How can we attract more visitors to Highgate?

by | Nov 22, 2018 | Development & Heritage, Economic activity | 9 comments

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!



  1. J & K Avivson

    We are both for all of the above but especially points 5 and 6. What can we do to help? We have an art gallery at 49 Highgate High Street with a large street window, we will be happy to publicize any relevant information to the sightseers and more.

  2. Mike K

    what is the significance of the leading picture?
    Why is the piece titled “by Maggy Mead-King” and signed by Peter Walton?

    • Maggy Meade-King

      Hi Mike – the pic is of Highpoint – one of the famous modernist buildings mentioned in the piece. The “by Maggy Meade-King” is because I posted it for Peter but this has been changed now. Thanks for your queries

  3. Ruth Hazeldine

    I have taken groups on two Literary \Walks around the village and also do a Historic walk. These are better done in spring or summer or early autumn as obviously weather dependent.

  4. Margaretha Smits

    Before thinking of how to attract more visitors, we ought to make Highgate a desirable place to be. This lovely village is drowning in rubbish and the air is foul to breathe most of the time. Local residents dump their rubbish on any available street corner in the wrong bags on all days of the week, even if pick up only happens on one specified day. Local restaurants put their bags containing food rubbish out after hours, only for the foxes to spread it all over the place during the night. The dentist in the High Street treats his front as a dumping ground for old furniture and other rubbish, often left for weeks and the whole place is marred by ugly advertising banners. I can’t be the only one exasperated by this. And then there is traffic and illegal parking….

  5. Christine Lalumia

    We overrun with estate agents. We do NOT need another chain coffee shop.
    We desperately need a couple of INDEPENDENT good restaurants – like we used to have. We need variety. Please – even one?
    Why don’t we have fishmonger?

    We are in danger of becoming a no man’s land of chains and brands selling real estate and coffee. Yuck. That is not a village. And an ‘app’ for visitors will not solve our problems.

  6. Douglas Sedley

    Dear Peter
    All that you have said is good but unless there is more, paid for, parking spaces there is no chance of more visitors. Because of this lack of an opportunity to park I generally have to go to East Finchley, Hampstead or Golders Green.
    There are too many residents only spaces. Pond Square and Highgate West Hill, by the reservoir, could provide considerably more spaces.Too many businesses have permits for their staff and bosses to park all day. The one space on the north of Pond Sq was recently occupied for 6 weeks by a parked car. We need a all day CPZ and more spaces for visitors from outside the village.

  7. Marta Rodríguez

    Hi Peter,

    You are right that we need to make Highgate a destination. Some of the beautiful shops that added character to the street have shut down because not enough people used Them.

    We need more independent shops- too many charities and estate Agents. Some people complain of coffee chains but Gails has brought some life to the street.
    – more independent restaurants
    – it’s true the square is such a wasted opportunity. Fair in the square is brilliant. How about a farmer market on Saturday in there. Suggestion of tables outdoors is good. That would bring more people to the village
    – more parking for visitors and less traffic, which hopefully can be accomplished if we manage to have better bus routes and people off their cars to do the school run. Better conexion with other areas would also encourage more visitors to come from Hampstead and other areas.
    – supporting local shops. People in full time have no time to go shopping, only at the weekend, how about if shops work together and arrange collective delivery to encourage people to buy locally instead of Ocado/ other supermarkets?
    – more events- it’s only the carol service and the fair
    – good idea about promoting the Swain Lane event

  8. Lisa Robinson

    I think these are some really creative and great suggestions. It seems that too many cars are a VERY real problem (as everywhere!) – and FAR too many estate agents (likewise). 🙁 But gently ‘developin’ the Square sounds really good if there’s any chance of shifting the bus terminal so it can be more opened up and seen. Tables and eg Boules in the square would be lovely. As would maybe some individual short MUSIC performances? (eg:some local music students/quality busking), a more ‘local’ non-chain cafe/restaurant too and lots of chairs ourside.

    The ideas re info/posters in various venues/shops etc and a small info centre by the WCs is excellent. And I must comment here on how wonderful the work of the Highgate Soc. is re all this and more – (following a comment that there’s “only Fair in the Square”) It all takes much time and effort! (sadly I don’t live in Highgate but come often). Food &/or craft markets in the Square and ?similar near the top of (Highgate Hill) and around the reservoir area…?.


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