Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Harringay's manufacturing area, 1951 (marked for cropping for original publication). The view is looking east. Left to right are Hermitage Road, Vale Road, Eade Road and the New River. The large factory in the centre ground is Maynards. (Original image ©Britain from the Air - image EAW035110)

The area now known locally as the Harringay Warehouse District has a long history from its time as a pastoral idyll to its present-day guise as vibrant urban area.

In the early medieval period, the area now occupied by the Warehouse District was agricultural land owned by the Knights of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, as wealthy Londoners accelerated their purchase of land on the outskirts of London for ‘country’ retreats, Hermitage Road was developed as a private road. In 1869 there were just four large houses on the road. The smallest of them, 'Swiss Cottage', stood on the corner with Green Lanes. A little further on, set back from the southern side of the road, was 'Vale House'. Further along still, where the road bends north today, was 'The Hermitage'. And beyond Harringay’s borders, opposite where Oakdale Road today joins Hermitage Road, stood 'The Retreat'.

In her 1901 book, Reminiscences of Tottenham, Harriet Couchman describes a road very different to the one we know today.:

Leading from St Ann’s Road to the Green-lanes, was a private road, the property of Mr. Scales. There were beautiful fields on either side, and half way up on the left stood four good houses, each standing in its own grounds….. (in The Hermitage) Mr. San Giorgie (sic). kept an emu in the field opposite his house; children all round were very fond of going to see it….The road was enclosed with park gates at each end. In those days it was a charming walk…”

Giovanni Sangiorgi, it turns out, was, by marriage to the widow of Auguste Kettner, the co-owner of the famed West End restaurant Kettner’s from 1880 to 1897.

By the mid-1890’s, the western part of the area had been built up as far as Vale Road and, to the east, the area between Tiverton Road and Seven Sisters Road had been built up. The development of much of the land in between was delayed by ownership or because it was in use for other purposes. This delay apparently paved the way for a commercial rather than residential future.

North of Hermitage Road, next to Green Lanes, the potteries still stood where Sainsbury’s and the Arena Shopping Mall are today. South of St Ann’s Hospital, the area now occupied by the Crusader Estate and the Arena Design Centre had been acquired by the hospital. Accessed via a tunnel under the railway line, it was used as a recreation ground for hospital patients.

In the south east of the area, north of where Eade Road now meets Seven Sisters Road was a large brickfield. Finally, a large part of the area had been part of The Hermitage estate and that was still occupied until 1890.

Whilst the site of the potteries was to remain vacant until the 1920s and 30s when the Harringay Stadium and Arena were built, the sale of the Hermitage in the 1890s, meant that by the first decade of the twentieth the Ashfield triangle and the rest of the southern side of Hermitage Road had been built-up. In the east of the area, the first four factories were in place by 1913.

The first factories arrived just before and after 1905. Maynards opened their factory on Vale Road in 1906 and started making Wine Gums there in 1909. The firm continued operations in Harringay until 1998.

At around the same time that Maynards started, F Bender & Co moved their paper manufacturing business to Vale Road, making lace travel cloths and the like. They remained in the area until shortly after the business was sold in 1984.

By 1922 Courtney Pope moved growing shop-fitting business to Eade Road, with their Amhurst Works covering most of area now occupied by New River Studios, Catwalk Place and the Ex-Fed building. In the Second World War the firm’s subsidiary, Courtney Pope Aircraft Ltd, manufactured aircraft parts, mainly propellers at 318 Green Lanesbehind the old Manor House pub. It is likely that the facilities at the Harringay works were given over to the war effort. Government use of experienced manufacturers of wood products to produce propellers during the war was a common practice in Britain and the U.S.

In 1945 shopfitters Frederick Sage & Co Ltd acquired new premises in Ashfield Road. clients included prestigious companies like Selfridges. Their projects included shops, ships, churches, museums, but the most prestigious and the one that will last longest must be their post-war work in the Palace of Westminster following the bombing of the House of Commons.

