Retails experts say high streets must diversify to survive and Barnet High Street is no exception: a former hardware shop has been transformed into a tuition centre for mathematics.


Mathnasium, an American-based network of maths learning centres, already has 18 franchise operations in the London suburbs, including centres in High Road, Whetstone, Winchmore Hill, Muswell Hill and Stanmore.

Their centres offer tutoring in maths for five to 16-year-olds – from children in reception classes right up to students preparing for GCSE exams.

High Barnet’s Mathnasium has been opened in what was Barnet High Street’s very own Aladdin’s cave – the hardware shop of Julian Stewart, who was the town’s longest-serving independent trader until his retirement in 2022.

It has been transformed inside into a brightly lit tuition space with room for up to 30 children or young people at any one time.

James Land, the franchisee of Barnet Mathnasium – who also operates the Whetstone Mathnasium – said that post the covid pandemic quite a few children have fallen behind in maths and there is demand for extra tuition.

Children are given a free assessment and then offered a course of tuition, costing around £30 per session.

Mr Land – seen above with his business partner Jim Land (left) and centre manager Az Iqbal (right) – said the American founder of the Mathnasium network had devised different techniques for teaching maths.

“It is a different approach which helps children make more sense of maths and helps them to develop and improve their problem-solving skills and critical thinking.”

Mathnasium now has over 1,100 franchises around the world offering support with children’s homework and preparation for entrance exams.

The Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Nagus Narenthira, who cut a ribbon to open the new centre, joined two young mothers – Rebecca Sage (left) and Hayley Sharp – who were keen to see what Mathnasium had to offer.

Councillor Narenthira said she knew that maths was a difficult subject for some children and if they were struggling in the classroom, tuition centres were an option for parents to consider.

“Sometimes it is not easy for a child to catch up and if their parents can’t help with their children’s homework, tuition centres might help put them on the right path, as it is so important a child doesn’t lose the enthusiasm to learn more.”

James Land said he was delighted to have been able to open the tuition centre in what was formerly Julian’s Hardware Shop, or Bargain Buys as it was originally known.

“Having grown up in High Barnet and been to school here until I left for university, I used to call in at Bargain Buys and was always amazed to see Julian’s tremendous range of stock; it was an Aladdin’s cave.”

Julian Stewart opened his hardware shop in 1979.

It soon became a High Barnet institution, an enticing destination for any resident or do-it-yourself enthusiast searching for the right tool, tin of paint, piece of ironmongery or any other household item.

In recent months there has been no let-up in the turnover of High Street shops. One recent closure was the Barnet branch of Milletts -- outdoor clothing and camping equipment – and the premises are about to be converted into a Starbucks coffee shop.

Starbucks have a launched an online recruitment campaign for staff, including a new team of baristas.

Another High Street departure earlier this year was the Halifax Building Society which has closed its branch on the corner with Salisbury Road.