All Posts (90)

Sort by


A team from Lotus descended on some garages behind Alexandra Park Road yesterday with a little modified Austin 7, which turned out to be a replica of the original Lotus Mark 1. They were celebrating 75 years since it was built by Colin Chapman in one of these same garages, owned by his girlfriend's parents. Their son and daughter are pictured, about to set off on a repeat of its maiden trip to Dunstable Downs in Bedfordshire. Quite a long way, given a maximum speed of 25-30mph! They got down the hill from the garages with no problem, hope the rest of the trip went ok ...

Below that is a photo of Colin's wife Hazel in the original Lotus Mark 1, in front of the same garages, in 1948. She apparently took over the building of Marks1 and 2 (also in these garages) when Colin was away at work in the Air Force, and was also a racing driver herself and an astute businesswoman.

Here is another APN post back in 2017 on the early history of Lotus in Haringey.












 Credit: Classic Team Lotus


                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dunstable Downs

Read more…

Yesterday afternoon I went to the Estorick Collection in Canonbury Square, just a few minutes walk from Highbury and Islington station. It is a lovely place to visit and has six galleries over three floors plus a cafe with tables in a quiet garden area. The Estorick Collection is housed in a Grade II listed Georgian townhouse overlooking Canonbury Square, and it opened in 1998 with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. There is a permanent collection of Futurist works as well as figurative art and scupture dating from 1890 to the 1950s, plus an exhibition programme. On show at the moment are works by Luigi Pericle, an artist who had fallen into oblivion but whose paintings were rediscovered as recently as 2016. If you have an hour or two to spare, I highly recommend a visit. Even better if you can fit in a walk around this beautiful neighbourhood, which is full of interesting buildings, garden squares and the charming Compton Arms pub too.


Read more…

Wood Green Hopping Brew Day



Hops ready to be picked for the Wood Green Hopping Brew Day at the Goodness Brewery, this afternoon, Sunday18 September.

Local growers contribute their hops, which are picked only shortly before brew day because the 'green hopped' pale ale is brewed while the hops are still fresh. Dried hops are used for most other ales, lagers and beers. The hop plant is supplied by the brewery, and anyone can join in!





Harvesting the hop bines. This plant only produced 0.5 kg this year - last year the crop was four times the size!




Picking the hop flowers off the bines in the sun. They smell glorious! (Supposed to be good for insomnia if you put them under your pillow).





The ale will be available to buy in cans later in the autumn, while stocks last! Owen's Food Store in Alexandra Park Road N10 stocks it (together with other beers from the Goodness Brewery) - anyone know of other stockists? Or you can of course go to the Goodness Brewery itself, Coburg Road, Wood Green, to try it with optional pizza. It may also be available on tap at the Goodness and at pubs such as The Prince on Bounds Green Road. We really like it!

Read more…

Friday nite at the ArtsFest - intriguing cabaret

Yesterday evening at the All Good Bookshop - artists making evocative sounds with strange instruments, film, poetry and story-telling. The idea - described by our MC and theremin (what?) player - came from the outrageous Cabaret Voltaire: Zurich 1916, where artists got together to work out what they should still say while the world burned in the First World War. The question remains relevant.

The acts used projections, music and words in various combinations which are not easy to describe! Dramatic visual effects in one, comic in another. The show finished with a lovely and pointed creation myth from South American mythology, with glances at most other world traditions thrown in. A fascinating and hugely enjoyable evening.

The whole festival is budgetless and done for the love of it and deserves lots of support. You can still catch all sorts of quite different events today and tomorrow - see:

10802497498?profile=RESIZE_400xThe Witch of Brussels performs Big Ass Strawberry

10802499271?profile=RESIZE_400xNewham Folk Archive start their history of highway robbery, cattle rustling and sewage in East London.

10802499656?profile=RESIZE_400xInterval drinks at the bookshop

Read more…

Twelfth Night by Three Inch Fools

On Tuesday evening the Friends of Broomfield Park hosted a marvellous performance of Shakespeare's 'Tweflth Night', with added songs and dances, by the Three Inch Fools theatre group. There were 5 of them (I think - wasn't easy to tell) playing far more parts than that, often with quick costume changes on stage, and lots of cross-dressing within the cross-dressing theme in the play - meaning the right clothes had to be in the right place around the 3 little stages they were using. Not just good comic acting, but good singing and playing - some not at all Shakespearean.

If you get a chance to catch them, they are great fun to watch, but they seem to travel half-way across the country from one day to the next for their gigs - always outdoors. In the winter they do cut-down Shakespeare in schools.

The nearest they'll come again this years looks like Knebworth on the 15th June.







Read more…

10505823459?profile=RESIZE_584xWe went on a lovely walk in Hertfordshire last Friday, and thought others might be interested in it. It was a very easy trip on the train - almost empty - from Ally Pally station to Welwyn (it takes ½ hour, and they generally run every ½ hour weekdays and weekends – though check for cancellations). At this time of year there is so much vegetation that you would think you were in the countryside all the way.10505786253?profile=RESIZE_180x180


Welwyn station is in the middle of the town, so we stopped for a cup of coffee before making off into Sherrardspark Wood (through the central rectangular gardens surrounded by shops, and onto Russellcroft Road, turning right into Handside Lane and crossing Bridge Road before entering a short footpath into the wood on the left).

The birdsong that greeted us in the wood was like a dawn chorus in Ally Park - our Birdnet app for identifying song, often so useful, was totally confused, and not helped by the background noise of the A1(M) on the other side of the wood! The route over the motorway (the old Great North Road) was via a small road which takes you immediately into the picturesque village of Ayot Green (first picture below). Once a Wesleyan centre (mostly artisans), it now looks like a wealthy neighbourhood.








Taking the lower footpath up to Ayot St. Lawrence (see map above), we went through quite a few wooded areas, where the bluebells were almost over. The pictured  hedgerow is next to the old railway (the Ayot Greenway), which can if need be protect you from the weather (of any sort), but on that warm, sunny May day we took the path on the other, sunny, side (the Hertfordshire 'greenways' are mostly quite shaded). Then turned right under the bridge which carried the old railway (see map above). Next to the photo of the bridge is one of the old railway, and then a view from it.









Walking on up the main footpath, we reached a short stretch of road leading to Ayot St. Lawrence, passing Shaw's Corner on the left. Once the home of Bernard Shaw, it now belongs to the National Trust, and has a lovely garden. The house has been left as it was when he last lived there. We didn't stop here since we had visited it before (on that trip we heard a cuckoo). We passed the old, ruined medieval church - it's not often you see a ruined medieval church in the UK, particularly one with a tomb monument with the remains of two reclining figures. And on to the Brocket Arms for lunch and a taste of Brocket ale (this area all used to be the Brocket estate).

10506860673?profile=RESIZE_400x10506867265?profile=RESIZE_400xIt took roughly 2-2½ hours to walk there, with stops along the way. The footpaths and bridlepaths are very well marked, but there are quite a few more than are shown on the Openstreetmap above, so it was helpful to have the OS Explorer map for St. Albans and Hatfield, which includes a mobile download.* There were occasional polite notices saying 'Sorry for any inconvenience ...', about 800 runners would be using this route for their annual 10k run on 22 May, Obviously a route well-used by walkers!




10506789294?profile=RESIZE_180x18010506790497?profile=RESIZE_400xReturning to Welwyn, we took the upper footpath shown on the map above, mostly through open fields. The larks soared above huge fields of broad beans (no beans in the field shown in the picture!), which seem to be a speciality of farmers in Hertfordshire. I gather almost the entire UK crop is exported to the Middle East, where they of course make much use of fava beans. Most greengrocers here don't sell them fresh any more - I remember as a child taking them out of their lovely furry pods - though allotmenteers of course still grow them!

