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OTTOMAN HERITAGE & A RIVER THAT'S NOT A RIVER

A cosmopolitan part of north-east London. From Turnpike Lane to Clissold Park via the New River, eating Turkish and Albanian food along the way.

An Orthodox priest Green Lanes

An Orthodox priest Green Lanes

More than fifty percent of London’s inhabitants were born abroad.

Generalizing, certain ethnic groups have congregated in particular areas of London. As examples of this: Bangladeshis in Tower Hamlets; West Indians in Brixton; Punjabis in Southall; Poles in Hammersmith and Ealing; Nigerians in south-east London; and Koreans in New Malden. North-east London contains many people whose origins were places that once formed part of the huge Ottoman Empire. They come from, for example: Albania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Kosovo, Kurdistan, and Turkey. Green Lanes is one of the ‘post-Ottoman heartlands’ of north-east London, and it is here that this exploration begins.

Turnpike Lane station

Turnpike Lane station

Turnpike Lane Underground station stands at the intersection of Turnpike Lane (formerly part of ‘Tottenham Lane’) and Green Lanes. Between about 1715 and 1872, a toll-collecting station (a ‘turnpike’) stood at this road junction. The present art-deco station was designed by Charles Holden (1875-1960), who designed many stations on the Piccadilly Line. It opened in 1932. Its tall ticket hall resembles the station he created at Alperton. The curved building beside it, which is part of the station, now contains an eatery with a Turkish name. The ventilator grids on the platforms are decorated with a horseman riding towards the turnpike gate.

Turnpike Lane station ventilation grid

Turnpike Lane station ventilation grid

Green Lanes is one of the longest streets (with a single name) in London. It stretches south from Winchmore Hill to Newington Green, over six miles. It is part of an old road (it may have been in existence in the 2nd century AD) that ran between Hertford and London’s Shoreditch. It was used much by drovers bringing animals to London for slaughter. In general, a ‘green lane’ is a byway that has existed for centuries. They were sometimes used as drovers’ thoroughfares. While most green lanes are barely used unmetalled and often overgrown rustic tracks today, Green Lanes is quite the opposite.

Ducketts Common

Ducketts Common

Ducketts Common is a park bordering the west side of Green Lanes. It is all that remains of the former Dovecote Farm that was on land once owned by Laurence Duket, a goldsmith. In retaliation for an attack of Ralph Crepyn (c. 1245 – before 1331), a lawyer and one of London’s first Town Clerks, Duket was murdered in about 1283 (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/london-mayors-sheriffs/1188-1274/pp237-248). This episode of mediaeval history has been fictionalised by Paul Doherty in his 1986 novel “Satan in St Mary’s”.

Ducketts Common

Ducketts Common

Liberty Church  Frobisher Rd, formerly the Premier Electric Theatre

Liberty Church Frobisher Rd, formerly the Premier Electric Theatre

Today, the Common is a much-used open space with trees, partly covered by grass, and partly by sports facilities. Facing the south end of the park, stands the Liberty Church (on Frobisher Road). This is housed in a former cinema. Built in 1910 as ‘The Premier Electric Cinema’ to the designs of William Emden and Stephen Egan (see: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/23882), this was one of London’s first purpose-built cinemas. The original building is hidden behind a crumbling art-deco façade, badly in need of redecoration, that was added in 1938. After several name and ownership changes, the building finally stopped being used as a cinema in 2003. Its present owners, The Liberty Church, moved in 2003.

Former Queens Head pub Green Lanes

Former Queens Head pub Green Lanes

At the corner of Frobisher Road and Green Lanes, there is a late Victorian brick building (built 1898) adorned with pilasters and topped by a round tower. This was the Queens Head pub until it closed in 2010. The building stands on the site of the original pub, built in 1794. From 1856, the pub’s owner ran an ‘omnibus service’ from London and Winchmore Hill. Today, the building houses a branch of Dogtas, the Turkish furniture retailer. There are two Bulgarian eateries, a breakfast joint and a café/bar, across Green Lanes opposite the old pub.

Bulgarian cafes on Green Lanes

Bulgarian cafes on Green Lanes

Inter4national Food Green Lanes

Inter4national Food Green Lanes

Just south of the former pub, there is a row of shops, Queens Parade, that illustrates beautifully the international flavour of this area. Neighbouring a used car dealer and beneath a huge McDonald’s advertisement, is IFC Food Centre, which claims to stock food products of interest to: Iranians, Poles, Romanians, Hungarians, Bulgarians, Lithuanians, and … ‘English’. This is close to Savalan, a supermarket that contains a halal butcher. Then, there is a small Turkish bakery, where fresh products (including simit, bread, pide, lahmacun, börek, baklava) are baked on the premises.

Simits from a Turkish bakery in Green Lanes

Simits from a Turkish bakery in Green Lanes

Albanian pizzeria (Durazzo) on Green Lanes

Albanian pizzeria (Durazzo) on Green Lanes

Almost next to the bakery, there is a pizzeria named ‘Durazzo’, which is the Italian name for Albania’s important seaport Durrës. It is run by Albanians. Nawroz restaurant (named after the Persian new year) at the end of the Parade offers Iranian (Persian) food. The Corner Café and Bar opposite it has a large covered terrace with comfortable chairs for the many smokers sitting there. Its drinks menu offers ‘raki’. I do not know whether this is the type drunk in Albania or the Turkish drink that resembles the Greek ouzo.

Hindu temple Green Lanes

Hindu temple Green Lanes

Hindu temple Green Lanes

Hindu temple Green Lanes

In complete contrast to the eateries and shops neighbouring it and wedged between them, is the Om Shakthivel Temple. Adorned with pictures of peacocks outside, it is a small Hindu temple. This caters for Tamil speakers. A lady cleaning the temple gave me a booklet, written both in Tamil and English. It contains stories of people who have had their misfortunes reversed by praying to Shakthivel.

Bardhoshi Albanian restaurant Green Lanes

Bardhoshi Albanian restaurant Green Lanes

Unlike other Albanian restaurants that I have come across in London, Bardhoshi Bar and Restaurant, makes no attempt to hide its ethnic origins. Its menu, displayed outside on the pavement of Green Lanes, is in Albanian with English translations in smaller letters. The first time that I entered this was early one weekday morning. The espresso I ordered was first-class and served, as it would be in Albania, with a glass of cold water. The lady who served me, the owner’s wife, told me that she and her family come from northern Albania. They have recently taken over the restaurant from another Albanian family from the southern Albanian city of Korçë. She also told me that there are two other Albanian restaurants in the vicinity, the Pizzeria Durazzo being one of them. These establishments attract Albanian and Kossovars from the surrounding districts and, also, from further out of London.

On the Saturday evening when we visited Bardhoshi at about 7 pm, every table was occupied by men. Almost all of them were having alcoholic drinks, mostly Mexican beer but also raki and other hard drinks. Almost without exception, they were enjoying food as well. A large TV screen was showing programmes (sports and music videos) from Kosovo and Albania. We were warmly welcomed by the owner.

Bread cheese and pickles at Bardhoshi

Bread cheese and pickles at Bardhoshi

The food was good, at least as good as much that we ate in Albania. A basket of warm bread was accompanied by delicious pickled apple peppers and white cabbage. My wife ordered a delicious okra (lady’s finger) with lamb casserole. I had qofte (minced meat kebabs – very often served in Albania) served with a generous mixed salad. We washed this enormous meal down with shots of good quality Albanian raki, and finished the meal with good espresso coffee, once again served with glasses of iced water. The waitress, an Albanian from Shkodër who had been brought up in Greece (where many Albanians have worked since Communism ended in Albania in 1990), busily served everyone in the restaurant. When we had finished our meal, the lady chef came out to meet us. We told her that we had enjoyed our meal, and she looked pleased. As we were leaving, the waitress presented us with a complementary package containing some soup for us to enjoy at home.

