Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

It's odd how my history journey goes. I seem to hit these patches when I keep getting drawn back to a particular small area time and again, even when I have no particular interest in it. When this happens, I tend to go with the flow and let fate take me where it will. 

Recently, I've been pulled back a number of times the block of land between Wood Green High Road and Lordship Lane. First I wrote a piece about the Chesser Blacksmithing family then a few months later, I found myself just next door following up about the Alsford Wood Merchants who got their start in Hampden Road, Harringay and then moved on to a large building on Lordship Lane just round the corner from the High Road.

Now, I've been pulled back again to a small area made up of the few small roads behind the blacksmith's and the saw mill. I'm there once more, courtesy of HoL member Derek Reynolds, who grew up in the area.

The small area I've been looking at is an irregularly-shaped block of land between Lordship Lane and Wood Green High Road, behind Spouters Corner. For the sake of giving it a name that I can use to refer to it, I’ll call it the ‘the Redvers Cross‘.

Fig. 1: The ‘Redvers Cross’ shown on present-day Google Maps

Today it's collection of access roads with a few early twenty-first century blocks of flats. It doesn't demand much attention, or even a second look. But courtesy of Derek, I've been given a peek into what was once a thriving community on the edge of the Noel Park Estate and close to the centre of Wood Green. Those who lived there had tough lives but they were part of a close community of neighbours who knew each other and looked out for their neighbours, a small area of streets where children always played out and ran errands for mum, dad and the bloke next door.

Derek's memories begin after the Second World War. Those of his sister Joanne, born 15 years before Derek, stretch back rather further and have become part of Derek's family memory. Before I introduce you to Derek's story, I'm going to fill in a bit of the history leading up till then. If you want to skip straight to the memories, you'll see a clear heading below.

Development of The Redvers Cross 

I pick up the story of this small area in the mid-nineteenth century. Before then it had been arable land, near to a road junction close to the sleepy village of Wood Green. The Moselle Brook bubbled through the fields in the south of the Redvers Cross. At the junction, Chesser's forge had been running for over eighty years, but there wasn't much else around.

Fig. 2: Extract from the Newtons’ Map of Tottenham of 1818

By the middle of the century, Wood Green was just beginning to feel the impact of the growth of nearby London. Some of its pastures had been turned into private estates and some house building had begun.

Fig 3: Extract from 1863-69 Ordnance Survey Map

To the west of the Redvers Cross, a few houses were built on Green Lanes during the 1860s1. In January 1864, the Congregational Chapel was opened on Lordship Lane, in the north of our area. Alongside it a road was laid out, running from Lordship Lane to the Moselle Brook. It was named Brook Road. On Green Lanes, a terrace of houses had been built to the south of the junction with their backs facing The Redvers Cross. Alongside the southernmost house of this terrace, a track ran east from Green Lanes: it led to a single house before joining Brook Road. 

Fig 4: Congregational Chapel, Built in 1863, opened in January 1864, pictured c1890 (the road was made-up shortly after 1891). To the rear of the church, a Sunday school building was added in 1887. That was extended before the end of the century with the addition of a church hall. (See Figs 23 and 27). The church was closed and relocated to Palmer Green in June 1963. (Photo of interior here).

Shortly after the chapel was completed, just to the south of the church, the first terrace of houses was built on Brook Road. By 1867, they were evidently tenanted and being advertised for sale.

Fig 5: Advertisement selling the first houses built on Brook Road, Morning Advertiser, 30 July 1867

During the next few years another handful of houses were built to the south of the first terrace. Amongst them was a detached residence, known as Perseverance House

Fig 6: Advertisement for Perseverance House, Clerkenwell News - 20 July 1871

By 1870, the track connecting Green Lanes to Brook Road had been laid out as New Road  and already contained nine houses.

The houses in The Redvers Cross seem to have taken a little time to settle on their natural constituency. New Road seems to have been quite solidly working class from the beginning. Occupations in the 1871 census included charwoman, carpenter, general servant, carman (what we'd now call a driver), gardener, laundress and the like.

Brook Road was a little more uncertain to begin with. Like New Road, it had a preponderance of working class occupations, but the last two houses going south, Perseverance House and Durley Villa appear to have been built with a more middle class occupant in mind. Early occupants of one of the houses in the road were even advertising for a servant.

