James Mole, cheesemaker, who kept a herd of cows… Edward Chard, piano maker… Harry Smith, farrier (a smith who shoes horses)… John Davy, artificial tooth fitter…
Just some of the many varied and interesting individuals and businesses that once populated north Tottenham’s High Road, and are now being rediscovered as part of a new project to restore and rejuvenate the area.
Haringey Council’s North Tottenham Heritage Initiative will restore 28 buildings at the north end of the High Road to create an attractive streetscape and encourage people to shop locally. The £2.3 million project is supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and contributions from property owners. Existing shop fronts will be repaired and restored to their bygone splendour from summer 2017; in the meantime research is taking place into the social history of these properties.
“Much work has been done already on the architectural history and development of the physical buildings,” said researcher Sandy Ryan. “But as this is a community project we also want to look at the people who lived and worked in them. Who were they? Where did they come from? What was life like for them?”
Using the archive at Bruce Castle Museum and others, and consulting trade directories, local papers and census records, the project is starting to uncover a fascinating social history dating back to about 1850.
“We could go back beyond 1850 of course,” said Sandy. “But we have to draw a line somewhere! I’ve been surprised by the sheer variety of trades and businesses on the High Road, but many have retained the same business and been in the same family for long periods of time. Two of our premises today are actually still housing the same or similar trades as they have done for most of their history: Polski Sklep (food retailer) at 820, and The Bricklayers pub at 803 High Road.”
This article orginally appeared on the Team North Tottenham website (external link).