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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Wood Green High Road was our first choice for shopping.  Walking from home on Green lanes you passed the Ritz Cinema - two different programmes every week each with the "B" film, Pearl & Dean advertising, Movietone News and the feature film (I was taken to see "The Dam Busters" several times in 1955 as my father had been in the RAF!)

Crossing the entrance to the bus station you came to Conways Furnishers and then Turnpike Lane Station. After crossing Westbury Avenue and Whymark Avenue there on the right-hand side of the High Road were the three large stores - British Home Stores, Marks and Spencer and Woolworths (actually the original F.W.Woolworth).  One source of entertainment was the antics of the "spivs" who illegaly sold things (possibly of doubtful origin) out of suitcases in front of the stores.  They had a look-out hovering on the kerb who signalled the arrival of the patrolling policeman.  The suitcases would then snapped shut and the spivs would quickly disappear into one of the stores only to re-appear again when the coast was clear.  The day of reckoning came one day when the police came through the stores from the back entrances on Bury Road and several spivs were "nicked".

Further on down past the Wood Green Empire was Halford's who were then mostly a cycle and sports shop and further still the Co-op.  This was a strange building in two parts joined by a long ramp.  They still had the central cashier's desk set up high with overhead wires connecting it to each sales desk. The assistants would write out your purchases on a form which would be put into a cylindrical canister with your payment.  This was put into the overhead system, a lever pulled and the canister sped quickly to the stern-faced cashier.  A few minutes later the canister would be back with your receipt and any change.

Further along still the road curved to the right past Strakers the stationers and then you passed under the railway bridge at Noel Park & Wood Green Station.  Sometimes high over the road a train would come in with a screech of brakes, you would hear the brake pump on the engine going "thump-thump-thump" then, with a slamming of doors, the train would start off again.  Past the station there were more shops or you could cross the road to see what films were on at the Gaumont Cinema.

On this side of the road going back towards Turnpike Lane just after Alexandra Road was a shop selling cooked meats.  We usually bought some Polony sausage (special treat!) which was sliced off from one hanging in the window.There were many more shops including J.Sainsbury who had two adjacent shops.  Just before arriving at the Wellington was a toy shop (best shop in the road!) where my first train set was bought - an OO gauge Rovex.

Other names and shops come to mind although, after 60+ years I can't locate them - "David Grieg, Provisions Merchant", "Home & Colonial Stores", butchers with skinned rabbits, plucked chickens and the odd animal carcase hanging outside.  Greengrocers where potatoes were tipped straight into your shopping bag with things like lettuces just having a sheet of newspaper wrapped round them.  The price of everything was calculated and added up in the head (in £sd of course) as you were served. For example - three pounds of potatoes at ..., one cabbage, one pound of carrots at .., three parsnips and half a pound of tomatoes at .. that will be ... thank you! - no need for pocket calculators even if they had been invented!

Tags for Forum Posts: harringay alumni memories, harringay memories, stephen holliday's childhood memories, wood green history

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Was it a stall or a shop? There was a shop a few shops down from Sainsbury going towards Turnpike Lane on the right that we called the "Tripe Shop". It may have also sold horsemeat along with all the ofall and other various meat! We lived in Coleraine Road and I well remember the smell and flies during the summer months. You just accepted it as part of life, whereas today they'd be an outcry and the place would be shut down!

Jack Sleigh horse meat business was a stall and I think it would have been at the corner of Coleraine (note from Google that there is still a stall there!). Dead right about health and safety! And the meat was clearly dyed unfit for human etc. It smelt pretty bad. We had dogs so visited often. Jack bought (built) the house on the bomb site corner of Willoughby and Frobisher opposite us. His trade must have been good - in 1959 nhe bought his wife Eve a Sunbeam Rapier, white and chocolate two-tone, for her birthday! They were a smashing couple - but I think he may have breathed a sigh of relief when my dad retired from the Met police in 1956!

Hi Richard, might interest you to know that I am Robert Sleigh, Jack and Eve's son alive and kicking and living in Norfolk. I worked for my dad for 12 years before going into the London Fire Brigade. I'm retired now and 62 years old. Maybe you knew me. 

Wonderful! Jack and Eve were really nice  and i am sure we must have met up at some point but I am 74 so a good few years older than you. My brother Roger is 69. Do you recall that Jack bought Eve a superb white and brown Sunbeam rapier coupe? Must have been very late 50s or early 60s. Similar to this but with very smart chocolate brown trim.

Hi Richard. I remember it well.What's more somewhere I have an old photo of her leaning on the bonnet. I will go through them all tomorrow and se if I can find it. I used to play with Lois Crysanthou in those days. I met up with his mum in Cyprus last year whilst on holiday with my daughter. His family owned the Criterion Restaurant in Green Lanes. lou and I are still good friends. Dad died in 2006 and Mum in 2010 at a grand old age of 95. I also went to Haringey School for a short while and then a small school in Palmers Green. I will look for the photo and try and upload it tomorrow.

The Criterion came to our rescue once - we had been burgled and lost everything of our Christmas spread. By some miracle they took us in for our Christmas dinner! The fact that my father was a Met copper may have helped of course! I'd love to see anything you have of that period - it was for the most part very happy days. Have you seen my maudlin recollections here? http://www.woodses.co.uk/life-on-the-ladder.html

These are photos of 1 Willoughby Road where I grew up until I was 12 years old. That's me at the gate. The others are  mum and dad, one was at a do the other I think was at the bar of the Queens Head.


The pictures are terrific. I am wondering if Jack bought the car for your mum to celebrate your birth? Is that possible. I know it was for a celebration - my mum Gina teased my dad, Tim about it - What about me? she would say.

They both used the Queens as well; indeed in 1964 I had what passed for a stag do there! I recall they were pretty friendly with your parents - we had dogs in the early 50s and bought horsemeat from Jack in Wood Green. I also recall that one of them had family in the area and that I went ice skating with them at Harringay Arena - I must have been about 13 since I recall an early crush on a young lady called, if my memory is any good, Hilary? Great pic of you - by the way was it the Perry's who lived in number 2 next door to you? If so thir parents lived in 90, Frobisher - two doors down from us.

They adopted me when I was about 2 or 3 years old so i'm not sure what the car was for. Hilary was my cousin. She came to live with us when she was about 15 I think. She worked at the Wonderloaf off Perth Road in Wood Green. Eventually she got married to a guy called Sid Davis and they had 3 kids. and you are right she was well into her ice skating. Mum had 98 sisters and 2 brothers . Their maiden name was Wisheusen and I think they all came from Acacia Rod in Wood Green. I,ve uploaded a couple more photos of my mum and her sisters. You may have seen some of them. Hilary's sister Anne is sitting on the floor, front right.

So good to be able to go back like this - by the way the picture of Hilary and co was not included? I'd love to see them. Sadly we have very few pictures from before 1964 as my mother three them all out when they downsized in Eastbourne in about 1972ish.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of Hilary. The ones I had I gave to her kids a few years back. I never knew dad built 1 Willoughby, I always thought they bought it as was.

Hello Sandra, I'm a local artist as well as a lecturer at the London College of Fashion. I'm making a film about Wood Green High Road and would love to talk to you about any memories you have of the High Road and how it's changed as part of my research. I'd love to hear more about the frock shops!



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