Turkish Cypriot Association Green Lanes

Turkish Cypriot Association Green Lanes

Turkish dental surgery Green Lanes

Turkish dental surgery Green Lanes

Across Green Lanes and further south, there is a pair of semi-detached houses, which house the Turkish Cypriot Community Association. Established in 1978, it “provides culturally, linguistically and religiously sensitive services to Turkish and Kurdish speakers residing in the UK” (see: http://tcca.org/). Nearby and across the road from this, is Duckett Dental Surgery which advertises a “Turk dis doktoru”, i.e. a Turkish dentist. Further south from this, there is a branch of The Turkish Bank.

Turkish Bank Green Lanes

Turkish Bank Green Lanes

A large building opposite the bank houses the ‘Hawes and Curtis Outlet Store’, which sells shirts for men. In the past, this building was marked on detailed maps as a laundry. Located next to Langhams Working Men’s Club, this was once the ‘Oaklands Laundry’, a large business in the days before domestic washing machines became common (see: http://www.woodses.co.uk/life-on-the-ladder-1-a-beginning.html).

Former laundry on Green Lanes

Former laundry on Green Lanes

Bulgarian grocery Green Lanes

Bulgarian grocery Green Lanes

The brick and stone neo-gothic Harringay United Church was opened in 1902. Facing it across Green Lanes, is ‘Evmolpia’, a Bulgarian grocery store named after the ancient Thracian name for the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv (see: http://www.plovdiv.bg/en/about-plovdiv/history/). This shop adjoins Salisbury Promenade, a row of shops contained in a long tile-covered building, whose architecture resembles that of many art-deco cinemas.

Salisbury Promenade Green Lanes

Salisbury Promenade Green Lanes

Staircase to Legends Gym in Salisbury Promenade Green Lanes

Staircase to Legends Gym in Salisbury Promenade Green Lanes

An historic photograph reveals that it had already been built by 1934, when the upper floor was occupied by a ‘Billiardrome’ and the lower by shops. Shops and restaurants occupy the ground floor. A snooker hall and gym centre occupy the building’s only upper floor. The staircase leading from the street to the gym is decorated much as theatres and cinemas built before WW2 used to be.

The Salisbury, Green Lanes

The Salisbury, Green Lanes

The Salisbury, Green Lanes

The Salisbury, Green Lanes

The grandiose Salisbury pub, a masterpiece of stone and brickwork with decorative gables and towers topped with domes, is on the corner of St Annes Road and Green Lanes. Built to the designs of John Cathles Hill (1857-1915), an architect, developer, and founder of the London Brick Company, this pub opened in 1899. On both sides of Green Lanes beyond this hostelry, there are lines of shops and restaurants, mostly Turkish.

Gökyüzü Restaurant

Gökyüzü Restaurant

Bakery, Green Lanes

Bakery, Green Lanes

Turkish confectionery shop, Green Lanes

Turkish confectionery shop, Green Lanes

I have only been to one of these restaurants to date: Gökyüzü. It is a large restaurant, modern in design, with good service and lovely food in generous portions. It is opposite a big supermarket called Yasar Halim, which was established in 1981. The window of its bakery section has the word ‘patisserie’ written in French, Greek, and Turkish. Apart from several Turkish restaurants, all of which attract large numbers of diners, there is: a Turkish bakery specialising in gözleme (savoury flatbreads filled with, for example, spinach, egg, or cheese); Turkish jewellery shops; a Polish grocery; a Polish restaurant; a Hungarian supermarket (‘Paprika Store’); and, even, a branch of the UK chain ‘Iceland’.

Turkish shops Green Lanes

Turkish shops Green Lanes

Making gözleme in Green Lanes

Making gözleme in Green Lanes

Green Lanes Station

Green Lanes Station

The Overground line, which runs between Gospel Oak and Barking, traverses Green Lanes over a metal bridge on which the words ‘Harringay Green Lanes’ are written in large orange capital letters. Just south of this, on the corner of Williamson Road and Green Lanes, there is a notice about the history of the Harringay Arena. The Arena, an indoor stadium which could seat 10,000 people, was built in by the Canadian-born Brigadier-General AC Critchley (1890-1963) in 1936. Originally designed for that popular Canadian sport ice-hockey, the Arena was also used for boxing, horse-shows, basket-ball (during the Olympic Games of 1948), and Billy Grahame’s preaching rallies. It was built besides an outdoor stadium for grey-hound and motor-cycling racing, which Critchley had built in 1927. The Arena, designed by the modernist architect Oscar Faber (1886-1956), a structural engineer – a pioneer of the use of reinforced concrete in the UK, closed in 1978, and its open-air neighbour closed in 1987. Where these two landmark buildings once stood, a large, mundane branch of Sainsburys stands instead.

Beaconsfield pub Green Lanes

Beaconsfield pub Green Lanes

The Beaconsfield hotel/pub is across the Green Lanes facing the notice about the Arena. This Victorian building with tall brick chimneys dates from before 1894. The pub was possibly designed by JC Hill, who designed The Salisbury (see above).

Finsbury Park viewed from Green Lanes

Finsbury Park viewed from Green Lanes

New River in Finsbury Park, viewed from Green Lanes

New River in Finsbury Park, viewed from Green Lanes

Just south of this, the New River flows out of Finsbury Park and eastwards under Green Lanes. It is here that I left the ‘post-Ottoman trail’, and joined the footpath that runs beside this waterway, which despite its name is not a river but a canal. Elsewhere, I have described the New River’s lovely course through Canonbury. The walk that begins at Green Lanes is at first less charming than that through Canonbury, but gradually begins to rival it.

New River near Eade Road

New River near Eade Road

New River by Eade Road

New River by Eade Road

The New River was opened in 1613 to conduct drinking water to the New River Head in London’s Clerkenwell from springs in Hertfordshire and, also, from the River Lea. Before it was built, Londoners had to rely on oft contaminated local wells and streams, as well as The Thames, for its water supply. Now, there is a properly sign-posted footpath (see: http://shelford.org/walks/newriver.pdf) that runs along most of The New River’s 28-mile length. At first, the path I followed ran roughly parallel to Eade Road. Bounded on both sides by unattractive landscape, the canal winds its way along a strip of grassland punctuated by occasional trees and bushes. The canal is raised above the land to its north, and from it there is a fine view over the semi-industrial landscape of Harringay and beyond.

New River Studios

New River Studios

New River Seven Sisters Rd bridge

New River Seven Sisters Rd bridge

Shortly before reaching the bridge carrying Seven Sisters Road over it, the canal passes the brightly decorated New River Studios, which is housed in a former industrial building, a converted furniture warehouse (see: http://newriverstudios.com/). The Studios’ mission is to provide a centre for the promotion of arts and other creative pursuits. It is run on a ‘not-for-profit-basis’. Just beyond the studios, the canal passes under a graffiti-covered, unattractively designed brick and concrete bridge over which the busy Seven Sisters Road crosses.

Bunker on New River at Seven Sisters Rd Bridge

Bunker on New River at Seven Sisters Rd Bridge

New River: The Sanctuary at Amhurst Park

New River: The Sanctuary at Amhurst Park

On the west side of the bridge, I spotted a small brick-built structure that looked like a military bunker. Across the canal from this, there is a brick and stone neo-gothic church on Amhurst Park. This is now ‘The Sanctuary’, a church run (since 2003) by Resurrection Manifestations, which is an affiliated member of Resurrection Power and Living Bread Ministries International. On Sundays, one of its services is in a local Ghanaian language (see: http://www.resman.org/history/).

