The photos below are a selection from a comprehensive set held by the John Laing Photographic Collection, showing the development of Wood Green's shopping mall, originally called Shopping City.
Most of the images are very much the record of a building company. But, some show a little local life and hint at how locals might have been reacting to the development.
Google search results suggest that Shopping City was built between 1976 and 1981. However, as you'll see below in Image 2 dated October 1976, the red brick seventies development to the east of the High Road looks to be complete to as far north as where the bridge across the road was to be built. There is then a gap, I assume for the bridge, before the new buildings continue on the far left of the photo.
From what I can piece together, the development happened in three phases. We see from the titles of later photos, for example March 1977, a reference to the current development as being phases II and III. So I assume that the main part showing in image 2 was built as phase I. That apparently started in 1973.
The titles used are the those used in the original collection with the occasional parenthetical comments added be me.
Image 1: A view of the construction site for Wood Green Shopping City from a high vantage point Oct 1976 (looking south/south-west with the boomerang shape of Hornsey Park Road in the centre of the image and Dylan Thomas House in the mid-ground. A recently completed Chettle Court sits on the Hog's Back in the background).
Image 2: A view of machinery, including a Cat 951 loader and piling machine, working on the construction of Wood Green Shopping City,14 October 1976 (See paragraphs 3 and 4 above. The Victorian end of terrace on the centre middle ground is on the corner where Alexandra Park Road joins the High Road).
Image 3: A view of site excavations for the construction of Wood Green Shopping City 10 December 1976 (Looking north from about where Boots now is. Good progress seems to have been made between this photo and the last with the bridge across the High Road havung been completed).
Image 4: An aerial view from the east showing Wood Green Shopping City during construction, with work progressing on the Phase III 'infill' contract, March 1977.
Image 5: An aerial view from the west showing Wood Green Shopping City and its surroundings during the construction of Phase II and III, March 1977.
Image 6: Looking southwards across the top of the Phase III 'infill' construction site at Wood Green Shopping City, April 1978.
Image 7: A view towards the construction of Wood Green Shopping City at the junction of High Road (A105) and Alexandra Road May 1979.
Image 8: Actress Mollie Sugden amongst a crowd of customers at a fruit stall inside the newly opened Market Hall at Wood Green Shopping City, February 1979.
Image 9: A view towards the construction of Wood Green Shopping City at the junction of High Road (A105) and Alexandra Road, May 1979 (The corner which now houses Boots).
Image 10: An elevated view showing the housing complex (now referred to as 'Sky City') under construction at Wood Green Shopping City, September 1979.
Image 11: A view towards part of Shopping City, showing pedestrians in the foreground on Alexandra Road, November 1979.
Image 12: A view of the main stairs and escalators in the D H Evans store at Wood Green Shopping City, February 1980.
Image 13: An interior view of the Market Hall at Wood Green Shopping City showing escalators between floors, Februray 1980.
Image 14: A view of Wood Green Shopping City from Hornsey Park Road to the south-west, showing the complexity of the site as it nears completion, February 1980.
Image 15: A view from High Road (A105) towards the construction of part of Wood Green Shopping City, March 1980.
Image 16: A view from Mayes Road towards Wood Green Shopping City, showing part of the housing complex during construction, December 1980.
Image 17: An interior view of Wood Green Shopping City showing a stairwell with escalator and plants, March 1980.
What a monstrosity ! I really pity the poor buggers who were living in the old terraced houses while that lot was going on.
What an architectural disaster and tragedy. Even then it looked oppressive from the outside! I can see how inside could be considered more interesting for shoppers then.
Just think this was then compounded by Riverside house and the Vue cinema buildings more recently….!
When you think that the Civic Centre was saved from the council philistines, by a listing, you wonder why Haringey Council is so blighted and hapless!
Opened by the Queen in the same year she opened Wood Green Chopping City, English Heritage find Robinson College particularly agreeable - enough to award it Grade II listed status. It looks to me like a near cousin of The Mall (and a not dissimilar style dressed up domestic relative of the British Library
Such is the importance of scale and setting that neither of these buildings - B Museum and Robeson - impose a sense of oppression on their surroundings. The B Museum is dominated by the impressive mass of the adjacent St Pancras station and hotel, is set back so as not to ‘overshadow the street. The the red bricks add cohesion whee seen next to St Pancras…i used to work in the area and found the B Museum forecourt a great place to be.
