There are probably very few people today who would remember George Harwood from his time in Summerhill Road since he passed away over 50 years ago. George was in fact the step-grandfather of Ray, Alan & Christine Swain of number 11 Summerhill Road. Their maternal Grandmother had remarried having previously been widowed.
George was a former Builder then Railwayman and is fondly remembered as being a jovial Grandfather, despite being bed-ridden for several of his later years. His passion was fishing and he had some interesting old gear including his 'Greenheart' fishing rods, a 'Sowerbutts' Roach-Pole and a collection of old wooden reels. His son Charlie was also a match fisherman so the passion run in the blood.
There was often talk of him being a civilian injured during a major shooting incident in Tottenham in the early 1900's, but there was very little detail in those post-war years to help substantiate it. So imagine the surprise when his name was featured in a book on local Tottenham history called ' Outrage - An Edwardian Tragedy'.
The 'Outrage' occurred in Tottenham on 23rd January 1909 and involved 2 Bolsheviks of Russian origin who had attempted an armed robbery of Schnurmann's Rubber Company in Chestnut Road Tottenham. Not a very smart move you might think since it was situated in the shadow of Tottenham Police Station. In their attempts to get away the two robbers, Paul Hefeld and Jacob Lapidus, started a chase and shooting spree that resulted in two deaths -PC William Tyler and a 10 year old boy named Ralph Joscelyn. The chase started in Chestnut Road and involved a variety of commandeered transport - Cars, Horse & cart and even a Tram. The chase continued through Tottenham Marshes across the River Lea then through the Reservoirs to Walthamstow. The chase continued on to Chingford where Joseph Lapidus shot himself through the head rather than be captured. Paul Hefeld finally took refuge in 'Oak Cottage' at Hale End Chingford when, following a shoot out with the Police, he was overpowered and captured. However he had sustained head injuries and died several days later in the Prince of Wales Hospital in Tottenham.
Route of the Chase. George Harwood was shot at point number 4 on the diagram. Map Reproduced from origal book: Copyright Wilson Harris Publications
In addition to the two deaths, there was a large number of injuries to both the police and civilians. At the time of the 'Outrage' there was not the prohibition of today on private firearm possession. Some of the participants in the chase carried guns and had probably served in the Army, both here and overseas, keeping their weapons as souvenirs.The official reports lists 7 wounded Police Officers and 17 wounded civilians.
One of the wounded civilians was George Harwood who had bravely tried to apprehend the criminals close to Northumberland Park Station. The official entry reads as follows:
GEORGE HARWOOD: Aged 26, labourer, 6 Park Lane, Tottenham. Married with one dependent child. Fingers of right hand wounded at railway bridge, allegedly by Jacob as he was making his escape. Claimed 5/- damage to clothes
Extract from Daily Mirror - 25th January 1909
So after all of these years we know that the stories of George Harwood's bravery to be true. One wonders what 5/- would have bought him back in 1909.
Editors Note: Refer to the list of Summerhill Road residents on V.E Day 1945 when George Harwood was listed as an occupant of number 11 Summerhill Road.