New River graffiti near Newnton Close

New River graffiti near Newnton Close

Newnton Close bridge over New River

Newnton Close bridge over New River

The canal makes a U-turn just east of the church, and begins flowing in a south-west direction. While it is turning, it flows under a brick footbridge with metal railings at the eastern end of Newnton Close. Next, the visitor must make a choice. Whether to continue along the path beside the canal or to make a small diversion to enter the Woodberry Wetlands.

Woodberry Wetlands

Woodberry Wetlands

The wetlands form a nature reserve surrounding the East Reservoir, one of two adjoining expanses of water that collect water from the New River. The East Reservoir and its neighbour The West Reservoir were built in 1830 to supply water to the then developing suburbs of Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill (see: http://www.woodberrywetlands.org.uk/about/history/). In 1992, the reservoirs were offered for sale to be filled in and then used for building purposes. Fortunately, this did not happen. In 2016, the land surrounding the East Reservoir was developed as a nature reserve, and opened to the public.

East Reservoir from Woodberry Wetlands

East Reservoir from Woodberry Wetlands

The walk through the Wetlands is delightful, and popular with mothers pushing their babies in buggies. Near the entrance, I saw a maintenance hut outside of which I saw a rack on which several pairs of red rubber gloves were hanging out to dry; it looked ghoulish. The reservoir is surrounded by untamed grassland. The water contains islands of reedbeds. A modern housing development consisting of apartment blocks of varying heights overlooks the reservoir from its western shore. When I visited the reserve, I spotted little wildlife apart from plants, ducks, and a pair of cormorants, one of which had pale white breast feathers. The path within the Wetlands leads around the reservoir to The Coal House Café (see below).

Ivy House Sluice New River

Ivy House Sluice New River

Ivy House Sluice New River

Ivy House Sluice New River

Returning to the bridge at Newnton Close, I re-joined the canal. Just before it skirts the East Reservoir, it passes beneath a small brick building that straddles the water. This is the Ivy House Sluice, which was built in the first half of the 19th century. Its hand-operated sluice-gate machinery is still in working order.

Modern sluice mechanism New River and East Reservoir

Modern sluice mechanism New River and East Reservoir

As I walked along the north-western side of the East Reservoir, I met many people with young children. Quite a few of them were speaking in Slav languages. Shortly before the path reaches the Lordship Lane bridge over the New River, there is an elaborate modern sluicing system. This regulates entrance of water from the canal into the East Reservoir. Its apparatus includes an automated weed-grabbing mechanism that plucks weeds and other rubbish from the New River, and then deposits on the bank so that it can be collected and removed (see: http://www.londongardenstrust.org/features/NewRiver.htm).

Coal House Cafe on East Reservoir

Coal House Cafe on East Reservoir

Large birds on East reservoir

Large birds on East reservoir

A pathway leads from this machine along the south-western shore of the East Reservoir to the elegant brick-built Coal House Café. Constructed in 1833, this was, as its name suggests, once used for storing coal. At one end of the building there is an enormous white stone commemorative slab with words carved on it, including: “These reservoirs the property of the New River Company were begun in the year 1830 and were completed in the year 1833 under the direction of Mr William Chadwell Mylne, their engineer…”

The Scottish born architect and engineer William Chadwell Mylne (1781-1863) was a son of Robert Mylne (1733–1811), who not only built the first Blackfriars Bridge but was also the New River Company’s surveyor. William became the Company’s Chief Engineer when his father retired in 1810. Apart from the reservoirs, he was responsible for another significant building in the neighbourhood (see below).

New River flowing from Lordship Lane Br south

New River flowing from Lordship Lane Br south

New River Riverside Gardens

New River Riverside Gardens

The New River continues beyond Lordship Lane for a few yards before it begins to skirt the western shore of the West Reservoir. First it passes a couple of modern fountains – one of them is spherical. They decorate the blocks of flats surrounding Riverside Gardens. From here onwards, the path has been re-built and looks attractive, but overly ‘manicured’.

View across West reservoir to Stoke Newington West Reservoir Centre

View across West reservoir to Stoke Newington West Reservoir Centre

Family group on New River near West reservoir

Family group on New River near West reservoir

Across the reservoir I saw a tall brick building with tall windows. This was flanked by long low newer single-storey wings, outside of which there were many small sailing dinghies. Behind this building, there were several tall brick-built towers crowned with castellated walls. I stopped an elderly couple to ask them to identify what I was seeing. They did not know because, like me, they were visiting the area for the first time. They had South African accents, and were in London visiting their children, none of whom lived anywhere near these reservoirs. They told me that whenever they visit London, they explore a part of it which is new to them. I admired them for their adventurousness.

Paddling on West reservoir

Paddling on West reservoir

I continued along the path, stopping to watch families of wildfowl swimming in the water. As I rounded the lake, and got closer to the long low building with boats stacked outside it, I saw groups of children paddling kayaks in the West Reservoir, which is now used mainly for water-sports. The building with the boats outside it is the West Reservoir Centre. Its central tall structure was formerly a water filtration centre, which was built in the 1930s.

Victorian pumping station Green Lanes

Victorian pumping station Green Lanes

Victorian pumping station Green Lanes: Mylne's logo and a climbing wall

Victorian pumping station Green Lanes: Mylne's logo and a climbing wall

Just before the New River disappears under Green Lanes, it passes what looks like a grimly forbidding castle. Built in 1855 to house a pumping station, it bears a logo consisting of the letters in the name ‘Mylne’. This is because it was built by WC Mylne, who had built the Reservoirs. It was designed by the architect Robert Billings (1813-1874), who also wrote many books including his four-volume “Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Scotland”. The pumping station was built to pump water from the reservoir to northwest London, which was suffering from a cholera epidemic at that time (see: http://www.londongardenstrust.org/features/NewRiver.htm). Between 1953 and 1995, when it was converted into a climbing centre, the pump stood disused.

I re-joined Green Lanes about just over half of a mile south of where I left it to follow the New River. But, I had walked almost thrice that distance by following the canal.

Brownswood pub Green Lanes

Brownswood pub Green Lanes

The late 19th century Brownswood pub is several yards north of Clissold Park. Its name refers to the Manor of Brownswood, which probably existed before the first written record of it was produced in the early 12th century (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol6/pp140-146).

Clissold Park

Clissold Park

Clissold Park, where we end this exploration, was once the grounds of Clissold House (originally called ‘Paradise House’). The house was built in the early 1790s for the Quaker merchant, philanthropist, and anti-slavery campaigner Jonathan Hoare, who was a member of the well-known Hoare family of bankers. Hoare wanted a new home close to the New River, and the site he chose to lease in 1790, the present park, used to have the canal flowing through it until it was re-routed.

Clissold Park

Clissold Park

In 1811, the estate was bought by Augustus Clissold (c. 1797-1882), an English Anglican priest, who was an exponent of the theological ideas proposed by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772). After Clissold’s death, there were plans to sell the park for building development. Fortunately for us, two local politicians, John Runtz (a director of the New River Company; 1818-1891) and Joseph Beck (an optical instrument maker; 1828-1891), were able to persuade the Metropolitan Board of Works to buy the land in 1887, and then to develop it as a public park.

Clissold Park

Clissold Park

Clissold Park

Clissold Park

The park contains various water features, which are remnants of the part of the old course of the New River from the time when it used to flow through it. These include two lakes, and a stretch of what looks like a canal. The latter is traversed by an elaborate cast-iron bridge, which is far more attractive than any of the bridges that I saw while walking along the New River further north.

House at Clissold Park

House at Clissold Park

House at Clissold Park

House at Clissold Park

The bridge is almost in front of the house that was built for Hoare. With six Doric pillars supporting a veranda that runs the length of the front of the house, the brick-built house has two main floors and an extensive basement. It is now used for private functions such as weddings, and contains a popular café. Most of the rooms that I entered were sparsely, if at all, furnished. The main staircase is a spectacular, almost spiral construction.

