|THE ORIGINS OF SUMMERHILL ROAD TOTTENHAM|
To start these notes I have to say that we have to assume that all these details are correct. We rely on the writings and records that are available from over 150 years ago and our ability to interpret them as amateur researchers. I hope that we have followed all of the leads properly and read all the right things into what we have seen. I would like to thank my brother Alan who has given me all the support and encouragement one could wish for to follow this project through together with the research he has done in helping put it all together for me. I would also like to thank my nephew Richard who has helped us to put this website together and get it on-line, which has brought a lot of pleasure to lots of people and renewed lots of childhood friendships. We must also thank the many people who have taken the time to write to us with their memories which has helped make our project so interesting and to provide a local history record at Bruce Castle Museum. At this point I must add our most sincere thanks to Haringey Council for providing such a wonderful resource for us to use. Bruce Castle Museum in Lordship Lane is a wonderful place with a wealth of information on our local history. I would like to thank Jeff Gerhardt and Bill (Volunteer worker) and the other members of the staff who have helped us so much with all this research. Its been a very good experience to have such a friendly and helpful service to enable us to achieve what we have managed so far. We have got some wonderful maps and photo's and other information which has helped to make the 'Summerhill Road' website so interesting together with local history from the surrounding area. We only hope that all those that read this information from all corners of the world will agree that this has been an interesting and worthy project for a special road in many peoples lives and Tottenham's history.
AREA RIPE FOR DEVELOPMENT
The earliest map of the West Green area of Tottenham was dated 1619 and covers all of Tottenham. It has the land mapped out into plots and by far the biggest landowner named on these plots is a Mrs Candler, which is surprising as most people today think that Women only got equality in the 1900's. But here we see a lady who virtually owned Tottenham 300 years ago so she must have been a very powerful lady in those days. Although she did not own the specific piece of land on which Summerhill Road stands today, for this land was known as 'Redlands' and was owned by a person named Lack. The surrounding roads were Blackhope lane (now West Green Road) and Philip lane from West Green to Ermine Street (Now High Road) which is much as they are today. The next map we can find dates from the late 1700's early 1800's and Blackhope lane has now been renamed Blackthorn Lane. We find that the land in the triangle contained between West Green along Philip lane and Blackthorn lane to the High Road has a building described as a factory in the area covering Summerhill Road and Clyde Road, which of course had not yet been built. Unfortunately, we cannot obtain a copy of this map as it is very large and fragile and is of antique value.
So it would appear the first building hereabouts was industrial, which further proves to the people who dislike Industrial sites in the area, that it started this way and thankfully we still have these links today. But on this map I could not see the name of 'Redlands', which we understand was actually an orchard. At about this time a lot of the land in the Edmonton hundred was being used for market gardening and orchards to supply foodstuffs to the people of London. It is interesting to note that the very first mention of Potatoes being grown in Tottenham was in the vestry minutes of Tottenham dated 25th August 1713, when they had a problem in the 'Downfield' where 'Pertaytors' (Potatoes) were planted and, due to the late maturing of these compared with corn, peas and beans it was causing problems to the parishioners who wanted to turn their cattle out to pasture as had been their custom.. A Mr William Bull had been pounding the cattle of his pertaytors and now they had to agree if the Downfield was common field land, lammas land, or enclosed land to help solve the problem. There was no record in the subsequent vestry minutes to see how the problem was resolved. The 'Downfield' could well have been in the area of 'Downhills' as the Downfield is mentioned in different books in close proximity to both 'Downhills House' and 'Mount Pleasant House' depending from which direction the Downfield was approached. It is possible it could be the same house as the name changes on a number of different maps but we do know it was in the same general area that we know today.
