Highgate Society French Circle founder Ruth Hazeldine on fighting for Athlone House

Ruth Hazeldine is the co-founder of the Highgate Society’s French Circle and has lived in the same house in Jacksons Lane for 50 years. The 79-year-old, who has two sons and five grandchildren, is also a member of the Hornsey Historical Society and Highgate Society

What brought you to Highgate?

My husband and I were looking at a lot of different areas and found Highgate ticked all the boxes... and our house on Jacksons Lane was pretty well ideal.

What’s the best memory you have of the area?

It was about a week ago when the Highgate Society succeeded in blocking planning permission to build on the Highgate Bowl.

How has Highgate changed since you moved into the area?

It has changed largely because of traffic. When we moved in 1964, not everybody had a car. I didn’t. We have sadly lost a lot of family businesses. There were a great many in Highgate and also along Archway Road. Now there’s a lot of estate agents, chain restaurants and coffee shops.

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What is the area’s best kept secret?

I don’t think Highgate has many secrets. Chicago is called the windy city not because the wind blows there but because, like Highgate, we talk about it a great deal.

What would you change about Highgate?

I would change the 271 bus turn-around in the heart of the village, not only because it is ugly and intrusive, but also because it is very dangerous.

If you were editor of the Ham&High for a day, what local issue would you champion?

I would champion Athlone House to compel the developer to honour his obligation and restore Athlone House and prevent it being torn down for an inappropriate modern house.

What makes you smile on your way home?

The people I meet on my walks around Highgate, who are warm-hearted with a strong sense of community but also of total friendship.

Where in the world would you twin with Highgate?

San Francisco: it’s got hills, beautiful views and has a very artistic feel to it, and a strong sense of the environment, as it does here.

Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?

Mat Schwitzer, who sadly died a fortnight ago. He was a lovely guy, and his late wife Joan was lovely too. I was very close to them.

If you had to write your own epitaph what would it say?

One never knows, does one?