Fig. 7: Servant want ad in Clerkenwell News, 7th Oct 1870

However, by the middle of the decade even the two larger houses appear to have attracted the same kind of occupants as those in the nearby dwellings. In 1876, Durley Villa had been advertised for sale including a large plot of 'building land' to its rear. By 1881 it was being used as the Marion Dairy and the land behind was being used to keep cows in what was referred to as the 'Dairy Shed, Wellesley Road'. I assume it was the long thin building shown on the map in Fig, 12.  James Greenhill was listed both as a 'cowkeeper' and the proprietor of the dairy.

In 1881, Perseverance House was being leased by a labourer and his family, apparently with two rooms let to boarders, both carmen.

In fact the dairy was one of three business in the Redvers Cross to trade in the same premises from the later nineteenth century up to the to first world war, and one of two which continued until the next war, and possibly beyond. 

After Greenhill died in 1887, his wife the probably eponymous Mariann (or Mary Ann) ran the dairy until early in the next century. By 1907, it had been taken over by John Gower. Contemporary press reports show that he was repeatedly in trouble with the Council over minor employment issues.

Fig 8: Tottenham & Edmonton Weekly Herald - 14 Oct 1908

Gower was listed as running the dairy until at least 1929. He continued to live in the premises until the war, but it is not clear whether or not he was still running the dairy in the 1930s. Neither is it clear how long cows were kept on the premises. The dairy shed building is still shown in situ on the 1937 Ordnance Survey map, but not on the later one surveyed in 1952. Gower died in the mid-1940s.  So it, is possible that he continued to keep cows until his death. After that, the cows were probably moved out and the shed demolished.

Just up the road a coach-building / wheelwright's business was established by Henry Harrison in the mid 1870s. By the 1890s, the business was being run by James Harrison, I assume, Henry's son.

Fig. 9: Advert for Harrison's Middlesex Gazette, 24th August 1895

Harrison junior ran the business until the end of the century. Coach builder Henry Sherwell then took it on and ran it until the First World War.

The other side of the dairy, Perseverance House had become a general shop by 1885. It was run by Henry and Mary Howes. By 1901, Henry had turned 70 and Mary took over running the shop until the war. In 1902 the couple's daughter, Kate Amelia married missionary, Thomas Carter. They took on the store after Mary Howes, running it together until Thomas's death in 1934. Kate then ran the store alone until shortly before her death in 1949.

As you will read below, Derek' sister Joanne has memories of a place they bought milk from which they called 'the farm'. It's not clear if this memory links to the dairy which had carried on after the war or whether the community memory of the dairy stuck and the Howe/Carter shop, the new seller of milk took on its identity. 

Fig 10: Looking east along Lordship Lane from the High Road, c1905. Just to the left of the tram wire pole is the Congregational church that stood at the top of Redvers Road (Brook Road). the Cinematograph Cinema to become Harry Boult's Dance Hall by the fifties. Alsfords saw mill was next door, on the corner of Redvers Road.

Arrival of Artizans, Labourers and & General Dwellings Company

To the south of the Redvers Cross, Ducketts Manor was broken up and by 1880 the land was being sold off for building. In June 1881 100 acres was purchased for £56,345 by the Artizans, Labourers and & General Dwellings Company. The company had been established in 1867 as a for-profit joint stock company, to build new houses for the working classes ‘in consequence of the destruction of houses by railroads and other improvements’. It aimed to combine rural planned suburbs with high quality homes for the 'lower classes'. Proximity to open countryside near existing railway lines was considered to be of paramount importance. With Wood Green being well served by railways, the Ducketts land was the perfect choice.

The company quickly drew up plans to build to what became the Noel Park Estate, named after Ernest Noel (1831–1931), a Liberal Member of Parliament and chairman of the Artizans Company since 1880.

The plans included parts of two roads in the Redvers Cross - an extension of Brook Road, initially called Boundary Road and a cul-de-sac road off it to the east, called Wellesley Road.

Fig 11: Extract from The Artizans, Labourers and & General Dwellings Company map with Boundary and Wellesely Roads marked.