We saw some splendid red kites (or maybe several sightings of the same one), and a small bright yellow bird with a narrow beak perched on a fencepost. Maybe a yellow wagtail, as the book suggests, not long arrived here from Africa? There was no water near, so not a grey wagtail. We didn't see it wag its tail, mind you!

10506814266?profile=RESIZE_180x18010506838468?profile=RESIZE_180x180At Ayot St. Peter's cemetery (see map), we turned off the small road that we had joined, and into the Ayot Montfichet estate, through a very splendid gate. Well, not quite - the footpath sign directed us through the little door shown in the photo, and round the other side of the gate. The centre of this estate is an old 15thc house (Ayot Place - see map), now let out to various organisations, but we couldn't see it from the footpath, which curves round to the left of it. 

10506857492?profile=RESIZE_180x18010506869085?profile=RESIZE_180x180We then retraced our steps through Ayot Green, since there is no other route nearby over the motorway, and back into Sherrardspark wood. The simplest route here is to go along the old railway, which carries on through the wood. Alternatively, there is a signpost in the middle of the wood (with some small sculptures) giving various alternatives.

In Welwyn, there was time for tea before getting the train back (only a few people on the train although it was rush hour - though we were going in the wrong direction for commuters from London). 

 * This OS map includes footpaths to the west of Hertford and Bayford too (on the other railway line from Ally Pally) - although both stations are themselves just off the map. It can be ordered online from the Ordnance Survey.













Read more…

The Water Game film - a year on.


First of all happy Xmas and New Year to you all. And wishing you all a better 2022. This too shall pass…

I am sure a lot of you will remember David Rennie of Crescent Road (now living with his daughter in Southend) who created the Water Game, which he ran for many years at the Palace Gates Summer Fete and Fins Feste (plus others).

About a year ago I completed a film about David and his invention. It was uploaded on to Youtube and a website for it was created (see links below). Anyway, I just wanted to give you all an update as to what has happened with the film because as you will see, it has been quite eventful.

Films by their very nature are big and loud, they are made to be seen by as many people as possible, and not hidden away in a cupboard somewhere. So, after it was shown in the community, the next challenge was to find a new audience to tap into the very positive messages behind the Water Game film.

I started by using David’s Green party background and contacting groups throughout the UK, asking them and their members to watch the film, discuss it and generally spread the word. That worked for a bit but it was a lot of effort for a small amount of new viewers.


But then I started thinking about film festivals and the fact that the green, educational and quirky message within the Water Game film was truly international, especially once foreign language subtitles were added to it.

So that is what I did. Below is a map of the countries holding film festivals that the Water Game was submitted to. The beauty of the film festivals is that if it gets selected (which is a big IF as some festivals get around 3,000 plus entries) it get shown for a period either in a cinema or online.


And we have had some success. Semi-finalist in Stockholm and California. And Finalist in a French and Turkish Film Festival. And in the months to come hopefully some more. 

It’s also been translated into several languages – French, Spanish and Turkish (thanks to the Istanbul International Architecture and Urban Films Festival).


Finally, it also recently won an award. A Golden Copernicus at the 12th Educational Film Festival Edukino in Warsaw, Poland.


And as I said, it is still going around festivals and spreading the word.  In fact on Boxing day it’s going to be shown on Brighton’s local TV channel and soon hopefully on Sheffield’s local TV.

If you are intrigued by the film and have not yet seen it

You can watch it on YouTube

If you like it and want to support it, please subscribe to the Youtube Water Game channel and maybe leave a comment – as this helps promote it on Youtube and attract new viewers.

There is also a supporting website:

Many thanks.




Read more…

The Hornsey Enclosure Act, by David Frith

This slim, larger format book is very well produced, like all Hornsey Historical Society's books, and well illustrated with maps, portraits of the bigwigs involved, and landscape paintings. There is a list of all those receiving land allocations at the end, with an indication of the locations of the plots. The advert in the right column of this website gives a link to the HHS webpage, with more details.

Although many of us don't live in quite the area covered by Hornsey Historical Society's new book, the historic parish of Hornsey, we are familiar enough with most of it, and it tells us quite a lot about the development of the district. The book gives a very detailed account of the terms and effects of the enclosure act requested from Parliament by the Hornsey Parish Vestry in 1813, to privatise the commons in the parish, and also the areas of 'waste' along the edges of roads and other public ways: any spaces not in the ownership of an individual or public body, but where some sort of right of ownership could be claimed by property owners or their tenants.

In those days what is now Alexandra Ward was in the parish of Tottenham. A quick glance at the catalogue of the Metropolitan Archives suggests that Tottenham never had a general enclosure act, since the parish vestry went on authorising individual claims for enclosures through most of the nineteenth century.

An enclosure act involved a survey of the commons and of the property of people who claimed to have rights to its use. Not everyone did, and the rights were usually attached to a piece of local land, or a tenancy. David Frith starts the book with something of a mystery: why did they bother with this act? The amount of common and waste land in the parish was very small by comparison with most places which imposed comprehensive enclosures. Creating a Private Bill wasn't a free service and in this case it was much more expensive than most, which reduced the profit to the recipients of enclosed land, since costs were covered by sales of some of the land rather than simply giving it away. In the Hornsey case, the local survey covered not just the property of those with a claim to the land being enclosed, but all property holders in the parish. This made it more expensive to do, but also gives an excellent record of the state of property ownership throughout the parish at that time in the large map that was made by the surveyors. It's scale is 26 inches to 1 mile, making it 11 feet (nearly 3.5m) long.

8999434085?profile=RESIZE_710xThe areas of common and woodland in Hornsey parish, 1813

(adapted from 'The Hornsey Enclosure Act')


The book includes some picturesque colour extracts from the original map showing the main built areas in Hornsey High Street, Crouch End, Muswell Hill and Highgate. The amount of building at the time was small, but the map shows what contemporary paintings don't, which is how many small plots of land were owned by individuals even in the absence of a house nearby. All sorts of small pieces of land were also distributed by the enclosure act, especially along roadsides where the land was not yet private, making the patchwork of ownership even more intricate.

The commissioners who implemented the act also defined some new roads, such as Saint James's Lane, whose main purpose seems to have been to give access to out-of-the way plots created by the enclosure. The main roads were either already there, or being built at the time - like the Archway Road: one map shows a considerable area of land belonging to the Archway Road Company just north of the Archway bridge, presumably acquired for something other than road building.

While most of the roadside land was enclosed by the act and given to nearby properties - the right to graze cattle on the roadside was abolished by this - the act specifically forbids enclosing of the roadside land along Hornsey High Street and Priory Road, which is why they remain as wide as they are. This was done "at the request of several respectable inhabitants ...conceiving that, if those pieces of waste were enclosed, the beauty of the village would be entirely destroyed".

David Frith asks what interests were really served by the enclosure act. The parish contained two manors: Hornsey Manor and Brownswood Manor. The lords of these manors were both senior clergymen: the Bishop of London (Hornsey), and an official of Saint Paul's Cathedral (Brownswood), but the land was mainly leased to tenants, the largest of which was Lord Mansfield of Kenwood, whose leases included Coldfall Wood, Dirthouse (Cherry Tree) Wood, Brewhouse/Gravel Pit (Highgate) Wood, and Churchyard Bottom (Queen's) Wood. The enclosed land was allotted according to the size of a landowner's or tenant's existing holding, so those with most got most (on the grounds that they would have been making greater use of the commons). The weight of wealth was also felt in the passage of the act. Approval or objection to its terms was measured not by the number of people who supported or opposed them, but by the total value of the property each side represented. In the end £181 12s 10d objected, £923 16s 7d approved. There were £85 16s 10d worth of abstentions.

