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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

I've half wondered about that yard on Tottenham Lane at the bottom of the stairs from Hornsey station and mused about what its original use was. The other day I came across the two photos above in the less sorted part of my historical photo collection. They began to make sense of it. Both date from around 1905. One is looking at the outside of the station from Tottenham Lane. The other is looking out from one of the platforms.

I wanted to find out if there was a name for that little yard before adding these photos. In doing so, I realised that the old OS maps tell something of the story of the development of the station.

The earliest mention I can find of the station predates its appearance on any map.

'Talks of Old London' from, London Evening News, June 21, 1910

Turning to the maps, we start 19 years after the station was opened with the 1869 map. We see a twin-track railway. One track feeds out to the goods depot to the east and another to some sidings to the west. The railway then resumes its twin-track form.

The station is at street level, set back from Tottenham Lane behind green spaces. At its front is a yard area, probably for carriages and carts. The station appears to consist of two buildings, set back behind the Railway Hotel. At the southern end of the yard a track runs east and then is carried over a bridge and on to the Queen's Head on Green Lanes (Before Harringay House was built, the track extended all the way to Hornsey Wood House, in today's Finsbury Park, crossing the winding New River over four bridges before reaching its destination).

Less than a quarter of a century later, the 1893 map, shows that things have developed. The twin-track line has multiplied and Hampden Road had been laid out and extended from Wightman Road to the edge of the railway. The goods shed has been re-sited somewhat to the south. The river and cart track are gone and the many fingers of Ferme Park Sidings have appeared.

At the station, the buildings on Tottenham Lane have been extended and a second platform with waiting rooms has been added. To accommodate the new arrangements, a passenger bridge has be built. But it is not the bridge we know today. It is somewhat to the south of where the current one is and does not yet align with Hampden Road, nor does it include a higher level ticket hall. It looks like at least the foundations are in place for extending the platforms further north.



On Tottenham Lane, a Royal Mail sorting office has been built, facing the station. There's another building opposite it and a cluster of three small buildings just to the north of the entrance to the station yard. The 1893 Kelly's Directory helps us out with what they might have contained. The listing runs south to north, starting with the Railway Hotel.

Hornsey Station and the Railway Hotel, c1905

Just twenty years later and things have developed still further. Trackside, the multitude of tracks that characterise today's Hornsey have appeared. Just off the map, Hornsey bridge, over Turnpike Lane, has been widened to accommodate the main railway tracks. The goods shed has been enlarged for use as an engine shed.

At the station, the platforms have been extended and what is probably the bridge we use today has been built. It connects to the new ticket hall (visible in both the top photo and the 1962 one, below). The street level station building behind the station yard appears to have been demolished.

The 1909 Kelly's shows what had become of the buildings to the north of the station entrance. I'm not sure which fits where. Off the map, there was another building at the corner of the junction with Turnpike Lane. So that perhaps accounts for Brown the Builder.

The 1915 map gave the broad outline of the station today, but not quite. The 1954 map below shows that a new platform had been built in the old forecourt, perhaps for goods only. We can also see the addition of a train turntable to the east of the line, just at the end of the pedestrian footbridge (the northern edge of the turntable was under where the tall fir trees now grow). 

TCB is an abbreviation for telephone call box.

The 1962 train buff's picture of the Flying Scotsman, below, shows Hornsey station in 1962. Both platforms seem still to be functioning on two sides. The old higher-level ticket office is still in situ. 

Today, the two platforms serve only one side each, the Tottenham Lane goods platform is gone, as is the old ticket hall. I don't know what led to the demolition of the latter of those. Harringay's went following a fire.

So, to answer my question, what's now the garage (of sorts) started its railway life as the forecourt for the old station, all fringed with green spaces and ended it as some sort of goods yard. 

All the above is sourced from original research, mainly using primary documentation. 

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Replies to This Discussion

You're completely right, Dick. I don't know what I was thinking. I know only too well the course of the Stonebridge Brook. It was only last year that I was writing on HoL about it. I've edited my text to remove that inaccuracy. Tch!

Looking at it now, I'm not sure what that course may be. The straight lines and sharp corners certainly suggest that it's man-made. It seems to have started just to the west of the railway line, before running east. In the map, it runs along the southern edge of Upper Hollam Beech field, jigs south a bit as it hits the boundary of Lower Hollam Beech field, then skirts its southern edge before taking off north along the boundary between Lower Hollam Beech and Hollow Beech Grove fields and ending at Tottenham/Turnpike Lane.

The map is the 1869 OS, but has no key. Tracks have dotted lines.

I have a very high resolution scan of the the British Land Company map showing the Harringay estate. It is based on the 1869 OS. It seems to show the course running OVER the railway lines but under the river. Look at the point where it makes its final turn north to Tottenham / Turnpike Lane.

