Bert Jordan was a well known character who lived with his family at 23a Summerhill Road in the post war years spanning the 1940’-1960’s.  Bert owned a Pet Shop that was situated at Scotland Green Tottenham and would always be seen riding a most unusual bicycle that had a large storage pannier at the front with a sign displaying the name and address of his shop. What made the bicycle unusual was the most fascinating motor that was incorporated within the rear wheel. It performed like a moped and yet in it’s appearance it was a delivery cycle.

The following photograph pictures Bert on another delivery cycle when working for ‘Walls Ice Cream’ However, as you can see, this one was not motorised :

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Bert Jordan also had a very distinguished service in the Army during World War II and the following picture shows Bert in his Army uniform: 

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Bert & Faith Jordan, Number 23a

Bert and Faith lived at number 23a all their married lives. They had a couple of rooms in this house which was owned and also lived in by Mr Brown, who also owned Brown’s Bakery in Philip Lane.

It appears number 23a was not built at the same time as the other houses in the road, it is a semi detached house with number 25 which poses some interesting thoughts, as the design of these two houses is completely different, and if one looks at the street map of Tottenham of 1894 (maps menu page this site) it is plain to see the plot of 23a was just that, a plot which seemed to have two greenhouses on the plot, one being against the flank wall of number 25 while the other was in a corner halfway down the plot which has no boundary line and seems to run through to Dorset Road as do the gardens of number 23 and 21. The same seems to apply to numbers 11 and 35, the rest having clear boundaries. We hope to check these facts at a later date.

It seems that 23a was built between 1894 and 1901 as number 23a is listed in the 1901 census list with Mr George Godfrey, his wife and daughters plus 14 year old Ethel King from Peckham as the servant, the daughters were 7 and 4 years old and born in Tottenham, the wife Florence was born in ‘Guernsey Channel Islands’ which may give a clue as to why number 23a has the name ‘Guernsey Cottage’ written in gold leaf on the glass above the street door. Mr Godfrey was in the Shipping Trade on his own account, while George Cam, next door at 25 was a packing case maker and employed others in his trade, were these two friends? as numbers 23a and 25 don’t really look right together. Number 25 is a lovely house and it appears number 23a was built against the flank wall of number 25 and was built a lot higher than number 25. I worked on the roof of number 25 a few years ago and was surprised by it as it is a four sided roof but one slope goes into a box type valley gutter where the flank wall between 23a and 25 has been built up above the level of number 25’s roof and I am sure this could only have been done with the permission of the owners of number 25 at the time of building 23a. It would be very interesting to see the deeds of these two houses to understand how and why 23a was built like this as there is enough room to have built a detached house as the side between number 23 and 23a has a garage built alongside it, at one time the garage had a extended garage from the main garage right up to the edge of the pavement with the doors opening across the pavement to gain access to the garage and was taken down in the late 1970s. I am not sure why but will try to check this as I know it would not have been allowed today. As I said before this is a very interesting house.

Bert and Faith lived at number 23a for 53 years, they did not have children but were very happy living in the road. Bert had a stroke and had to go into Greentrees Nursing Home which was in the grounds of Highlands Hospital which was a long journey for Faith being between Oakwood and Winchmore Hill and no matter how you got to it you had a very long walk if like Faith you did not drive and had to use public transport. Faith did this journey every day for a few years come rain, snow or shine. Faith never missed a day visiting Bert. Greentrees was closed down and moved to a new unit in the grounds of St Anne’s Hospital and Bert was also transferred to this new site but unfortunately Bert died shortly after the move which was very sad, poor Faith had done all that travelling to visit Bert and now he was nearer home he passed on. Faith stayed at number 23a for a few more years but had to move to Broad Lane (where she still lives) as she had problems with her legs and knees and could not manage the stairs at number 23a.

Bert was known locally as the ‘cats meat man’ . Bert and Faith had a pet shop in Scotland Green off Tottenham High Road for many years, Bert used many types of bikes to do his daily rounds of delivering cats meat to homes, from Box Trikes and Trade Bikes, one he used was, from what I remember, the first type of moped - it was a Trade Bike which had an engine fitted in the back wheel. I cannot really explain how it worked but from memory the spokes on the wheel held the engine up, it seemed as if Bert stood up on the Bike and peddled like mad to get the engine started and when it did, was it a loud noise, ‘pop, pop, pop’ and up the road it used to chug along! us kids used to have a real laugh about this, you really had to see it to believe it, the noise it made also made us laugh! But to this day Faith says that the Bike really made things easy for Bert on his rounds although you would not think so seeing him trying to start it, I still think it looked like hard work to me.

Faith has given us a photo of Bert taken in 1931 on a Box Trike when he worked for Walls Ice Cream,(See Photo above)  it’s hard to believe how these ice cream men got it around the streets to sell in the summer months. The box was zinc lined with blocks of ice packed inside to keep the ice cream hard, I can remember getting ice cream from these bikes, little round blocks wrapped outside with a cardboard type paper (rather like a thick slice of black pudding) which fitted into a cornet. They also had wafers and ice lollies. Some men had a big brass School Bell to ring while some just called out ‘Ice Creams!! Ice Creams!!’ but I cannot remember ever getting a soft ice cream which when you think about it today is really amazing . Bert did this prior to getting married then he had to get another job as he could not earn enough on the ice cream round to get married.

Bert was called up for National Service (Also see Phot above). I am not sure what happened but during World War Two Bert and Faith had to do Fire Watching duty in the road which was based at number 30 Summerhill Road, it was a derelict house and Fred Firth of number 42 was the man in charge of Fire Watch in the road (see other memories from the residents’ list on the menu board). Bert and Faith had to do two hours a night and had to wear tin helmets and Faith always took pillows to their watch as Bert was a bit deaf and she covered their heads with it when she heard planes coming over. Faith also did the Fire Watch from the roof of Savory Moores around in Lawrence Road, as you could get a good view around the area from that roof, the building still stands today and has mobile phone masts on top. Faith was also called up and was making guns during the war. I am not sure but this could have been in the same building as the Fire Watch as up until a few years there was a working Foundry on that site at the side and rear of the building.

Faith is now in her nineties and had an operation on her knees 6 months ago and has a wonderful West Indian neighbour who takes her shopping every week in her car and also pops in and out to make sure Faith is OK. She really helps Faith a lot, so it’s nice to know she has still got good neighbours!

(The above are the Summerhill Road memories  of Faith Jordan  as reported to Ray Swain)

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