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Totteridge & Whetstone stn building.JPG
Totteridge & Whetstone tube station
Grid reference: TQ195925
Location: 51°37’34"N, 0°10’17"W
Post town: London
Postcode: N20
Dialling code: 020
Local Government
Council: Barnet
Chipping Barnet

Whetstone is a village in northern Middlesex. It is located to the east of Totteridge in Hertfordshire, separated by Dollis Brook which marks the boundary between the counties. Totteridge & Whetstone tube station is located in Whetstone.

The High Road, the main road in the area, is the A1000 (formerly the A1), part of the traditional Great North Road from London to Edinburgh.


Early history

In mediæval times the Hospitallers had a settlement nearby in Friern Barnet probably where Friary Park is now and alongside the old road to London. In 1340 the Bishop of London opened a gate into his park (the Highgate) which enabled a straight road across Finchley Common along the ridge there. The Hospitallers' settlement moved further west and became known as West Town, also known variously as "le Weston" (1398), "Wheston" (1417), and "Whetstonestret" (1439).[1]

The Whetstone

John Heathfield of the Friern Barnet & District Local History Society writes that according to the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, the stone outside The Griffin public house commonly known as the Whestone, is a mounting block, and if so "it would have been connected to the toll gate erected by the Whetstone & Highgate Turnpike Trust about 1730." He also states that the earliest evidence for the existence of the stone is a photograph taken in 1861 which shows it much closer to The Griffin than it is now. The stone was moved to its present location when the toll gate was removed in 1863.[1]

Russian spies

Whetstone may have been the location of a Soviet spy base.[2] Tass, the Soviet news agency, had a radio monitoring station at The Lodge, 13 Oakleigh Park North, and the British security agencies became aware that it was being used to track its activities. According to local newspapers,[3][4] the diplomatic immunity granted to the Russians was a worry for the British government since it effectively granted a licence for Tass to publish libellous newsletters without the threat of prosecution.

Despite this concern, the Soviets were subsequently granted permission to use specialist radio equipment which was then used to spy on the British. The matter was escalated to Prime Minister Clement Attlee and was discussed by senior members of the cabinet, and the Russians were eventually ordered to cease their radio monitoring operation.


Stations in the area are:


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Whetstone Notes", John Heathfield, Friern Barnet Newsletter, No. 57 (April 2014), p. 4.
  2. http://www.keighleynews.co.uk/news/154696.display/
  3. Spies as neighbours Times Series Newspapers 17 November 2003
  4. End of a saga Bucks Free Press 25 July 2001