Highgate needs visitors – to increase the footfall in the village, to keep our shops, cafés, restaurants and pubs going, to encourage other businesses to open and to visit our theatres and galleries. Here are some ideas that might encourage tourism:
  1. A Highgate Village and School Museum would be an attractive venue for tourists. The present school-only museum is excellent, but really of interest only to old Chomeleians and their families and a few dedicated others. By including a history of the village as whole, of which the school is a major element, we could attract a wider group. There are already plans which show how the addition could be made with no loss of access to classes when necessary.
  2. We could develop a series of apps that would guide visitors around the village and show them some of the exciting things they might otherwise miss. These apps could be themed to appeal to different groups. There could be, for example, a historic tour app, another leading people around the modernist houses of Highgate, a Jewish Highgate app, a blue plaque tour, a famous women of Highgate app, and a poets app. These could all be supported by an audio commentary. And for those without mobile phones or other portable devices, printed versions could be available.
  3. We could improve and extend the current history panels that are visible in some shop windows. They need to fixed more permanently in better positions, and there should be more of them. They could be supplemented by street panels at various important points explaining local history – for instance at the entrance to Pond Square, explaining its history, or by the Bank, explaining why there is a raised pavement.
  4. There is an annual hill climb for bikes up Swains Lane. Enthusiasts come from all over the UK for this event and we could could capitalise on it by holding other linked events, such as a childrens’ bike race round Pond Square. There is also an opportunity for the catering outlets to make more of this event which brings several thousand enthusiasts into the village.
  5. Pond Square is at the heart of the village but it is not much seen by visitors. We need to move the bus station, improve that area as a gateway to the square and provide better facilities and attractions – permission for the cafés and pub to have tables and chairs on the square for instance, and some childrens’ play equipment.  A statue to Coleridge – ‘the Sage of Highgate’ – and a memorial to George Michael would attract visitors. And maybe the ‘car-boot’ sale currently held in the Highgate Society could extend outside, into an antique or vintage sale on a regular basis. A boule piste might also be a feature that attracts people into this important Highgate square.
  6. We need a tourist information office, especially to guide people to other attractions and venues apart from Karl Marx’s grave and the charity shops. Could the toilets in Pond Square be re-developed to include a small tourist information office as well as the WCs? Or could a shepherds hut type of building be parked where the bus terminal is now?
Please let us know if you have  other ideas or if any of the above sound as if they have potential. We would love to hear from you and this is important for the future health of  Highgate as a viable village and not just a dormitory suburb of Muswell Hill and Crouch End!
Peter Walton

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