According to the census of 1881, Wellesley Road was already inhabited by that year. Sixteen dwellings are listed with a total of 127 occupants. Within that number, occupations are provided for 35 people. Of that number almost two thirds are shown with trades related to building including

  • 1 "Architect, house joiner"
  • 2 plasterers
  • 2 bricklayers
  • 17 labourers, (including bricklayer's labourer etc)

This leads me to wonder if perhaps the Wellesely Road properties were being used to house some of the men working on the building of the rest of the estate. 

However, we learn from a short report in the local press concerning council matters2 that the owner of the sixteen houses is not the Artizans Company, but a Mr R Samuels from Harlington, Middlesex. Derek has commented to me that he's always wondered why the Wellesley Road houses were so different in style to all the other houses on the estate. Now, it seems, he has an answer. It looks like either the Artizans Company never acquired the land on which Wellesley Road was laid out or they sold it off to Mr Samuels. We might speculate that perhaps they sold it for him to quickly build housing for some of those who would build the rest of the estate.

On 4 August 1883, with approximately 200 houses built, Noel Park Estate was formally opened.

In the next few years a terrace of five houses was built on the west side of Boundary Road, just to the south of New Road. Then in 1908 a terrace of three houses was built on the east side of the road between Wellesley Road and Moselle Avenue.

Fig 12: Extract from 1893 Ordnance Survey Map, annotated with the road names as of 1890

At the end og 1901, two of our three roads were renamed. The road that was half Brook Road and half Boundary Road became Redvers Road. New Road became Buller Road. (No doubt the re-naming was in honour of the Boer War general Redvers Buller).

Fig 13: Extract from Echo, 29 November 1901.

The Redvers Cross had by this time reached the shape it would take through to the middle of the twentieth century. The only additional house building was the addition of a block of flats towards the western end of Wellesley Road in 1930 or 1931.

Industrial Development

A more significant change that came to The Redvers Cross was the arrival of industry. 

In the mid 1930s, the Elephant Brush Company arrived behind numbers 11 and 13 Redvers Road. Making paint brushes, shaving brushes and the like, the company stayed until 1954, when it moved up to 257 Lordship Lane, N17 (a site now occupied by a new block of flats). 

Just next door to the Elephant Brush Company, William Stephens & Son built a factory across the end of Wellesley Road to manufacture goggles. They were in occupation from 1931 until 1951.  

Light & Power Accessories moved in to the Stephens factory in year the goggle manufacturer moved out. LPA manufactured a variety of electrical sockets and cables for industrial use. They stayed until 1965.

Fig. 14: Advert in Birmingham Daily Post, 9th October, 1961

The map below shows the area in 1937. The Brush Works was home to the Elephant Brush Company and the Glass Works to William Stephens. 

Fig. 15: Extract from 1937 Ordnance Survey Map

Note: A related discussion, by a former Wellesley Road resident, was started here in November 2021.

Derek Reynolds' Story in Words and Pictures - Introduction

Over a number of emails, Derek has sent me a wealth of information. It has included short texts, photos, comprehensive photo descriptions and one or two pieces of paperwork. Without any embellishment, it tells a wonderful story. 

As we've corresponded, he's pointed out some gaps in his knowledge, as well as filling some in mine.  Where I've been able to, I've filled out his missing information. Derek has highlighted memories of particular poignancy, like that of the 'farm' and of his neighbours, the Vanlints. I've tried to find out more about those particular parts where I can.

In the following, I'm reproducing Derek's words in their entirety. But because they've come piecemeal from various sources, I've tried my best to stitch them into a single tapestry. Here and there I've added a comment by way of explanation, sometimes in the body of the text, at other times by footnote. 

Before handing over to Derek, a quick introduction to the family. 

The Reynolds family of Shoreditch arrived in Wood Green in 1896. Their first home was at 198 Farrant Avenue, on the still new Noel Park Estate, just a stone's throw from Lordship Lane.

There were seven in the family: Derek's great grandfather Alfred, aged 44 was a wood sawyer, his wife, Emma aged 42 was mother to five children. The children were John Charles (Derek's grandfather), aged 19, who was working as a blacksmith, Eliza, 14, Henrietta, 9, Catherine 6 and Mary, 1.

John Charles met his wife Emma Scrivener, when she was living round the corner in Myddleton Road. They married in 1904 and the following year Emma, (Derek's 'Nan'), gave birth to Derek's father, Jack. Two years later Emma followed and after another two years, Florrie. 