Large landholders might benefit from increased rentals, or increased agricultural production (most people in the parish still worked in agriculture, and the main crop was fodder for the horses which provided London's transport). But the many small parcels of land handed out would not be very efficient in these terms, and one would guess smaller owners would have had a fairly large say in the workings of the parish vestry. Housing development was not at that time really on the horizon, arriving only 30 or so years later. The author thinks the most likely explanation is the property interests of the Church, who wanted to get their holdings tidied up in preparation for the expected loss of income from tithes (the local tax which supported the Anglican churches and their clergy) which had become extremely contentious by this time. They were abolished 20 years later, but the issue was already live.

There are two questions it would be nice to have much more on. One is the composition of the Hornsey Vestry committee at this time - and who might have had influence on it. The other is what the state of the land market was at this time, whether for housing development or anything else. There was a massive European war on in 1813, and parts of the economy were booming. Asa Briggs says "Landlords benefitted from high rents and tenant farmers from wartime prices." It would be interesting to know whether this prosperity was encouraging speculation by those who had the resources - those who did not were hit by high prices and increased duties on everyday goods which paid the costs of the war.

The enclosure act did not completely neglect the poor: land was put aside for use by the poor law guardians for relief benefits (some even for cottages which did not get built), but exchanging the ability to gather free fuel on the common, or graze an animal, for hand-outs administered through poor relief would only increase poor people's dependency and bring them under greater control. All David Frith's judgements in the book are very measured and cautious, but he concludes with a nod towards (he says) "E.P.Thompson's obloquy, 'Enclosure (when all the sophistications are allowed for) was a plain enough case of class robbery...'." I expect there are many more insights and issues that will be suggested by this interesting piece of research for those with local knowledge.

For a wider background of the history of enclosure, try this article - interesting and amusing (and not unbiased).

Read more…

The prospect of going back to work on public transport – used in normal circumstances by most working people in AP, I believe – must be daunting  for many as we come out of lockdown, and not only for those who are in some respects vulnerable, or who have vulnerable relatives at home. With TfL limiting passenger numbers to 15% of the usual volume, how are all these people going to travel? And there'll be more parents joining the commuters in a couple of weeks time as primary schools re-open.

Reclaiming Crescent Road during the lockdown (see also video of partying at the bottom of this post):5412410676?profile=RESIZE_400x

Driving would seem to be the safest option with regard to Covid-19 for those who own a car (so not an option for over half of Haringey residents). Cycling is another option – for the intrepid – but the lack of 'whole route' cycling infrastructure in Haringey, and the volume of traffic, are major deterrents to potential cyclists (count me among that number). Thus a massive shift to driving seems likely, resulting in traffic gridlock and more air pollution which, apart from other evils, helps spread C19. We need other means of safe travel, as well as trying not to lose the healthy streets that we have enjoyed for the past few weeks



Photos of Crescent Road pre-lockdown: two lines of traffic confront each other, an altercation between drivers, motor vehicles claiming the pavement

5413731873?profile=RESIZE_400x 5413494500?profile=RESIZE_400x 5413526660?profile=RESIZE_180x180 5413518694?profile=RESIZE_180x180



Government proposals and statutory obligations

The Government and Mayor of London are only too aware of the dangers of increasing the rate of infection via public transport, as also of creating gridlock – witness the extraordinary announcement on May 9th by Grant Shapps that local authorities in areas with high levels of public transport use (Haringey is the third highest in the country) would be required to take measures to reallocate road space to people walking and cycling … as swiftly as possible, and in any event within weeks (statutory guidelines), and that some funding would be available. The Mayor also issued guidelines and promises of funding with his Streetspace scheme, and has been closing roads in the City. The proposed measures, apart from pavement-widening, focus on the introduction of temporary cycle lanes on main roads, and low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) in residential areas, to create both alternative means of transport, as well as street space for walking and exercising while maintaining physical distancing.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

So what are LTNs? These block through-traffic by such measures as the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition Cameras, which allow certain categories of motor vehicles through -  e.g. buses, emergency vehicles, Veolia trucks, disabled drivers, the milkman – and not others, including motorcycles. Residents' vehicles may be included amongst those that are exempt, but if they are not, they will sometimes have to drive a little bit further to get to their houses than in un-filtered roads. The ANPR camera on the street lamp in the picture (below) of a 'filtered' road (Orford) in Walthamstow will record the registration number of any vehicle which is forbidden from driving through, and fines will be collected by the local authority (unlike fines from speed cameras, which go to the police).5411667279?profile=RESIZE_400x

The design of the LTN has to ensure that traffic is not simply rechannelled from one residential road to another in the neighbourhood. If this is achieved, then some of the traffic is expected to evaporate. It is not like water in a pipe, which has find a way out - people make choices, and some of these choices - at least for the 40% of urban car journeys that are less than 2 miles - will be to walk or cycle instead of driving. And the more some people do this, the more others will too - it may be slow, but is cumulative.

An LTN benefits both pedestrians and cyclists, making the neighbourhood an altogether pleasanter and healthier place to live in. Shops also benefit from increased footfall, although shopowners often assume (as did those in Orford road) that the lack of motor traffic will be detrimental to their businesses.

Cycle lanes and LTNs make good combinations because research has shown that providing cycling infrastructure on its own will not be successful in persuading most people to take up cycling.[i]

LTNs make an area slightly less attractive to drivers and more attractive to cyclists, nudging the former towards alternative means of travel. Cycle routes could then consist of temporary cycle lanes on main roads, interspersed with temporary LTNs ('temporary' meaning up to 18 months) in residential neighbourhoods.

In the current emergency, more temporary measures may be used than ANPR cameras, such as planters and gates to block roads. It will, however, provide an unprecedented opportunity to try out new approaches to traffic management, and hopefully may lead to more permanent measures.

Proposals by Haringey Council

The plans being developed by the Council are not public as yet, though an article in the Ham&High indicates that they are creating east to west and north to south cycling routes, and that LTNs are lower on the agenda. Contrast this with the much more advanced programme in Lambeth, who are seeking to appoint an LTN Programme Lead who will co-ordinate the introduction of LTNs in different neighbourhoods.

Our MP has been talking to the CEO of Haringey Council about implementing an Emergency Transport Action Plan, asking for an unprecedented level of action on our streets without delay.

Working with other neighbourhoods

As our roads gradually fill up again, more commuters who would normally come into London by rail from beyond the north circular may also choose to drive – many coming through our neighbourhood – rather than run the gauntlet of public transport.

This through traffic does not just affect our own neighbourhood (here I am referring to the Palace Gates neighbourhood, which I am familiar with - Dukes Avenue, Alexandra Park Road N10 and Muswell Hill less so, but contributions from residents of this area would be very welcome!). Much of it is the same as that taking a short cut down Winton Avenue before crossing Durnsford into Crescent Rise and Crescent Road, then exiting from our neighbourhood over the Buckingham road railway bridge, it carries on to add to congestion on Hornsey Park Road, Wightman and the Ladder roads, and on into Islington and Hackney. Many of these neighbourhoods have their own campaign groups (often under the umbrella of Haringey Living Streets) to try and reduce rat-running and increase safety for cyclists and pedestrians. Should we start our own, and work with these other groups to pressure the Council to do more to restrict through traffic, making cycling a more viable option for local people, and our neighbourhoods healthier, safer and more attractive places to walk?

The introduction of 'Low Traffic Neighbourhoods' in some areas would thus benefit some other neighbourhoods nearer central London, while possibly causing problems in others. So it is essential that we work with other groups to suggest measures to the Council that will increase benefits and reduce negative impacts for all. We are not traffic experts, but residents are likely to be the most knowledgeable about local conditions in their neighbourhood.

Reducing the number of motor vehicles is of course a key climate issue, with transport now accounting for more emissions in the UK than the entire energy sector - a quarter of the total - and cars being the worst offender.