Aviary at Clissold Park

Aviary at Clissold Park

Drinking fountain at Clissold Park

Drinking fountain at Clissold Park

In addition to the water features, the park contains a small animal enclosure that includes an aviary and a butterfly house. Near this, there is a pink granite drinking fountain erected in 1890, and dedicated to the memory of Messrs Beck and Runtz. Near the Clissold Road exit, I saw a stone fragment with the date 1790 carved on it. At the exit near Riversdale Road, which recalls the former course of the New River, there is a small brick building on Green Lanes with shuttered windows. Labelled ‘Pump House’, it is a reminder of the days when the New River flowed through the park.

HARRING 9l Clissold Park pump house

HARRING 9l Clissold Park pump house

Opposite the pump house, stand the forlorn remains of what was once the White House pub. This was in business from 1866 until 2013. Nearby, there are bus stops that allow you to travel either back up north, or into the centre of London.

White House pub now closed on Green Lanes

White House pub now closed on Green Lanes

This walk fulfilled several of my pleasures, including: discovering places new to me; exploring London’s lesser-known waterways; and enjoying the cosmopolitan nature of the city. People from the formerly Ottoman territories have moved into north-east London both to escape from the horrors of war (e.g. the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, and troubles in Kurdistan and Cyprus) and, also, to enjoy the economic advantages of living in Western Europe. However, I often wonder whether they miss the lovely scenery and better climate of the places they have left in order to live in one of the more aesthetically bleak parts of London.

East Reservoir looking north

East Reservoir looking north

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 06:00 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london turkey cyprus albania bulgaria haringey harringay clissold_park new_river Comments (7)

7 SISTERS TO SILVER STREET: following a Roman road

Discovering places of interest along a Roman road in Tottenham and Edmonton .

Tottenham: The Old well

Tottenham: The Old well

Tottenham and Edmonton are places that are lesser-known to me, and, I suspect, to many others. You may well wonder why I am writing about apart of north-east London, which is well off most visitors’ radars. Here are two reasons: the first dental, the second legal.

In the 1960s, my late uncle Julian Walt, a dentist trained in Johannesburg, owned a dental practice next to Silver Street Station in Edmonton. I used to attend his surgery every six months until the mid-1970s. The immediate surroundings of his practice seemed dismal, and not worth exploring. So, I used to get my teeth treated, and return to other parts of London as quickly as possible.

Years later, my wife, by then a practising barrister, began attending cases at Edmonton County Court, which is a short walk from Julian’s former surgery. Recently, I met her for lunch in Edmonton, and we took a bus home. This bus travelled from Fore Street, which is close to Silver Street, all the way along the Tottenham High Road to Seven Sisters Station. As we travelled, I noticed from the window of the bus that our route was dotted with buildings that looked interesting. They proved to be so, and I have looked at them more closely since then.

Tottenham:Bernie Grant Arts Centre

Tottenham:Bernie Grant Arts Centre

Let me guide you from Seven Sisters Station to Silver Street along a road that has run from Bishopsgate in the City to Hertford since time immemorial. Until it reaches Bruce Grove, it is the ‘A10’ road, and then north of this it becomes the A1010. Once, it was known as the ‘Hertford Road’ and, also, ‘The Old North Road’. Originally, it was a Roman road that became known as ‘Ermine Street’ (derived from its Old English name – ‘Earninga Straete’). It led from Londinium (London) to Eburacum (York). Being such a long-established thoroughfare, it is good to find that there are still some historic buildings that may be seen along it.

Former Jewish Home and Hospital for Incurables

Former Jewish Home and Hospital for Incurables

The name ‘Seven Sisters’ is derived from a circle of seven elms that used to stand near the present intersection of Broad Lane and the Tottenham High Road (the ‘High Road’). Just north of Seven Sisters Station on the west side of the High Road, there is a large ornate red brick building surrounded by iron railings. Now Sycamore Court, this was once the ‘Jewish Home and Hospital for Incurables’. It was built between 1897 and 1901. The establishment that ran it was founded in Hackney in 1889 to offer:
“… care to poor Jewish immigrants permanently disabled by chronic disease, accident or physical handicap.” (see: http://ezitis.myzen.co.uk/jewishhospitalandhome.html).
It moved to the site on the High Road in 1903. It contained a synagogue that was consecrated in 1918. After WW1, the institution included incurable Jewish ex-servicemen amongst its inmates.

Sycamore Gardens: former Jewish Home and Hospital for Incurables

Sycamore Gardens: former Jewish Home and Hospital for Incurables

The hospital closed in 1995. By then, Tottenham’s Jewish population had shrunk considerably. Now, with the synagogue fittings having been removed and transferred to the Sukkat Shalom Reform Synagogue in Wanstead, the building has been converted to be used as social housing.

The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London

The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London

The campus of The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (‘CONEL’) is near to Sycamore Court. This college is a ‘descendant’ of the Grove House School, a Quaker school, that flourished on this site between 1828 and 1878. An older (20th century) brick building with neo-classical features stands next to a more contemporary building. They are close to Tottenham Green.

Tottenham Green war memorial

Tottenham Green war memorial

A war memorial (erected in 1923) surmounted by a winged figure stands guard at the southern apex of the Green. The Green appears on maps as early as the 17th century (e.g. on a 1619 map), but most probably antedates this. The existing buildings around it do not go that far back in time.

Former Tottenham Green Fire Station

Former Tottenham Green Fire Station

On the western edge of the Green, we find the former Tottenham Fire Station, which was built in 1905 by A S Taylor and R Jemmett. Now, a protected building, it has been converted for use as a restaurant. The old fire station is next to the former Tottenham Town Hall. Designed by Arthur Rutherford Jemett and Arnold S Taylor, this elegant ‘Edwardian Baroque’ structure was built in 1905.

Old Tottenham Town Hall

Old Tottenham Town Hall

Now, it is home to the ‘Legacy Business Centre’ and the ‘Dream Centre’, which is a place for holding functions such as weddings. A plaque on the front of the building remembers the trade unionist and politician Bernie Grant (1944-2000), who held “legendary surgeries” within the Town Hall.

Former Tottenham Town Hall: Bernie Grant plaque

Former Tottenham Town Hall: Bernie Grant plaque

Born in the West Indies, and brought to the UK by his parents in 1963, Bernie became a figure of controversy following the death of PC Blakelock during riots in the Broadwater Farm Estate (in Tottenham) in October 1985. He was nicknamed “The High Priest of Conflict” by the then Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd. Bernie went on to become Labour MP for Tottenham between 1987 and 2000. When he was elected in 1987, he was one of only four ‘black’ MPs.

Bernie Grant Arts Centre

Bernie Grant Arts Centre

Grant’s memory is celebrated in a complex of buildings behind the Town Hall: The ‘Bernie Grant Arts Centre’. It is well worth walking behind the old building to see, first, that it is attached, like a thick façade or a rich cake icing, to a much newer building, which forms part of the arts centre. This is separated by a large yard from a much larger elegant contemporary building made of a black material and with a plate glass façade. This contains halls, auditoriums, studios, and other spaces, that make up the arts centre.

Bernie Grant Arts Centre: old chimney

Bernie Grant Arts Centre: old chimney

This complex was designed by the British-Ghanaian architect David Adjaye (born 1966), who has also designed, for example, the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management and a new building for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver (USA). Next to the large building, there is a solitary industrial chimney, which is all that remains of a now demolished swimming pool.

Old Tottenham County School

Old Tottenham County School

What remains of the Old Town Hall (its front section) stands next to the former Tottenham County School building that opened in 1913. Created by Middlesex County Council in 1901 on another site, this was one of the first co-educational secondary schools in the country. It moved to the building on the Green in 1913, and left it in the 1960s. Currently, the former school building is used by a branch of CONEL.

