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The technology of rail transport in the UK has advanced considerably over the past 180 years and today there are high-speed trains that can transport you to most Cities and Towns in the UK in a matter of hours. We take most of the trains today for granted and barely give them a glance as we often see them speed past us when walking or driving. However, whenever we see or hear an old steam train, we stop in our tracks and are captivated by their presence. After all these old trains have a magic of their own and almost come to life and display characteristics of their own. We love to hear them and to be enveloped in the steam and smells that evoke memories of the past.

So why not take a trip down memory lane, or should we say MEMORY LINE, and revisit the early railways of Tottenham ? Just take a ticket and study the timetables to take you back to those evocative days of the steam railways.

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This old reference book was published back in 1945 and provides a wonderful insight into the history of the railways in Tottenham.

For the real railway enthusiasts, it contains a plethora of old photographs, diagrams and descriptions of signalling and even contains descriptions of damage inflicted on the local railway network during WW2.

This book has proved to be an invaluable source for much of the historic information provided.

See diagram of stations in Tottenham pictured right.


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track.jpg (4469 bytes)   HISTORY OF OUR LOCAL RAILWAYS
Tottenham has developed from a small hamlet of a few scattered houses situated between the High Cross and the Hale at the time of the railway’s coming in 1840. The phenomenal growth that took place from the mid 19th century has transformed it into the densely populated London suburb that it is today and this is due almost entirely to the introduction of the Railways.

The main railway line through Tottenham is one of the oldest in the country. The Northern and Eastern Railway produced a scheme in 1839 to install a trunk railway from Islington in North London to York, by way of Ware and Cambridge, Peterborough and Lincoln. In 1836 Royal assent was given to their bill and Robert Stephenson, son of George Stephenson, was appointed engineer. The Company found, however that their powers were limited to a railway just 53 miles in length, from London to Cambridge.
The original plan had to be curtailed still further and the company applied for additional Acts in 1939 and 1840 to abandon plans for a line north of Bishop’s Stortford and for a deviation at the London end.

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Hopes for a cheap and easy means to access to the City were dashed when their application to run lines into Shoreditch were met with a blank refusal.
So although Tottenham and Edmonton had the distinction of having railway facilities only ten years after the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830, they were only useful for journeys up and down the Lea Valley.


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  The main village of Tottenham was served by two stations in 1840, one at the Hale in Ferry Lane called Tottenham and the other in 'Marsh lane'. Forty pens for cattle were placed alongside the line at the Hale, each pen holding 30 sheep or cattle for the animal traffic, which was very heavy.

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  Queen Victoria and Prince Albert paid a visit to Tottenham in 1847 to start a railway journey to Cambridge. The occasion was a visit to the University where His Royal Highness was due to be installed as Prince Chancellor. The Royal party drove from Buckingham Palace to Tottenham station where the directors and officers of the railway company were there to receive them.

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The station had been altered to provide a reception room and a canopy was erected at the entrance. The Royal party boarded the train at 11.20 am and arrived at Cambridge at 1.10 pm. The Queen had chosen to begin her journey at Tottenham because the carriage drive was more attractive than the rail journey through east London. There was also a very large space in front of the station which was more suitable for the reception of the Royal party and the large crowd that had gathered to see them.
They returned on the following Wednesday afternoon. Tottenham’s church bells were rung all day and bands paraded through the village which had been hung with streamers. The children were assembled outside their schools along the High Road and the Queen left Tottenham along the newly opened Seven Sisters Road. This line was frequently used by Royalty when making visits to King’s Lynn and Sandringham in later years


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  The Tottenham and Hampstead Junction Railway, authorised in 1862, opened in 1868. It was linked to the G.E.R. line by North Junction, and later also by South and West junctions, south of Tottenham station, and crossed the south of the parish towards Crouch Hill. Although destined to be an important link between the systems of the L.N.E.R. and the L.M.S.R., the line at first served no stations within Tottenham itself. South Tottenham station, at the foot of Stamford Hill, was opened in 1871, Harringay Park (later Harringay Stadium) in 1880, and St. Ann's Road, between the two, in 1882. The line was taken over by the Tottenham and Hampstead Joint Committee, representing the Midland and the Great Eastern companies, in 1902.

In 1872 a better London service was provided by the opening of the Great Eastern's line from Bethnal Green to Edmonton, which soon ran from a new terminus at Liverpool Street. The line was raised to cross the Tottenham and Hampstead railway at right-angles and passed through three new stations close to High Road: Seven Sisters, Bruce Grove, and White Hart Lane.

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A direct rail link between east and west was achieved only in 1878, when the G.E.R. opened a line from South Tottenham to Palace Gates, a little north-west of Wood Green station. Intermediate stations, also opened in 1878, were at West Green and at Green Lanes (renamed Green Lanes and Noel Park in 1884, Noel Park and Wood Green in 1902). Palace Gates was linked to Bowes Park, on the Enfield line, in 1930.     


