N16: The perfect location in which to stay lost

N16 is Stoke Newington or Stokey as some locals call it. It also covers Stamford Hill and Shacklewell, the latter of which has sort of disappeared as a distinct place. But we will focus on Stoke Newington which the writer Iain Sinclair described as follows:

“the perfect location in which to stay lost: limboland. London’s interzone. Large shabby properties that ask no questions. Internal exile with a phoney rent book”

(from “Lights out for the Territory” (1997) as quoted in the third edition of the London Encyclopedia).

We start out walk at Stamford Hill Post Office which is at 82 Stamford Hill. Turn left out of the Post Office and walk along Stamford Hill.

Stop 1: Stoke Newington Station

Although there has been a station here since 1872, the current street level station building dates from the mid 1970s.

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This does not look too bad but things go down hill rapidly if you venture down onto the platforms. The staircases have been stripped of their covers and the platforms are also rather forlorn.

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Not very inviting, even though London Overground have cleaned it up and resigned it since they took over the service.

Continue walking along the main road (which is now Stoke Newington High Street). At the next main junction turn left down Northwold Road. Our next stop is a short distance on the left.

Stop 2: West Hackney Almshouses

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The original almshouses were built by a man called Thomas Cooke in 1740, although they were later rebuilt in 1888 and this is what we see today.

But what is unusual about these almshouses is the mid 20th century funding stream that was created and which is remembered in this sign.

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Continue along Northwold Road, over the railway almost to the end of the green area (which is Stoke Newington Common). Our next stop is near the end of the last triangle of green, over to your right.

Stop 3: Number 25 Stoke Newington Common

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The reason we are stopping here is that Marc Bolan, of the band T. Rex and later solo artist, lived at 25 Stoke Newington Common, on the south side, from birth until the age of 15, although he was called Mark Feld then.

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We saw the spot where he died in a car crash in SW13, but his formative years were spent here.

Now return along Northwold Road to Stoke Newington High Street. Our next stop starts immediately across the road at the junction.

Stop 4: Abney Park Cemetery

Here we are at one of the gates of Abney Park cemetery, one of the so-called Magnificent Seven (we have already seen three: Brompton, Kensal Green and Highgate so far), but this one is slightly different. It opened in 1840 and was originally the grounds of a house.

According to the Abney park website http://www.abneypark.org/ , the site was formed from the estates of Fleetwood House and Abney House, the latter of which had been the home of renowned non-conformist and hymn writer Isaac Watts. This association quickly made Abney the foremost burial ground for Dissenters – those practising their religion outside the established church. It was founded on these principles, with a non-denominational chapel at its core, and was open to all, regardless of religious conviction.

Uniquely in London, Abney was also originally laid out as an arboretum, with 2,500 varieties of plants.

We enter via this unusual entrance way with this Egyptian motif.

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Go through this gate and head in on the right hand path.

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It is soon obvious this is not like many of the other big cemeteries. This is more like a wood into which graves have been strewn.

Keep going along this path and soon you will reach this sad site – the main chapel, obviously no longer in use.

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The Chapel is an early example of a non denominational chapel dating from around 1840. Apparently in keeping with its non denominational ethos, this chapel consists inside of four equal arms coming out from the central crossing. The arm nearest the entrance is elongated to allow for a carriage porch.

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Not surprisingly this building is on the Historic England’s “Heritage At Risk” register where it is in priority category A “Immediate risk of further rapid deterioration or loss of fabric; no solution agreed” In fact the whole cemetery has an entry on the register, as well as two specific monuments but the Chapel is clearly the bit that needs most attention.

It is hard to believe that the money cannot be found to rescue this. But hopefully something will happen before it is too late.

Now to get out from here I am suggesting you head towards Church Street rather than go back the way you came. So from the side of the Chapel you will see a First World War war memorial. Go around that and keep heading straight. There is a kind of a path. You will pass the Second World War memorial for the borough of Stoke Newington.

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Keep walking and you will reach a path crossing you and you are in the Salvation Army bit of the cemetery.

