TOTTENHAM MEMORIES - TOM STREET

 

Thank you for inviting me to report my memories of Tottenham on your website.. I will record snippets of information as they come to mind. Although it will not be story book reading it may contain bits that you can use in your overall jigsaw.I will try to collate them under various headings but there may be some overlaps.

                   Bruce Castle Museum

The ground floor contained a number of glass cases containing dioramas of the progress of life through the ages.Another room displayed a large selection of postage stamps and information regarding Rowland Hill. The upper rooms contained numerous items of interest including a model of the ‘Handley Page’ airliner at the time operating out of Croydon. There was also an open topped truck that transferred bags of post by an underground system to various points in London, probably from “Mt Pleasant PO”. As kids we got great pleasure climbing around this truck. I last saw it on display in the Railway Museum in York – see photo.

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Tom Street's photograph of the Postal Cart

now exhibited at the National Railway Museum.

In the front garden and to the western side of the museum is a round tower which pre-dates the main building (we were given to understand that Robert the Bruce once hid there!) but is now used for groundsmans’ implements.
In the 30’s the eastern side of the main building ground floor was used as a children’s clinic
.

During the war an old detached house, opposite the north end of the park in Church Lane, was set on fire to provide a practice/demonstration for the various A.R.P. services. I believe this was part of a number of demonstrations promoting local services to the public, the main events being held in the recreation ground. Like most properties, both public and private, it lost its railings for munitions.
Adjacent to the Bowling Green, a barrage balloon was stationed.
In the basement of the museum was an ornate and very large Grandfather Clock, nine feet tall, that, I was told, originated from the Spurs’ Offices.

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Bruce Castle Museum - Tottenham

The Round Tower- Bruce Castle Museum

                                                                                              Lordship Recreation Ground
I can confirm, as you have stated, that the tragic shelter was situated parallel to the fence to the right of the Downhills Park Road entrance. From this entrance the path ran down to the Moselle Brook passing the children’s traffic area, and provided us with a perfect run for our soap box trolleys.
During the 30’s the construction of the traffic area gave us a wonderful play area with its small gauge railway and trucks for the transport of material (no JCB’s)
.

The area of the Rec, north of the Moselle, is very flat and of a good size: in suitable conditions it would attract model aircraft enthusiasts to test their efforts, much to the joy of us open mouthed kids. I have included a photo of myself (not recent) with a five shilling ‘Frog’ aeroplane. Lordship Lane is in the background.To the north-east corner of the Rec, next to the allotments, a barrage balloon was stationed. The old “Broadwater Farm House” was on Lordship Lane and backed onto the allotments. It was painted cream and had a pillar each side of the drive entrance and each was surmounted with a large red painted ball.

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A Young Tom Street Circa 1935

Lordship Recreation Ground

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Early Photograph of Broadwater Farm in Lordship Lane

                                                 Downhills Park
This park was always maintained to the highest standard and I can never remember it being vandalised. From the “Philip Lane” entrance, the path runs through a narrow section with oblong flower beds, each containing tulips of uniform colour and size in its individual variety. Halfway along this path was a circular ornate balustrade containing a goldfish pond.
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Mr A Lockyer - Draughts Downhills Park

The path continued to a large shrubbery area flanked, on the right, by the bowling greens and a large outdoor draughts board (see photo) . The person playing draughts was my uncle, A Lockyer, who lived at 7 Dongola Road, and he worked for a London newspaper. He was also a founder of the print union N.A.T.S.O.P.A His hobby was to buy up rented property in the area and he had over 200 through his hands during his lifetime.
In the area adjacent to Keston Road was situated a greenhouse which was a working, rather than a show, building and contained superb examples of chrysanthemums. I can only assume these were produced for corporate purposes. We, as kids, were allowed in, if we behaved.
On the side of the park, opposite the water tower, was an open fronted wooden shelter that we would use at time of rain, but hated every minute as it stank of stale tobacco.

