Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

This is the second or third time I've seen this rumour. Anyone know if there's anything to it?


"As a kid growing up in Harringay I remember there being talk of a tunnel under the railway (Kings Cross - Hornsey - Potters Bar) from Wightman Road (very close to the junction with Beresford Road) to Weston Park.

"As I recall there were council depots at either end which could have been the entrances, but at the eastern end there is/was a house with a 'underground' garage which could equally have been an entrance.

"My interest at the time was that it would have saved me a heck of a long walk to school!

"Am I dreaming / did this exist / was a local urban myth?" See also this post.

For discussions tagged new river tower in the main forum, click here.

Tags for Forum Posts: harringay mysteries, harringay tunnel, new river tower, stonebridge brook, wightman road

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Replies to This Discussion

Wahey! Apparently you can get to it from the other side, John.

Looks like we have an answer in an article published in the Great Northern News - kindly sent in by David Cockle via Hugh Humphrey of N21.net. Click the picture and click it again to enlarge. 

A black and white copy of a watercolour of this viaduct has now been added in a comment below

Very good to see this further information about the old route across from Harringay House to Hornsey.  As the old estate map of 1880 shows the route still there and no new sidings, I think we can be sure that the reference in the GNN article to 1866 as the date when the new railway yards were built and the arches buried is a simple slip.  1886 seems much more likely.

In respect of the New River tower, I looked again at my old maps following a question about the tower on a new thread today. The tower definitely wasn't there in 1863, but there was a pump house along the bank of the river where it curved around Harringay House (which used to stand at the top of the Hewitt / Allison hill). It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that when the river was diverted underground between Wightman and Seymour they need to resite the pump house. It may well be that this is what the tower is.

It is hard to see why the New River Co would have needed a pump house near here either before or after the river was diverted. I would guess that the earlier pump house was installed in connection with irrigating the famous hothouses and gardens of Harringay House. As to the tower, I was once told by a Thames Water worker that it affords access to the "storm drain". He did not explain its height but all deep drain ventilators seem to be high enough to vent potentially noxious gases. I know that there is a deeper drain because near the entrance to the river tunnel there is a large stop cock which, when opened, allows the river water to drain that way. This is necessary when, for instance, the tunnel has to be emptied out for maintenance work.
It may also be relevant that before the railway viaduct was covered there was a land drainage stream (shown on the map above) which carried rain run off from the west side of the railway towards what is now the ladder. On the famous estate map of 1880, this stream is shown and there is also a nice straight blue line which shows the intended course of a new drain that would have to replace the stream. It's a fair bet that the mysterious tower stands right over the drain. It would be interesting to know whether the tower is as big as it is so as to accommodate a staircase going down to the drain tunnel and whether the drain tunnel itself is large enough to walk through. The 1880 map suggest that it intersects with a north-south drain which is, presumably, the one that lies under the Harringay passage.

When I did this, I was shocked at how cavernous the sewer under the passage was. Unfortunately I didn't have a very good camera on my phone back then.

Dick, that all sounds better thought through than my stab in the dark!

This is absolutely fascinating to me a railway nut, and not with HOL back in 2010 when this thread started I pleased I picked it up in the 2013 Review 'Mag' - good stuff.

What intrigues me is the changes to the local topography done by 'man' as the environment was developed, urbanised, and, here and there, industrialised, in the 2nd half of the C19th.  As many of you who follow local history know, the urban structure, road and rail networks, of these districts were set in, rather than stone, more bricks and mortar, by the end of the Victorian monarchy.  The changes to the railways thereafter were dictated by established land use.

Coincidentally I have a copy of London's Lost Tube Schemes, and this is covered on p138.  An ownership transfer resulted in the 'Great Northern and Strand Railway' giving up the rights to build an Underground to Wood Green, presumably as this effectively duplicated the surface lines to Harringay (West), Hornsey and Wood Green.  

These stations were pretty grand affairs as historic photographs show, with four platforms, and served by trains from Moorgate, over what has now become the Thamelink lines, coming up I recall at Kings Cross platform 15, the infamous Hotel Curve, which is just in front of the listed hotel, built that way to avoid the tunnel, with York Road station on the other side.  Trains to Broad St ran via the Canonbury Curve and Dalston, or into the now demolished suburban platforms 12, 13 and 14, now demolished and to be redeveloped as an office complex.

All of these trains 'met up' at Finsbury Park, North London's Clapham Jct, to go on, not only over the remaining lines to Welyn and Hertford, but also over the Northern Heights, to High Barnet, Alexanda Palace and Edgware, that was before the 1933 and onwards plans to take the Northern Line to Barnet and Edgware, covered elsewhere by many others.  One interesting fact was that some of the famous 1938 Tube stock trains were actually owned on paper by the London and North Eastern Railway.  That service dwindled and trains over the Parkland Walk route finally finished in 1954, even though money had been spent to provide the electric sub-station at Crouch Hill, and the surface tube station at Highgate.

But back to the main thread, looking at the various maps Hugh and others have posted, such as filling in a valley and culverting streams to build home for the rapidly growing London.  As to whether a tunnel existed on that alignment, what significant structure exists, but Hugh's and Johns comments some subsurface access existed, but what exactly?  Access to a buried culvert that has been diverted?

The thing I never knew was that a viaduct had been 'buried' under the main line 150+years ago.  This has happened often in the last 50-60 years, best demonstrated by the uneathing of a bridge to reinstate the Bluebell Railway, just south of the new terminus at East Grinstead.

Coming a little bit late to this (!) -as a child growing up on Beresford Road in the 1960s the quote in Hugh's 'other post' : [i]Until 1942 there was a foot tunnel running under the Great Northern railway from a point on Wightman Road, close to Alison Road to Weston Park in Hornsey, giving convenient access for pupils to The Stationers' Company's School (boys) and Hornsey High School for boys. This tunnel was closed due to bombing raids on the railway marshalling yards during the Second World War. The access point for this tunnel is now a private garage of a house in Wightman Road.[/i]
is exactly how I remember the rumours. I'm sure I've got an old Bartholemews London atlas somewhere showing the tunnel, and I'm equally sure I remember one of the masters at Stationers' school talking about boys using the tunnel.
I think the railway arches are in a similar place, but a different construction entirely.

Thanks Mike. If you come across that old atlas, please do share it.

Where did it come out on the other side?

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