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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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Woolworths was just a few yards along from the Coliseum.  A stretch of the pavement running outside the shop was finished in marble and I used it for roller skating.

Wonderfully nostalgic post by Stephen Holliday!  I'd forgotten those neat bundles of sticks for kindling open fires but the 'scent' of paraffin, camphor, distemper and those rolls of stuff you used for roofing brings it all back.  I am four years ahead of Stephen and lived closer to The Salisbury than The Queen's Head.  Our local grocer shop was Jolly's at the corner of Seymour and Green Lanes.  Our chemist was Mr Pirie across from the post office.  We used to go there sometimes and use the weighing machine for a penny.

When we first moved here we didn't have central heating, just a few electric fires and a Rayburn in the kitchen so we had to buy bags of smokeless coal from a shop on GL somewhere not far from the bottom of Warham Road and carry them home. Don't suppose your remember which shop it was that sold coal Geraldine?

Michael, I don't remember a shop that sold only coal (though I do remember one that sold only eggs!)  You might have got the coal from the ironmonger's I mentioned above.  They sold just about everything.  I think it was somewhere between the bottom of Warham and Pemberton.   We used to buy the oil there for our paraffin stove.

Sounds about right Geraldine. We used to buy paraffin in the same shop for lamps as our dodgy electrics went on strike so often.

Geraldine, thanks for jogging my memory on Woolworths. It is all coming back to me now. At the other end of the shops from the Coliseum was a small timber yard. Above the shops was the "Salon Bal" ballroom. My mother loved dancing and, as my father worked the late shift at the Post Office, I was taken to dances organised by a woman she knew. I would run around with the other children while everyone danced. Children were invited to take part in the "Oki-Koki" and the "Conga". The band seemed to consist of a large number of banjos and was run by a man named Charlie. On a good evening they were not bad! Further entertainment was provided by the organiser singing. One particular song comes to mind - a particularly enthusiastic rendition of "Don't laugh at me ('cause I'm a fool)" which was the latest hit from Norman Wisdom.

remember going up the stairs to the dance hall was there a lot of obscure glass ? I also went with my mother ...

I also went up the stairs to the dancing with my mother it was also an Irish club I seem to remember a lot of obscure glass

Oh joy, the Salon Bal!  I'd quite forgotten its name.  It was a place of mystery while I was growing up but I went there for some ballroom dancing lessons in my late teens.  Not for long - I wasn't too good at it.

Here's your Norman Wisdom song, Stephen:


Thanks Geraldine, so that is what it should really sound like!

wonderful ,we also used the same doctor,in the 40s I  remember a large fish tank there ..

Yes, Woolworths was definitely a couple of doors from the Coliseum.  From memory I think it had wood block floors and brass and glass counters (which my mum tapped on with her change to gain the attention of the salesgirl .. to my embarrassment!)  Where Medlocks is now on Green Lanes at the bottom of Beresford was another ironmongers and I well remember the smell.  My mum would have bought her paraffin from there.  There was also a chemist there in a very, very small shop.  I don't think you would have got two customers in there.  Coal was delivered by the coal man and as there was no 'coal hole' at the house was kept in the cupboard under the stairs.  This was before smokeless fuel was used.  How times have changed!   

Fascinating stuff -especially as I lived across Green Lanes from you in Frobisher. And that divide means some of your memories are entirely strange to me. But do you recall the greengrocer on the corner - Jack? - who briefly owned a white Galaxy Sunliner? Ah and I bought a bike from the shop below you - a Claud Butler special I think. Shop became a betting shop did it not?

Did you go to North Harringay or the West Green school?



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