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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

From 1945 (when I came into the world) to the mid 1970s I lived in the top-floor flat above the George Brooks (later Dave Davey) cycle shop in Wordsworth Parade opposite the Queens Head Pub.

Our nearest shops were in West Green Road to the back of us. On the right-hand side of the road there was Mr.Draper the butcher (confusing!) who was always dressed appropriately in a straw boater and a blooded apron. He had a reputation for resting his hand on the scales. On the corner of Harringay road was a pet shop where you could buy your cat some nice cooked horse meat from the large slab in the window!

On the other side of the road stood Robert Yalden "Oil and Colour Merchant". The right hand window by the door had a ladder of narrow shelves against the glass with rows of small dusty dishes containing highly coloured powders with labels such as "yellow ochre" and "ultramarine blue". On the pavement outside the shop were boxes with bottles of bleach, washing-soda crystals, large bars of soap and neat bundles of sticks for fire-lighting bound with iron wire that was twisted together with a neat loop at the end. Inside the shop on the bare-boarded floor were buckets and yet more boxes containing scrubbing brushes. Brasso metal polish and all the others essentials for maintaining a clean home. Smaller items were strewn on the counter with more shelves behind. Hanging from the ceiling were longer items such as brooms. There was plenty for the eyes to see but also much to delight the nose - dozens of various "scents" - paraffin, camphor (moth balls), etc - all mingled together.

A little farther down the road was the surgery of Dr. Shaw-Smith ("He's very good with babies you know!"). You entered the square waiting room from the street and sat down on one of the vacant chairs that lined the walls, making note of everyone already waiting so that you would not "jump-the queue". When it was time for the next patient the door at the back of the waiting room would open and the good Doctor would appear, large and quietly Scottish. You would be ushered into the surgery noticing his large desk and an impressive framed certificate on the wall above the couch proclaiming his medical credentials.

Shaw-Smith had a younger doctor (whose name escapes me) as assistant. There was a smaller door in the back right-hand corner of the waiting room with a sign above it "NEXT PATIENT".

When the bulb behind the sign lit up it was time to go through the door and down the corridor to the assistant's less impressive surgery. There was usually some confusion in the waiting room as to which doctor you were waiting for. Many preferred the older, more experienced doctor and if nobody responded to the "NEXT PATIENT" sign the assistant would come to the door to see if he could entice anyone.

After your consultation you went with your prescription, written in the scrawl only decipherable by pharmacists, a little way down the road to Mr. West the Chemist.
Mr West's shop and pharmacy (it was always referrred to as "The Chemist") had the usual etched glass windows and inside were polished wooden cabinets with many small drawers and large elegantly-shaped bottles. If your medicine was liquid it came in a tall rectangular bottle with graduations for dosage moulded in the side. The bottles had a narrow round neck with a cork as a stopper.

It was quite usual for the locals to go in and ask for "A bottle of Dr. Shaw-Smiths medicine to save troubling the doctor". There was the brown medicine for coughs and the white medicine for stomachs.

Dr.Shaw-Smith died suddenly while still practicing sometime in the 1960s - he was a great loss to the community.

Tags for Forum Posts: former shops of harringay, harringay alumni memories, harringay memories, stephen holliday's childhood memories

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Thanks for this very evocative description, Stephen. It does help to add some texture to the photos and newspaper texts we've collected on HoL. Interesting to read of an oil & colour merchant on West Green Road. I noticed another in a photo I added of Turnpike Lane a few weeks back (see the collage version of the image I added in my comment and click on it to enlarge). I wonder if they were fairly common across London. 

Stephen, when we first moved here in 1984 I think there was a Woolworths where Iceland is now, just down from the junction of Green Lanes and Salisbury Road. Is that right or am I dreaming it?

Michael, memory can certainly play tricks but I have no recollection of there ever being a Woolworths in that location.  The one in Wood Green was one of the earlier ones in London opened in 1912.  I doubt if there would be another so close but I await any further comments.

Hi - Woolies was down near the Salisbury. Wordsworth Parade was all small shops probably pre-dated most of Green Lanes development.

Found it on the Woolworths Museum website. 17/19 Grand Parade so about opposite the bus stop outside Santander. I was dreaming about it being where Iceland is now but not too far off.

You were right. 17-19 is where Iceland is now located. Snippet below of from Woolies' 1971 list.

I was walking past Iceland the other day and wondered why the buildings were circa 1960, and not the same as the rest of the Parade.

I remembered this document showing bomb damage in the area and it mentions Green Lanes, but some of the South Ladder is not on the image- I guess something to do with Hornsey boundaries at the time?

Anyway, any sense of what happened here to have such a plain building?


No, there was a fire there in the 1960s

Ah, ok. Makes sense, must have been a big one.

You can see a map covering a slightly wider area than the one you added, Justin. I'm not sure if the one you found was derived from it, but it was published in a book about nine months earlier, so possibly. 

The book is still for sale and covers the memories of Graham Inward growing up in wartime Harringay.

There are also a number of war and bomb images on the site.

And the bomb that fell opposite our house in Frobisher and made space for two 1950s posh jobs is on the map - although we were told it was a V1 and this shows an HE bomb. We were not there until soon after.

Yes there was a Woolworth, sold a mixture of everything including some groceries I remember. and on the other side of Green Lanes was a very pokey Co-op.



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