|From:||Palmers Green (TQ325926)|
|To:||Potters Bar (TL259008)|
|Length:||6.8 miles (10.9 km)|
|Meets:||A10, A406, A105, A1004, B1453, A110, M25, A1005, A1000|
|Former Number(s):||B155, A1005|
|Old route now:||A1009, A406, B556|
|Route outline (key)|
The A111 is a largely urban A-road in north London.
Section 1: Palmers Green - Cockfosters
It begins as the poor relation on the Great Cambridge Roundabout (A406/A10) from which it is poorly signposted (northbound traffic has to take the A10 north exit and veer sharp left, southbound is shunted round a silly little link onto the eastbound A406 sliproad causing jams galore at all hours; these two routes cross so need traffic lights to aid flow). The whole roundabout is frankly a mess, and the recent installation of traffic lights has helped, but not enough, especially where the A111 is concerned.
The road marches north-westwards along Hedge Lane to a traffic-light controlled crossroads with the A105 (signage here poor or non-existent) and takes a little rightward kink to get it over the railway line from Moorgate to Hertford North. It potters along through long swathes of residential houses (the Cranley Gardens to the left is not the one that serial killer Dennis Nilsen used to live in), past a large building to the right which just says 'HOSPITAL (closed)' on Multimap but which I have been assured is the nursing home where they put General Pinochet when he was over here and all that fuss took place about his extradition. Up a little hill and we come to Southgate tube station and a busy shopping area at a somewhat elongated roundabout with pedestrian crossings half way round which are the cause of many rear-end shunts involving drivers not expecting them. One of the signs here reads WINCHMORE HILL N21, which made me boggle the first time I saw it as I thought Winchmore Hill Road must bear that classification... I can be slow sometimes; of course it's merely the postcode district (though why it's put on the sign I can't think).
The A111 continues along Chase Side past more shops, round a roundabout next to a pub and an Asda supermarket, and runs onwards out of Southgate. There's a traffic light controlled junction, one arm of which is the B1453, though it's not signed on the ground, and passing sports grounds and college campuses on either side we come to a spot familiar to many road enthusiasts—the A111/A110 roundabout, whose every traffic sign used to be of the Pre-Worboys style. These have been replaced though since May 2010. One reason for the old signs lasting so long could be because they were new just before the new Worboys signs started to be used (they were made in a similar fashion to modern signs), and were therefore considered not worth replacing.
The roundabout also marks the very edge of the London postal district: points north and west of it being Hertfordshire; indeed the boundary runs across the middle of the roundabout. Administratively, however, we're wholly in Enfield but the boundary does run a short distance to the left.
We're now heading almost due north, past Cockfosters tube on our right where the Piccadilly line terminates and neat little parades of shops on our left. The further we progress along Cockfosters Road the posher the houses on either side get until one has the distinct suspicion that the rich and famous live nearby. Trent Park is to our right, a golf course to our left, and then we skirt the village of Hadley Wood, all big houses and expensive cars.
Section 2: Cockfosters - Potters Bar
The A111 now enters open countryside, and it's hard to believe we're only a couple of miles from nondescript London suburbs as we put our foot down and whiz up the hill across the Middlesex/Herts country boundary and arrive at junction 24 of the M25, a standard and not too busy roundabout where we can also take the A1005 and head back towards Enfield, if we want. The A111 continues over the roundabout into Potters Bar, though I barely know the final stretch along Southgate Road. It ends at traffic lights with the High Street (the old A1, now A1000). The B556 takes up its banner on the other side of the crossroads and runs on to South Mimms village (from where it's hard to reach the services of the same name) and all the way to the A5183 (former A5). That was once part of the A111 but currently it goes no further.
The 1922 Road Lists describe the A111 as East Barnet - Palmer's Green - Edmonton - Woodford showing how much things have changed from its current route.
In fact the road's northern end was on the A110 at Cockfosters; north of there it was the B155 and then the A1005 covered the final section into Potters Bar. The A111 was soon extended north but ended on the A1005. Just when it was extended along that road into Potters Bar is not known but it must have been by the 1960s as that is when the road was extended west of the A1000 along the former B650 to end on the then-A6 at South Mimms. Construction of the M25 removed the A6 from the area, so also curtailed the A111 back to Potters Bar, with the western extension now part of the B556.
In the other direction, the A111 originally extended east from Palmers Green through Edmonton to skirt Epping Forest and end on the then-A11 (now A104) near Woodford. The coming of the A406 North Circular Road in the late 1920s took over a couple of miles of A111 (originally the road was just renumbered but it has been upgraded considerably in the interim). In 1935 it was deemed improper to have a long multiplex and the eastern section of A111 was renumbered as an extension of the A1009 which it remains, although its original western section, Lower Hall Lane in the Lea Valley, is now closed to traffic.