In 1911 Emma and John Charles took a house at 14 Wellesely Road. By this time John Charles was working for Jones & Willis in Hornsey as an art metalworker. In the same year, Alfred and Emma moved out to Edmonton. 

The family lived together in this small but loving family home. After Derek's father, Jack married Florence in 1928 rented their own premies. Then in 1940, Florence rented a house from the Artizans Company, whilst Jack was away in the army. The house was at 4 Redvers Road, on the west side of the road, just down from Buller Road. (Full copy of tenancy Agreement attached at the foot of the page) 

Derek's older sister Joanne was born in 1932 and Derek in 1947. Derek's grandfather, John Charles died in 1934.

Derek's Story

Derek's memories start with his Nan's house at 14 Wellesley Road. The first few photos from Derek are early twentieth century. The majority of the remainder are mid-century. A few, showing the houses awaiting demolition, are early in this century. The captions are all in Derek's own words.

Now, over to Derek.....

14 Wellesley Road

A few words about my Nan. She was one of eight children, and born in Ipswich on the 24th May 1882 as Emma Maud Scrivener. She moved to London as a young woman, and was in ‘service’ to a business family in Myddleton Road, Wood Green. She married John Charles Reynolds of 198 Farrant Avenue, a Blacksmith by trade. He passed away in 1934, and Nan was a widow until her passing in 1977 aged 95, at her then home in Newbury House, Wood Green.

Nan’s house at 14 Wellesley Road was a wonderful place. The almost drab outside defied the warmth within. As a small boy, I was allowed to play with three or four items off the mantelpiece. But, my favourite games were with pots and pans from the kitchen cupboard, and the black-leaded range in the kitchen. Its seemingly numerous doors and drop-down grate fronts kept me amused for hours - and Nan’s dinners always seemed taste better than Mums! There were almost always tiny new potatoes, peas, carrots and wafer-thin slices of roast beef and gravy (Nan's role in ‘service’ had been as cook!)

Fig 16: No.14 Wellesley Road. In sharp contrast to the rest of the Noel Park Estate, Wellesley was, in comparison, almost East End - bare and functional with no brick reliefs, and no embellishments.

The family pictured are the Reynolds; Mrs. Emma Reynolds ("Nan') in the white blouse, her mother Mrs. Scrivener beside her, and her four children; Daisy, Florrie, Edie and Jack. Jack (the eldest and to my father) is nine years of age.

Taken in 1914 probably as a keepsake for Mr. Reynolds whilst he was in service with the Royal Engineers during WWI.

These were sound little houses with two bedrooms and an ante-room above the scullery at the back, a black leaded range in the back room and a boiling copper in the scullery.

Derek's mid-century memories of his Nan's house

Entering the front door, directly from the street, one was met with the smell of lavender water. Stepping into a dark hallway gave access to the door (a few yards along on the right) into the parlour (front room). Just beyond the parlour door, heavy velvet drapes gave privacy to the stairs and the rest of the house. Behind these the hall then dodged to the right of the stairs which were straight ahead, and continued on to the scullery, giving access to the back room (kitchen) on the way.

Stepping into the parlour, Nan would invariably be seated, either knitting or reading a newspaper by the fire, which was always small in the hearth, and to which, if she wanted to brighten it up, she would administer some 'medicine' in the form of neat paraffin from a small oil can. It usually did the trick.

There was no television, and I rarely heard a radio playing. If no fire was lit, then we would be regaled with the faint smell of paraffin from her black cylindrical stove – often with a kettle sat on top. She would have the chimney swept once a year by ‘Old Sace’ the chimney sweep. Everything about Mr. Sace was black, as one might expect from such a tradesman. But, his chosen form of transport for himself, his sacks, rods and brushes, was a bicycle with box sidecar (all black of course)/ He would travel around the estate by this means to wherever he was wanted.

Back to the parlour...

Fig. 17: Wellesley Road C1950. Notable in this shot are the glazed brickwork and ocular windows of the house to the right of the picture, no. 19 Redvers Road, home to Mr. & Mrs. Vanlint. Also, the  'Works' at the end of the road which at that time had not been increased in height. There are two brick built air raid shelters, one each side of the works entrance. Between the Vanlint's house and the terrace of houses where my nan lived was a small block of flats, which were never called anything else but "the flats". There were probably no more than four dwellings in all, with a single main entrance.