[i] S. Melia, Urban Transport without the Hot Air (2015), pp. 224-6 and chap 7.

 photos and video courtesy of Tom Pigott-Smith and Gudrun Parasie

Celebrating lack of traffic on Crescent Road during Lockdown:

Read more…

Here's a useful update I received via my street WhatsApp group:


Home Delivery

Independent Shops - North London Edition

Alexandra Park, Bounds Green, Crouch End, Highgate, Muswell Hill

Last updated on the April 4, 2020

Dear Friends & Neighbours - Here’s a list of delivery alternatives to the supermarkets if you are struggling to get online slots. Compiled from friend recommendations (we haven’t tried many yet). Many are hospitality businesses pivoting from restaurant / wholesale to online deliveries in the light of COVID-19.

***Local independent businesses, restaurants, shops near us*** please support

Keep this list growing - If you have any suggestions (especially local restaurants offering delivery services), please email me here and I will add them. Many thanks for everyone's contributions.


***Doorstep Dairy - doorstepdairyltd@gmail.com07802481535 0208 346 9774 15 Cadogan Gardens, N3 2HN - Milk deliveries in glass bottles
Pensworth Dairy- deliver to your door Tues and Fri - Milk in glass bottle, Fruit Juice, eggs, cheese, yoghurt, cream, bacon

London Dairies- Milk, cheese, eggs - catering suppliers
***Cheeses- (Fortis Green) - Order via Uber Eats - Wednesdays only Uber Eats - Cheese of Muswell Hill
***The Cheese Bar​ ​- (Camden) Cheese Truck deliveries - British Cheese - Bread (48 hours notice) Haringey deliveries on Monday - order before 8pm on Sunday night ***Opera Ice Cream- Freshly made lemonade and homemade ice cream. A husband and wife team, trading in Alexandra Palace every Sunday. They are now doing delivery for their lemonade, ice cream and brownies. Check out their Instagram and message direct for order info. Delivery is on Fridays only.

Fruit & Veg

***Broadway Fruiterers 020 8340 8593 will deliver locally if you ask nicely

Massive range of fresh fruit and veg, including stuff like curry leaves and lime leaves. Masses of tinned

goods, pasta, spices etc. Currently shut Sunday and Monday


***Greens of Highgate​ ​- (Highgate) Fruit and Veg delivery delivering N2, N4, N6, N8,

N10, N19, N22 call for other areas.

***Crop Drop- Fruit and Veg Grown and Harvested as close to Haringey as possible.

New Covent Garden Market- Veg, Fruit, Bread.
The new Covent Garden market is 75% down in sales. Fresh fruit and veg need to be sold so they’re going to start selling boxes to people rather than companies.

Ordering tips:
Go ontheir website and sign up for home delivery veg and fruit boxes.
They can deliver milk, bread etc. too
Paul The Vegan Man​ ​- Fruit and Veg - Borough Market
Natoora- vegetable home delivery
A previous chef-only app, now opening for everyone to use. They currently deliver to London Zones 1-4, The delivery charge is £6 flat rate. There is no minimum spend. “This time last week, we had virtually zero restaurant trade, hanging on the hope that you would want to buy from us for your homes. Today in London we had such an uptake in orders that we can no longer do next day delivery.”
Ordering tips:
Download Natoora App. Use this
linkto register an account. I waited for about 24 hours before I could order with the App. Since the app is initially designed for restaurants and chefs, it has a live basket and no check-out process like most of the other online shopping websites. This means anything you add to your shopping basket in the day will be automatically delivered the next day. The cut-off point is midnight.
Primeur- seasonal veg and fruits
Ordering tips:
No online shop yet. For fruit and veg boxes delivery, text 07768231931
Andreas Veg - fruit, veg, groceries, cheese, charcuterie
Loved by Nigella Lawson, Andreas Veg is based in 4 Cale Street, Chelsea.
Ordering tips:
Local delivery Monday, Wednesday, Friday by email only by 2pm the day before.
Free for local customers and all purchases over £100.


***Margot Bakery- N2 Artisan Bakery, Sourdough, Challan - Pre order bread for 3 days time collection only - limited to 2 loaves per order

***Intrepid Bakers- (Crouch End) Bakers Fresh Bread and Cakes - order via Uber Eats Uber Eats - Intrepid Bakers


Riverford Organic Veg- Veggie boxes from 14.95 - waiting list only now for new customers


***​ ​(Crouch End) Seafood restaurant & WineBar - now offering take away or delivery - BBQ Fish, wine and beer
Henderson Seafood - home delivery
Fresh seafood in a small or large box for 2 or 4 people. Prices range from £30 to £100. Fresh seafood, ethically sourced, straight from fishermen and day boats in Brixham, Devon.

For an extra £12.50, you can get a week’s worth of organic vegetable box from their partner Pale Green Dot. It will come with your fish box!
Ordering tips:
Use their website to keep an eye on weekly fish box and place your order directly.
The Fish Society- Luxury online fishmongers

Mourne Fishbox - Fresh, portioned, vacuum packed fish. Deliver through the UK and Ireland.
Pesky- buy fish directly from British fishermen
Sign up on their website now, they’re working on it to start from next week.

Meat & Poultry

***Hampstead Butchers(Muswell Hill Broadway) Shop Online
Presently, we can only deliver to the following postcodes:NW2 (east of the A5 only), NW3, NW5, NW6,

NW8, NW11, N2, N6, N10 You can still order for collection if you are outside of these postcodes. We have a limited capacity each day for orders, dictated by availability of our butchers and driver. So we ask that customers order with a view to minimising the number of future trips our driver has to make to the same address. Each delivery made reduces our capacity to serve an additional person who may be in need. To this end we now have a minimum £50 orderand we have waived all delivery charges.

Organic Halal- London delivery £5
Ethical Butcher​ ​- Organic reared meat - See the farms you are buying from

HG Walter​ ​- online butcher
Home delivery within London and the M25. Order before 4 pm for next day delivery. This independent family-run butcher sources their meat from small farms rearing free-range native breeds.

“Sustainability is a priority among our farmers – livestock on these farms contribute to a biodiverse landscape contrary to the destructive nature associated with much larger scale farms.”
Ordering tips:

Use their online shop to order directly.
Fosse Meadows- amazing chicken and cockerels supplier Ordering tips:
Use their online shop to order directly.
Eat Great meat
“For anyone struggling to get food from the shops, my brother (8th generation) is providing meat directly from the farm to your doorstep, from local farms in Yorkshire.” Ordering tips:
Use their online shop to order directly.
Farmdrop- organic veg, fruit, meat directly from local farmers.
Very farmer and producer friendly as they take less cut from people who produce the food.
Ordering tips:
They are very busy now. Currently operating an online queuing system.

Wine & Beer

***The Goodness Brewery​ ​- (Wood Green near The Chocolate Factory) - Craft Beer - IPA and home made pizza
The Crouch End Cellars(Crouch End) - Italian wine, cheese, deli delivery locally ***Muswell Hillbilly Brewers- (Muswell Hill) Local Micro Brewery - Beer - free delivery for orders over £25

Low Intervention- online wine shop
Over five hundred wines available online and monthly subscriptions at various price points. Any orders placed before 2pm will be delivered next day in the UK and the delivery is free for all orders over £30 within the UK.
Noble Find Liquor(Hackney) - online shop for wine, beer, spirits
Provisions(Highbury) - Wine, deli goods across London
The shop is open every day until 8 pm for retail. From Thursday they’ll be delivering hampers of wine and deli goods across London. They will also be taking orders over the phone (020 7700 0476) or via email ( for those that don’t want to spend time in the shop but are happy to collect.