Black Rod having the famous Harringay-made door slammed in his face

Omega Works on Hermitage Road housed HK Furniture, one of the UK's most respected designers of art deco and mid twentieth century furniture. The company were behind the famous Encore chair (on display at the Geffrye Museum), supplied the furniture for the QE2, Marlborough House, the royal train, the Bank of England and even the news desk for BBC South East.

An original design drawing by HK Furniture recently acquired by Bruce Castle Museum from one of the firm's former directors

Harringay also saw the development of a range of well-known piano firms, which included Eavestaffs , Barratt & Robinson and Brasteds. In 1935, at their Hermitage Road factory, Challen built the largest piano in the world to mark the King's 1935 Silver Jubilee. At 11 feet 8 inches long and weighing over one and quarter tons, the piano held its record till early this century. Having been lost for the past few decades, the piano was recently rediscovered in a French farmhouse and is currently being restored in preparation for a concert.

The industries in the area also included band saw manufacturer, (St Anna Works, Overbury Road), makers of shaving brushes (Culmer Works, Vale Road), a major provision merchant (Overbury Road), raffia dyeing (Tavistock Works), manufacture of flexible tubing for use in engineering (Derby Works, Vale Road), and thermometer and scientific instrument manufacture, (Accoson Works, Vale Road)

But Harringay was never a dull boy; it wasn’t all work in the area. At around the same time the factories began to open Arsenal Football Club’s new owner looked at Harringay as a potential site of a new home for the club, In the end the proximity of the tube line meant that the Highbury site won out. But less than fifteen years later, Harringay Stadium opened on the site, to be followed in 1936 by the Harringay Arena.

After the Second World War, a number of manufacturers in the clothing sector were beginning to set up in the area, including W. J. Roeder, a handbag manufacturer, shoe manufacturer R.Rosenblatt & Sons Ltd and a hosiery factory. A host of smaller textile factories for dressmakers, sewers, packers and button makers soon followed.

But, by the middle of the 1980’s, the end of Harringay’s era as a centre of manufacturing was on the cards. Within just over a decade all the major firms had moved out and many of the smaller businesses began to close too.

As business activity declined, local businessman Shulem Askler began buying property and began the development of the live-work spaces we know today.

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Replies to This Discussion

Another fascinating piece of research, Hugh! Really enriching. Thanks.

If I may add a grim and more recent memoire...

In the 1960s wages robberies were so common that, on a Wednesday at the Hornsey Journal office we would often hold a draw. You wrote the name of a street in the area where you thought the next day's wages robbery would take place and added one shilling. Winner took all...

And on a day in about 1962-3 I arrived for work to find a  phone exchange op with a message from a police contact - Get to Vale Road - fast! I was the motorbike man so, after telling photographic (Ted Stormer I would guess) I sped to Vale Road. There I found a lot of police, ambulances and in the street two body bags. The blag was on a wages delivery (cannot recall whose) and about £12,000 had gone with the felons. However, they had dropped a gun and a wallet. Finger prints found them in due course.

Just another day at the office in 1960s Britain. Soon after, in about 1966 we started to get paid by bankers order.... much safer.

PS - I had guessed wrong so did not take all, or indeed any!

And for interest: the area still seems to be fairly busy - 

"The area now known locally as the Harringay Warehouse District has a long history from its time as a pastoral idyll to its present-day guise as vibrant urban area."

Where you get the idea that this was Harringay in 1951 puzzles me. It wasn't and is only 'known locally as HWD', by google appointment.

This is all very reminiscent of the Wikipedia Hong Kong page, which also leads the reader away from what actually was, with a lightly massaged history.

This area has more to do with Stamford Hill than it does with Harringay.

Stephen, of course, I fully accept that growing up in Warwick Gardens, this area was local to you and, as far as you were concerned this was Tottenham. I'm sure you weren't the only one. 

I agree about the connection with Stamford Hill. Before Harringay was built up, author Charlotte Riddell lived in a house along Hanger Lane, almost opposite Blackboy Lane. Not only has the name of her road changed -  it is now St Ann's Road - so have conceptions of the area where she lived. She always described herself as living in Stamford Hill. No one would do that now. 

