 15th century and in 1875 that church was largely rebuilt to designs by William Butterfield. The north aisle just over the road is all that remains of the 15th century church. It has been said that the tower is the highest point between itself and the Ural Mountains 3,600km to the east and York to the north.

1940s Confectionery

Ration book cover

1940s Liverpool sweet shopThe 1940’s were a time of austerity with the Second World War and Rationing. The sweets that were available were in short supply and flavours and textures were limited to those available here in the UK. There was very little chocolate and coconut but more in the way of flavoured sugar and liquorice. Woolworths tried to buck this trend by importing fudge from the Irish Republic, which being neutral during the war and with a surplus of full cream milk was able to provide some sweetie supplies. Not all sweets were rationed. If it was considered to be medicinal, as in the case of Koff Candy (renamed Cough Candy), your sweetie supply was technically more reliable. The 40’s sweets still form many of the dependable and traditional standbys, with Pontefract Cakes, Jelly Beans and Pear Drops routinely hitting the top 10 despite huge competition from modern tastes and textures.

Many sweetie manufacturers that we know and love today were around in the 40’s, and in some cases a lot earlier. Bassetts were first established in 1842, Greys go as far back as 1826 and Dunhill’s to 1760. Cadbury’s can be traced back to 1824 when John Cadbury started selling tea, coffee and drinking chocolate. By the same token many sweets we are familiar with today go way back. Pontefract Cakes, as we know them, were invented in the early 17th century. Sherbet Fountains were first made in 1925 and Rowntree’s Fruit Gums first hit our taste buds in 1893. Some experts say that Jelly Beans have been around since Roman times and even get a mention in the Bible! True or not, they have a long and distinguished provenance, particularly in America where they were sent to the Union army during the American Civil War in 1861.

I make the claim that you can tell someone’s age by the sweets they buy. Observation tells me that people continue to buy the sweets that they were buying at the age of 10 with their pocket money and first bit of independence.


On 26th July 1942 sweets were rationed to 2oz (57g) per week. This changed later that year to 12oz per month until 1946 when it was halved down to 6oz per month. Sweet rationing continued until February 1953.

In July 1942 the Personal Points system was introduced and it applied to sugar-based confectionery. Children did not get a larger share as sweets were not considered as essential, but parents could, of course, share their ration if they wished. The personal points first appeared in a separate booklet but were incorporated into the next food ration book. Personal points also meant that vending machines could no longer contain sweets or chocolate.

All points coupons had to be cut out of the ration book even though the main coupons were now only crossed out; this was so the shop could be allocated fresh supplies based on the number of coupons they collected.

Top 10 Teas

Here is the countdown of our Top 10 Teas as sold by weight over the last six months. There’s something for everyone here, but the outright the winner has pleasantly surprised us!

10 - GREEN SENCHA SAKURA

Sencha Sakura is one of Japan's most popular teas, and also Barnet's. Historically enjoyed by Aristocrats, Townspeople, and Samurai alike. The taste of spring is captured in this gentle, refined blend of premium sencha green tea and cherry blossoms. Just the right amount of cherry and rose petals have been added to give this tea a sublime complexity of sweetness and astringency. A fantastic tasting tea that boosts your metabolism - this is a must for every standard green tea assortment.

9 - GINGER & PEACH FRUIT TEA

The fruity characteristic peach flavour is equal in intensity to the strong ginger spice flavour. A balanced combination of tastes, which unites the soft sweetness of the peach with the dominant spiciness of the ginger, fused with hibiscus, rosehip, and melon. Sweet and soft air-dried apple pieces are taken as the basis for this well-thought fruit tea blend. Thanks to gingers high vitamin C content, this blend is the perfect antidote to the common cold. Your immune system will thank you.

8 - GUNPOWDER GREEN TEA

From the Anhui province in Eastern China, this tea is rich in polyphenols - strong antioxidants that fight heart disease, arthritis, and immune system issues. It also has a higher caffeine content than other green teas. Making it a favourite among athletes for boosting performance. It has a greenish dry golden liquor much appreciated throughout the Middle East with a light smoke and nutty character.

7 - LEMON & GINGER FRUIT TEA

A perfectly balanced aromatic blend of lemon and ginger, produces a refreshing and caffeine free liquor. This is a lively lemon tea, with a subtle hint of fennel and a warming ginger kick at the end. The refreshing infusion has a delicate pinkie peach colour. Again the ginger in this tea is high in Vitamin C - the ultimate form of prevention against the common cold.

6 - CHINA OP JASMINE TEA

Practically the national drink of China Green tea, and the perfect stress reliever. A blend of ripened green tea and fresh jasmine blossoms which are added during drying time and later are partially removed. This sweet blend still has quite a lot of blossoms, which leave an intense, flowery jasmine taste and scent.

5 - WINTER COCOA HERB TEA

Drinkable all year round. This highland grown chocolate, in combination with select spices, makes this a true indulgence. The carefully combined ingredients include; pure cocoa pieces, ginger pieces, pieces of cinnamon, cloves, star aniseed, cinnamon rods, sliced almonds, whole cardamom and safflower. The plentiful flavonoid in cocoa beans not only lowers the blood pressure, but improves the elasticity of veins and blood vessels.

Earl Grey with Cornflowers

4 - EARL GREY WITH CORNFLOWERS

An eye-catching blend of the finest Keemun, Darjeeling, Ceylon and Assam scented with the delicate aroma of the Bergamot fruit. The leaf is large and well blended, giving a light and bright liquor with a beautifully fragrant liquor. Not only does the blue flower look spectacular but it prevents congestion, synergising perfectly with Earl Grey's ability to enhance digestion.

Assam CTC Pekoe Fannings

3 - ASSAM CTC PEKOE FANNINGS​

The tea growing area of Assam, which extends along both sides of the Brahmaputra River in Northern India, is one of the largest tea growing areas in the world. This tea is rich, strong, fragrant, pungent and malty, a real lip-smacker. This tea has a natural balance of caffeine for mental stimulation and Theanine that relaxes the body, preventing jitteriness that some experience with coffee.

English Breakfast Blend 28

2 - ENGLISH BREAKFAST N0. 28

A true classic. Blended from the finest Assam and Ceylon teas by expert blenders. This orthodox blend has a mid-sized even leaf giving a traditional malty flavour with good strength. The drink also contains vitamin B, which helps the body create red blood cells, a key part of excellent health.

1 - BATTLE OF BARNET BLEND

By far our most popular tea - Barnet's own Gunpowder Pinhead & Rose Tea Blend. The Battle of Barnet took place on April 14th 1471 and was part of the Wars of the Roses, where gunpowder was used for the first time in England. Three Kings and over 25,000 soldiers massed around Barnet the night before battle. This tea is a colourful explosion of flavours to celebrate King Edward IV's victory.