***Harmless Store- Local Vegan Zero Waste store NOW ONLINE - Click & Collect
Crescent Rd Supermarket- Local everything - including refills for washing liquid etc - no delivery but around the corner - Open 7-11pm
Green Guru- (Alexander Park Rd) Green grocers / organic goods - not delivering but walking distance - taking a break wc Apr 6 but will open limited hours after this - see sign on door for details
*** loved local cafe / deli

IMPORTANT UPDATE- We have decided to further shorten our opening hours. This is to reduce the strain on our staff and ensure their welfare. These will be in place for the foreseeable future. From Monday 30/03 the opening hours will be 8.30am - 2.30pm daily.
We are continuing to limit the number of people allowed in the store to twoat any one time. This is to help ensure safe levels of social distance and contact for customers and staff alike.Please remain patient and keep at a safe distance while waiting.

We value your custom at this difficult time - but we also value your safety. We ask that customers shop as infrequently and swiftly as possible. We are encouraging everybody to shop solo - please try to visit the store alone (without partners/children) - this helps reduce the risk for everybody.

We would also like to encourage contactless payment where possible.
The café is now closed. Regrettably this means no more takeaway coffee.
We are currently accepting orders for groceries from local customers who are in self-isolation. This has been hastily arranged in order to support our elderly and vulnerable customers. If you don't fall into these categories, we are still here to help but we'd appreciate that you only enquire should you have no one else to call upon.
Please direct orders to -
Thanks for your continued support. Stay safe and look out for one another.
Odysea- Greek and Mediterranean produce including cheese, olives, olive oil,

Greek yogurt.
Sous Chef - Pantry ingredient from all over the world. Books, tools and gluten-free section.
Cheezelo - all sorts of cheese and deli!
Most of the products are available on Ubereats and Deliveroo.
The Owner (Eleonore) can deliver after the shop opening hours in her car in London Zone 1&2 (delivery at £5.00), min £30.00 purchase. The good exchange will happen outside your place, gloves and masks will be worn, payment is done by mobile payment system at time of delivery. No cash accepted.
Free Delivery in Euston and Camden Area
Ombra(Hackney) - fresh pasta kits to cook at home and discounted wine
Leila’s shop(Shoreditch) - veg, stews
The shop will be operating a one in, one out policy all week – for safety reasons customers won’t be allowed to touch anything. Sam will be cooking batches of soups

and stews for takeaway while cargo bike deliveries will be available locally. Orders and payments will be taken over the phone – 020 7729 9789 – to maintain human contact. Peg(Hackney) - take-away food and veg box
Thursday-Sunday from 4-9 pm they’ll be offering a food (think chickpea tofu with mushroom XO, fried chicken, pumpkin and winter tomato curry) and plenty of wine to take away. They also act as a pickup point for vegetable boxes from Flourish which can be pre-ordered online.

Recipe + Ingredients Boxes

HelloFresh: Ingredients and recipes - great for people who want to learn new dishes. Gousto: Similar to Hello Fresh
Balance Box- Ready Meals
Mindful Chef- Recipe Boxes

Simply Cook- Recipe Boxes

FREE Online Cooking Tutorials

Breadahead Bakery - One of the best bakery schools in London is offering FREE online tutorials via INSTAGRAMonly, everyday at 2pm. Click on the link to see the schedule and ingredients list. It will only be LIVE for 24hrs.
I am Spice Monkey- Free (open to donations) cook along Instagram tutorial

Take Away Delivery

***Hot Milk(Bounds Green) now offering delivery (Lasagna, Vegi Lasagna, Mac n Cheese, Wine, Fresh Ground Coffee) + donate meals to NHS staff at North Mids. Hospital
The Goodness Brewery- (Wood Green - The Chocolate Factory) Local Brewery / Pizza Venue

***Fasta Pasta- Local pasta takeaway from Muswell Hill. Online ordering might be off so call the restaurant direct.
***Fooska​ ​-(Archway) Amazing Zero Waste Vegan Bangladeshi cuisine delivered in a Tiffin Tin

***Salvation in Noodles- via Deliveroo. Based in Finsbury Park and they’ve just expanded their delivery zones to us in North London! Fantastic Vietnamese food, awesome chicken wings.
Sacro Cuore- via Deliveroo, best pizzas in North London, based in Crouch End.

***Opera Ice Cream- Freshly made lemonade and homemade ice cream. A husband and wife team, trading in Alexandra Palace every Sunday. They are now doing delivery for their lemonade, ice cream and brownies. Check out their Instagram and message direct for order info. Delivery is on Fridays only.

Deliveroo (Also donate meals for NHS workers across the capital) Deliveroo Lots of local deals - off license deliveries even corner shop groceries locally
Uber EatsLocal take aways + Off Licenses

Flowers and Plants

Bloom And Wild-great cut fresh flowers through your letterbox - highly recommended ***Sunshine Garden Centre- Now open for delivery only to loyalty card holders - call 0208 889 4224
*The Gardening Club- (Crews Hill) Delivery to member - join for £5 (1st year, £2.50 after that)


***The Children's Book Shop- (Muswell Hill Broadway) - now online and delivering locally
***Pickled Pepper Voice​ ​- (Crouch End) -Childrens book shop offering Book fairy service - free delivery for orders over £20


***Tash & Tanya (T&T)- (Alexander Park Rd) Lovely things, cards and art.
‘We are offering FREE LOCAL DELIVERY of any purchase of £5 or more. We will try to deliver the same

day on any orders before 2pm. Postcodes included are N10, N22, N11, N2, N6, N8, N12, N13, N14, N21 and N3.
We can arrange postage of a gift for you. Send us the details of your lucky recipient and we will pack and send it. There is an extra charge for the postage, which we will calculate and send to you for approval before processing.’

***Slip n Stitch- (Alexander Park Rd) Needlework, knitting - now online and delivering ***Cachao Toys​ ​(Muswell Hill Broadway) - Toys - working on postal service - check website for more details
***Blue House Yard- Various Independent Business now online


IT & Tech Support

Richard Darsa- (Muswell Hill) Local IT / Tech Support, offering remote help for all tech

issues - I live in Muswell Hill and have been serving the local area for computer and technology support for 20 years now. I can now help people remotely on pretty much any technical issue, so I thought the community would

benefit from having my number. I charge in half hour increments at £40 per half hour, no VAT & can invoice and happy to be paid by BACS. My contact details are & 07768200551

Online Supermarket

Waitrose Ocado
Tesco Sainsbury's ASDA
M&S Morrisons Amazon Fresh

Online Asian Supermarkets

UK Snacks Box
Japan Centre
H Mart
Hello Oriental
- Based in Manchester but delivers all over the UK. Prices are very good and they sell frozen meat (pork, chicken, beef, lamb) and all the Asian goods. They also do next day delivery for £9.99.
Hoo Hing- It’s decent but the site is hard to navigate unless you know exactly the brand(s) you are looking for. I’d choose the above over this one unless there is something very specific that you’d like.

🛒󾓪 🖥💻


Finally a nod to some pretty amazing local initiative... Local Awesomeness

***The Green Rooms Hotel - (Station Rd) Our local community arts hotel is currently offering free accommodation to NHS Staff, local homeless and vulnerable people- can we help them provide a meal for everyone? - you can support Here
***Hot Milk(Bounds Green next to the tube) providing meals to NHS staff at North Mids. Hospital - you can support Here

***Cakes and Ladders​ ​- The Big Red Bus Cafe, Board Game hang out and comedy venue is looking for support to stay open

Take care Everyone
#WeAreInThisTogether #LoveWereYouLive #stayhome

🌈🌈🌈 🌈🌈🌈

Read more…
Join our online courses and get writing! Collage Writing Room’s Summer 2020 programme is set to run online and our tutors are ready to deliver courses via Zoom video link up. We will give you lots of help setting this up. Your course is only a few clicks away!
Read more…

The Council is consulting on proposals to introduce pedal cycle parking sheds in our local roads.  The impact on parking is low but nevertheless there will be a loss of parking places which is unnecessary.  There are some times of day (and some days of the week) when parking is very difficult and any unnecessary loss of spaces should be challenged.  The cycle parking can be located on the kerb build-outs at junctions or where the footway is sufficiently wide that they would not cause obstruction.

