The London Borough of Barnet was created in 1965 from Chipping Barnet and East Barnet, formerly districts of Hertfordshire; with Finchley and Hendon which had previously been boroughs in Middlesex. Barnet is the fourth largest of the London Boroughs and situated on the north-west edge of London. As well as a border with the County of Hertfordshire, Barnet also borders the London Boroughs of Brent, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Harrow.

Population change
1966:316,730 people
1998:324,200 people

The population includes the UK's largest Jewish community. Many Jewish families and business moved to the area from the East End of London in the second half of the 20th century.

Until the 19th century the areas that make up Barnet were predominantly agricultural. The area became known for holding large cattle markets where animals, which had been driven there from all over the country, were sold to London dealers. A fair has been held in Barnet every year since 1588 and became so well known that the expression 'Barnet Fair' came to be used by Cockneys to mean hair (it was shortened to 'Barnet' to further confuse those who did not understand the rhyme).

The borough became built-up during the late 19th and early 20th century. Its housing includes one of London's most famous garden suburbs, Hampstead Garden Suburb, the inspiration of Dame Henrietta Barnett, who wanted to create affordable and attractive housing as an alternative to slum housing in the East End. She purchased twenty acres of land and appointed Sir Edward Lutyens and Raymond Unwin as chief architects for the development. Barnet also includes Bishop's Avenue, built up from the 1920s with large houses for the very wealthy. By the end of the 20th century the street was known as 'Millionaire's Row'.

Barnet became a site for light industry in the 20th century. As the arterial road network was built up in the 1920s, so factories were attracted to greenfield sites around the North Circular Road. Hendon also developed a reputation for aviation. In 1910 Claude Grahame-White founded the London Aerodrome factory and flying field. His airfield was commandeered during the First World War by the RAF who later purchased the site in 1918 and renamed it Royal Air Force Station Hendon. Every year until 1937, the RAF staged spectacular aerial displays to raise money for charity; these pageants attracted thousands of visitors.

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