Bust of Marcus Garvey

Bust of Marcus Garvey

The Marcus Garvey Centre is housed within a fairly non-descript modern building, ‘Tottenham Green Pools and Fitness’, which is next to the former school. The Marcus Garvey Library, which has recently undergone a complete ‘make-over’ is spacious, light, and well designed. The Jamaican born Marcus Garvey (1887-1940) was a ‘black leader and, oversimplifying his achievements greatly, a major proponent of the idea that people of ‘black’ African ancestry should take control of their own destinies as well as ‘redeem’ Africa from the colonial powers that had occupied it. He died in West Kensington, London, not far from where I work currently. The library contains his sculpted bust. Beneath it, there is a foundation stone, which was laid in 1987 by his son Marcus Garvey Junior. The stone has a five-pointed star carved on it like that used by the socialists. Garvey (senior) was concerned that Communism was really for the benefit of ‘white’ working people, but that ‘black’ people were welcomed by them mainly to swell their numbers in the fight against the ‘white’ upper classes.

Tottenham Green Southside

Tottenham Green Southside

There is a small portion of the Green on the east side of the High Road. On the south side of this part of the green, there is a block of early 19th century residences with attractive skylights over their front doors. A large block of flats nearby, Deaconess Court, is adorned with stone depictions of the three heraldic feathers of the Prince of Wales.

Former Prince of Wales Hospital

Former Prince of Wales Hospital

It used to be the premises of the Prince of Wales General Hospital, which used to treat the acutely ill between 1867 and 1983 (see: http://ezitis.myzen.co.uk/princeofwales.html). Its neighbour to the north is Mountford House.

Mountford House on Tottenham Green

Mountford House on Tottenham Green

This grand building is from the late 18th century, and has 19th century additions. Elegant dwellings such as these on the Green are evidence of what “A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5”, described (about the High Road):
“A notable feature from the 16th century was the number of large houses, most of them leased to Londoners as country retreats.”
When the railway (Stoke Newington & Edmonton Railway) was opened in 1872, Tottenham High Road became accessible to the working classes, and this accounted for acceleration of the urbanisation along it. The remains of the earlier patrician housing are embedded within the 19th and 20th century urban sprawl, which reduces the High Road’s attractiveness to most visitors.

HOLY TRINITY CHURCH Tottenham

HOLY TRINITY CHURCH Tottenham

At the north-east corner of the Green, there is Holy Trinity Church, which was consecrated 1830. It is neo-Gothic in style, designed by James Savage, and (supposedly) modelled on Kings College Chapel in Cambridge. Opposite this church across the High Road, there is a small plaque commemorating John Williams (1796-1839), who was born in Tottenham.

John Williams memorial plaque

John Williams memorial plaque

A shipbuilder and missionary, he was eaten in Erromanga (in the New Hebrides, now Vanuatu) by the local inhabitants.
“Swift-footed natives captured him. The missionary who had hoped to feast them with the Gospel became their feast instead.” (see: http://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1801-1900/john-williams-martyred-on-erromanga-11630456.html).

Tottenham Old well detail

Tottenham Old well detail

Near the church, where Philip Lane meets the High Road, stands The Old Well. Long ago, when Tottenham was a small village, all its inhabitants obtained water from this well, which was sunk in 1791. The construction of the well was financed by Thomas Smith, Lord of the Manor of Tottenham, at Bruce Castle (see below). The quaint tiled roof was added to the well in 1859. Water was drawn from the well (and transported to where it was needed by paid water-carriers) until 1883, when it was realised that the water was polluted. After that, it was never used again. Luckily, this old structure in rather a bleak part of north-east London, complete with its winding wheel and chains, has been preserved by various bodies over the years.

Tottenham High Cross

Tottenham High Cross

The well is close to a slender gothic pinnacle standing on a traffic island. Known as ‘Tottenham High Cross’ this stands at the ‘peak’ of a slight rise. The present cross was built in 1809, and later decorated in Victorian gothic. It stands in the centre of Tottenham Village on the spot where there had been a cross since the 15th century, and maybe long before. Some say that once there may have been a marker here, placed by the Romans on their ‘Ermine Street’.

Tottenham is a multi-ethnic area

Tottenham is a multi-ethnic area

Until recently, a pub, ‘The Swan’, stood near the Cross. Established in the 15th century, the author of the ‘Compleat Angler’, Izaak Walton (1593-1683), is said to have rested there after fishing in the River Lea (See: http://www.tottenhamcivicsociety.org.uk/CivitasAutumn2008.pdf). The pub closed a few years ago, and became ‘reincarnated’ as ‘Alamut’, a Turkish eatery. When I saw this place recently (May 2017), it looked as if it was no longer in business.

Embracing Forms by Vanessa Pomeroy

Embracing Forms by Vanessa Pomeroy

A small carved stone sculpture stands just north of the Cross. Called ‘Embracing Forms’, it was sculpted by Vanessa Pomeroy before 1983. She derives much pleasure from depicting the Hertfordshire countryside.

Library Court, High Cross: detail

Library Court, High Cross: detail

Across the road facing the sculpture, stands Library Court, built in 1896. This block of flats, which retains the original 19th century façade, occupies the building that used to be Tottenham’s library.

Tottenham Palace Theatre

Tottenham Palace Theatre

Our next treat on the High Road is opposite Tottenham Police Station. This is the former ‘Tottenham Palace Theatre’, built in 1908 by OC Wylson (1859-1925), who won a prize, the Donaldson Medal, while studying architecture at University College, London. Its façade has been described by the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner as “neo Baroque”.

Tottenham Palace Theatre Centre

Tottenham Palace Theatre Centre

One of its street doors still retains its original delicate iron-work tracery. When it opened, it was a variety theatre. Amongst others, the singer comedienne Marie Lloyd (1870-1922) performed there. In 1926, the building became a cinema, and then in 1969, a bingo hall. Currently, it houses a religious organisation, the ‘Power Praise & Deliverance Ministries International Worship Centre’. Like so many of London’s former cinemas, this one has been delivered from disuse and possible demolition by one of the numerous religious organisations that abound in London.

St Marks about 1937

St Marks about 1937

The theatre is separated from the St Marks Methodist Church by a row of three storey buildings with shops at street level. The church’s grey exterior is, frankly, hideous. Its entrance is in the middle of a row of shops erected in the late 1930s.

The Ship

The Ship

At Bruce Grove railway station, the A10 leaves the High Road and travels northwest along Bruce Grove. Just before the junction, stands the ‘Ship’ pub. This elaborately decorated 19th century building stands on the site of yet another place that Izaak Walton used to enjoy frequenting. Before continuing north along the High Road, let us take a detour along Bruce Grove.
The old station, opened in 1872, with its gothic windowed ticket hall stands across the Grove from a former cinema. It was the ‘Bruce Grove Cinema’, and it opened in 1921, when the first film screened there was “The Mark of Zorro”, starring Douglas Firbanks (see: http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/15233). It became a bingo hall in the 1960s, and then an indoor cricket ‘pavilion’, and now it is used, amongst other things, as a church, a jewellery shop, and an eastern European supermarket.

Old cinema in Bruce Grove

Old cinema in Bruce Grove

Next door to the cinema, stands the ‘Regency’, now home of the ‘Regency Banqueting Suite’. Built in 1923, it was originally the ‘Bruce Grove Ballroom’, which was constructed by the owners of the neighbouring cinema (see: https://londonpostcodewalks.wordpress.com/2015/12/14/n17-spurred-into-action/). The banqueting suite is now used as a venue for Greek and Turkish weddings and so on.

Bruce Grove The Regency

Bruce Grove The Regency

Across the road from the Regency, there is a row of Georgian buildings were built in the late 18th or early 19th century. One of them, number 7, on the corner of Champa Close was the home of Luke Howard (1772-1864).