Pictured are Derek Reynolds (right) and neighbour Lenny Jacobs (left), his arm bandaged because he'd recently fallen in to the fire.

On the mantelpiece was a clock in a cylinder of glass with a domed top. The dial was surrounded by gilt or gold (I know not which) and stood on golden columns. From the base of the dial hung a slim strip of metal that held at the bottom four brass balls that turned slowly one way until stopping to turn back – a 400 day semi-rotating pendulum clock. In addition to this time-piece, there were not one, but two cuckoo clocks. One was set a few minutes ahead of the other, and the one that began to strike first had the governor missing so that it ran through the hours at breakneck speed. This had the effect of drawing attention to the hour, which minutes later could be listened to attentively by the better regulated action of the second clock so as to hear precisely the number struck. As a little boy, it was yet another wonder of delight to be waited for and watched.

I also have a strong memory of Nan's silver tea service in a small corner display, high in a corner of the room. Also, opposite the window, there was a large print of a steam ship called the River Clyde, depicting troops disembarking under fire from Turkish guns at Gallipoli.

Fig. 18: Landing from the River Clyde by Charles Dixon

Grandad claimed he was there, somewhere, and after the war he purchased the print from a newspaper offer and framed it. The picture hung on the wall for the rest of Nan's life. It hangs still, in my sister’s house in Scotland.

Fig 19: Alfred Reynolds in retirement on a visit to Bexhill on Sea. His wife on the left, my Father behind as a young man with an unknown mother and child, c1920

Leaving the parlour in 14 Wellesley and passing into the back room, there was a black leaded range with a high mantelpiece above, built in cupboards and tempting discoveries within, and a sash window, slightly open to take the geranium-scented air from the lean-to outside.

Back out into the passageway and past the cupboard under the stairs, down one step into the scullery with its wooden capped ‘copper’ on the left, a small sink beneath a tiny window directly ahead, and to its right, a very old gas stove – white vitreous enamel oven door, light blue flecked framework, and black oval shaped gas taps that folded flat when in the ‘off’ position – save the oven gas knob which was dark red.

To the right of the stove was the door to the back garden, which opened directly into a covered area – the lean-to with racks of shelving holding Nan’s collection of geraniums and other plants. From there also, access was gained to the lavatory whose cistern was encased in a full-width dark wood case, and with a seat also full width of the cubicle. On a nail in the wall hung squares of newspaper pierced in one corner.

The 'bathroom' hung on a nail in the back yard.

Fig 20: Noel Park School c1912. John Frederick Reynolds (b.1905) front row behind '18'

Upstairs was seldom seen, though both bedrooms had beautiful mantelpiece clocks. The most fascinating room was the small ante-room, accessed from a tiny landing almost at the top of the stairs, but not quite. It had a sloping roof on one side, and was like a little hide-away with a single bed, small table, chest of draws and chair.

Such was the effect of Nan’s house on me, that I recall the details as clearly today as if it was yesterday.

Of the folk in Wellesley, and apart from Nan, there were the Trusslers in No.1, a large family, 'Queenie' who lived across from Nan and with whom she was friendly, and the 'Barnes'; Mr. Barnes (I am told) was a Councillor, and by all accounts was always referred to - even by his wife - as 'Barnes'. (Note from Hugh: Walter Barnes, born 1860, is recorded in the 1930 Register as an engineer's storekeeper.)

Fig. 21: A shot from the front bedroom window of No.4 Redvers Road, looking east down Wellesley Road, 1964. The two air raid shelters at the end of Wellesley (shown in Fig. 16) are no longer present. It is most likely that they had been removed at the same time the 'Works' was rebuilt with an extra floor.  Note the towers of what is now Wood Green Crown Court visible in the left distance. (Note from Hugh - the long low building on the left of the road is probably the one described in 1895 as a "dairy shed fronting Wellesley Road" (left).

Number 4 Redvers Road

Fig. 22: No.4 Redvers Road 1960's

4 Redvers Road was smaller than Nan’s, and cold winters would see feet and faces burnt by the electric bar fires whilst the draughts would try and freeze your backs. There were fireplaces in all four rooms but only the front downstairs room ever got lit – and then only around Christmas. Many was the winter morning when beautiful frost patterns would be present on the inside of our bedroom windows.

