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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

I hope somebody can help me settle an argument with my husband! I think the houses were built as one house...hubby thinks they were built as separate dwellings per flat in some houses as in the Victorian era there many have been several families living in one house (in poorer areas I think but I think the Ladder was mainly middle class?) 


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It's a mixture. Most ladder houses were built as single dwellings, many were used by multiple families. Some on Burgoyne road, for example, have two front doors and we're built as maisonettes. By the early 20th century, a number of the double fronted houses on the east side of Wightman between about Warham and Allison were boarding houses with a landlady (usually a widow) and a number of long term boarders or lodgers. Lodgers were also generally extremely common even in single family houses.
A few weeks ago someone posted a link to give free access to the 1901 and 1911 census data. I had a look at as many properties on my street, Warham, as I could and couldn't find any obvious addresses that were separately designated households, (flat 1, 2, 3 or A, B, C) but the occupancy of properties varied wildly from people sharing the same name to lots of different surnames so I think there were a number of homes used as boarding houses on the Ladder. Also, in the column that indicated relationship to the head of the house, lodger appeared frequently as did servant.
Bethany is right that it was considered respectable then for a widow to take in lodgers to supplement her usually meagre income. My own Gran did in the 20s and 30s (one of the lodgers became her second husband and my Dad's father, though the dates of his conception and their marriage don't quite work out!)
Just to add some more colour, my house on Pemberton was in single family occupancy at least until the 30s (and is now, although there was a lodger sharing the back bedroom with the two younger sons in 1911.

Paying guests were even more necessary for some households after WW1 when many husbands and sons didn't come back and middle class women had to find a way to keep the household running. (A great novel by Sarah Waters called the Paying Guests as well if you have time to read!) 

Even into the 1960s, I can recall dual occupancy in many terraced houses in Tottenham and Harringay.. On the Gardens and on St Ann's Road especially. My own great grandparents lived on Avondale Road in 1901 in a dual occupancy house, 4 adults, 12 children.

One of the effects of immigration from the ex-Empire/Commonwealth is that immigrants tended to buy properties for single families quite early on, because the rental market was extremely difficult for them. In fact, they were often owners long before the 'indigenous' local working class families, who complained at their brash painted houses, that gave some colour back into the lives of those from i.e. the Caribbean who suffered from sun deprivation in their first years in the U.K.

I also think that you may find that some more well to do residents before 1914 will have had live-in servants. A while ago I was scanning the ads in London newspapers for Harringay references (as you do) and noted quite a few adverts for housemaids. Even relatively modest household incomes could often stretch to paying for a domestic. 

My great-grandmother, a slip of a lass over from Ireland, was a servant to a couple in a house in Ipswich considerably less grand looking than some of the houses on the Ladder probably were.

After WW1, young women no longer wished to enter domestic service and there was a chronic shortage. Letters to the Times bewailing the lack of staff were common. Whole blocks were abandoned in London because their middle-class occupants couldn't manage the work to keep them clean. 

Although I'd already known the occupant of my house pre-WW1 was a chap called Walter, I was able to find out during that free weekend on Find My Past that he was a man of 60yrs old, worked in printing, and lived here with his wife of 59, both of them born in poorer parts of London; he in St Giles and she in St Pancras. What I was surprised to discover, since Kelly's, where I got my info initially, don't list lodgers, was that a single lady aged 53 of private means occupied the front two rooms of my house. 

Also a number of the houses had, as they do today, home workers such as music and language teachers. There is even a small boys school listed in Burgoyne Road in 1902. At number 102 Warham the hardy neighbours had to endure the young pupils of Miss Hilda Joyce, violin teacher. 

The vicar of St Paul's Church lived in Cavendish Road before the original vicarage was built, in a terraced house just like the others. He lived with his sister, his verger and the verger's wife, the latter two being described on the 1901 census as "domestic servants" - my bet is that she was the housekeeper and he did odd jobs as well as verging.
I really must get a domestic.

In the early 1920s, through to the early 1930s, my parents and I lived in the top half of a house in Wightman Rd.  The ground floor of the house was occupied by its owner (a London bus driver), and his family, from whom we rented our spacious first-floor flat.  It is my recollection that very many of the houses in that road were of much the same design, and could be divided 'in half' similarly, with ease. Presumably the rental we paid enabled the owner to pay all, or part, of his mortgage.  We shared the common front-door entrance, but otherwise our accommodation was completely self-contained.  One of my  friends at South Harringay school also lived in Wightman and had an identical arrangement, except that it was his father who was the owner/landlord, and so it was he and his family who lived on the ground floor!

Yes, all were certainly built as single residences, but as the comments above have already shown, many were quickly used for more than household. 

Your husband gets to do the dishes for the next week!

Fascinating insights here. My information (from the 50s) was that the majority on the ladder itself were built as single houses - indeed, they were then what we would now call 'speculative development' and many were buy to let and thus rented. But up on Wightman and at the tops of roads close to the stations there were designed maisonettes and flats to suit railway workers. But the real thing is that when they were built - end of the 19th into 20th - they were following the commuter and social developments that were bringing work off the fields and out of the factories into the edges of cities like London. The rail first and then the underground provided the access to work in the 'city'. Even then, many houses had lodgers and other forms of tenants in them - the house we moved into in Frobisher in 1946 had a tenant in the font two upper rooms - the box was a kitchenette and the main bedroom a bedsit for an elderly lady who was my great aunt - wonderfully named Baggott. She died soon after and our family spread into the extra rooms.

Throughout my time in Frobisher many houses were in flats - at least three in the first six on the even side of Frobisher - but with shared front doors and halls; and inevitable conflicts!

Pavlos touches on an aspect of the development of Harringay. Economic migrants are nothing new and have always been a vital part of our economic mix. In the 50s the newcomers were mostly Irish, builders of most of the canals, railways and underground trains. Many had lived on the ladder for decades. In the 50s these same vital services needed workers and so we recruited West Indians who joined the Harringay mix. Later came the independence movements in Africa and we gained again, this time including many sub-continent families fleeing Idi Amin among others. Some time after I moved out the first of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot families began to arrive. Now many more follow. I won't pretend all this was greeted well by the locals at the time, including I am sad to say my own parents. 

But when I look at the amazing medley of peoples and food and cultures along the Ladder today I sometimes think even the ridiculous prices and traffic might be worth braving to return; it must be an amazing place to live these days.



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