The Streets Have Traveller’s Tales

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G. L. Wilson, 522-528 High Road c. 1905 (Bruce Castle Museum, Haringey Archive and Museum Service)

Have you ever wondered what the streets would say, if they could talk?

Have you ever for a moment stopped being part of the hustle and bustle and explored the area that you live in, with a new set of eyes, like a tourist visiting for the first time? What would you notice, see, feel or hear?

This is what being a Heritage Champion means to me – having the opportunity to see North Tottenham in a new way, noticing things that I had failed to notice before. 

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G. L. Wilson building today

It’s fascinating seeing all around me how previous generations have left their stamp in every walk of life, from the buildings they’ve built, to the artefacts and stories they’ve left behind.

North Tottenham has three areas that have significance for me, and which contribute to the collective tales the streets weave together in a tapestry of narratives.

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St Paul's Church, Park Lane

This is St Paul’s Church on Park Lane, where my family have been attending since the 1970s. The church was established in 1859, and was housed in a commissioner's building until 1973 when the old church was demolished. The current church was erected in 1976.  

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Postcard of St Paul's c. 1905 (Bruce Castle Museum, Haringey Archive and Museum Service)

What is unique about this building is that the priest at the time had a vision for a church that helped the community in a practical way. The new church was built with a social club, accommodation for the clergy, along with about 40 flats that are managed by the Metropolitan Housing Association. In 2000 the millennium wing was built at the south side of the building. The wing helps families with young children be part of the service while having a space to let their children move around and express themselves. The final addition to the church is the Youth Hall which is aimed at giving a space to the children and young people of the church and in particular the Sunday School and Youth Group.

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Reed Road Estate (Bruce Castle Museum, Haringey Archive and Museum Service)

My aunt used to live in the Reed Road Estate from 1987- 2000 and I have many fond memories of weekly visits with my parents and siblings. It became like a second home as we were there all the time. I loved the community spirit; we played games like football, bulldog and ‘It’. My aunt’s home became the meeting place where celebrations, laughter, play, food and stories were shared. Tottenham was the place that our strong family connections were built and continue to thrive today. It was here I learned the importance of looking out for your neighbours.

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Tottenham High Road with Bruce Grove on the left(Bruce Castle Museum, Haringey Archive and Museum Service)

The one thing I’ve always loved about Tottenham is its rich cultural diversity. I mean just walking along the streets of Bruce Grove I could have easily have had a geography lesson from the people I met (which would have been more interesting than what I was taught at school).

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Red Lion pub, 2002 (Bruce Castle Museum, Haringey Archive and Museum Service)

I moved to Northumberland Park in the late 90s when the Red Lion Pub and Allied Carpets stood at the top of Lansdowne Road. Allied Carpets partly furnished my flat when I first moved. I got my carpets, bed and a sofa bed. I love this building because to me it's so pretty it defines that corner of the High Road, for me it tells me I’m nearly home.

Former_LCS_store_in_Tottenham

I’ve always loved Tottenham for its transport links, you can get to anywhere from here. The picture of Northumberland Park Station shows how it is usually quiet but on match days it’s a different story – the area becomes a sea of blue and white.

I have seen the many changes over the years, both good and bad, as the area is associated with social and economic difficulties and negative publicity. One of my mottos in life is rather than complaining or buying into negative stories I believe it’s important to get involved in making a change.

Being part of this Heritage Champion project allows me to be an explorer in my neighbourhood, find the treasures the area holds and contribute to the good news stories of Tottenham.

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Northumberland Park Estate (Bruce Castle Museum, Haringey Archive and Museum Service)

The one thing I have learnt from this project is that a beautiful old building or even a unique and striking modern one has inherent value, which needs to be preserved as they contribute to the character of the area. As Henry Clausen put it, "History is the heritage and patrimony of mankind in its lessons of the past that gives priceless inspiration for the future".

– Bridget Badoe McQuick

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