This Riddell episode serves to illustrate both how area names change over time and how to some extent they are a personal construct that differs from person to person. 

There never seems to have been unanimous agreement on what to call the manufacturing area I've described above. Verifiable twentieth century references to it use four versions - Harringay, Finsbury Park, Seven Sisters and Tottenham.

In your comment on the 1934 aerial photo of the area, you suggest that the Harringay epithet is of recent coinage and claim that it is a "pretentious name" that "has been conjured up", "for the purposes of gentrification". You cite Ashfield Road as an example that you believe was definitely Tottenham. I accept that for you it was. But, you need to accept that for others it wasn't. By way of example, below are a few snippets from old publications. 

The first is an excerpt of an advert placed by Eavestaff Pianos in the popular Picture Post magazine in 1938. Their factory was located on Ashfield Road. You'll notice that the return address they give is 'Ashfield Road, Harringay'. 

This second example is a 1950s exhibition catalogue entry for H&P furniture. They traded from a factory just to the east of Omega Works on Hermitage Road, near the junction with Ashfield Road. One assumes they would have written the entry.

Next is a Hammer furniture advert from 1954.

If we want to go back further, in the year when F. Bender & Co (and two years before Maynards) arrived on Vale Road, here's a snippet from the Islington Gazette on 18th August 1904.

Come forward a few years and in 1913, we have the labour movement organisation, the Herald League, advertising a local meeting in the Daily Herald (23rd July 1913). 

Now, all this could be a complex mid-twentieth century conspiracy of industrialists and the labour movement to maximise the future value of their property assets by getting ahead of the gentrification curve. Or, it could be that we all have to accept that neighbourhood naming is something of a personal construct. So, to an extent is history. I'd rather revel in that richness than get embroiled in a battle about it. In the meantime, for the sake of convenience, I need to choose a label. I choose Harringay because it has a verifiable historical basis and it suits my personal construct. If you want to go with Tottenham, that's fine by me. But, please, don't tell those of us who disagree with you that we're wrong. 

I lived nearby from 1943 to 1964. This was most definitely Harringay. 

As I said. I lived right adjacent to this so-called Warehouse District, actually on one of the streets supposedly part of Harringay for ten years, 1960-1969, as did my parents and grandparents who lived on Tewkesbury, until bombed out. Nothing east of Hermitage, north of Netherton or Overbury was ever Harringay, but Tottenham.

I'm not going to follow this nonsense any further. Making up fancy names, slopes or warehouses.. What a silly state of affairs.

I’m not clear who you’re blaming/crediting with making up names. Is it the Islington Gazette and Herald League in the early 20th century and the manufacturing companies in the middle of the century for referring to the area as Harringay, the London Wildlife Trust for Stadium Slopes, or the early 21st century residents for the warehouse name? Or is it all of them?

Nobody made up the name Harringay, or even Haringey - both have long histories. And this site is actually a lot closer to the old Harringay House than the Ducketts end of Harringay. Nothing posh about Harringay in my day either; only the house prices now i suggest!

 hello  when I lived in Frobisher  .our postal address was Hornsey N.8 .the school North Harringay .across the road Green Lanes West Green Rd start of Tottenham and Wood Green N.22didnt start till beyond Turnpike Lane  .

Yup, postal addresses were determined by the sorting office your post came through. But the post office was never the arbiter of neighbourhood boundaries. 

It seems that prior to 1965, there was a very strong allegiance to the old boroughs that just doesn't exist any more. So it's probably not unusual for people to take the same stand as Stephen in insisting that this was Tottenham or that was Hornsey. And, for them it was. I have no argument with that. 

I worked for The United Flexible Metallic Tubing Co at Derby Works in Vale Road as a trainee draughtsman from 1968 to 1972.   I don't recall what district featured in the company address but maybe where some confusion lies is in telephone exchange district as Stamford Hill ??

Whatever the area is or was designated as doesn't distract from the piece as being a fascinating history.

Body bags is a gruesome mention Richard.

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