I've no idea what possessed me after so many years living in this area, but this afternoon, on pure whim, I dived into the alley next to 74 Grand Parade; you know, the one next to the double-fronted grocery with all the fruit outside, not far from the bridge.
Having seen nothing particularly interesting, I had turned around to leave when I spotted this sign on the wall.
Now, Frith is a name I know for their adverts in the Kelly's Directory from the Edwardian era, up until the second world war. They placed a full page ad which never changed.
The firm set up shop just after Grand Parade was built. To begin with they shared their premises with the National Phone Company. Below is their listing from 1902.
By 1909, they had started their full page ad, showing a lovely shop-front. Below is the ad from the 1937 directory, along with their listing. The ad was exactly the same in 1909, except in 1937, the 20 years legend read 50 years, a mention of a branch at 609 Green Lanes (where Medlocks are now based) had gone and a phone number had been added. Everything else was a carbon copy.
The 20 year claim in the 1909 ad suggests that the business was founded in 1889. I can find no trace of them in North London three years later. So, perhaps they started out elsewhere or under a different name.
Their last directory listing was in the phone book of 1950. I assume they closed down after that.
So, I think we can safely conclude that the private thoroughfare sign still fixed to the wall was put up in the 1940s or 1930s, perhaps even earlier. Amazing that it's survived untouched.
Can you date it?
70 Grand Parade went on to be a branch of Donaldson & Sons (established in 1869). Their head office was in Dalston Lane and they had branches in west London. The phone number at Donaldson’s was STA 7441 which became 800 7441. I have no idea whether they amalgamated with Friths or bought them out.
I do remember Mr Victor and Mr Douglas Donaldson who would arrive in their individual Rolls Royce cars with their personalized number plates: DLD 1 and VCD 1.
Those number plates might sell for c£65,000 these days...
Thanks for sharing those memories.
I remember a Donaldson's agency up that way Christine. My mate used to take money and a book up there on Saturday mornings. I asked why and was told for mortgage. I didn't have a clue what that word meant so it was simplified as like rent. That word I knew because our rent collector came round to our house in Harringay Road every Saturday morning. Really nice friendly bloke, used to sit at end of our big stripped pine kitchen table and have a cup of tea. And if any left, a biscuit. He was known to us kids as Uncle John and was like a family friend. How times were different. Christine, can you remember where the Messrs Donaldsons parked their Rolls' ? Great memory for detail there Christine.
I did reply yesterday but I think it’s got lost in the ether. The Donaldson brothers used to park outside the office just near to the bus-stop: no parking restrictions in those days. They were elderly, very old-school: polite, always asked how you were, but slightly detached from reality.
There was a rent collector on the team, huge man called Len who would call at various flats and houses, or tenants could come to the office to pay their rent. I was there from October 71 - March 73. I think Donaldson managed most of the properties along Grand Parade and owned quite a few as well.
I love the detail in this discussion and thanks for adding yet more to it. This, after all, is what HoL is all about.
Certainly is Andy. Brilliant ain't it.
Happy New Year to everyone in HoL.
Hello again Christine.......my experiences relate to probably 58-62 period so a good 10 years prior. I think "Len" sounds more like a "heavy" ensuring tenants didn't get into arrears ! Certainly nothing like our "uncle John". Three Rolls Royces parked kerbside !!! Just imagine, what a site that would've been.
In 1944 and 1945, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors listed Douglas Lionel Donaldson as having been a member of the Institute since 1931 with his address as Frith & Co, 70 Grand Parade, Harringay.
By 1946 it seems that Frith had become, or was on the way to becoming, Donaldsons - or, since Frith were still in the phone book until 1950, perhaps the two companies co-existed for a while, or perhaps there was an extended buy-out/merger period.
Both the following entries are from the 1946 London phone book.
Below is the Donaldson's entry from the 1945 phone book. It looks like they did a lot of expansion at the end of the War. (Any rumours about where their money came from Chtistine?)
The company, it turns out, was a well-established East End estate agent. They were at the same address at least as far back as 1930 and in 1920 they were in the Queen's Road (now Queensbridge Road). According to pitchbook.com, the company had been founded in 1869.
By 1962, the phone book shows that they had consolidated their North London operations in favour of a prime West End office (Coincidentally almost next door to an office building I worked in for a few years - nice neck of the woods. They were doing well.)
The last phone book entry available for them in Harringay was 1975.
By 1978, they focused on more prime areas.
By six years later, the link with the East End was finally severed.
Although Companies House records show that the company is still active, now at 70 Jermyn Street, it shows no current appointments. Pitchbook.com shows that they were acquired by Cushman and Wakefield. From the Companies House records, we might guess that this would have been in about 2003.
Number 70, by the way, was right next door to my office. I'm not sure when they moved there, but, if they were there in the early 90s, I would have been working right next door to them in their last decade of operation. Small world.
We used to have inter-branch cricket matches on the cricket pitch in Finsbury Park and at Alexandra Palace, plus the obligatory over-dressed Christmas Do.
I do remember the landlord of our house offering it to my Dad to buy for £1000 in 1960 which was £1000 below market value, but he liked my parents who has been good tenants since 1950. Das had to go to Donaldson’s who held the Deeds and the Manager Mr Henry Munday, got really nasty with Dad as he stood to make no money as the sale was going ahead privately between my parents and Robert Doherty, the owner.
Henry Munday was the Manager when I worked there…a very unpleasant man…
perhaps he remembered my Dad standing up to him….
Any thoughts about the question I asked at the end of the 4th para?
I’ve just re-read and noticed your question.
I honestly have no idea where their money came from, other than the family in general was very well off. I do remember Mr Lionel visiting one day with a basket of nectarines for us which ‘he’ (his gardeners) had grown in the glasshouses! He was always very polite and pleasant, the complete opposite to the manager of the branch.