Where to get your hair cut - Prima Moda
There are loads of places to get your hair cut in Potters Bar.
I always get my hair cut at this local establishment. Mario and his team are really friendly and it's always a pleasure. He serves great coffee and biscuits. Also look out for his fancy dress outfits at Christmas.
Address is 3 High Street, Princes Parade, Potters Bar, EN6 5AE. Telephone 01707 853900
My home town (I think)
I was prompted to start writing about Potters Bar by an interesting recent discussion on a VT forum on where people considered to be their home towns.
So, what is a home town? Is your 'home town' where you were born? Brought up? Have lived for the longest amount of time? Most relate to? The trite response is probably that, "Home is where the heart is", but the reality of international families such as our own is that you never have everyone that you love in one place, and so your heart is fragmented across countries and continents.
Well, I was not born in Potters Bar, but moved here when I was 6 months old and lived here until I went to university at 18. I moved back to stay with my parent for another 18 months when I got my first job post-graduation, and finally left when I moved to South Africa on my birthday in 1987 (I've always been one for grand gestures ...!) So in terms of length of residency, I have now spent more time living in Johannesburg than Potters Bar, although it's a fairly close run thing. However, my parents still live here, and so I return every year or so to visit a place where I sort of belong.
Potters Bar is a quiet dormitory town of about 20,000 in the commuter belt of Hertfordshire, just north of London. There was a time when few people had heard of it, and when I was at school and varsity, its name was a bit of a joke, especially as the main road (on which we lived) was the misleadingly rural-sounding Mutton Lane. Now if you mention "Potters Bar", the immediate response is, "Oh, the rail crash": is it worse for a place to languish in obscurity or be elevated to notoriety as a result of railway carnage???
Part of my ambivalence about Potters Bar is that I didn't do my secondary schooling here. Instead I went to a convent grammar school of high repute about 10 miles away that involved a long commute on two buses: at the age of 11, a combined journey time of between 2.5 and 3 hours a day was draining, especially in winter. Academically it was undoubtedly the best decision (and has allowed me to become the opinionated nerd that I am today), but as a result, my friends lived close to the school - rather than close to where we did - and so my frame of reference shifted into London from an early age. We also went to Catholic schools, so the social circles in which we mixed were predominantly Irish, with a sprinkling of Italians, Poles and the (very) odd English Catholic thrown in for good measure. It was by no means a ghetto, but it was certainly set slightly apart from mainstream British society. For example, until I went to university in 1981, I had never socialised with anyone whose parents were divorced (although I knew several families would probably have been much happier had their parents been able to take that step!)
The paradox of 'dormitory towns' is, of course, that they are neither one thing nor the other: neither truly urban nor fully rural, too far to easily access the attractions of the city and yet too close to justify the establishment of stand alone facilities of its own. In my current situation as a middle aged mother of small kids, I would probably consider its suburban charms and middle class way of life appealing (as long as we could go travelling often enough!), but as a teenager, it felt isolated and stultifying.
"A bit of history ..."
Potters Bar's history seems inextricably linked to railways. Potters Bar is first mentioned in the early 13th century but remained a small village until the construction of the Great Northern Railway in 1850 which provided a link into the London Transport system which was developed from the late 19th century onwards. Ironically (given the rail accidents), the high speed commuter rail link into London remains one of Potters Bar's great attractions - 20 minutes into Kings Cross Station and fast links into several of the hubs of the Underground ('Tube') system such as Finsbury Park and Moorgate. My own parents moved out here because they couldn't afford to buy a family house in the area of North London where they had been living, and Potters Bar offered a relatively affordable, commutable alternative.
The famous rail crash happened on 10 May 2002 when a high speed train jumped the rails as a result of poor track maintenance, killing seven and injuring another 76. Six of the victims were on the train, whilst the seventh (Agnes Quinlivan) was killed by falling masonry dislodged by the impact: I mention poor Agnes in particular as she went to our church and I was in the same class as her granddaughter at primary school, which makes it all feel rather close to home. There is now a memorial outside the railway station (see my forthcoming travel tip). When I was researching the details for this page, I was surprised to discover that that there had also been an earlier rail crash in February 1946, which killed 2 and injured 17. Not a happy safety record.
"Other low key claims to fame"
Like many suburban towns, Potters Bar's main shopping streets (Darkes Lane and the High Street) have suffered from competition from superstores which have mushroomed in the surrounding area and it's a little sad to see their former vibrancy diminished to hosting restaurants, building societies and charity shops. The cinema where I saw my first movies was converted into a Tesco as far back of 1973 - when it was opened to much fanfare by the then Miss World, Belinda Green. Two of the churches that I knew as a child have been demolished and the sites redeveloped and the old Potters Bar hospital was converted into a huge Tesco a few years ago. Because I don't live there any longer, these changes seem all the more dramatic because I don't see the incremental changes day-on-day and I sometimes feel like a stranger in my home town.
Famous Potters Barbarians include Acker Bilk the jazz clarinetist (if Potters Bar had an anthem, then 'Stranger on the Shore' would probably be it) and a handful of other jazz musicians that I haven't heard of as well as some minor 'soapie' celebrities. Potters Bar was also the home golf club for Tony Jacklin, a British and U.S. Open winner in the 1970s: I vividly recall his over-coiffed portrait hanging in the barber shop on Darkes Lane where my brother had his hair cut.
If it's possible to have a more obscure claim to fame then that, then I also recall a reference to Potters Bar being the place where the oh-so-cute 'Babycham' chamois mascot was conceived. For those who have never experienced this iconic tipple of the 60s and the 70s, it is an extremely sweet sparkling perry (an alcoholic beverage akin to cider but made out of pears rather than apples). It had the fascinating distinction of being the first alcoholic product to be advertised on UK television, and apparently the marketing campaign was particularly groundbreaking as the adverts were specifically focused on women - almost unthinkable at the time, hence the focus on 'feminine' branding such as mini champagne bottle packaging (with correspondingly ladylike small capacities) and the delicate, mincing mascot. I recall finding the little chamois leaping around a champagne glass absolutely spellbinding when I was a child (a bit of a worry in itself), but I can't quite see it holding the same appeal for the current generation of lager ladettes!
I can never quite tell when Wikipedia is taking the p*ss, but when I was looking for details on the rail crash, I was highly amused by the warning that Potters Bar (Hertfordshire) that it is "not to be confused with Potter's Bar, California" - talk about stating the obvious!