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To continue you need to go right and then left down a little path or else left and then right.

You will see the gate ahead.

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(this picture is of course taken from the other side, just to confuse you)

But look back and you will see the monument to William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army and his wife Catherine.

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Plus their son, Bramwell is on the other side of the path.

Go out the gate and turn right into Stoke Newington Church Street. Go along this street with its collection of shops and cafes, some hangovers from an older age and other stripped back places indicating major gentrification. It is an intriguing mix of the useful and the useless. Some interesting looking cafes and some trendy looking shops.

Our next stop is a little way along on the right (after the Lion pub)

Stop 5: Number 172 Stoke Newington Church Street

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This building has not one but three reminders of a connection with the writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), which came as a bit of a surprise to me as I thought he was American. Well he was.

He was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1809 and was christened as Edgar Poe. His father abandoned the family in 1810 and his mother died the following year. A merchant of Scottish origin called John Allan in effect fostered him and he became known as Edgar Allan Poe. The Allans came back to Britain in 1815 and Edgar became a pupil at the Manor House School (1817-20), which stood on this site.

But in 1820 he went back to the States and it is there he became a published writer. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is also considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. And strangely there is this connection to North London.

There is a little bust of Poe on the front up on the right.

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And below there are a couple of plaques, unfortunately covered over in plastic at the time of my visit because of building works.

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Continue walking along Church Street and our next stop is just opposite the Library (this would have been a stop if it had been in a neighbourhood less favoured with interest, but we have plenty else to see here)

Stop 6: Number 173 Stoke Newington Church Street

This is a pleasant enough 18th century house. But the interest is that on this site stood a medieval mansion. The plaque says it was sometime home of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550 – 1604). He was prominent at the Court of Queen Elizabeth I.

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Originally built c. 14th century, the house was demolished about 1710 to be rebuilt as Sisters’ Place built about 1714.

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Continue along Church Street. Our next stop is soon on the right. 

Stop 7: Stoke Newington Town Hall

The Metropolitan Borough of Stoke Newington was formed in 1900 and was the smallest London borough at the time with a population of only 50,000. The council got its own coat of arms in 1934 and its motto was Respice Prospice (which translates as “Look to the past and the future”).

And soon after it got a new town hall which was completed in 1937, which is kind of out of keeping with the rest of the street, and a bit tucked away from the main road we started on.

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The borough became part of the new London Borough of Hackney in 1965, but is still used by Hackney Council.

There is a little Plaque to the left of the main entrance which says “On this site stood Stoke Newington Manor House c.1500 – 1695  And the terrace called Church Row 1695-1700 – 1936”

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Turn left down Albion Road. Continue along here until just after the road bends to the right. Turn left into Albion Grove and then almost immediately right into Milton Grove (this is a one way street with the traffic coming towards you). Continue along Milton Grove, go past Allen Road and our next stop starts just on the left.

Stop 8: Butterfield Green

This is the beginning of a little green space called Butterfield Green which has been created by the Council like a series of green rooms along the line of an old footpath.

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According to the Council’s website, the area that is now home to Butterfield Green was developed in the 1850s when the land was sold by the National Freehold Society to private developers to build terraced housing. By the 1890s the area was densely populated, 172 people per acre against 50 people per acre today, and much of the housing was not well maintained.

The area was heavily bombed during the Second World War and in 1949 damaged housing began to be replaced. Development continued throughout the 1950s and 60s creating a mix of low rise council housing and privately owned original Victorian terraces, though not all the cleared land was built on.

In the early 1960s it was clear this area was lacking in open space. In 1979 the Shakespeare Walk Adventure Playground was set up by volunteers on an area of wasteland and in the 1980s funding was secured from Hackney Council and from the Government’s Urban Programme Scheme to develop the open space in phases. The western part had a BMX biking and skateboarding area, but this became damaged and disused and in 2007 was replaced by the community orchard we see today.