A study of further documents confirm that the West Green area was a country village until the late 1800's, but the records also show that even prior to the 1850's plans were being made to turn all this agricultural land into residential area's. We know from the Edmonton Hundreds book that 36 acres of meadow land was offered for sale on Friday 11th July 1851 as building plots (See copy of notice as follows)
Auction Notice - (Historical note: This auction took place when the Grand Exhibition of 1851 was in full operation in Hyde Park London. The Exhibition known as the 'Crystal Palace' was said to stand at the threshold of a new age of prosperity which ironically coincided with the birth of 'Summerhill Road'
We think that this land was in the aforementioned triangle formed by the junction of West Green Road and Philip Lane at the 'West Green' itself and the High Road. When we say 'We think' it's because the auction notice quotes West Green Lane and, despite looking at many old maps and books, we can see no mention of West Green Lane anywhere. The only lanes in this area were High Cross lane which was originally the start of Philip Lane from Holy Trinity Church to about Janson's Road, after which it was Philip lane to West Green. We are not sure when it was changed to Philip Lane along its complete length as we know it today. Therefore, since no mention is made of these lanes on the auction notice it is unclear of the true area offered for sale. However, we do know from page 229 of Fisk's history of Tottenham, that by 1863 Janson's Road and Summerhill Road had been constructed, so this places Philip Lane as being on the meadow land. We also know from page 319 of the Edmonton Hundreds record, that 36 acres of meadow land connecting Philip Lane and West Green Road had been developed since it refers to Summerhill Road where terraces had been built in 1856 and 1859. It also refers to Bathurst Road (Now Lawrence Road) which had a floor cloth factory. ( Note that in many of the old Census returns, residents of Summerhill Road had occupations relating to Floor Cloth Manufacture). In Frith's History of Tottenham (page 71) it says that a once famous spot in West Green was 'Green Park' and on this spot was erected Whitley's factory. Since we also know from a map prior to 1850, that a factory existed it is undoubtedly one of the same. We also know from the 1861 census that 'Summerhill Road' was referred to in the area of 'Green Park'. We can therefore conclude that Summerhill Road was developed between 1851 and 1861 since no records exist in the 1851 Census
So now we come to a thing that has disappointed a great number of people over the past 40 years or so, not only in Tottenham but throughout England. It is the practice today that you no longer get the original deed's to your property back. Instead the deeds are now in the form of a charge certificate from the Land Registry which contains the bare minimum of information. Consequently, you no longer get pages containing the history of your property which were often written in hand and provided details of the builders and how many rooms your property originally had. Also it would tell you if the inside of the house was open to allow people to construct the rooms as they wished. Therefore, unless someone had taken a copy of the deeds before these new rules and regulations were brought in, or have occupied the property for over 40 years then you have the chance to see the original deeds which give an invaluable insight to the history of your property. Throughout the many years that I have lived in Summerhill Road, I have been shown the deeds of some of the houses but cannot quote them word for word. But I have observed a common theme and that is some of the names are often repeated on different sets of deeds. These names are William Lawgane, William Shute Friend and Thomas Bathurst who I believe to be the original landowners and builders in 1853 ! Two other names that appear in early 1854 were Thomas Morland and Conrad Wilkinson, so we can only assume that these people were the developers of Summerhill Road in 1853. It could also be possible that the main person in this development was Thomas Bathhurst since the road containing the early factory, referred to earlier in these notes,was Bathurst Road which much later was changed to Lawrence Road as it remains to the present day. We also know from this research that the first roads built off West Green Road and Philip Lane, were Summerhill Road and Bathurst Road, which were connected by Western Terrace (later Clyde Road).
|Please refer to the extract from a map dated 1864
(pictured left) which shows these to be the only roads developed from the original meadow
land offered for development in 1851.
Note that there were no shops on West Green Road and only a few houses in the surrounding area. Furthermore, the 1864 map shows no evidence of the Railways (Seven Sisters or West Green Station).
When studying the 1864 map, it is noticeable today that, apart from Summerhill Road, very few of the original properties have survived. The houses on the western side of Summerhill Road that survive to this day exist between numbers 5 to 51. However, numbers 1,3 13,23a, 25 had not been built in 1864. We also know that numbers 39 and 41 have been pulled down and rebuilt about 1980. Also, from the original development, numbers 53 to 93 (Eliza Terrace and Summerhill Terrace) have been demolished to form the sheltered housing units and new homes which we know today as 'Summerhill Village'.