This definitely suggests some sort of watercourse to me. But, probably not a sewer as those are specifically identified on the BLC map as being elsewhere and are shown in a different colour. Perhaps it's just a rainwater drain? But why would it run over the rail tracks?

As you'd expect, there's no sign of the course by the time of the 1893 OS map. But, that map does show a line of OS benchmarks that roughly correspond with the route of the course. They show gradually declining levels along the route which even continue along the final northwards run. That seems to support the theory of a watercourse of some sort: as I said, perhaps a rainwater drain. 

I find it hard now to visualise the lie of the land before the railway was widened after the purchase of the western strip of the Harringay House parkland.  However, we can deduce something from the fact that the newly acquired railway land was leveled up to match the then existing main line.  The result of this leveling is that the railway sidings are perhaps ten feet above the level of the river.  The original course of the New River was said to follow the contour line and this means that the land to the east of the river bed was lower than that to the west.  It follows that rainwater on land to the west of Hornsey station would have naturally flowed eastwards and would have been blocked by the bed of the river unless it was able to flow underneath (surface water run off is not allowed into the New River).  I would guess that your map shows a ditch which served this purpose but that the route is no longer needed since rain water run off could easily be diverted northwards (which is also down hill) along whatever channels there are along Tottenham Lane.  The railway land itself will have its own drainage infrastructure.

I quite sure that the ditch did not pass over the railway and if the map appears to show this, then it must be a simple drawing error.

You're probably right again. I clearly haven't investigated this watercourse with sufficient forensic attention!. The BLC version of the map offers more detail. It shows that the part over the railway line is probably a footbridge which happens to align with the start of whatever the course is.

I'd forgotten about an 1856 map I have called "Watercourses in Hornsey". Drawn six years after the railway opened, it shows that this line was part of the old Hornsey wastewaster system.This particular part started at Tottenham Lane, crossed the railway and ran on down to the boundary with Tottenham Parish. By the time of the 1869 map, it had apparently been diverted along field boundaries and then eastwards to end at Turnpike Lane.

I think this map conclusively nails the question.  Great digging!

Hugh, have you ever done one of these deep dives into the area either side of the New River where the Altitude development (which I just moved into, sorry folks) and Denmark Road are now? I'd be fascinated to know the history, and seeing that the New River was once crossed by a pedestrian bridge there is rather tantalising (I think I can see the northern footings from my balcony). I wonder what happened to the original houses on Denmark Street. Have you ever seen any photos of them or the area?

Not on that rectangle of land specifically.

Before housing development started, the land was in the north-western corner of Upper Hollam Beech field.

You'll see from the map above that it used to contain two roads, Haringey Grove and Denmark Road. In 1900, standing at the end of Haringey Grove, next to the Unwin Arms, opposite you on the other side of Turnpike Lane, you'd have seen Prospect Place to your left and Prospect Terrace to your right. Did you read the recent piece on Prospect Place? It includes a wonderful photo of an unrecognisable Turnpike Lane.

This photo is shot outside Prospect Terrace, looking over at the Unwin Arms and up Haringey Grove.

By 1912 on the corner of Wightman Road and Turnpike Lane, you could have visited the Grand Picture Palace Cinema (and via a link from the text under that photo zoom up to an aerial view of the Haringey Grove land wedge). I wrote about the cinema in one of my Wikipedia articles on Harringay

The wedge of land to the north of the river was compulsorily purchased by Hornsey Borough in 1961. Demolition work on the two Victorian srteets began c. 1965 and two tower blocks were built in their place, one of which was Dylan Thomas House. The smaller one was Hollam House, commemorating the name of the field which I have referred to in a previous comment above. The name Hollam House has been preserved as the name for one of the buildings on Denmark Road

As for the Altitude plot, south of the New River, it had some sort of building along the fence of the New River by 1915. By 1938 a couple of smaller buildings had been added. Then, by 1950, a few more and it was described as Builders Yard. By the time that an application was made for planning permission for the current development, the yard was being referred to as a steel yard.

It has occurred to me to do more digging on the block of land bounded by Hampden, Wightman, Turnpike and the GNR and I may yet get round to it. In the meantime, I hope the above will give you a sketched outline.

Good man - thanks Hugh.

It's something at least.

I've added above the name of the smaller tower and a reference to that name having been preserved. Also added the date for the compulsory purchase of the land.

That's a nice touch. I haven't been able to find any pictures of the original Hollam House. The new one is a really mediocre piece of architecture, but there's a stunning line of willows along the New River there.

Here it is. You can make out the old footbridge footing on the right.

Probably this one, shown in 1937 OS. Does that look like it?

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