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Here is a little link with more info.

http://hackneycitizen.co.uk/2009/06/06/from-albert-town-to-butterfield-green/

Walk all the way through the park and go along the road straight ahead of you (Palatine Road). When you reach the main road (Stoke Newington Road) turn left. Our next stop is a short way along on the left, but to get a better view cross the road.

Stop 9: Number 117 Stoke Newington Road

Today Number 117 is a Mosque, community centre – and shop!

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But beneath the mosaic is actually an old cinema. Opened as the Apollo Picture House in 1913, it was modernised and reopened as the Ambassador Cinema in August 1933.  In 1937 it was acquired by Oscar Deutsch’s Odeon Theatres Ltd, although they never operated it. It was leased out to another independent operator but ran Odeon release films.

The Ambassador Cinema closed in December 1963. After a short while of closure it was taken over by Star Cinemas and converted into a Star Bingo Club by 1965.

It became a cinema again in September 1974 and was known as the Astra Cinema. It staggered on and by the end was a cinema club showing uncensored martial arts movies and soft core sex films. It finally closed in July 1983.

It was converted into a mosque and in 1994 the auditorium was gutted, removing all traces of the former cinema. The exterior always had two domed features each side of the entrance but this was covered in highly coloured mosaic making it look like a purpose built mosque. Although it functions as a Mosque and Community Centre, the former foyer is rather oddly a small grocery store.

Retrace your steps along Stoke Newington Road.

Stop 10: Alexandra Court (site of Alexandra Theatre)

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This uninteresting block of flats stands on the site of a theatre. The Alexandra Theatre was designed by theatre architect Frank Matcham, opening on 27 December 1897. It was built as a playhouse drama theatre for Frederick William Purcell who also operated other London suburban theatres including the Marlborough Theatre, Holloway, the site of which we saw in N7.

It changed ownership in 1905 and became the Palace Theatre of Varieties. In March 1909, it was taken over by Oswald Stoll for Stoll Moss Empires Ltd., and became the Alexandra Theatre once again. As often happened, it was equipped to screen films as part of the variety programme, showing films exclusively on a sunday, as live performances were not permitted.

By 1932, it had become a full time cinema but then it reverted to a mix of variety and plays performed on weekdays and Sunday films.

It was mainly closed during World War II. It limped on through the late 1940s and finally closed in October 1950. It lay empty and unused for many years, and was demolished in the early 1960s.

A nine storey tower block of council flats named Alexandra Court was built on the site.

More information on the wonderful Arthur Lloyd site: http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/AlexandraTheatreStokeNewington.htm

Continue walking along Stoke Newington Road

Stop 11: Numbers 31 -33 Stoke Newington Road

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Yes you guessed it, I am stopping here because this was the site of another cinema. The one here opened in January 1913 as the Electric Coliseum Cinema, and it later became known as the Coliseum. It was always an independently operated cinema. It closed in February 1972.

In the 1980s, it was to be converted into a car salesroom, but finances dried up and it remained in a half finished limbo for several years. The building was hit by fire in December 1992 and the burnt out shell remained until it was finally demolished in 2001. The current building dates from 2012. And today there is no sign that there was ever a cinema on this site.

Continue walking along Stoke Newington Road

As you walk you cannot but help notice the City straight ahead.

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(This picture is of course a bit of a cheat as you do not quite get that image in real life. You need a zoom lens)

Stop 12: Numbers 11- 15 Stoke Newington Road

At numbers 11- 15 Stoke Newington Road there is still a building which externally at least is recognisable as an old cinema.

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This was built for Associated British Cinemas (ABC) and was called the Savoy Cinema when it opened in October 1936. It became the ABC from 1961 and was closed on 12 March 1977 . The following day it re-opened as the Konak Cinema, screening Bollywood movies. It changed hands again in March 1982 and renamed as the Ace Cinema it began screening regular release films again. This did not last long as the Ace Cinema finally closed in February 1984.

The stalls area was converted into a snooker hall. By the summer of 1995, the foyer had been converted into two shop units. Today in addition to the shops, there is a Turkish community centre operating in the former balcony foyer and the stalls space now seems to be a function room going by the name of Epic.