In our 'fifth class' house3, our bath was tin, and hung on a nail in the back yard. Running water was supplied, but one cold tap only. Dad had to purchase a gas fired Ascot water heater and it was understood that once fitted, it became the property of the landlord.

Through the floor of the house, we could hear the underground trains of the Piccadilly Line, not just the rumble of trains, but the squealing of brakes, and the opening of doors! 

Fig. 23: 2-10 Redvers Road, 2002, just before demolition. No 4 is second from the right. This terrace contained 'class V' houses of the Noel Park Estate. They had two rooms up, two rooms down with scullery attached, a separate toilet in back yard and no bathroom.

I remember smog! So thick was it, that at one time visibility was down to three feet. The brown filth would creep through every gap in window and door. Damp newspaper would be rolled up and forced into every crack in an attempt to keep it out. Dad would go to work with a damp handkerchief around his face so as not to breathe in too much, and traffic stood still. You could get lost, just yards from home.

Fig. 24: Redvers Road looking north towards Lordship Lane, c1968. On the left of the picture is the Congregational Church Hall. The open ground on the right is the space created when  number 17 was demolished - Perseverance House, on the corner of Wellesley.  The Carter family, who lived there, at one time sold produce from their farm, part of, or perhaps all of which was supposedly situated in an orchard at the end of Wellesley Road where after stood the Wellesley Works4The next house towards the church  no. 15 is boarded up. (Hugh: At one time this held the Dairy see above).  Number 13 was still lived in. Then came a yard with access to Stuart Marshall's Prams and toys. His shop stood at the top of Gladstone Avenue. Further along that access road were the offices of Knowles Trotman, engineers to the paper making trade. Also a bottle washing plant, which was previously the brush factory. Next, is the access to the Eastern National bus depot (formerly City Coach Company - set for ITVs "On the Buses" see Figs 31 and 32). Fuel storage tanks can also be seen behind the wall immediately before the Church Hall (Sunday school & cub scouts.)

Fig. 25: Looking north along Redvers Road across the junction of Buller Road. 'No left turn' because  it was one way from the High Road. Past the Buller Road junction are some lockup garages (see Fig. 28), and a motor service depot.  The larger building in the background was Harry Boult's Dance Hall (formerly the Cinematograph cinema) over the Cream Coaches booking office in Lordship Lane. At the the end of the road are houses on Lordship Lane, c1968.

Fig.26: Redvers neat and trim. The Vanlints lived in this house (19 Redvers Road) on the corner with Wellesley Road. Mr Vanlint was a chauffeur and drove a Humber Super Snipe. My Harley sits in the Sunshine. c1968.

Fig. 27: The north end of Redvers Road with the Congregational Church Hall entrance in the background. To its right, and behind the wall lay two Cream Coaches which often garaged there, c1960 

Fig. 28: Two young chaps getting ready for a winter ride from the dozen or so lock-up garages opposite the Church Hall in Redvers Road. Taken in the forecourt of 'The Garages', c1968.

Fig 29: Looking east at 19 Redvers Road and beyond down Wellesley Road c1968. The air-raid shelters (see Fig.17) are long gone. The houses in Wellesley Road had been demolished and the site was left as a bare earth site for many years. Nan was moved into a nearby tower block. 

Redvers Folk

No. 23 Redvers Road was lived in by a lady named Beryl and her son David. Beryl was nice and David sometimes drove a horse and cart, wore a red handkerchief around his neck Gypsy style, and 'dealt' - scrap mostly. He smoked roll-ups, always Golden Virginia. One day, very proudly, he showed me his latest acquisition of a hydraulically tipping Ford Thames truck! I liked David. He said I could go out some day on his 'rounds', but I never did.

On 'our' side, the corner house on Buller had a longish garden, fenced against Redvers with six foot feather board fence. There were holes in the fence where knots would have been poked out when shrunk, and through them could be seen a number of miniature houses - a mini village, the elderly man there was a Mr. Rumbles. (Note from Hugh- I've tried and failed to turn up much on Harry Walter Rumbles, other than his full name and his occupation of milk salesman).