I don’t know Robeson college but from online photos the mass seems to be spread latitudinally and the greenery subsumes it well….
And e.g. the South Bank centre and National theatre as brutalist blocks also work quite well in their settings and have grown on us.
None of these above are the case, IMHO, of the W Green Chopping centre…
More context here - a film made by the planners and Middlesex Poly - "What Future for Haringey"
Description: A film made as a preface to the Haringey Borough Plan of 1974, seeking rates payers opinions on the use of council cash and land. It begins by posing the question 'what is Haringey?' and using archival images from Bruce Castle Museum, maps and modern film footage shows how a primarily rural area developed into a busy urban settlement. It then turns to the questions of 'what will Haringey become? What can it?' and the role of the council in directing the Borough's future. A meeting of the council's Development Control panel is seen in progress discussing current pressing issues. Three members of council staff introduce some of the Borough's longer lasting concerns. Alex Henney, the Housing Co-ordinator of Haringey Council talks about the accommodation issues, rising house prices and falling availability of rental property. His overview is supported by comment from two local resident. Janice, a secretarial worker, lives with five other people in an unfurnished rental flat. She has looked into getting a GLC mortgage, but the price of property makes a purchase unaffordable. Janice Colledge, a young mother made homeless after leaving her violent partner talks about the health problems affecting her child since living in temporary accommodation. Peter Smith from the Central Area Team of Haringey Council introduces the planned redevelopment of Wood Green shopping centre and the benefits it will provide to the community. Sydney Roper from the Planning Department of Haringey Council talks about the provision of parks in the Borough and their uneven distribution. Other issues discussed in the film include schools, traffic, facilities for children, the changing pattern of employment and the link between poverty and mental health problems. Throughout the film there are views of locations discussed. From Tottenham Hotspur Football Club's stadium White Hart Lane, to Alexandra Palace, the grids of Tottenham's terrace housing, Highgate Village, Crouch End Broadway, Hornsey Town Hall, the empty site of Harry Sleepers, Wood Green and Finsbury Park tube stations, Turnpike Lane, Muswell Hill Broadway, and Ward's Corner in Seven Sisters. Workers from Barratt sweet factory talk about the effect on local employment of its closure. Bus drivers from Tottenham Garage talk about the Borough's public transport problems. Teachers from Noel Park Primary, Coleridge School and Broadwater Farm School speak about the overcrowding they face. John Wilder of the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association pushes for more projects like the Mitchley Hall Workshop providing self-help facilities for those who have suffered with their mental health. John Wratten of the Tottenham Community Project introduces its work, its Community Shop, newspapers and the 'Tottenham Bus'. Ruth Serner of the Stroud Green Community Association speaks about how best to influence councillors. The film is keen to show that there are no easy solutions, that compromises of one sort of another must be made, and that ratepayers should play their part in directing their political servants.
Credits: Director: Andrew McTaggart; Editor: Andrew McTaggart; Script: Nick Banks; Commentator: Michael Kilgarriff; Graphics: Peter Clark; Original score by: John Sanderson
Further information: The music for the film is played by a group consisting of Chris Harding on organ, John Sanderson on reeds, Mick Wheat on bass, David Van Gelderen on guitar and Dave Sayers on tablas.
I live in Broadwater Farm, a 'Unité d'habitation'-inspired 1960s design, scaled back after the 1980s unrest.
£200m is being spent by Haringey on this 1000+ dwelling Council-owned Estate - replacing one third and refurbishing the rest. The 2023 design was derived by an established firm of public sector architects who had done something similar before - how else can a Council commission without risking a disaster?
The architects too have to build an 'improved' version of what they built before - their management won't let them take risks either.
So the plan to deculvert the Moselle (which runs underneath, hence the stilts) was abandoned as too risky:
Solar panels on the roof? Too risky! Virtual power station+community energy? On your bike. 3D fly-throughs on youtube of proposals? Not done that before so no...
Should we accept that, were HoLers to be given £200m to be spent regenerating what should be, after 50 years of Labour in the borough, a flagship Estate, they too would be forced down a cautious, conservative path?
Exceptional photo progress record of this time in Wood Green, thankyou.
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