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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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all the smart fellows including my dad went to Harry Lea s on green lanes Harringay ..there was a very smart shop for women next to the cinema ...Wood Green .Dorothy Perkins still had the apex frontage ...Bon Marche though was the shop opposite (well nearly ) the Wellington.Also a boutique  maybe called Ritas by the  Ritz cinema a little parade of small shops between the bus station and cinema .my mum and aunts went there for posh do s...

I wonder if I am wrong and Harry Lea was what I think of as Lou Grant - could be. Although I put Grant's opposite the Wood Green Gaumont, and down towards Bartons?

Bon Marche was where my gran and mum did a lot their shopping. We always thought it a bit posh due to the French name. Just up from there was Chappells music shop?

Round the croner in Lordship Lane was a coffee bar (Kardomah?) where we drank dreadful coffee in glass cups and listented to Del Shannon. In fact the coffee was exactly Like Starbucks I now realise!

thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed reading this!

Do you recall Bartons the department store? As a kid I absolutely loved their pantograph system for sending money to the cashier and getting change and receipts back. Brilliant. They also used a Lamson tube - a vacuum tube to shift things up and down the floors (three?) - I saw them again in newspaper offices where they were used to send copy to the printers downstairs and galley proofs back up (as in the Hornsey Journal).

Early sixties,
Licensing hours on drinking and before amphetamines were everywhere.

Not so sure about the amphetamines - often called speed in my day which was the 60s!

Readers of this thread might appreciate this new post.

this is amazing ,thanks I will read and read 


Many thanks for sending that link.  What a very detailed and concise "walk through" old Wood Green High Street.  I lived in 5, Coleraine Road from 1953 to 1963.  I completed my schooling at North Harringay School and belonged to the 77th North London Scout Troop at Alison Road Church.  They used to put on a Gang Show in December every year, which I remember as being great fun - I still have several photographs and a selection of the Scout/Guide Troops monthly news booklets.  Unfortunately the old scout hut at the side of the church has long gone!

The article brought back many good memories of my early life around Wood Green and Harringay, especially the toy shop on the High Street between Coleraine and Courcy Roads.

Many thanks, Paul 



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