Pictured right is an extract from the world famous ‘Bradshaws’ Guide which was recently featured on a BBC Television programme presented by Michael Portillo.  Note the population of TOTTENHAM was given at just 13,240 people.

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The following section contains some old photographs and information on Railway Stations in Tottenham. Some no longer exist following the notorious cuts to British Railway services by Dr Richard Beeching in the early 1960s




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- First opened: 22nd July 1872
- Palace Gates Line closed in 1963
- Entrance moved from West Green Road to Seven Sisters Road on   opening of Victoria Line
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seven_sisters_junction.jpg (33567 bytes)

seven_sisters_palace_gates_line_1960s.jpg (41627 bytes)

track.jpg (4469 bytes)   seven_sisters_palace_gates_line_1967.jpg (39409 bytes) seven_sisters_station_west_green_road.jpg (41114 bytes)
    seven_sisters_station_1959.jpg (44936 bytes) seven_sisters_station_1962.jpg (34522 bytes)
track.jpg (4469 bytes)   seven_sisters_station_coronation_1953.jpg (53378 bytes) seven_sisters_coronation_1953_night.jpg (40347 bytes)
    We acknowledge the permission given by Nick Catford to publish his photograph of the Seven Sisters- Palace Gates Line in 1967



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    - First Opened 22nd July 1872

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bruce_grove_station_1940s.jpg (43350 bytes) bruce_grove_station_1904.jpg (56474 bytes)




white_hart_lane.jpg (6597 bytes)

-First Opened 22nd July 1872

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  white_hart_lane_station_1940s.jpg (35171 bytes) white_hart_lane_station.jpg (44056 bytes)



st_anns_road_station_sign.jpg (6489 bytes)

- First opened 2nd Oct 1882
  - Closed 9th Aug 1942

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south_tottenham.jpg (6701 bytes)

   - First Opened 1st May 1871

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  south_tottenham_pre_war.jpg (40920 bytes) south_tottenham_station_1960s.2.jpg (55426 bytes)

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  south_tottenham_station_1960s.jpg (32481 bytes) railbridge_south_tottenham_station.jpg (49022 bytes)




west_green.jpg (6209 bytes)

  - First Opened 1st Jan 1878
   - Closed 7th Jan 1963

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  west_green_station_1967.jpg (48224 bytes) west_green_station_1966.jpg (38113 bytes)

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  west_green_ticket.jpg (17910 bytes) west_green_station_1962.jpg (45437 bytes)

             Note;  West Green Railway Ticket - Copyright Michael Stewart



    noel_park.jpg (6157 bytes)    - First Opened 1st January 1878
   - Formerly named Green Lanes –Wood Green
   - Closed 7th Jan 1963

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  noel_park_station_wood_green.jpg (31209 bytes) noel_park_station.jpg (39205 bytes)


    palace_gates.jpg (6405 bytes)   - First Opened 7th Oct 1878
   - Closed 7th Jan 1963
track.jpg (4469 bytes)   palace_gates_station.jpg (70122 bytes) palace_gates_line_belmont_road_1911.jpg (45470 bytes)
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alexandra_palace_station.jpg (34260 bytes)


    northumberland_park.jpg (7130 bytes)    -  First Opened 15th Sep 1840
   - Formerly named as ‘Marsh Lane’

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  northumberland_park_pre_war.jpg (35746 bytes)

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  northumberland_park_footbridge.jpg (84002 bytes)

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    tottenham_station_sign.jpg (6188 bytes) - First Opened 15th Sep 1940
- Name changed to ‘Tottenham Hale’ following opening of Victoria Line underground station
track.jpg (4469 bytes)   tottenham_station_entrance_pre_war.jpg (40218 bytes) tottenham_station_and_goods_yard.jpg (42446 bytes)

tottenham_station_c1900_richard_hadingham.jpg (41314 bytes)

tottenham_station_platform_sign.jpg (16215 bytes)



track.jpg (4469 bytes)   tottenham_station_signal_box.jpg (57795 bytes) tottenham_hale_steam_train.jpg (49723 bytes)
track.jpg (4469 bytes)   tottenham_station_1979.jpg (44262 bytes) tottenham_station_flooding_1947.jpg (41693 bytes)




track.jpg (4469 bytes)   locomotive_tottenham_hotspur.jpg (74025 bytes)
track.jpg (4469 bytes)   flying_scotsman_harringay.jpg (39498 bytes) liverpoolst.jpg (61560 bytes)
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  We trust you have enjoyed your short trip around the early railways of Tottenham !

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REFERENCES: We acknowledge the information provided by 'Railways of Tottenham ' by G. H Lake 1945  and 'Britain On-Line' website    

Article prepared by : Alan Swain   December   2011

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