Bruce Grove: Luke Howard home

Bruce Grove: Luke Howard home

Howard was known as the ‘namer of clouds’. In 1802, he proposed a system for classifying different types of clouds, which we are still using today. He suggested names such as ‘cirrus’, ‘cirrostratus’, and ‘cumulus’, which remain in use. His naming system was preferred over an earlier French one proposed by the celebrated French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744–1829) because it used the then universally acceptable Latin instead of French. Howard, a Quaker, who was a manufacturing chemist and an amateur meteorologist, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1821. He died in his Tottenham home.

An old sign, which reads: ‘Tottenham Trades Hall’ is attached to number 7. After Howard died, his home was used briefly as a home for missionaries. Then, in 1919, the house:
“…was bought by Tottenham Trades Union and Labour Club and used as offices and for meetings. They constructed the Rear Hall and in 1937 the front projecting wing. They also bought No. 8 and they still occupy the ground floor of this building…”
(see: http://www.tottenhamcivicsociety.org.uk/CivitasWinter2014.pdf). Currently, number 7 remains behind builders’ fencing, and its neighbour, number 8, is used for offices and flats.

9 to 12 Bruce Grove

9 to 12 Bruce Grove

These two adjoining buildings are part of a long row of Georgian houses that extend to about halfway along Bruce Grove.

Edmansons Close

Edmansons Close

Much of the north western half of the Grove is occupied by a large collection of 19th century alms-houses, many of them arranged around a green space. A small neo-gothic chapel with a spire stands in their midst. The quaint Victorian homes are ranged along Edmanson Close, and were built by The Drapers’ Company in 1869-70: “…for the poor, elderly people of Tottenham and Bow” (see: http://www.thedrapers.co.uk/). The architect was Herbert Williams (c.1812-1872), who also designed the Drapers’ new hall in the City. They were built on the site of the former Elmslea House (which served as a school for fatherless Anglican girls from 1866). They were known as the ‘Sailmakers’ Almshouses’.

Bruce Castle

Bruce Castle

At the end of Bruce Grove, we reach the entrance to Bruce Castle Park, which faces the main entrance to Bruce Castle. The Castle is a beautiful 16th - 17th century manor house. An earlier building was built on this site before the 17th century, but in about 1670 it was completely rebuilt by Henry Hare, the 2nd Baron of Coleraine. In the 18th century, an addition was built onto its east end. The building was later modified in the 19th century, but despite these changes it remains one of the earliest surviving English brick houses.

Bruce Castle: old tower

Bruce Castle: old tower

To the west of the house, there is a round tower made with red brick and topped with crenellations. This is believed to have been built earlier than the ‘Castle’. It is clearly marked on a 1619 map of the area. Bruce Castle was built on land formerly owned by the Scottish Bruce family, the family of Robert the Bruce (1274-1329) of spider-watching fame. In the early 12th century, the manor of Tottenham came into the hands of Malcolm III of Scotland, and in 1254 part of it became owned by the De Brus (Bruce) family. When Robert the Bruce asserted his right to be King of Scotland, England’s King Edward II took ownership of the land in 1306. The name ‘Bruce’ has remained associated with this part of Tottenham ever since.

Bruce Castle: staircase

Bruce Castle: staircase

In 1827, Rowland Hill (1795-1879), and educator the ‘father’ of the modern British postal system, bought the manor house to begin a private school, there. Six years later, he handed it over to other members of his family. The school continued under the directorship of Birkbeck Hill, and then Reverend William Almack until 1891. The following year, the Castle became the property of Tottenham Urban District Council, which opened the Castle’s grounds as a public park. In 1906, the Castle became Tottenham’s first public museum. It remains a museum (of local history), as well as housing the Borough of Haringey’s archives.

Bruce Castle: a fireplace

Bruce Castle: a fireplace

When I visited the museum recently, I was told that each room is ‘themed’. While some of the themes are obvious, others are less well-defined. The museum contains a wealth of varied exhibits showing how Haringey developed and how it was affected by the events in the rest of the world, for example WW1. During my visit, I saw a temporary exhibition of Jamaican ladies’ headwear. The museum is well-worth seeing not only because of its contents but also to admire its lovely architecture.

Bruce Castle Garden of Remembrance: the Six Million sleepers

Bruce Castle Garden of Remembrance: the Six Million sleepers

In the grounds of Bruce Castle, there is a small fenced-off Garden of Remembrance. It is an attractively designed memorial to the victims of the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazi Germans and their sympathisers. The garden was created by ‘young offenders’ as part of their rehabilitation. Apart from a small plaque with gold letters carved into a piece of black stone, there is a sculpture made from six wooden railway sleepers. They stand vertically in a circle. Each one is supposed to represent one of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. And, each one has a single name carved on it. These six names are the first names of the six offenders who created this moving memorial. Behind that at the edge of the garden furthest away from the Castle, there is another sculpture (by Paul Margetts and Claudia Holder) representing prison bars and barbed wire.

Part of the garden was redesigned to commemorate the life of Roman Halter (1927-2012), a Jewish Holocaust survivor who was born in Lodz, Poland. After the Second World War, Roman came to England where he became an architect, and then later a painter and sculptor. He lived in the Borough of Haringey, where this peaceful yet moving memorial garden is located.

Bruce Grove railway bridge

Bruce Grove railway bridge

We re-enter the High Road from Bruce Grove by passing under a railway bridge on which the words ‘Bruce Grove’ are painted in large letters. Across the road, number 510 is surmounted by a triangular pediment with the date 1907. This is part of a newer building currently shared by Superdrug and McDonalds.

502 to 504 Tottenham High Road

502 to 504 Tottenham High Road

Above these shops there is an art-deco white structure with two rows of large windows. In former times, this building must have housed one large shop. According to one source (see: http://edithsstreets.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/moselle-river-tottenham.html):
“MacDonald’s in the former Tottenham Snooker Hall. This is a three storey 1930s ‘Art Deco’ style building in cream painted stucco … It was built as a Burtons the Tailors store which included a snooker hall.”

Alley opposite Bruce Grove Station

Alley opposite Bruce Grove Station

A small alleyway just north of number 510 leads to a disused building with a boarded-up Chinese-style shopfront. An indistinct sign above the door included the word ‘kitchen’.

Near Bruce Grove

Near Bruce Grove

Just north of Bruce Grove, there is a row of shops on the western side of the High Road with distinctive first floor windows beneath a curving canopy. The windows that include some coloured glass panes are separated from each other by slender pilasters with attractive complexly patterned capitals. This is a late 19th century development that followed the construction of the railway, during which existing buildings had to be cleared away to make space for it.

Near Bruce Grove

Near Bruce Grove

An alleyway that begins opposite Reform Row leads into Morrisons Yard. This leads to a small single-storey neo-classical building (number 551b). This late 19th century building was once the brewhouse (or, maybe, the gate-house and electric sub-station) of the former Tottenham Brewery, one of several breweries in the area. A detailed 1911 map shows that this building was at the entrance to the former brewery, attached to a barrier. It now houses the Citizens Advice Bureau.

551b Tottenham High Road

551b Tottenham High Road

Further evidence of earlier settlement of the High Road, especially by wealthy folk, can be found in the form of two 18th century buildings: Charlton House and its neighbour Lancaster House. Now a doctor’s surgery, Charlton House was built in about 1750 for a prosperous family. It larger neighbour, the beautifully restored Lancaster House was built in 1720.

Charlton House

Charlton House

Lancaster House 1720

Lancaster House 1720

Further north along the High Road, where Scotland Row merges with it, there is a pub with curved gables called ‘The Pride of Tottenham’. This drinking place was once the ‘Blue School’ for girls (who wore blue uniforms).

former Blue School

former Blue School

Founded in 1735, this was Tottenham’s earliest charity school. The present building was built in 1833, and then enlarged in 1876. A new block of flats has built immediately behind the pub/school in a totally different architectural style.

