Mymshall Brook - Bignall's Corner

Tributary to Mymshall Brook
The Tributary flows north eastwards
TL 22792 00124

An area almost totally dominated by the road junctions (A1 and M25 and the motorway service area. Around the road and its predecessors lay pubs and roadhouses - and the garden centre after which the junction is named

Post to the south Dryham Park Farm
Post to the east Mymms Wash
Post to the north South Mimms
Post to the west Ridge

The A1 is the road from London to York and Scotland. The earliest such route was Roman; it later became Saxon, Ermine Street later the Old North Road. Later still a variant route was the Great North Road and in the 1920s bypasses were built. The South Mimms Roundabout is Junction 1 of the A1 (M) and is where the A1 going north becomes the A1 (M) motorway and goes north-south under the roundabout at the lowest level. It was built as a three lane motorway to meet the similar Barnet bypass to the south but it has been changed to a two-lane road to improve flow because of traffic conflicts. The old third lane became a slip road for the M25 and to the service area.

Bignells Corner
This is a three-level roundabout interchange providing access between the M25, the A1 (M) and a number of other roads as well as the South Mimms services. It is Junction 1 of the A1 (M), and Junction 23 of the M25The three-level stack roundabout is one of the largest roundabouts in the UK. It is known as Bignell's Corner, after a garden centre that stood north of here on the roundabout between the A1 and the A6.

Blanche Lane
Blanche Farm. This was an estate called Blanches, belonging to John Durham in the 14th and owned by a succession of wealthy people and sold in the early 20t to the Trotters of Dyrham Park. In 1938 it was sold and in 1965 was owned by the Greater London Council.  The farm house was 16th with a 17th staircase. It was first recorded in 1420 and demolished in 1969. A moat surrounding the house survives. It is owed by Hertfordshire County Council as an equestrian and countryside centre and offices
Earthwork and enclosure probably mark the early site of Dyrham Park manor-house
60 It is a 17th probably timber framed with a brick front and weather boarded rear.
62-64 Black Swan. This had been a pub called the Prince’s Arms and then four cottages including the village post office. 17th house with a timber frame, brick cased and weather boarded.  It has a carriage entrance. It was turned into housing and extended into a neighbouring cottage and a rear mission hall.
National School. A National school was opened in 1834 with a brick building, consisting of a mixed schoolroom, an infants' classroom, and the teachers' residence. It had a parliamentary grant and an evening school was also run. In 1884 it was was rebuilt. It later became known as St. Giles's Church of England school and in 1958 moved to new premises. There is now a terrace of modern houses on the site

Bridgefoot Lane
Bridgefoot Lodge. This was once a gatehouse. It is white painted brick and would have stood originally beside the main St. Albans road at entrance to Bridgefoot House and was once adjacent to a milestone

Greyhound Lane
This is the line of the old road to St. Albans. The Greyhound pub, once called the Dog and Badger, was here until 1918
Cedar Lodge. 18th house. At one time this was part of Clare House Hospital
White House. Early 19th house in brick

M25 South Mymms Bypass
The M25 running east/west crosses the roundabout at the highest level. This section of the M25 which was the final section was made up of the link road to the A6 which opened in 1986. The road to Potters Bar built in the 1970s had been the A1178 which became part of the M25,

South Mymms Services
Welcome Break. The roundabout provides access to the motorway service area which caters for cars and coaches. In 1986 As the M25 neared completion, the north-east quadrant of the junction was designated as a service area. A motorway maintenance depot was already in place there. BP was the owner of the services and its opening in 1986. They leased out the main facilities to Trusthouse Forte who branded it as Welcome Break, a chain they had just acquired. Trusthouse Forte are not now involved
Days Inn. Days are a big chain of American hotels. They sort of describe this as their ‘London’ Hotel.

St. Albans Road
This was the major route which ran through this area as the A6 from Barnet towards St Albans and Carlisle. When the Barnet bypass was built it crossed the A6 and then it was renumbered as A1. The cross roads became a roundabout which still exists to the north east of the main motorway interchange.
Charleston Paddocks
Bignall’s Nursery and Garden Centre – after which the roundabout it named. William Cutbush and Sons had a nursery business at Highgate with a branch in Barnet.   They dated from the late 18th. William Bignell an ex-employee took it over in 1932.
Beacon Café. Truck stop. This predates the M25 and was the first service area on the M25. The original building was destroyed in 1998 following a fire in a deep fryer.  The Beacon café had been built specifically to provide a stopping place for BP truckers. It included fast diesel pumps, a truck shop, rest room and a dedicated room for gaming machines. It was also infamous for its prostitutes. The truck stop has since become further integrated into the main service area. The site of the café itself is now the Scania Depot.
Premier Inn. The chain hotel is what was the Crest Motel. This was once the Esso Motor Hotel but later became part of Bass Charrington. It was 3 star A.A. & R.A.C. with a business class clientele but also some colourful film cast episodes.
Middlesex Arms.  This pub was built as a road house in 1931 and had a licence transferred from a pub called the Red Lion. It was demolished in 1973. It included a transport hostel and a swimming pool
Wagon and Horses a pub demolished for the motorway
The Mimms Caravan Park

British History Online South Mimms
British Listed Buildings. Web site
Hertfordshire County Council. Web site
Middlesex County Council. History of Middlesex
SABRE Roads. Web site
The Black Swan. Web site
Walford.  Village London
Webster, Great North Road,
Whitelaw. Hidden Hertfordshire


Unknown said…
I have an undated photograph of my mother as a young child. On the back it says Bignall Nursery North Road Highgate. I don't think it is the flower nursery rather a nursery school. Any ideas? BD.
Cedric Gilson said…
Wm Bignell & Son owned a garden shop in North Road, Highgate and a horticultural nursery in South Mymms at Bignell's Corner, near the site of the present M25 junction. Nurseries grew their own plant and shrub stock, as opposed to plant or garden centres that buy their stock from other suppliers.
Anonymous said…
Correct Cedric ! ,guessing by your surname you may be related to a lovely man that worked for my Father and Grandfather at Bignell’s Corner

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