Southgate Symphony Orchestra formed in 1961 when a privately-run group of enthusiasts invited Terry Hawes to conduct them in New Barnet.

Terry was appointed as music lecturer at the newly-open Southgate Technical College in 1963 and the New Barnet group became the founding members of his evening class orchestra.

Membership of the Orchestra varied from the upper 20s to the 30s, and over the years professional leaders were appointed for the string section (Leader, 2nd violins, violas, and 'celli). The presence of these talented individuals aided the students and the Orchestra became a strong ensemble.

Whilst with the College and under the conductorship of Terry Hawes, Neil Cloake, Chris Hayward, Michael Whittaker, and others, concerts took place in the Gladys Child Theatre at Southgate College. The Orchestra took part in the Enfield Festival of Verdi's Requiem, accompanying the Southgate College Opera, the St. Stephen's Church Choir and Enfield Operatic Society. It was also during this period that children's matinee concerts were introduced, light-heartedly entertaining and educating local schoolchildren and the young at heart with popular orchestral pieces.

Southgate College Symphony Orchestra, as it was known, became a semi-autonomous body in 1997 and continued as an evening class at Southgate College until the summer of 2005.

Towards the end of the "College Years", there were some pressures exerted on the Orchestra as fees were increased and funding reduced. This led to the Orchestra becoming a fully independent body, and renaming itself to Southgate Symphony Orchestra. An inaugural concert of romantic masterpieces took place at St. Peter's Church in December 2005 and included the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D, the solo being played by Gavin Davies.

On 20 December 2007, the Orchestra became a registered charity (number 1122087).

Southgate Symphony Orchestra is particularly grateful to the Enfield Over 50's Forum and Enfield Council for their help in the move to independence and their continued support.