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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

The missing buildings in the heart of Finsbury Park town (that you never knew were missing)

Fig. 1: Garner & Somerford Building, Seven Sisters RoaD, Finsbury Park, 1938.

Garner and Somerford was a large drapery store which, from the late nineteenth century until 1938, stood at 244 - 252 Seven Sister's Road, on the corner of St, Thomas's Road, opposite Station Place in the centre of Finsbury Park town. This photo was taken on July 31st, 1938.

If you're having trouble placing it, this Google Street View screenshot shows the site today.

Fig. 2: The Garner & Somerford site today (Google Street View).

The building was demolished in 1938 as part of the redevelopment of Finsbury Park Station. The explanation on the back of the photo says:

Work in connection with electrification of High Barnet and Alexandra Palace railways and the linking with the northern city tube.

Looking at the before and after Ordnance Survey maps, it was difficult at first to work out why it was demolished, since the line wasn't widened at this time and no building took its place on Seven Sisters Road immediately. But on a second look, and thanks to information from HoL member Arkady, on the 1947 map you can see in fact where the additional line was to be added.

Fig. 3: Ordnance Survey maps for, from left to right,1912, 1938 and 1947

Arkady contributed the following photo of the never-to-be-finished line and platform.

Fig. 4: The never-finished line at Finsbury Park, looking south-east along the line. Station Place is to gthe left. Stroud Green Road is in the foreground. (Photo; Unknown)

Fig. 5: Along with the new line, a substantial steel structure built for the new station facade, photographed in 1969 The unfinished line along with the rusting facade structure was demolished in 1972 and a new station facade built on the site in 1983/4 (Photo by Jim Blake. ©North London Transport Society)

The drawing below shows the planned station design in 1945.

Fig. 6: Planned station, drawn in 1945. It seesm to have been an interesting blend of art deco and post war modernism. What a shame it never got built.

Much of the Garner and Somerford site is still without a building. Looking at the Street View image, however, it looks like there was a significant broadening and strengthening of the railway embankment.

If you're anything like me, you've never thought about what stood in that spot, but it looks like it was a fairly significant building, the demolition of which would have left a very noticeable alteration to the streetscape.

Here are some other photos showing it.

Fig. 7: The Finsbury Park Empire shot form Seven Sisters Road, with Barclays Bank to the left and Garner and Somerford to the right.

Fig. 8: Shot along Station Place, with Finsbury Park Station to the right and Garner and Somerford in the distance on Seven Sisters Road.

Fig. 9: Looking north-east along Seven Sisters Road, with Garner and Somerford just squeezing in on the far right.

Fig. 10: Shot from the railway bridge over Seven Sisters Road, looking north along Station Place as it is being redeveloped in 1938/39. On the far right is the site of the already demolished Garner and Simpson premises.

Fig. 11: Garner and Simpson advert, Holloway Press 16 June 1923

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Is it trying to replicate the Finsbury Park Empire?  It bears a similarity to the tower on the right of the picture.  Very often these modern attempts however well meant don't quite come off.

The Friends of Gillespie Park might have something to say about developing the plot -  at the left hand side of the white abutment is a set of steps which are the northern entrance to Gillespie Park, ex-railway land down as far as Arsenal (Gillespie Road) tube station, and which hosts Islington's Ecology Centre.

I'm sure they would. That's a nice walk along there, particularly towards the Gillespie Road end. 

Ah! Thank you Hugh - so good to see the Empire again and recall some happy times from the 40s and 50s. Many pantos I recall.

I remember the ironwork for the new viaduct remained in place for a couple of decades, probably until about 1970. It was a lasting monument to the abandonment of a line that would have benefited, in particular, residents in the Alexandra Park/Muswell Hill/Cranleigh Gardens area, and provided a quick route from Highgate to Finsbury Park.

Funny you should mention that, I was just adding a new pic - now added as Fig. 5.

Having found the image showing what the redesigned Finsbury Park Station was to look like (added as fig. 6,), I've renamed this piece to reflect the fact that there's more than just the Garner & Somerford building missing. What a shame that new station façade was never built!

Pic 3rd from the bottom says 'Garner & Simpson'? Did it change hands or is that a captioning aberration?

if you mean the one I’ve captioned as fig 9, then no that’s correct. If you have a look at the caption, it says the building just squeezes in on the far right. And it really does just squeeze in; there’s just a sliver of it. I added it to help set the building in context.

Figs. 9 & 10. So there was a Garner & Somerford AND a Garner & Simpson store, 2 separate ones? Or one became the other?

Aha! indeed, no. I thought you were checking the accuracy of my captioning. I hadn’t spotted the typo. Thank you for pointing it out. Now corrected. 

Would be great if Islington Council used some of these historic photos to propose some decent shop front and building improvements via NLHF for example.  Spoke to some TFL staff at the station recently and even they have mentioned to TFL about cleaning the forecourt but there is no desire from Head Office.  For those of us who have lived in the area 20 years +, it's disappointing that the Seven Sisters Road side of the station has improved very little, even with Area Action Plans and the like created by Islington Council.  Im not a huge fan of the development on the "M&S side" of the station but  its public realm and retail/ leisure offer is more inviting.  Surely Islington Council must be aware of this?



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