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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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Hello Sophie, Had forgotten about this particular conversation from the beginning of last year. What exactly was it you wanted to know about my memories of Wood Green frock shops? 

Lots of people I know who live in London haven't even heard of Wood Green. Many that have can be very snobby about it. It's my home, and although I know that it's not perfect there is still lots to recommend. During my research I've talked to some interesting residents, shoppers and retailers and some very creative, stylish people. People who work in fashion and fashion education ignore 'ordinary' high streets like the Wood Green High Road and the adaptability and creativity of its people. I suppose I'm interested in getting a sense of how diverse Wood Green was, who it catered for, the variety of shops, whether they were chains or independent stores. I'm particularly interested in women's fashion, although Richard Woods has so much great material about menswear that I'm tempted to open it out! I'd like to get some material recorded in the next couple of weeks. I live locally and could do the interview on neutral ground such as in a cafe. Do let me know - or anyone else reading this that fits the bill please do get in touch. Thanks!

Good stuff but do you recall Bartons, the department store? Overhead railway and Lamson tubes - the vacuum things that took money and paperwork up and downstairs. Always smelt of floor polish - very "Are you being served!"

The spivs were a hoot - but there were street trraders too - smelliest of the lot was Jack Sleigh (true) who ran a horse meat stall.

And that Turnpike Lane toyshop may have been Garrisons? Toys and models one side, bikes on the orher.

Was a paper boy for the news, fags and sweets shop near the bottom of Turnpike, near the dairy at the end.

First serious crush lived at 56 Turnpike, next door to the brief temporary home of Ron Moody... remember him anyone?

what about the wet fish shop in turnpike lane but a special treat elliots fish and chips dine in and cherryade wow in westbury avenue Richard do remember the coop butchers and grocers divided by the passage further along shoe menders who charged up the battery for the wireless and a junk shop and berrys, greengrocers my mum worked there amazing how it all comes back and I m sitting in northants near the Leicestershire border

Hi I do recall the west fish shop but there was one round the corner from Frobisher in Green Lanes we used - was that Elliots? The shoe menders we used a lot - did he not have one of those automata in the window showing a cobbler at work? 

Anyone remember the butcher in Wighman Road (adjacent Sidney) - Exners? My mother used to flirt rotten with him to bust the ration! Then when it all came off ration he would turn the tables and haggle over the price.;Bright red cheeks I recall?

Hi - does anyone on here recall the name of the music shop in Wood Green High Road? Down the Turnpike end near Bon Marche I think. It was where I bought my first 45s.

Bartons - The name is familiar and I must have been in there but I can't place them. Were they in the Whymark Road area?

Hi just been up and down Google view and it has changed a lot but I am going to guess it was where the Halifax now is? Anyone? I recall three storeys and this building looks posh enough and I included it likely on my web site here http://www.woodses.co.uk/life-on-the-ladder-1.html

I remember bartons quite clearly and Hawkins a drapers and d you remember doms the ice cream shop .did you go to the wood green empire to me as a kid a magical place with the coloured    glass in the interior doors wonderful memories

Wood Green Empire was where we saw most shows (although my dad used to get tickets for the west end too). I especially remember Ali Bongo the magician who, I think, had a terrible and famous accident with the catch the bullet trick. He also made a pink Cadillac disappear on stage with two blondes in the back. It became rehearsal studios for BBC or ITV I think.

Just found this site and the Hallifax is NOT Bartons - that is the old Empire building - see here http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/WoodGreenEmpire.htm

BTW, was it Chappels music down by Turnpike where we bought our 78s?

Both Wood Green and Finsbury Park had Empires.  Singers popular in those days were Dickie Valentine, Alma Cogan, Josef Locke, David Whitfield, Lita Roza - and Ronnie Ronalde who has just died aged 91.  Doesn't the whole idea of sitting and watching a fella whistle on stage seem bizarre now!  Listen to "If I Were a Blackbird." 


About 1963 I blagged a brief interview with George Harrison when the Beatles gigged at the Finsbury Park Astoria (I think it was). I was a trainee reporter with the Hornsey Journal and wanted to know what they thought of all these kids playing truant to queue for tickets - but you know I cannot recall what he said!



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