Prince of Wales pub, closed 2005

Prince of Wales pub, closed 2005

The ground floor facade of the pub’s immediate neighbour, number 612, is decorated with colourful tilework including a depiction of a fleur-de-lys in gold. Currently an estate agent’s shop, this was formerly ‘The Prince of Wales’ pub, which was badly damaged by fire some years ago.

River Heights

River Heights

Continuing northwards, we reach the intersection of Landsdowne Road and the High Road. On this corner, there is a well-restored building with what looks like an 18th century clock tower. However, the building bears the date ‘1930’ under the letters ‘LCS’. Its ground floor is currently occupied by a branch of the Sports Direct retail chain. This building that once housed a branch of the London Cooperative Society shops, and then later a branch of ‘Allied Carpets’, is called ‘River Heights’. This building was restored after having been almost destroyed by fire during the Tottenham riots that occurred in August 2011. Twenty-six families were living in the building at the time it was torched. Luckily, all of them escaped from the fiery inferno. The riots were sparked off following the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan, a police suspect, a few days earlier. Sadly, Tottenham is no stranger to riots following police action. In 1985, there were riots in the Broadwater Farm Estate following the deaths of two people that many associated with police action.

TOTTENHAM GAS LIGHT AND COKE COMPANY - detail

TOTTENHAM GAS LIGHT AND COKE COMPANY - detail

TOTTENHAM GAS LIGHT AND COKE COMPANY

TOTTENHAM GAS LIGHT AND COKE COMPANY

TOTTENHAM GAS LIGHT AND COKE COMPANY - detail

TOTTENHAM GAS LIGHT AND COKE COMPANY - detail

Almost directly across the High Road from River Heights, stands a long, highly ornate, red brick building. It has towers at each end of its gabled façade, and lovely wooden doors with elaborately carved panels. Part of it was being used as what seemed to me to be a ‘community café’, and the rest of it as some kind of social centre. I entered, and asked the receptionist what the building had been originally. She was not sure, but thought that it had been associated with a gas company. She was right. It was built in stages leading up to its completion in 1914 for the Tottenham Gas, Light, and Coke Company (founded in 1847, and nationalised in 1949). This building on the High Road housed showrooms, offices, and coal supply ordering facilities. In the 1970s, the building was taken over by Haringey Council for use as its offices. The building is an attractive contrast to River Heights.

668 Tott High Rd

668 Tott High Rd

Former  Brewery

Former Brewery

On both sides of the High Road going further north from Landsdowne Road, there are well-preserved Georgian buildings, some of them with shops on their ground floors. The old Bell Brewery gatehouse is an attractive single-storey neo-classical edifice. The more recent clock, which bears the name ‘Whitbread’, does not improve its appearance.

By the time that I had reached the old brewery gatehouse, I was in need of a coffee. Then, I noticed ‘La Barca’, and, in particular, I noticed that the sign above the café included the Albanian word ‘dashuria’, which means ‘love’. I entered a large seating area which looked like many small town (or village) cafés that I had visited in Albania last year. All the other customers were men, many of them wearing black leather jackets. No one seemed to be serving, so I walked up to the bar, and there I noticed a shield bearing Albania's double-headed eagle. Eventually, I managed to attract the attention of a young woman in the kitchen. I asked her if she was Albanian. She said she was from northern Albania.

EDMON 36a La Barca

EDMON 36a La Barca

I drank my competently made coffee next to a table where a couple of men were discussing matters in Turkish. When I had finished, I went upstairs to the gallery that overlooks the restaurant. This was fitted out with ‘divan’ like seating, and there were kilim rugs attached to the walls. Amongst these there was a picture of ‘Nene Tereza’ (Mother Teresa) and another of the town of Krujë, where the Albanian hero Skanderbeg had his headquarters while he resisted the invading Ottoman Turks in the 15th century.

La Barca

La Barca

According to an article (in Albanian - see: https://www.shqiperia.com/Raki-Skrapari--balle-kazani-tek-La-Barca.3225/), La Barca used to be a failing Greek restaurant until its present Albanian owner, Mr. Erjan Cela, took it over and improved it. The menus on the table give no inkling of what this place is capable of producing. They contain the usual ‘café’fare, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, the article in Albanian reveals (picturesquely translated by Google):
“...The “La Barca” specialty seems to be the taverns, as in the newly designed menu are some of them, ranging from traditional yogurt and lamb mushrooms to vegetable tiles, for example. With eggplants, stuffed peppers, and so on. A special place in the Albanian menu are stuffed pies such as spinach, pickles and curds, which are available at any time and are prepared daily by the chef Maria. However, the special feature of ‘La Barca’ is undoubtedly Skrapar’s 100% rakia, made entirely in artisanal conditions by Erjan's father, who still resides in Skrapar. The taste and aroma of this brandy fully justify its fame. Erjani tells me he has already established a regular Rakia transport system from Albania that brings a contingent of at least 20 liters per month. La Barka already has a very good reputation and reputation in the Albanian community of this northern London neighbourhood...”
On a second visit to the place, I met Mr Cela, a highly-educated Albanian, and we discussed many aspects of Albania today and yesteryear. Also, we enjoyed superb raki along with excellent coffee.

Tottenham Baptist Church

Tottenham Baptist Church

Refreshed, I continued northwards, and soon reached the Tottenham Baptist Church, which stands next to a terrace of two perfectly restored Georgian houses. Built in 1825 by Joseph Fletcher (of Bruce Grove), it could easily be mistaken for a Wesleyan chapel of that period. What caught my attention inside it was that, like the Wesleyan Chapel in City Road and St James Church in Clerkenwell, it contains a horseshoe shaped gallery that surrounds three sides of the church. The high altar is, unusually, at the western end of the church. The church used to be able to accommodate up to 900 people. In 1907, it became the first public building in Tottenham to be lit by electricity (see: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/middx/vol5/).

Tottenham Hotspurs stadium

Tottenham Hotspurs stadium

Just north of the Chapel, we reach what Tottenham is known for throughout the world: football. The huge Tottenham Hotspurs Football Stadium at White Hart Lane is currently shrouded in scaffolding and surrounded by tall construction cranes. I am no football fan, but this landmark cannot be ignored. The ‘Spurs’ football club was founded in 1882. It played in various locations in Tottenham before establishing the first White Hart Lane Stadium on the site of a Charringtons Brewery in 1905, and there it remains.

Coombes Croft Library

Coombes Croft Library

Coombes Croft Library

Coombes Croft Library

Coombes Croft Library

Coombes Croft Library

The Coombes Croft Library is across the road from the stadium. It has a lively tiled modern entrance. Next to this, there is a metal wall sculpture depicting various aspects of the history of the area, arranged as if on a ladder. A Roman helmet stands on the first step of the ladder, a fish caught on a line on the second, a vintage car on the third, aeroplanes and modern chairs on the fourth, and an engine on the fifth.

Kebab shop neat White Hart Lane Stadium

Kebab shop neat White Hart Lane Stadium

A wall decorated with painted flowers separates the library from its neighbours, one of which is Köyüm, an eatery offering: “match days special kebab and burger”. This sign summarises some aspects of Tottenham: a working-class area with a multi-ethnic population.

Dial House 1691

Dial House 1691

Continuing north, we reach a large three storey brick house with high chimney stacks at each end of its roof. The southern one bears a sundial, which bears the date 1692 (or ’91). The house was built that year by Moses Trulock, a soap maker. It remained in his family’s possession until the 1830s (see: http://www.singernet.info/tottenham/historictott.asp - a most useful source of information), and is now used as student accommodation. It stands at the end of a row of terraced early 18th century houses, known as ‘Northumberland Row’.