No.2 Redvers had the Jacobs (we never saw Mr. Jacobs). They were replaced by Mr. & Mrs. Haggarty, an old couple. I used to earn sixpence to go buy salted butter and streaky bacon for them. I must have been 8 or 9yrs old. Mr Haggarty knocked on our door one evening and asked if - 'we could come'. His wife had passed away. She lay on the couch quite peacefully. First time I had seen someone dead.

Early on No.6 had the McCanns. They were Irish. You seldom saw Mr. McCann (the pub appealed), but Mrs. McCann was pleasant enough, though their son John, played music too loud. No.8 held old Mrs. Witherington, and No.10 Mr. & Mrs. Harris and their daughter Margaret. Margaret may have had 'learning difficulties' and was sadly the brunt of name calling by other children. Mr. Harris was older. He walked with two sticks. He used to stand in his doorway in cloth cap and braces, collarless shirt, quite rotund and looking very gruff. I steered clear of Mr. Harris.

Walking the roads around the estate was not without its dangers for a small boy on his own. Moselle and Farrant Roads were to be avoided, unless you were either good with your fists or fleet of foot - I was the latter. Gladstone at the Broadway end, had a family of many sons - the Peacocks. They were a gang by themselves: you stayed clear of the Peacocks.

Apart from that, life was fine. Alexandra Palace and its grounds were favourite. Accessed either by push bike or the little single decker 233 bus. My pal and I would roll down the grassy slopes, visit the semi-permanent funfair, or take to the paddle boats. If lucky, we'd take a trip on the miniature railway. And we loved train spotting! The Palace Gates branch was still alive, but Wood Green Station was the magnet after school.

Wood Green Photos

Derek has also contributed some good 1960s photos of Wood Green. You can view those here.

More Views of Redvers Cross

Fig 30: Redvers Road, 1960.

Fig 31: Wood Green Coach Station, filming location for exterior shots of ITV's comedy series On the Buses (1969-73).  The building on the right of the photo is the congregational church on the corner of Redvers Road

Fig 32: Filming a scene of 'On the Buses' in Redvers Road, c1970 (The terrace of house on the background in on the north side of Lordship Lane)

Fig 33: The former congregational church at the end of Redvers Road in its life as the Haringey Arts Centre, 1980.

Fig 34: Wood Green Coach Station, c1945. Note that the name on the building is still Wood Green Coach Garage and the font is very 1930s in style.

Operated by A H Young, "The Empress Bus" started running from Wood Green to Southend on 27 May 1927. A limited company, New Empress Saloons Ltd, was formed in July 1928, and later that year the City Motor Omnibus Co Ltd bought a two-thirds share in it. In the mid thirties, 725-727 Lordship Lanes was acquired (formerly the house and saw mill of Jared Gear). At the end of the 1930s, the station was listed in Kelly's Directory as being operated by Orange Luxury Coaches

Fig 35: Wood Green Coach Station, c1960. Note that the name on the building inow says Eastern National. The company took over the building c1952.

Fig 36: Wood Green Coach Station, c1965. Note the Eastern National ticket office at 725 Lordship Lane.

Fig 37: Bus emerging from Buller Road (I think into Redvers Road).

Fig 38: Aerial Views of the area


1 The main road was not referred to as the High Road till much later in the century.

2 London North Middlesex Weekly Standard, 2nd August 1895.

Five classes of house were built in the Noel Park Estate. Each street had a distinct design and ornament. All houses had front and rear gardens. The estate layout followed traditional Victorian town planning: larger first and second class houses were built in the centre, close to the church and school, while the more numerous third, fourth and fifth class houses were built on the outskirts.

This was not the architect's intention. He said in 1896 that: ‘I regret that it is necessary to separate the richer and more cultured classes from the poorer, owing to the prejudices which exist; and these prejudices exist on the part of the poor as well as on the part of the other class.’

The houses had one parlour with the kitchen and scullery, in separate rooms at the rear of the house. In the lower class houses the toilet was in the garden, the first-class houses also had toilets upstairs. They were not fitted with bathrooms: baths were taken in a movable bath, stored in the kitchen or in the garden.

Higher class houses had marble mantelpieces, fireplaces and flues and kitchen ranges and were supplied with running water. Not all were supplied with gas or mains electricity from the outset, being lit by candles or oil or paraffin lamps.