Please consider objecting to the Council's proposals at  All you need is set out in the following draft email, and you can get more details from the street notices that are still in place next to the proposed sites.

"Proposed Pedal Cycle Parking  Places (Amendment) Order

The Council gave notice of the above mentioned proposed Traffic  Management Order on 31 January 2020.  I wish to object to the following provisions on the grounds that they will result in the unnecessary loss of scarce on-street parking in an area of the Borough which experiences high levels of parking demand outside normal hours of control:

o/s 64 Victoria Road N22

o/s  8 Clifton Road N22

o/s  143 Albert Road N22

o/s 227 Alexandra Park Road N22. 

All these proposed cycle parking places can be located on the wider parts of the footway or on one of the many kerb build-out at junctions.  There is no need for any of the above proposals to result in the loss of on-street parking.

It relation to the Council's obligations to publicise these proposals and invite objections  I am extremely concerned that the Council,  having given notice on 31 January 2020, didn't publish the draft Order on its website until 27 February 2020; 6 days after the period of 21 days set aside for the receipt of objections had closed.  I understand that as a result the Council has undertaken to extend the period for the submission of objections,  but has not set a new end date.  Please confirm that my objection has been received within the new (unspecified) deadline."

Read more…


Coming up later this month are FOUR work in progress performances of DR FAUSTESS, with songs written by Alexandra Park composer Jamie Masters.

January 22nd to 24th, 2020

at the Cockpit Theatre, Gateforth Street, London NW8 8EH



Wednesday 22nd January:           7.30pm

Thursday 23rd January:                2.30pm and 7.30pm

Friday 24th January:                     7.30pm

Running Time: 2.5 hours including interval


666 - this is an emergency!!  Burnt out Dr Madeleine Faustess turns to satanic aid in this modern musical twist on the Faustus story.  Faustess summons a demon to win the glittering prizes life has failed to deliver and maybe triage a few patients along the way. But instead of the great Satan she gets Hal - a hapless junior semi-demon, who causes chaos in her rundown hospital - and her life.

Over the course of one crazy year, Doctor, Demon, and the whole blasted institution discover that damnation has its plus points when there’s more of you.

A sparkling black comedy, with songs, social workers, love, death and zombies, presented as a work in progress.


Writer - D R Hood

Dictynna’s first feature film as writer/director 'Wreckers' is a cult hit starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy.  She has just completed her second feature 'Us Among the Stones' with Laurence Fox and Anna Calder-Marshall.  Dictynna and Jamie Masters (composer) have wanted to work together for a while, and 'Dr Faustess' is providing one hell of an opportunity.

Composer - Jamie Masters

Jamie has for fifteen years sold his soul to the devil in the world of advertising, winning many major awards in doing so.  In a cultural leap of faith he has also written music for several ancient Greek plays. Jamie is a multi-instrumentalist, playing piano, clarinet, recorder, violin, viola, guitar, mandolin, ukulele and banjo. In what time he has left, he invents boardgames and cranky electronic gadgets.

Director - Kolja Schallenberg

Hailing from Germany, the land of the original Faustus, Kolja trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts London.  In Germany, Kolja's prolific work as a director ranges from 'Bacchae' for Theatre League Hamburg through to stadium tour 'Massachusetts - the Bee Gees Musical', featuring original Bee Gees.  Kolja has also recently founded a new theatre in Sweden dedicated to putting on new musicals.

Music Director - Anthony Ingle

Anthony Ingle has over four decades of experience in music and theatre. He is Musical Director and pianist of Impropera, the world’s first improvising opera company. Anthony was the Musical Director of Tête à Tête’s acclaimed revival of 'Salad Days' at the Riverside.   Anthony also teaches at LAMDA where he has MD'd innumerable musicals with the talent of tomorrow including 'Tommy', 'Cabaret' and 'Hair'. We look forward to Anthony's onstage presence in 'Dr Faustess'.  


Read more…

Alexandra Park - Local history – Part 2

A few weeks ago, my last blog post (see below) dealt with the macro aspect of local history, looking at three maps of the Alexandra park neighbourhood through which we discovered much of its fascinating transformation.

This time we are going micro. I am going to investigate the history of just one building – the house that my family and I live in. And in the process, I am going to explain (in step by step details) how anybody can find out the history of their home, such as

  • When was it first lived in?
  • Who were the first owners?
  • What were their jobs and family roles?
  • And much more!

We moved into our house on Harcourt Road about six years ago and curiously when we bought the place it was two flats (with a hallway with two internal doors). So, one extra question that I had was whether our property started off as a single dwelling or two flats?

To find out the answers I knew that I would need to look up various censuses and electoral roll registers and I made contact with Haringey libraries to see if they had these records. Eventually I found that they did, and they were kept at Bruce Castle Museum, Lordship Lane, London N17 8NU.


These documents are kept in the “search room” at Bruce Castle which is open on Wednesdays and alternate Saturdays between 1-5pm. And you need to make an appointment via this email

And one wet Saturday afternoon I headed off to Bruce Castle on my personal history hunt. Now here is the first challenge. Because Bruce Castle is close to Tottenham Hotspurs’ football stadium (White Hart Lane), parking around this area is severely restricted and only available to local residents. Thankfully there is a museum car park (round the back of the building) which is open to the public and I would recommend you use that or take a bus or cycle there. 

Once I signed myself and met my friendly archives assistant, I was asked to put my rucksack in a locker and told that I was free to make notes (using a pencil only) but if I wanted a photocopy they were 50p each or I could take as many as many photos as I liked for £5. I chose the latter.

Luckily for me the search room was quiet, so I was able to quickly explain what I was after to the archives assistant. She asked me what year I thought my house was built in and I said that the year 1905 rang a bell and maybe we should start there.  She suggested we start with the Kelly’s Directories.


These are the Victorian versions of today’s Yellow pages, with lists of businesses and tradespeople of a particular town or city but with postal addresses too. Because of this they are now considered an important source for historical research.

So, I started with 1905 and although there were already some houses and occupiers listed on my street, my house number was not present.

“Could I have the 1906 Kellys for my area please?” I asked. Again, my house number was not present.

But when I looked at the 1907 edition – bingo!

It says, “Harcourt Road. South Side. Number X. Hardee Edward.” That is all. The Kellys only list the so called – head of the household – ie the man (sexist times I’m afraid).

But we now have the first occupier of our house a Mr Edward Hardee and the house number listed is not number Xa or Xb so my house did not start out as two flats. But what else can we find out about our Mr Hardee?


Bingo! Where I found details of the first occupier of our home.

At this point my helpful archives assistant suggested that the 1911 census might provide more answers. And she was absolutely right! But before I go on to what we found, let me give a short tour in the fascinating subject of the national census.

If anyone watches the long running and popular show Who Do You Think You Are? you will know that censuses are it’s bread and butter and a major tool in discovering family trees and local history. You could argue that the Domesday book of 1086, which was commissioned by William the Conqueror was the first UK census but as my archives assistant pointed out to me it was mostly concerned with recording the land rather than the people.

Interestingly a census is only performed on a year that ends with one ie 1911 with the next census being 1921. And there is an all important census day/night, because to allow for people travelling up and down the country, a census is a head count of everyone in the country on a given night.

A government clerk called an enumerator delivered a form to each household for them to complete. The heads of household were told to give details of everyone who slept in that dwelling on census night, which was always a Sunday. The forms were collected a few days later by the enumerator and the census produced.

It is said that some individualists worked very hard to avoid appearing on the census. It is rumoured that the artist J M W Turner rowed himself out to the middle of the Thames on census night in 1841 (6 June) to avoid helping the enumerator. And in the 1911 census some of the suffragette movement (fighting to give women the vote) boycotted giving their details to that year’s census.