On the eastern side of the road numbers 12 & 14 (St Johns Cottage) stood on their own. Numbers 2,4,6,8,10,16,28,30,32,34 and 36 had not been built at this time. Providence Cottage was on the site of number 36 and numbers 38 and 40 had not been built. The map suggests that numbers 42 & 44 did exist in 1864 but numbers 46,48 and 50 look to have been built after on land which two houses had stood at the time. Numbers 48 & 50 have since been pulled down to build the present day flats on this site. Numbers 52 to 60 still exist today but mumber 62 has been pulled down to build two new houses on this site. Numbers 64 to 76 have also been pulled down to build new houses as have all the houses that that formed Western Terrace along Clyde Road which is now all new houses from those that existed in 1864.
OTHER SURVIVING STRUCTURES IN WEST GREEN AREA
Although it says in the books that Jansons Road was built on, no houses are shown on the map, but the 5 houses shown on Clyde Circus could have been those mentioned. Going west from Jansons Road along Philip Lane on the south side through to the parade of shops (Montebello Terrace) just along from the junction with Summerhill Road. These shops have very interesting stone faces or heads on the upper parts of the building which are very interesting features. These all appear to be the same buildings that feature on the 1864 map. I am sure that that some of the houses to the west of the shops have been pulled down and rebuilt, but perhaps the three end ones are the original houses.
From this point westwards it was open land to the point of West Green which was the land of the 'Gothic House'. I was informed many years ago that 'Gothic House' had links to numbers 5-11 Summerhill Road (which in those early days were named Shakespeare Villa's). Unfortunately I cannot find any documents to substantiate this suggestion but you can see that these houses in Summerhill Road do have an obvious Gothic design and appearance.
We then come across to West Green Road and going eastwards there are no houses on the north side of West Green Road until you reach Summerhill Road., but it would appear that Dorset Road was in process of construction as 4 plots are indicated. However, Bedford Road did not exist at this time and only a few houses had been constructed both sides of the junction with Bathurst Road(Lawrence Road). Beyond this there were open fields until the 'Grove Villa' at the junction of West Green Road with the High Road. None of the aforementioned buildings survive today.
On the south side of West Green Road the only buildings shown on the 1864 map were listed as Gloucester Terrace and Suffield Lodge. It appears that Gloucester Terrace once existed in the area we now know between 'The Fountain' public house and Elmar Road although neither 'The Fountain' or Elmar Road existed in 1864. Suffield Lodge was situated where Suffield Road exists today. There also appears to be a Market Garden and house in the area we now know as Brunswick Road. Continuing on the south side of West Green Road there were the open fields until a development called Spratts Row which was once situated where Cornwall Road exists today. We can also see that at the junction of Blackboy Lane was the 'West Green Lodge' and the vast 'Woodlands Estate'. While opposite Blackboy Lane were the Post Office, the 'Blackboy' Public House and the 'Bricklayers Arms' which was also closeby.
This dispells the suggestions of 'The Blackboy' Public House being built as a Hotel to service West Green railway station as no railways had been constructed at this time. It was the 'Bricklayers Arms' that was demolished and West Green station was later built on this site. Next to this was was 'West Green House' (Now the entrance to Downhills Park) and also closeby was the West Green chapel grounds which later became Downhills School and the old Education Authority offices.
|What this does tell us is that the houses on the south side of
Philip Lane from Jansons Road to the parade of shops just beyond Summerhill Road and the
houses in Summerhill Road itself form - A very important part of West Green and
Tottenham's history! Its all that's left of the way the area started, but 30
years later from the map of 1894, the area had really grown and all of the remaining open
land to the south of Philip lane and the shops along West Green Road had now been
developed. Furthermore the railways to Enfield and Palace gates were now operational
and both West Green Station and Seven Sisters station had been constructed.
From the later map of 1894 it indicates that in West Green Road, the land opposite Avenue Road and through to Philip Lane was still open land and the Gothic House had been partly pulled down and was now a nursery owned by a Mr Edward Curry. The nursery remained until 1913, which at a later date formed Spur Road, Bourn Avenue and Mansfield Avenue.