Northumberland Row:  798 Tottenham High Rd

Northumberland Row: 798 Tottenham High Rd

Northumberland Row

Northumberland Row

One of the buildings has an elegant wrought iron gateway held up by two stone pillars, each surmounted by a stone sphere. These buildings, which were built on land formerly occupied by mediaeval mansions, have the same elegance as many similarly aged buildings found closer to the centre of London, for example in Islington. Sadly, Northumberland Row faces a line of non-descript 19th and 20th buildings.

Coach and Horses

Coach and Horses

The Coach and Horses pub at the corner of the High Road and Brantwood Road harks back to the past. It was serving customers in the 1850s, if not before. The building is Victorian. Opposite the pub, there are three 18th century houses joined as a terrace. Two of them retain features of their original front door fittings. Along with the pub, they mark the northern end of old Tottenham. North of this hostelry, the High Road changes its name and becomes Fore Street. The Borough of Haringey ends, and Upper Edmonton in the Borough of Enfield begins. A little further north, an arch spans the main road. It announces: “Welcome to Angel Edmonton Shopping Centre”.

Welcome to Angel Edmonton

Welcome to Angel Edmonton

The shopping centre offers a wide range of goods, and is used by the local multi-ethnic community. Of late, we have been buying goods at the enormous, well-stocked Turkish supermarket called ‘Silver Point’. It is located near to a branch of a Turkish bank in a large modern (21st century) brick building also named ‘Silver Point’.

Silverpoint food store

Silverpoint food store

The supermarket has a wide range of Turkish and Balkan foodstuffs, packaged and fresh, including several types of excellent olives, as well as freshly-baked ring-shaped simit and, also, börek with various fillings.

Former Phoenix pub

Former Phoenix pub

A little south of Silver Point at the corner of Claremont Street, there is a building (built about 1900) that was once a pub. The bas-relief Phoenixes arising from the flames give away the identity of this former pub. The ‘Phoenix’ pub was in existence in 1871, but now it is known as ‘LT’, and is classed as a ‘bar’. Not far from this, is a pub called ‘The Gilpin’s Bell’. This is housed in a building that was a motor-cycle showroom in about 1997 (see: https://whatpub.com/pubs/ENF/7383/gilpins-bell-upper-edmonton). Although the pub has relatively little history, its name commemorates someone with a much longer history.

Gilpin memorial

Gilpin memorial

John Gilpin, a London merchant, was the subject of a comic poem written in 1782 by William Cowper (1731-1800), which was based on a true story. He decided to take his wife, his sister-in-law, and their children on a holiday at ‘The Bell’ in Edmonton. The large party filled their ‘chaise’ (carriage). So, Gilpin had to ride separately on a horse. Let Cowper tell (see: http://www.bartleby.com/41/324.html) what happened when they arrived at Edmonton:

“‘Stop, stop, John Gilpin!—Here’s the house!’
They all at once did cry;
‘The dinner waits, and we are tired;’—
Said Gilpin—‘So am I!’

But yet his horse was not a whit
Inclined to tarry there!
For why?—his owner had a house
Full ten miles off at Ware.

So like an arrow swift he flew,
Shot by an archer strong;
So did he fly—which brings me to
The middle of my song.”

Unfortunately, when they arrived at ‘The Bell’ in Edmonton, his horse sped off uncontrollably taking him ten miles further to the town of Ware, leaving his wife and children behind. After more adventures, Gilpin was reunited with his family. Just north of Silver Point, and across the main road there is a stone memorial in the shape of a bell. It is covered with bas-relief carvings depicting scenes from Cowper’s poem. It also has words from this carved on it. This was created in Watts cliff stone (a kind of sandstone) by the sculptress Angela Godfrey in 1996.

The White Horse

The White Horse

South of the monument is a pub, the ‘White Horse’, built between the World wars, that sports two carved heraldic figures beside one of its chimney stacks.

Former St James Church

Former St James Church

The pub is close to what was once a church, the church of St James, a Victorian edifice built in about 1850 by Edward Ellis (of Angel Place). The large stone vicarage next to it was built in 1868. Now, both church and vicarage have been converted into flats.

Former Burtons shop

Former Burtons shop

Between Gilpin’s monument and the North Circular Road, there is a grandiose building in poor condition that used to be a branch of Burton’s retail clothing chain. The North Circular Road enters a tunnel (opened 1997) beneath Fore Street, and then emerges some way the west of it.

Angel Place

Angel Place

We will not stray far across the North Circular, but it is worth crossing to reach Angel Close. This contains a terrace of mid-18th century houses that face a small patch of greenery. The ‘Angel’ pub used to stand close to these buildings, immediately to the south of them where now the traffic thunders past on roads connecting with the highway. This pub no longer exists, but was for many years a focus of local life. A fair used to be held near it. It was demolished, probably in the late 1960s. Some lettering in brick on the north wall of what was once a bank but is now ‘Chaudhry’s Buffet/Restaurant’ (diagonally across the North Circular from Angel Close) spells out the words “The Angel Edmonton”.

198 Fore Street

198 Fore Street

Angel Close is near to a fast running stream confined between concrete banks, Pymmes Brook. Named after a local landlord William Pymme, this waterway, which rises in Hadley wood, is a tributary of the River Lea. Close to this, there is a public park – Pymmes Park, which I have not yet visited. This was part of the grounds of a property once owned by Queen Elizabeth the First’s statesman William Cecil (1520-1598), Lord Burghley. The house that used to stand there (first built in the 16th century, and rebuilt in the 18th) burnt down in 1940.

Pymmes Brook

Pymmes Brook

Silver Street Station, very near Angel Close, was opened in 1872. Unexceptional in appearance, its entrance is across Silver Street from the non-descript house where my late uncle Julian used to practise dentistry.

Julian Walt's surgery

Julian Walt's surgery

The first dentist who treated me in my childhood was a kindly, gentle German Jewish refugee called Dr Samuels. His practice was opposite St Johns Wood Underground Station in the ground floor of Wellington Court. His waiting room had Persian carpets on the floor and a good supply of “Country Life” magazines to read. Even as a child, I could see that the equipment and glass cabinets in his surgery were old enough to be of interest to a museum. Dr Samuels had to flee from Nazi Germany. Like all other Jews in his position, he was unable to take anything of even the slightest monetary value with him. His canny wife, whom I never met, prepared sandwiches for his journey. Instead of filling them with lettuce or tomatoes, she filled them with sheets of gold leaf – a material much used in dentistry before WW2. Had it been necessary, Dr Samuels could have eaten them quite safely should they have come under the scrutiny of German officials. These sandwiches provided him with some money so that he could start his new practice in the UK. When I was treated by him, he was already in his seventies. He told my parents that when no one wished to be treated by him, he would retire.

North Circular underpass opening at Angel Edmonton

North Circular underpass opening at Angel Edmonton

In the late 1960s, my late uncle Julian Walt opened his dental practice on Silver Street in Edmonton. Like Dr Samuels, he was also exceedingly gentle, but, my parents believed, probably more up to date than Samuels. We began attending Uncle Julian’s practice instead of Dr Samuels’. Julian was a hard worker, usually treating three patients in three chairs simultaneously. After I qualified as a dentist in 1982, I stopped visiting Julian, and had no more to do with Silver Street except when I drove past it on the North Circular Road. It is only recently that I have discovered that the environs of my uncle’s admittedly bleak looking surgery building are not as forbidding as I had always imagined them.

My exploration of a stretch of the course of Ermine Street, the former Roman Road, has revealed that evidence of its past as an important trunk road remains to be seen today. I hope that this long essay has added to your interest in parts of London that hardly ever make it onto visitors’ itineraries.

Angel Place

Angel Place

Posted by ADAMYAMEY 08:46 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged london edmonton enfield tottenham haringey Comments (5)

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