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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Haringey Council's Attempts to Change our Neighbourhood's Name have Serious Consequences

"Harringay" may not be the sexiest or the poshest name for a neighbourhood, but it's a good honest historical name for our area. And, used as it was till recently, it unifies a natural neighbourhood under a single "banner".

I got brought back to this issue yesterday, walking home from Manor House tube. Although I've walked past it a thousand times before, I'm sure, yesterday I noticed something new about the sign as you enter the Borough of Haringey from Hackney. In crossing that boundary, you also enter Harringay, but look at what the sign says:


"Welcome to Haringey, St Ann's". The sign is in Harringay Ward, Harringay. Fair enough that the Council wants to proclaim their borough territory, but to add St. Ann's (the ward to the east), just emphasises the way the Council ignores local sentiment and underlines what I was told is official Council policy of changing our area's name that started in earnest when the name of Harringay was stripped from the railway bridge. And this is no petty issue. It has serious social consequences.

Councillor Canver, the Chair of the Green Lanes Strategy group has told me that my notion of Harringay as a 'town neighbourhood' no longer exists. Whilst she accepts this was the case up till 1965 (when it was split between two boroughs), since the boroughs have been unified, she says we no longer have one neighbourhood, we have three. Gone, she says is Harringay; we now have St Ann's to the east, Green Lanes in the middle and Harringay to the west.

I understand what she's saying and I have no gripe with Nilgun, but the logic of that position escapes me. First there's the issue of what or whose benefit is served by artificially exacerbating divisions in the area. Surely the Council should be doing the opposite and helping us to forge bonds, build bridges, focus on commonalities. A common identity will not come without a sense of belonging to the same area. For me this is the big issue.

Then there's other perspectives like the logic of trying to call an area Green Lanes. Sure you can live on Green Lanes; it's a road. But can you live IN Green Lanes? Not for my money you can't.

Another issue is the contribution to building sense of place that comes from the historical context. We've a fantastically rich history over the last 100 to 200 years. For the most part, that is explicitly the history of Harringay. Why ditch it? Why the urge to move on? What's the agenda?

Then there's the issue of where is Green Lanes. As many people pointed out in the recent Harringay Online Street Festival survey, Green Lanes runs for miles from Stoke Newington and up to Palmers Green and beyond. The fact is that Green Lanes is everywhere in a huge swathe of north London. So if we're living in Green Lanes, what identity does that give us.

Speaking of the survey, it's probably the best proxy we have for a poll on local sentiment on what our area should be called. And, in that survey, 66% of residents said they'd like the festival to be called the Harringay festival rather than the Green Lanes festival.

Time for a volte-face on this nonsensical divisive Council policy of renaming our are? This is serious stuff. It's not just me on my hobby horse, trying to create an estate agents' dream or a posher address to impress, it's a fundamental part of building a stronger community and shaping a better......Harringay.

(See here for other posts on this issue on Harringay Online and here on the BBC's h2g2 site for an explanation of the different spellings of Harringay/Haringey)


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Haringhay + 1,161 other recorded variations in history, but since it's been built, it's always been Harringay.

Mapco's a great site. I've always thought it's a shame they only offer a few of the available maps though.
Well Hugh, I think the confusion is spread by the council as shown by their attempts to describe the area, on the one hand it's a very deprived area, and on the other the GLSG say it's a vibrant and diverse community. To add to the spin, have you seen the comments in the latest edition of Haringey People, which descrbes GL as having a 24 hour bustle, and then uses a photo of some canned food to depict GL. There's a saying I'm sure you're familiar with about "if it ain't broke, why fix it?" I think much of the confusion comes from the bad habit of modern politicos to try and spin everything they touch and take away that which the people hold to be true. BTW have you noticed how many "vibrant" businesses seemed to have closed down in the past 12 months along Harringay High Street, particularly at the southern end. Perhaps the new leader of the council ought to take a walk along the High Street before she implores us to shop locally. Oh, and by the way, how much did the new signs cost to make, and how much to erect?
Discussion now closed - for an update see this post.

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