Strange to think now that if you had come along this strip of road in the late 1930s you would have found three cinemas and a theatre – and none have survived in their original form. Also this area should perhaps really be called Shacklewell but that seems to be hardly used as a place name, perhaps because it never made it as a railway station name.

So that brings us to the end of the N16 walk. The area is fascinating and I feel I have not quite done it justice, especially as we have not covered Stamford Hill, with its orthodox Jewish community. But we have managed to see a rather special cemetery, connections with a couple of well known people, and a reminder of some places of entertainment. And having walked the streets of Stokey I am not sure that Iain Sinclair’s description is quite spot on given how gentrified much of it has become.

We are actually almost in E8 now and just down the road are Dalston Kingsland and Dalston Junction stations, plus there are plenty of buses along this main road for onward travel.

 

 

 

N8 Sweet dreams are made of this…

N8 is Hornsey and Crouch End. We are spoilt for choice as to where to start as there are 3 Post Offices in N8. I have chosen to start our walk at the Post Office at 24 Hornsey High Street, in what passes for the centre of Hornsey.

We head right out of the Post Office and soon we are stop 1.

Stop 1: Number 32 Hornsey High Street

Today we see a hairdresser but above the shopfront, it has a local Haringey green plaque to David Grieg (1865-1952)  – founder of the grocery chain and philanthropist who left trusts for the benefit of Hornsey and the community. This beneficence contributed to the Greig City Academy in Hornsey which we will pass shortly.

The plaque is here because this was his mother’s shop which opened in 1870 and it was here where he lived as a child and went on to learn the grocery business.

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Interestingly the chain’s first shop was in Atlantic Road Brixton in 1888 and not round here. And Brixton became the location of the company’s headquarters.

By the 1960s there were more than 200 shops across the south of the country. It was a family run business like Sainsbury’s, which similarly started in London and expanded into a chain around the same time. But unlike David Grieg’s, Sainsbury’s was better at moving with the times.

The David Grieg company was sold to Fitch Lovell (which owned Key Markets) in 1972 after crippling death duties were incurred when several of the family died in quick succession. Key Markets was later bought by Gateway, which was then rebranded as Somerfield and was in turn bought by the Co-operative Group. But of course most of the David Grieg shops were small high street stores rather than supermarkets and so were closed over time, as the trend until fairly recently was for larger and larger supermarkets.

As we walk along this side of the road, we pass the Greig Academy.

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Keep walking along this side of the road and soon you will come to a green area to your right. This is our next stop.

Stop 2: St Mary’s Church

This was the original parish church for Hornsey dating from medieval times. However all that remains is the tower which was largely rebuilt in the 19th century. And this is not because of the war as so often is the case.

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According to the Hornsey Parish Church website, St Mary’s Church has been around since 1300. The Tower was completed about 1500 and then heightened in 1832 when the medieval church was rebuilt as it was too small and needed many repairs. The tower was retained and a new church built alongside it, finished in 1833.

This church in turn became unsuitable and was closed in 1888, although it was not demolished until 1927. The tower was spared and the site was made into a garden. For the new church a different site was chosen, on the corner of Hornsey High Street and Church Lane, and the building was completed by 1889. Unfortunately the subsoil was unstable and cracks began to appear, forcing the demolition of the building in 1969. The parish was combined with nearby St George’s in 1972 and I think the second church site is now a church school.

But the footprint of the old church containing the planted garden is the first church, rather than the later one.

Go out of the Churchyard on the far side from where you came in. This is Church Lane and just across the road is our next stop.

Stop 3: Mildura Court

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The reason we are stopping is that a couple of things caught my eye.

One the right end of the block is a coat of arms. This is of the old borough of Hornsey’s coat of arms. It was granted in 1904 (the year after Hornsey became a municipal borough) and features two oak trees recalling the ancient forest that once covered the area and surviving remnants including Queen’s Wood, Highgate Wood and Coldfall Wood. The crossed swords are there because the manor of Hornsey was at one time held by the Diocese of London and these crossed swords are taken from the Diocese’s arms.