The census day/night for 1911 was the 2nd of April, and for our own house on Harcourt Road, the 1911 census reveals that Mr Edward Hardee (name taken from the 1907 Kellys) was in fact Mr Edmund Hardie (he signed the census so that was his correct name). He was 36, his wife Ruth was 38. They had two sons Rudolph (10 years old) and Donald (1) with one daughter Evelyn (6). Mr and Mrs Hardie were originally from Lancashire (Manchester in Edmund’s case). And Edmund’s profession is listed as “Lithographic artist”. Lithography is a is a method of printing (usually art) from a stone or metal plate. 

The 1911 census shows something else that is interesting. Edmund and Ruth Hardie and family had now moved from Harcourt Road to Warwick Road, New Southgate. This address is very close to Ranelagh pub in Bounds Green, so they moved to a new house a short distance away.

Instead the new inhabitants in our home on Harcourt Road were the Goswells. Husband Edward Goswell was 31 originally from Stoke Newington and is listed as a commercial traveller (salesperson) representing an iron galvanising company (galvanising stops iron rusting). His wife Annie Goswell was 27 and born in Islington. Their children were Doris (3), Edward (2) and Alfred (9 months) born in Highbury, Southgate and Wood Green respectively. Also listed as being at the same address were two others, a 38-year-old cousin whose occupation was listed as a despatch clerk and 19 year old Emily Nicholls who is listed as a domestic or servant and was born in Cheshunt. Assuming that Emily lived with the Goswells, my family and I have wondered about the location of the servant’s room in our house?

As you can see censuses give a fantastic amount of historical information. And a lot of the censuses are online and easily searchable through chargeable websites such as or Findmypast. Luckily Bruce Castle Museum archives have an account with one of them and for free (well the 50p cost of a printout) I was able to get a copy of the Hardie’s and the Goswell’s census reports.

A couple of interesting things about online census records. Often you see a lot of names blacked out with a line saying “This record is officially closed”. This can mean a few things. The main one being that that person is still alive, so their data or information cannot be released to the general public. Another one, which is slightly creepy and not politically correct, is that up until the 1911 the census questionnaires (called schedules) asked for infirmities to be listed in four categories – Deaf and dumb, Blind, Lunatic or Imbecile!

The next census was in 1921 but unfortunately censuses are only released after a 100 year have passed so I am going to have to wait for another two years for that one. And then it gets worse. The 1931 census was destroyed during World War II and the 1941 census was abandoned because of so much coming and going with troops during World War II.

So that leaves elector roll registers which have less detail and only list those who can vote (so no children listed).

In the 1932 Wood Green register of electors, our house is now inhabited by the Dooleys- Mr Herbert J Dooley and Harriet and Maria with presumably one of them being his wife. Later, using the online records, my resourceful archives assistant was able to find a reference to the same Mr Herbert Dooley who was now registered to Bournemouth, Hampshire where he is listed as a retired schoolmaster who had previously worked for the London County Council.

And then was more change. In the 1938-39 register of electors, the voters now living in our house were Mr Arthur Alfred Wells and Jane Catherine Wells. Again my super sleuth archives assistant looked at the online records and Mr Arthur Wells as a LNER Supervisor (LNER was a railway company) and Jane Catherine had the acronym U.D.D against her name meaning Unpaid Domestic Duties which we would now classify as a housewife.

In just two and a half hours’ time I had discovered a huge amount of information (with the enormous help of my fantastic archives assistant). But I knew that I wouldn’t have the time to compile a full list of the former occupants of our house. With about five minutes till I had to leave I picked a more recent year (1961) and asked to see the register of electors. It listed the name of a family who share the same surname as a company still operating the Alexandra Park area. When I mentioned this to my archives assistant I was told, “You can make a note of the details but would like you not to take a photo as there is a good chance that some of the family members might be around today.” Naturally I complied.

There you have it. A wonderful afternoon finding out all this history related to the former occupants of our house on Harcourt Road. I should mention that I am not a historian in anyway just an interested member of the public and really anybody should be able to do what I did. As I mentioned previously my archives assistant was brilliant and she was as interested in my personal history project as I was. The archives assistants are the gate keepers to this wonderful information. There is no need to be intimated by them but obviously be open to their advice and act in a humble, scholarly way for the best results.

Finally, a word about the Bruce Castle Museum.  Although I grew up in Wood Green and have lived in this area ever since, shamefully I have never visited Bruce Castle before. And there is so much to see there, as it’s overflowing with history. A grade 1 listed 16th century manor house, it served as a school run by Rowland Hill in the 1827 that was incredibly enlightened for its time with no capital punishment and the teaching of foreign languages, science and engineering. Charles Dickens visited the school and was very impressed by it. And computer pioneer Charles Babbage sent his sons to there. You can still see the old school kitchen and the big metal range where all the food was cooked.

It also has a beautiful red brick Tudor tower which was believed to be built specifically to house birds of prey. Well worth a visit.

Read more…

This is an initial post in response to Annabel who suggested a lot of people don't know what permaculture is.

I thought I'd start by explaining why I have found it so compelling.


But firstly a quick introduction

I live on Victoria Road with my wife Sophia (teacher at Rhodes primary), my daughter Olivia (sixth form student at Alexandra Park) and my father-in-law, George.  I work at Lloyds Bank as a freelancer helping transform their ways of working to become more effective and, ultimately, survive in increasingly uncertain times.

I found my way to permaculture when I was reflecting on the climate crisis and asking myself the question:

How can our thinking or our world view have helped us arrive at a place where we have created the conditions for massive destruction of  our environment and home?

I recognise this is not exactly a light topic but I'd prefer to be straight forward and open about my thinking. There is a tendency to pussy foot around in this country to avoid offence.

Anyway, in my research, which I won't detail here to get to the point, I formed a few conclusions on both what the problems were and the role that permaculture could play.


The problems

These are a few of the themes that emerged on our world view (this is not universal across the globe but is becoming more dominant)

  • we act as if we are separate from and need to control nature
  • we believe that resources are scarce so we need to compete for my share to keep me safe


What is permaculture?

Permaculture is a framework that includes ethics and design principles for how to live in harmony with nature.

3783455147?profile=RESIZE_710xThe ethics are as follows:

  • earth care
  • people care
  • fair share


When it was first conceived in Australia in the 70's by David Holmgren, it was a combination of 'permanent' and 'agriculture' and is summarised by this quote taken from the wikipedia page.

"Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system."

There are different ways in which it is realised but they all come back to the same basic idea of working with nature.

Epping Forest, for example, doesn't appear to need any input of fertilisers or pesticides to help the plants and trees to grow successfully. It is still very much managed but not to the same degree as required in modern agriculture.



One popular strand of permaculture is forest gardening which replicates the fertility and sustainability of a woodland ecosystem to grow food.

(Forest Garden at Dartington is shown on the left)

One of the features of permaculture is the reduced ongoing maintenance required - the phrase 'no dig' gardening is based on permaculture and understanding natural ecosystems.

No doubt you would be suprised if you were to see people regularly digging over the soil in Epping Forest!


How can permaculture help?

My interest in permaculture is that it provides an accessible way of reconnecting with nature. It is also a 'design system' that gives us a framework for how we might do that. It should, of course, be 'natural' for us to do this but I think we need some help to deprogram ourselves.

I am also very interested in supporting this as a community initiative because it helps build community strength and reslience which I feel is very much needed.

It provides us with the very relevant, practical skill to grow our own food and an appreciation of how nutritious it is or otherwise.

It is a way for us to help each other and those who suffer from food poverty.

Edible London is dedicated to providing nutritious food to those suffering from food poverty and is helping some allotment owners, schools and community gardens in return for donating a percentage of their produce.


Further investigation

You can read more about research into sustainable ways of growing food as Agrofrestry here (and even book a tour around one of their research sites).