They were designed to be small, for cheapness and to discourage taking in lodgers. Also to discourage this, flats were built maintaining the terraced façade, but splitting the house into upper and lower flats, each flat having a separate front door onto the street. (Loughton History Society Bulletin)

4 I suspect that the notion of a farm behind Redvers Road after the First World War was something of a community memory. By the 1930s, the backlands were increasingly industrialised.

5 In 1939, the head of household William Walter Vanlint was recorded as having been a police constable. The Vanlints had apparently had a tough time. In 1911 all but William Walter (senior) had entered the workhouse. The census of 1911 shows that William Walter senior was a jobbing gardener working on his own account. It could well be that work was scarce and the family went into the workhouse whilst he continued to look for work. The couple are recorded as having had another child in 1914. So, it's unlikely that either the death of William the elder or desertion were the cause of the workhouse entry. William senior was born in Middlesex but is noted as a naturalised British Citizen. We might assume from the name that the familly was Dutch and that it was the parents of William senior who emigrated from the Netherlands. 

4 Redvers Tenancy Ag.pdf

Tags for Forum Posts: wood green

Views: 8223

Replies to This Discussion

Aside from the overall history, loved the motorbikes!  Also found memories of using the Eastern National garage for the 251 service on Southend daytrips

Whenever I see these articles I make myself a cuppa and sit down to a treat.  What memories, Derek!  How I wish I could recall my early life in such detail.  As always Hugh turns research into a perfectly readable story and both of you together make a unique contribution to local history.  Thank you so much!

PS  I loved the motorbikes.  They're the real McCoy!

For myself, thank you both for the kind words. Hugh has done research that has helped us understand more about the area prior to my life in Wood Green - and some family 'movements' I had not been aware of!

The Harley was a magnet for everyone back then, I even had old ladies come up and make admiring comments. Stopping to refuel would end up in a twenty minute chat while I was regaled with stories of them pulling tanks out of ditches!! A 'slight' exaggeration.

Memory is a funny thing. I can remember being in a pram as a baby, the cot beside my parents bed, but not what my wife asked me to do yesterday!

Ah, yes.  Know what you mean about memory.  I can remember running along the pavement between two people and being lifted up by my arms but can't remember what I had for dinner last night!  As for the Harley, betcha it was a real conversation starter.  Better than a dog or a baby!

Hi Derek,

My Mum is Gwen Vanlint. She has so enjoyed reading about her old home. She has lots of memories about Redvers Road, including the Reynolds Family.

I lived there when I was first born and spent lots of time there growing up. I was baptised and went to Sunday school at the Congregational. My dad, Ron Lambert, was youth club leader of the 'Congo' youth club. Members of this club still meet regularly although lots of them are no longer with us.

I remember Paul Allen, who went to my School, St Michael's. Also the Ballard family and daughter Marion. Also Knew Kevin Thwaite who lived round the corner.

Had lots of other friends all round Noel park Estate.

Mum remembers you and Joan. I have send a request to link to you for a private chat

Hi Lesley,

I haven't received a request as yet, but would be happy to do so.

Joan is 88yrs now, living in Aviemore. She has an extended family in the Highlands.

I'll drop a line to Hugh asking for a link-up.

It's not forgotten to us in Noel Park!  

Good.  Let’s hope it’s now a little less forgotten elsewhere. 

What great memories Derek.  Thoroughly enjoyed reading that from beginning to end.  Recorded history for future generations.  And the house description was much the same for our home in Harringay Road.   Some great photos as well.  Memories worth treasuring, as opposed to "what the wife might have said yesterday" !

Well done.

Thank you Derek and Hugh!  Incredible photos, evocative memories and a yearning in my heart to travel back in time. Loved reading every word, once again, thank you to you both for your time and freely sharing your history. 

Thank you all for the comments above, and thanks to my older Sister Joanne for filling in the years from the mid thirties to the early fifties, which was about the time I became more aware of our surroundings. I think it is sad to see such huge changes that have come over that corner of Wood Green. People who knew it as it was would find it unrecognisable, and those who never knew it would hardly believe what it was once like.

And many thanks to Hugh for telling our one small story.

Joanne & Derek Reynolds.



© 2024   Created by Hugh.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service