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It also has the motto: “Fortior quo Paratior” which is usually translated as “The better prepared, the stronger.” I think I might take that as my motto.

But much more interesting is a little blue plaque to the left of the main entrance. This does not commemorate a person who lived here.

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I wonder what kind of decorations they did to warrant this little plaque.

Now go down Church Lane away from the High Street, turning left into Ribblesdale Road. Turn right at the end (Tottenham Lane). Our next stop is ahead across the road. 

Stop 4: Funky Brownz Bar (former Railway Hotel)

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This has unprepossessing place was where the sports car manufacturer Lotus Cars started life. The first Lotus Cars factory was established in the early 1950s in stables behind what was then called the Railway Hotel.

The company was formed in 1952 by two men called Colin – Colin Chapman (1928 – 1982) and Colin Dare. The Railway Hotel pub was owned by Chapman’s father.

Adjacent to the pub was the first Lotus showroom though this location is now part of Jewson’s builders merchants.

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There is a memorial plaque to Colin Chapman by the entrance to Jewson’s erected by Club Lotus in 1984.

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Production moved to Cheshunt in 1959, and then in 1966 to an old RAF base called Hethel in Norfolk.

Fascinating fact: Apparently the four letters (ACBC) which are here on the plaque and used in the middle of the Lotus logo stand for the initials of company founder, Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman.

Now retrace your steps along Tottenham Lane and our next stop is just on the right.

Stop 5: Hornsey Station

The railway got to Hornsey in 1850 when the Great Northern Railway opened its line between London and Peterborough.

From the road this looks like it might still have a reasonable station.

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But closer inspection reveals this building houses little more than a staircase.

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And when you go up onto the footbridge you can see how the station has been almost denuded of buildings. Not the most attractive of places to start your morning commute.

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Continue walking along Tottenham Lane. Our next stop is at the end of the road across the way

Stop 6: New River Pumping Station

Here we meet the New River again. We saw this in N1 and N4 and here we are a little further “upstream”.

The red brick building is a Pumping Station dating from 1903.

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Today this Pumping Station is used as a restaurant and bar, which describes itself as:

“Riverside @the Pumphouse is a opulent Indian Fine dining Restaurant, Mocktail Bar, and shisha garden with a dedicated Dome Lounge in the heart of North London. Set across 2 floors the awe inspiring venue is a perpetual oasis of Royal Mogul inspired luxury.”

The Jehovah’s Witnesses seem to have part of the premises, which makes for an unusual combination.

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Walk along Hornsey High Street away from the railway. After a while you will see a little green on the right side of the road. And set back here is a rather nice Victorian pub.

Stop 7: Great Northern Railway Tavern

The odd thing about this pub is that it has a railway name but it is quite a long way from the railway, as you have just seen.

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Architectural historian Pevsner calls this “festively Jacobean, with tall shaped gable and original fittings inside. Unfortunately it was closed both times I passed, so I cannot verify whether this is still the case.

But it did have this one nice window on the front (sadly just the one).

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Keep walking along the High Street. You soon get a nice view of Alexandra Palace up on the hill.

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Then on the left you will see Middle Lane and the entrance to Priory Park. Go in this gate.

Stop 8: Priory Park

This park was created by the local authority (then the Local Board) to stop the land being developed. The first part of the park was opened in 1894, the year Hornsey became an urban district.

Despite the name, there has never been (as far as is known) a Priory on this site. The Park is named after the sprawling estate that once covered this area and the 19th century mansion that stood within it.

Walking into the park and soon you will see in the middle a rather large fountain. Or rather a large ex-fountain, as it is now planted (rather badly).

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The shield on the side gives it City of London origins away, showing the cross of St George and the sword of St Paul. In fact it came from the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral. It dates from 1880 and was moved here in 1909.