You can volunteer (no expertise required) to gain some experience, learn and help with a community garden through Permablitz London.

Volunteer at one of the established sites running using permaculture principles:

Castle Cafe Garden

Meadow Orchard in Crouch End

Organic Lea Worker's Cooperative near Chingford

Edible London (specialise in forest gardens, Finsbury Park) (the website seems a bit flakey at the moment)


An easy way start to permaculture in your garden (which includes stopping digging and weeding!) is to take up mulching.

Permaculture tells us that soil is your most precious resource and an ecosystem that we need to nurture (and the science tells us that we are suffering a soil fertility crisis). I remember walking through pine trees recently and picking up a handful of pine needles to see the rich soil that is created naturally as these decompose. This layer or needles, leaves, dead wood or undergrowth that you will see in most natural environments is 'nature's mulch'. In fact, digging the soil can be very destructive - this article explores the true nature of healthy soil and why digging was a good idea but actually decreases fertility and forces us to supplement it artificially.

Mulching keeps the soil moist (reducing the need for watering), supresses weeds and provides nutrients for the soil.

You can start mulching by using wood chips although there is a whole variety of mulching techniques available (here's a website I have just found). I have been collecting leaves off the street as a natural mulch as well as sweeping the leaves from my garden directly into the bed. Shredding them through the mower is great to accelerate decomposition.

I am not an experienced gardener (I have only become interested in the last year or so) so I suspect you will have some great ideas for mulching which you can share.


Contact me if you've got a space (could be your back garden) where you'd like to try out permaculture. Or if you'd just like to know more and would like to talk.

I would love to start a conversation and share experiences - please comment below if you'd like to share.


Read more…

Alexandra Park - Local history – Part 1

“Fascinating”. “I love all this stuff”.  “Very interesting indeed.”

This was the response I received from local neighbours when I shared three historical maps of the area with them. And to kick start a couple of articles about Alexandra Park’s local history I am sharing them on the APN website.

You will see that there are three maps of the area dated 1894, 1912 and 1935.

Let us start with the 1894 map. And feel free to pull up an internet map to compare and contrast.


On first glance it seems difficult to reconcile what it represents with the area that we live in today because there seems to be very few buildings but plenty of fields and tree lined open spaces. And many of the local roads that we know so well don’t seem to be marked at all. Let me try and fill in some of the gaps.


In the middle of the map, where there is a crossroads between Alexandra Park Road and Queens Road to the north and the Avenue to the south. That crossroads still exists and it’s where the Maid of Muswell pub can be found.



The Queens Road listed on the map seems to have become Grosvenor Road but quite a lot of the 1894 map is very similar to today including the bends in the roads.


Albert Road is pretty much the same as today.


There is a small building called Tottenham Wood house in the location of where Rhodes Avenue and Alexandra Park schools are now. Also, there is a larger building marked “Laundry”. A laundry for who you might wonder? There doesn’t seem to be any houses nearby! More about this laundry later.


Heading east, and close to the edge of the map you see some more buildings and a listing for Victoria Road. In 1894 the road looks very small, but again that part of the road has got the same characteristics as present day Victoria Road. Just off the map around there (and we are going to have to imagine this) would have been the Palace Gates triangle.


There are three other roads which are important and which we can still see today. If you look to north-east and just above the small Victoria Road you can see the words “CRES…”. One would assume that this is modern day Crescent Rise and Crescent Road and again we have seemingly the same road bend as the present day.


In the south west corner, you can clearly see “Middleton Road” which is probably what we now call Coniston Road and nearby on the opposite side of Alexandra Park Road you can just about make out a road marked “We…rill Road”. This is probably what we now know as Muswell Avenue. Wetherill Road, presumably the correct name, still exists but is now a much smaller road to the north of Muswell Avenue.


That’s it for the 1894 map. But before we go, please take one final look at it’s handful of roads and wide open spaces. Things are about to change.


Now look at this 1912 map.



Wow, someone has been busy building! In the space of just 18 years the area which we know as Alexandra Park is now full of new roads with row upon rows of

Victorian/Edwardian terraced housing. Now it really looks like the present day. We have roads and avenues like Clifton, Harcourt, Clyde, Outram, Princes, Victoria and so on creating new neighbourhoods and the local population must have rocketed.


Just take a minute to have a good look at this 1912 map and the road that you live on or some of the neighbouring streets. Enlarge it and play with it and you will start to see some subtle details which can give you some clues to the past.

For example. I live on Harcourt Road and speaking to the neighbours (we have a lovely community on our road) we were all a bit puzzled because although most of the housing stock is Edwardian/Victorian about a quarter of the road is 1930’s type housing, so historically a big age difference. Theories like WW1 Zeppelin bomb damage were talked about.

Now if you look at Harcourt Road on the 1912 map you will see that there was a large amount of free space at the top and the bottom of one side of the road. And on the neighbouring Clifton Road there were barely any houses at all in 1912 (alright there were two!).

One would imagine that all this free space belonged to the developer (or another developer) who planned to build on it later. A sort of phase 2 development. But something obviously happened that stopped them building anytime soon.

Well the answer might be revealed in our final map - Alexandra Park in 1935.


If you look at Harcourt Road again you will see that all the open spaces were now built on. And that Clifton Road which had been virtually undeveloped, was now full of houses. Now the later houses on Harcourt and the new houses on Clifton I would say are similar 1930’s type houses. Which makes believe that they were probably built at the same time and maybe by the same developer.

It was when I presented this theory and these maps to my Harcourt neighbours that I received the comments

“Fascinating”. “I love all this stuff”.  “Very interesting indeed.”

Just coming back to why there was this big gap between phase 1 and phase 2 of the Harcourt/Clifton housing development? I don’t know the answer but apart from the possibility of the original builder running out of money, selling on the remaining land or even the great depression, I have one pet theory which I would just like to air. 

I once spoke to a learned housing surveyor who said that during WWI a lot of the building trades people were conscripted. And during one of these really horrible battles such as the Somme - a huge amount of these skilled building workers were killed.

So, it could have been that post WWI there was just not enough builders left to carry on these projects.


It’s been a long journey but since you are still with me (I hope) let me entice you with one more nugget- the laundry!

Remember we saw it in the 1894 map. Now let us have a look at the 1912 map to see if we can find it? Yep it is still there. If you look at the top north east of the map, you will see that is to the north of where Outram Road meets Albert Road. In 1912 is still quite a substantial building.

3778121385?profile=RESIZE_710xSo what does it look like now? Well this is a photo of where the laundry used to be.













The workshop like buildings on Albert Road complete with a huge chimney. By the way if you look at the 1935 map you will see that the laundry is now listed as a “Piano works”.

If anyone want to know any more about the fascinating story of the Wood Green and Hornsey Steam Laundry may I refer you to this series of excellent articles and postings below.

Thanks for travelling with me while looking at the past of Alexandra Park from 1894 to 1935. Please enjoy these maps and fill your boots finding out new things. If you have any discoveries and theories, please post them in the reply section below.


Ps In a couple of weeks’ time I hope to post my Local history – Part 2. What happened when I decided to investigate the history of the house that my family and I live in? We are talking archives, census, electoral role register – Who do you think you are? meets Location, location, location.

I will tell you how to research the former occupants of your own house in step by step details. Real local history giving you a fascinating insight in to the past. Watch this space.


  • All the maps featured were kindly supplied to by Alex King. Thank you.
  • The Tottenham Wood house was probably part of the Tottenham Wood Farm estate owned by the Rhodes family. Hence the nearby Rhodes avenue.
  • It’s last owner Thomas Rhodes, died in 1865 and was the uncle of the famous/infamous Cecil Rhodes, founder of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe and Zambia).
  • Anyone interesting in learning more about our area should seek out the book “A history of Muswell Hill “by Ken Gay. Thoroughly recommended.



Read more…