Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

  1. Edwardian 'Rinkers'

I've been aware of Harringay's mid-twentieth century link with roller skating, through my research on the Harringay Arena. Until relatively recently, I hadn't been aware that there was an Edwardian roller skating boom, and Harringay was in on it.

The boom lasted from 1908 to 1912. Referred to at the time as Rinking, roller skating in Edwardian times was so popular that 239 rinking companies were formed in 1909 with share capital of £2m pounds - a huge amount at the time.

By 1910 there were 526 rinks in UK. Newspapers show pages given over to gossip about rinks and West End shows featuring the stars of rinking.

The Edwardian boom wasn't the first. The pastime had seen a smillar surge in the 1870s. 

With the rise of silent movies and economic recession, the craze began to wane from 1911 and it was over by 1912.

Harringay appears to have had a rink on the plt that would later be home to the Arena. I have only been able to find mention of it in 1909. So like the boom, it appears to have been fairly short-lived. The advert below refers to the rink as being in a marquee. So, it sound like it may well have been in a huge sort of circus tent.

Advert in Hornsey Journal, July 1909

A short piece form a whole page on Rinking in The Era, July, 1909

Roller Skating was to make a return to Harringay some thirty yeasr later at the Harringay Arena. Roller Speedway competitions weer held there from 1939 until 1952, with a break during the Second World War. In 1953, with the demise of roller speedway, the Arena hosted Roller Derby.

Roller Derby Girls outside the Arena in 1953

More images about roller at the Arena here.

A video here.

Listen to a podcast on the Edwardian boom on the National Archives.


In addition to a range of primary sources, I have taken some information for this article from Sean Creighton's History and Social Action blog

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What a lovely picture! Looks like a postcard - yes, i can see the brand 'Oilette' bottom left corner.

An ancestor of mine who lived in Avenue Road N15 is listed as 'skate maker' in a census, maybe 1911, it's a while since I did the research, so this makes sense now!

And roller skating made its return to Haringey last year. Rollernation is now located on Bruce Grove N17. Check it out!

Thanks Hugh, This is very interesting. My eldest brother was a roller skate racing Champion at Alexandra Palace in the 40/50's. He is now 88, I must ask him about it I know there were both Ladies and Men's races. He taught my other brother and myself in to skate in the late 50's.

By coincidence, yesterday I came across this picture of the entrance to the Ally Pally rink in the 1960s.

....and this one of the rink itself from the 1930s.

Apparently, although redesigned and formally reopened by the leader of the GLC in 1970, it was closed just four years later because of a dangerous roof.  I understand that it lived on outdoors until after 1980.

I'm sure it was like this in the 50's especially the learners lanes 

Thanks Hugh.

I'd forgotten about this picture I posted a while back showing a boxing match on roller skates at Wood Green's Edwardian rink. 

My mother was into roller skating in the 30s - they used wooden rollers; street skates were metal at that time. But there was a further boom in the 50s and the rubber wheeled Jaco skates were popular. There was a rink at Ally Pally which I skated many times - wood on wood could be a bit of a sideways handful!

Today's skates are a transformation - virtually no rolling resistance at all!

For me Harringay Arena was more about the ice skating. 

I think that three roller rinks in our area were converted to silent cinemas. North London Rink at Wood Green became the Palais de Luxe/Rex; the Canadian Rink at Tottenham became the Canadian Rink Cinema; and the Finsbury Park Rink became the Rink Cinema, later Gaumont. Only the last building survives today, as Rowans Bowling and snooker.

Thank you again for your encyclopaedic knowledge of the area's cinemas.



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