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This fountain was presented to the borough of Hornsey by the City of London Corporation in celebration of the mayoralty of Ernest Arthur Ebblewhite (1867-1947).  Ebbelwhite was a barrister and local politician who served as Mayor of Hornsey in 1908-09.

He was also at various times Master of the Worshipful Company of Parish Clerks, Senior Warden of the Worshipful Company of Ironmongers, Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Tin Plate Workers and Clerk of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, so there was quite a City connection.

Now go to the left of the “fountain” and you will see another much smaller monument ahead. This is the Metcalfe fountain, which was originally located in Crouch End Broadway.

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It was donated by Charles Thomas Page Metcalf in 1879 to replace the village pump. It was moved to the Park after the Broadway Clock Tower was built in 1895. We shall see that shortly.

It was of course more a drinking fountain than a vulgar display of shooting water jets. But like so many of these Victorian water fountains, there is no water any more, sadly.

Go out of the park by the gate ahead. This takes you back into Middle Lane. Go ahead (sort of a right turn) and keep walking until you get to our next stop.

Stop 9: Crouch End Clock Tower

This clock tower is in commemoration of Henry Reader Williams (1822 – 1897). He served on the Hornsey Local Board for twenty one years, including ten as Chairman. He had strove to make Hornsey a model suburb and was the driving force behind the creation of Priory Park.

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The clock tower has a relief of Reader Williams.

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The terra cotta does not look too good after 120 years of standing in the open.

And there is a nice old road sign, showing the way to Finsbury Park … and London.

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Now go straight ahead. This is Crouch End Broadway and our next stop is set back on the left hand side

Stop 10: Hornsey Town Hall

Set behind a little green is Hornsey Town Hall, completed in 1935. It was designed by New Zealand born architect Reginald Uren and apparently was influenced by Hilversum town hall in the Netherlands.

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The building was used by Hornsey Borough Council as its headquarters until 1965. However when Hornsey Borough council became part of the London Borough of Haringey, most of the administrative functions were relocated to Wood Green and eventually the Council moved out completely.

There was a plan for Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts to take over the building but this fell through in 2014.  Currently there is an interim project for a one year which keeps the building open for community use. But the future beyond this year seems uncertain.

Now actually the town hall is set in a grouping of quite fine 1930s building. To the left was an Electricity showrooms and office which according to architectural historian Pevsner was built for borough, but in fact adapted in 1938 from a former telephone exchange by the architect of the Town Hall.

Today we see a modern cafe bar but you can still see the word “Telephones” on the building.

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And there is a rather unusual brick sculpture over the doorway. A man sort of bursting out of the bricks, seemingly dropping stars. I am not sure if this is symbolising electricity or telephones.

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And on the right side is what is today Barclays Bank.

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This has a number of reliefs along above the ground floor windows. One (a couple in towards the Town Hall) has a date – August 1937 – and some earnest looking men hard at work  – “designing”?

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But many of the others reliefs include a flame and this gives away the client for this building

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This was the offices and showroom of the Hornsey Gas Company. It was one of many local gas companies that were nationalised in 1948. They went into regional groupings and in this part of London that new body was called the North Thames Gas Board.

By the way Pevsner says that the man responsible for both the reliefs on the Gas Company building and the brick relief on the other side is a sculptor called Arthur J Ayres.

Keep walking along Crouch End Broadway. Stay on the same side of the road as the Town Hall and follow the road as it bends round and becomes Crouch Hill after the junction. Our next stop is ahead on the right.

Stop 11: The Church Recording Studios

This vast non-conformist church building is now mostly a recording studios, although you have to look quite hard to find evidence of this. There is just a very small entry phone which mentions studios and reception. And the only reason I found this was because fellow guide Rhona (who showed me NW6) worked in the music business for many years and happened to mention this place.

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This link sets out a bit of the history of this site.

http://thechurchstudios.com/history/

And this was here the 1980s group Eurythmics recorded most of their tracks including “Sweet dreams are made of this”. Standing outside here it is hard to believe this really is a recording studio.