                                     Napier Road

I lived at number 59 Napier Road from 1926 to 1952 and attended Bruce Grove School from 1930-1939. The residents of Napier Road had the service of 12 shops between Belton road and Eve Road (only two remain). A further shop was the Co-Op on the corner of Philip Lane: this was bombed during the war.
In the early years, two shops held our attention. One was the sweet shop, for obvious reasons, and the fact that we had subscribed to the firework club. The other was the Off-Licence on the corner of Belton Road because “Whitbread’s” delivered barrels of draught beer from a steam powered “Sentinel” lorry, the beer eventually dispensed from pumps on the counter. These lorries were always immaculately turned out and crewed by a big red faced man who lowered the barrels through a hatch in the pavement.

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Sentinel Waggon 1930's

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Grace Chapel Napier Road and Church Poster from 1928

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During the war, having watched a film at either “The Palace” or ‘Bruce Grove” cinema, we would make our way home, sometimes to the sound of shrapnel rattling off the roofs of ‘Fox’s” bakery on the corner of Napier Road and Eve Road. We would partake of hot cakes as, of course, “Foxy” worked all night.I don’t’ recall, apart from the Co-Op, any other bombs falling on Napier Road.

Towards the Philip Lane end of the road was situated a Baptist Church, flanked on either side by Ranelagh Road, forming a sharp vee in the road. Two houses were bombed opposite the chapel and I remember the odd effects of blast as the chapel wall was cracked. The houses lost the upper floors and roofs, but a fireplace mantel piece remained on the first floor room with a clock still working. Obviously, like all other properties, Napier road sustained superficial damage i.e, stripped tiles, broken windows and falling debris. Replacement of glass could take considerable time and was carried out with inferior materials, allowing light in, but impossible to see through.

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Bruce Grove Cinema - Circa 1939

The nearest major incidents were Steele Road and across the High Road at Stoney South, Both, apparently, were land mines which, because of their slow approach, did not create a large crater, but generated a ground level blast that with a ton of explosive, could destroy 200 houses. Obviously, from this type of incident, debris could be thrown considerable distances. One house in Napier Road received a whole kerbstone through the roof to the ground floor, taking a bed on the way. No one was hurt (probably in the shelter).
Napier Road. Like many others, held their street parties. The last I remember was to celebrate VE Day, with all the flags and the music, the kerbstones painted alternately red, white and blue, and, of course, a mid road bonfire.

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An earlier kids party, for the coronation in 1937, is shown in the accompanying photographs. I believe, but cannot be certain, that the lady indicated by projecting the cross lines, may be Hilda Martin of the shelter tragedy. (See right for extracts from photographs).

I have included a copy of my mother’s 95Th birthday card signed by the neighbours. It is interesting to note a Mr & Mrs. Martin occupied number 23.

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Harking back to the row of shops in Napier road, one was “Billings” Dairy who delivered milk in a churn from a three wheeled hand pushed cart: we kids used to help push as some roads were very hilly. A number of people at that time had oval metal containers with a hinged lid. These were filled by a milkman using a jug that he hooked to the inside of the churn. He used to keep his thumb inside the jig whilst pouring and thus gain a pint by the end of the round.
To the rear of the dairy was a yard with an open covered area used for washing milk bottles. This was done in a galvanised bath filled with hot water using long thin bristled brushes. It was popular with us kids on cold days and helped gain the odd penny.
Next door was “Burridges” Fish shop with all the empty wooden fish boxes and the inevitable smell. We still drank the milk. On certain days blocks of ice would be delivered and left on the pavement outside the fish shop: I doubt if he had a fridge. I believe the ice was manufactured in the Portland Road area, off West Green Road.

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This image has been extracted from an old pre-war London A-Z book of maps. You will find Napier Road has been highlighted and many other of the locations and Road’s referred to within this text can be found.

Prepared from Tom Street’s original notes –October 2009
Tom Street- Steyning Sussex

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