West Green Station - With Acknowledgment to Mervyn Askew who has provided us with this improved quality picture.
|TOTTENHAM HIGH ROAD
From this same map of 1864, it was surprising to see that on the west side of Tottenham High Road, between Philip lane and West Green Road, it was largely open land which was broken by a number of prominent buildings. Starting with Holy Trinity Church and the Church School at the junction of Philip Lane. There followed some grand sounding houses - The Cedars, Eaton House, Eagle House, Grove House, St Ann's Chapel and finally Grove Villa on the junction of West Green Road and the High Road. Sadly all of these buildings have long since disappeared and the land redeveloped.
NURSERIES & MARKET GARDENS
The Lee Valley has long since been notorious for it's nurseries and market gardens and these days we tend to think of the areas though Cheshunt, Broxbourne and Hoddesden as being the centre of this industry. However, prior to the development of Tottenham for housing and manufacturing, it was the Tottenham area that provided much of the fresh fruit and vegetables for the city of London.
We previously referred to the nurseries owned by Mr Edward Curry that once occupied the land where Bourn Avenue and Mansfield Road exist today. There were also two nurseries in Clyde Road back in 1864. One was owned by John Howell and, according to the records, his nursery suffered the same fate as many other nurseries in the Tottenham area on the 23rd July 1876. On this fateful day a great storm hit the area and smashed all of the glass in the greenhouses. (References to this from other growers suggest it was caused by large hail stones) The Howell's remained in Clyde Road until 1886 when the land with 6 greenhouses was sold by auction. This site was opposite what is now Collingwood Road. The other nursery was situated at the corner of Jansons Road and Clyde Road. This nursery also must have had damage to the glass in the storm of 1876 but we could find no reference to it. Other nurseries included the Hollingtons at High Cross lane and Hale Farm, the Rochfords of Page Green and Humphreys of Philip Lane were all reported as having lost a lot of glass on the same day. This was reported in 'The Tottenham & Edmonton Herald' on 29th July 1876 and has also been recorded in various pages of an occasional paper number 45 titled' Now turned into fair garden plots' which was written by Stow and published by the 'Edmonton Hundred historical society'.
So by 1900 most of these nursery plots had succumbed to housing needs and soon afterwards the land on the north side of Philip Lane was converted to housing units. As previously mentioned the area from West Green to Dorset Road remained until the late 1920's/ early 1930's when Spur Road, Bourn Avenue and Mansfield Avenue were built.
West Green Road 1907 - Showing faint glimpse of Philip Lane beyond Booths field on which Bourn Avenue and Mansfield Avenue were later built
Downhills House pictured in 1868. The grounds were sold to form much of Downhills Park
The land where 'Downhills School' is now sited was sold by auction on 28th October 1884 at Tokenhouse yard which is near the Bank of England. We also know that the school was fully operational by 1894. There had also been a Baptist Chapel previously constructed on the next plot, but it would appear that this had moved to West Green Road/Dorset Road between 1864 and 1894 since the Baptist Church on the corner of Dorset Road was built in 1863. During this same period the chapel had been rebuilt and renamed 'West Green Room' and a further 8 houses were built between Keston Road and Downhills Park Road. Apart from 'Downhills House' and Mount Pleasant the land between was still largely open fields until the 1900's when the building of houses north of Philip Lane grew at a rapid pace. Downhills Park was purchased and opened as a public park in 1902-1903 (See the Downhills Park section of the website).
Downhills House & Grounds
|However the adjacent Lordship Recreation Ground was not purchased for a public park until 1937. In just 3 short years afterwards 'Dog-fights' were to be seen in the air rather than in the park itself as the second world war had now started. The Boating Pond, Model traffic Area and Shell Theatre were built and allotments were being used to the east of the park. (See Lordship Rec section of the website) Two public air raid shelters had been built in the park. One was constructed just inside the main gate in Lordship lane and another just inside the Downhills Park road entrance. During the war many enemy bombs were dropped on Lordship Recreation Ground, and unfortunately the public shelter at the Downhills entrance took a direct hit (See Downhills Shelter section of the website).|
Written by Ray Swain (December 2003)
(to be continued)