Continue walking along Crouch Hill and take the second road on the right, which is Haslemere Road. Our next stop in on the left just before the junction with Waverley Road.

Stop 12: Number 10 Haslemere Road

This fine house was home to none other than renown theatre architect Frank Matcham (1854 – 1920).

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It boasts a blue plaque unveiled by actors Timothy West and Prunella Scales on 22 November 2007. English Heritage, who award the plaque, noted

“His theatres are particularly notable for their exuberant interiors – he was quite prepared to mix architectural styles, from Tudor strapwork to rococo panels, military insignia to classical statuary. They also set new standards in providing good sightlines and high safety standards, with the inclusion of features such as fireproof construction, adequate emergency lighting and ready means of exit. Matcham’s work proved extremely popular with the public, and its opulence and flair continues to enthrall audiences today.”

We have seen one and a half of his theatres so far on our travels – Shepherds Bush Empire, W12 and the Lyric Hammersmith, W6 – where the inside is his but the outside most definitely is not. And we have seen a few places where his theatres once stood but no longer do (in SW6, W4, NW10 and N7).

I thought therefore it might be an idea to see if there are more survivors in London that ones that did not make it. Based on the list on the Frank Matcham Society website:

http://www.frankmatchamsociety.org.uk/matcham2.html

I looked at his theatres in the whole of Greater London:

The survivors: the Richmond Theatre (1899), London Hippodrome, Leicester Square (1900), the Hackney Empire (1901); the Shepherd’s Bush Empire (1903); the London Coliseum (1904); the London Palladium (1910); the Victoria Palace (1911), plus the interior of the Lyric Hammersmith (1895 but now marooned inside a 1970s block)

A good list but sadly more did not make it: Granville, Walham Green (1898),  New Cross Empire (1899), Marlborough, Holloway (1903), Willesden Hippodrome (1907),  llford Hippodrome (1909), Finsbury Park Empire (1910), Lewisham Hippodrome (1911), Winter Garden, Drury Lane (1911),  Chiswick Empire (1912),  Wood Green Empire (1912) plus a few more.

As ever the wonderful Arthur Lloyd site comes up trumps with an interview with Mr Matcham dating from 1897.

http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/MatchamInterview.htm

This includes the following:

“In town I devote the early morning to office work, in Warwick-court, Gray’s-inn. Then I steal away to my residence at Crouch-end, where I can devote the uninterrupted evening to designing.”

And it goes on to say he is currently designing:

“a vast circus in Leicester-square … After a long process of negotiation, a huge space has been acquired, bounded on one side by Daly’s theatre – from which, however, it is separated by a thoroughfare – on another by Charing-cross-road, on a third by Cranbourne-street, and on a fourth by Little Newport-street. Hereon will be erected a hotel, a winter garden, and bachelor chambers de luxe (but at an extremely moderate rental), in addition to the circus, which is to out-do the most ambitious establishments on the continent. A water show will form a part of the entertainment, a brilliantly-illuminated fountain feeding the miniature lake.”

This is what we now know today as the London Hippodrome, which opened in 1900 and still stands although much altered.

As he lived here from 1895 to 1904, quite a few of his other great theatres must have been designed in some part at this very house. Sweet dreams made real maybe.

Well that brings us to the end of our N8 walk.

Hornsey had the air of a place which started out with great ambitions but never quite made it, even though it did get given a cast off fountain by the City of London. Crouch End has a lot more going for it, with its grand late Victorian splendour and 1930s set piece.

This is one of those few fairly large suburban centres which is nowhere near a railway station. There was the line from Finsbury Park to Highgate and beyond which opened in 1867, passing behind Mr Matcham’s house and having a station in Crouch End Hill. It would have become part of the Underground if the Northern Heights project has been fully realised. But today it is now a parkland walk, accessible from Crouch End Hill or Crouch Hill. And you can either go up towards Highgate or down towards Finsbury Park from here if you want to do some more walking.

Alternatively, if you return to Crouch End Hill you can get a bus to Finsbury Park for onward rail travel.