Fred Fisk was a really true son of Tottenham who left a legacy of books and photographs on the local history of Tottenham that remains unsurpassed in the past century. Born Frederic Fisk in 1860 he was the son of a schoolmaster and his family lived for a while in Northumberland Park and was a pupil at a school that once stood close to the site of the Lancasterian School. However he is said to have been largely educated at home by his parents.

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At the time of the 1861 Census a young Fred Fisk,,aged just 8 months, was living with his parents and four siblings at Prospect Place Tottenham.

It is interesting to note that his father, Francis Fisk, had an occupation of Advertising agent.



The Fisk family are to be found in several other locations in Tottenham for the two subsequent Census periods:
1871 Church Road, Tottenham

Parents: Francis and Sophia Fisk

Francis(23) Jane (21) Elizabeth(18) Arthur(16) Edwin (13) & Fred(10 years)

1881 4 Albert Place, Northumberland Park

Parents: Francis and Sophia Fisk

Jane (31) Elizabeth(28) Arthur(26) Edwin (23) & Fred (20 years) - Fred: Occupation - Apprentice to Printer


At the age of 14 a young Fred Fisk was apprenticed to a firm of local printers and this experience was to influence the rest of his life as he was to take an early interest in antiquarian books. At the same time his love of music led to him becoming an organist at Snells Park Congregational Church at the boundary of Tottenham and Edmonton. It was at Snells Park Church that he also took the role of Librarian and it was in this role that he became interested in the local histories of not just Tottenham but also Edmonton and Enfield. He began to collect old prints, photographs and engravings and commenced taking photographs of the local area himself.

In 1888, at the age of 28, Fred Fisk married Emma Horner Redmayne who was born in Salford Manchester and in the 1891 UK Census the couple were living at 3 Lordship Terrace, High Road, Tottenham and the occupation of Fred Fisk was given as being a ‘Bookseller’. From a study of the subsequent census records it is apparent that Fred & Emma did not have any children.


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Shop -605 High Road Tottenham

It was also around this time in 1891 that Fred Fisk opened his shop at 605 High Road, Tottenham and it not known whether 3 Lordship Terrace and 605 High Road were in fact the same location. In the 1891 Census his immediate neighbours were a Fishmonger, Butcher, Confectioner, Baker , Chemist and interestingly at number 7 an ‘Oil & Italian Shop’ so clearly the premises were local shops.
Fred Fisk continued taking photographs throughout Tottenham and in 1907 he published a series of postcards entitled “Views of Old Tottenham”. It is said that he had taken photographs of every shop and house in Tottenham High Road from Stamford Hill through to the boundary with Edmonton.

It was in 1913 that Fred Fisk published his own histories of the borough of Tottenham that he had been researching for years. The book was titled simply as ‘The History of Tottenham’. He also published a ‘History of Edmonton’ in 1923 and later a ‘History of Enfield’. These books were printed and sold by Fred Fisk from his premises at 605 High Road, Tottenham.


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The following copies of old postcards from Tottenham originate from the same period but it is not known whether they were produced by Fred Fisk.

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His postcards were only sold in his own shop from an extensive catalogue of local views. If not available from stock they could be printed to order on the premises. They provided a pictorial record of Tottenham for the period between 1880 and 1910.


At the 1911 Census Fred Fisk and his wife Emma were still living at 605 High Road, and the record confirms that no children were born to the marriage. It is interesting to note that, since householders in 1911 were required to complete the census returns themselves, then this would have been completed in Fred Fisk’s own handwriting.

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Fred Fisk was to close his shop shortly after the death of his wife in 1924. Apparently she had been an invalid for most of their married life and there were no children to succeed him in the business.
Sadly Fred Fisk passed away on the 3rd February 1935 at the North Middlesex County Hospital at the age of 74. In the obituary published in the ‘Tottenham Weekly Herald’ he was said to have been confined to his home for the past 8 years and had died from a partial collapse due simply to his being worn out.

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In the preface of his book Fred Fisk described himself as a life-long resident of Tottenham and for years it had been his wish to issue a history of Tottenham. Normally this would have been a very expensive venture but, due to his background in the printing trade, he was able to undertake all of the setting-up, printing and binding work himself. In closing he said that no history of any district for miles around had been brought out under similar conditions.
Copies of his book can still be found in antiquarian bookshops today and very few people could have left such a fine collection of documents, manuscripts, photographs and postcards.

Copies and originals of Fred Fisk’s collection were bequeathed to the Bruce Castle Museum in Tottenham where they can still be viewed to this day.

Truly a great legacy to the people of Tottenham !

Article written  and prepared by Alan Swain - March 2011

Note: The background image to this article shows the Snells Park Congregational Church which was once situated  close to the Boundary.



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