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New asset application highlights what The Fox means to Palmers Green

The Fox - at the heart of PG
The Fox – at the heart of PG

These are tough times for pubs. This week we learned that the Carlton Tavern in Kilburn was knocked down without warning and without planning permission – and apparently also without warning the incumbent landlady, who was told that it would be closed that day for an ‘inventory’.

Meanwhile, up in Winchmore Hill, the Green Dragon was boarded up early this year, only to be reopened in March as a ‘bargain shop’. Its long-term future as a pub, and as a landmark building, seems uncertain.

Not everyone is a pub goer, so why do we care so much? Perhaps it’s because whatever our personal habits, pubs are an important part of our streetscape, an old friend, something intrinsic to area’s bone structure and community. They are often the oldest buildings for miles, the ones with deep, tangible history. We’d like to be able to go in them even if we don’t (which of course is part of the problem).

Here in Palmers Green there were rumours last year that The Fox was about to close, thankfully firmly quashed by landlord Joe Murray. But what if the Fox were to be threatened in the future?

Following concerns, a group of local residents and community groups (including local councillors, this website, Palmers Green Community, Jaywalks, the Southgate District Civic Trust, and the Catanians) has been working on an application for the pub to be recognised as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act. The application was formally submitted to Enfield Council by Southgate District Civic Trust this week.

If successful, the application frankly gives scant protection for the Fox, but it does mean that if the building were ever to be sold, SCDT would need to be informed, and the community would be given time to come up with a counter bid for the premises.

Anyone fancy an historic pub with extensive grounds? Perhaps not, but it means that if The Fox were ever threatened, developers should be under no illusion that they would have an easy ride from the community.

The main text of the application is below.

  • If you think there are other important buildings which should be protected as an Asset of Community Value in Palmers Green, please contact Southgate District Civic Trust. For more about Assets in Enfield and the application process visit

The Fox stands in a prominent position on the corner of Green Lanes and its namesake, Fox Lane. Tall and imposing, for those coming to Palmers Green from the north, it acts as a gateway into Palmers Green’s main shopping area.

The Fox has a number of accolades. It is the oldest remaining pub in Palmers Green to have continuously stood on the same site – there has been a Fox on the site for over 300 years. It is also the only purpose-built public house still remaining open on the main route between Wood Green and some way north of Winchmore Hill, the others being shop conversions with little architectural or historical merit.

The current building, of 1904, was built as part and parcel of the Edwardian development of Palmers Green. The size and grandeur of the building is a reminder that Palmers Green was once a place of enough significance to require a hotel and associated dining for travellers. Before the coming of the car, the Fox was the terminus of the horse-drawn bus service into London, run by the Davey family of publicans who had stables at the back. Once the trams came, it was a major landmark on the journey from London. All taxi drivers still know the Fox.

The Fox, then, holds a position of huge cultural significance in an area which tends to think of itself as having a short past. It is a well-loved landmark and social hub. If Palmers Green were ever to lose its landmark pub, and this landmark building, it would lose part of itself.

As a former bus and train terminus, and a hotel, the Fox has always been at the centre of Palmers Green’s social and community life. June Brown, Dot Cotton from Eastenders, ran her theatre company from it, bands, including big names like Geno Washington and the Ram Jam Band, have played in it, famous comedians perform in it to this day, and the famous have drunk in it – locals like Rob Stewart and Ted Ray and visitors including the famous names who trod the boards at the Intimate Theatre.

Today, as the only remaining live performance venue in Palmers Green, the Fox host a monthly comedy night attracting top Perrier nominated comedians. It hosts a community cinema, Talkies, desperately needed now that there are no cinemas for several miles. It hosts exercise and dance classes, and until recently bands and Irish music. As the only town centre room-for-hire, it has hosted wedding receptions, christenings, parties and bar mitzvahs, giving it a special place in many local people’s personal histories.

The loss of the Fox, in its current form as a public house, would leave the community impoverished; the loss of the building itself would take something beloved and iconic for local people.

For this reason, we wish to make an application for the Fox to be recognised as an Asset of Community Value, so that, should it ever be threatened, it will be clear that this is a both building and social hub valued in the local area, and that local people might have some kind of option to intervene.

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The Fox “sold”

The Fox - at the heart of PG
The Fox – at the heart of PG

I have been hearing rumours about this for some time, but this week confirmation comes via the Fox Lane and District Residents Association’s weekly bulletin that The Fox has been sold to developers – apparently the same company that recently bought Winchmore Hill police station.

Though the current building dates from 1904, there has been a Fox on the site  for several centuries. Palmers Green’s horse drawn buses once ran into central London from the Fox Hotel, as it once was. Geno Washington once played there. There have been theatre productions, celebrity drinkers, a ghost, a comedy club, and community cinema. And of course, it gave its name to Fox Lane.

The attraction for developers is fairly obvious – a huge plot of land, centrally located. But the loss to us of a  major Palmers Green landmark and amenity is beyond  calculation.

Is this really the end for The Fox, and what does it mean for Palmers Green?

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Beat combos hit the Fox

It is of course well known that John, Paul, George, Ringo and Eleanor Rigby all came from Palmers Green  – and that Maxwell bought his silver hammer in Westlakes, having failed to find one with the appropriate hallmark in the pound shop.

In commemoration, Talkies in partnership with Second Sight Films will be marking the 50th Anniversary of the heady days of 1964 with a special showing at the Fox of The Beatles’ seminal  feature film, A Hard Day’s Night, restored, remixed and now in glorious high definition.

Love them do...the Sonnets
Love them do…the Sonnets

There will be live music from Geoff Simpson’s the Sonnets, a sixties combo who at the time specialised in covers. Geoff went on to play and write songs for the West Coast Consortium, (later Consortium) who released a number of singles that dented the lower end of the top 40s.

There will also be a Beatles quiz and, of course, an opportunity to dust off that Beatles’ wig and jacket.

The date for your calendar is Wednesday 22 July and tickets are on sale now.

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Sunshine in PG

Tomorrow is St George’s day, and what better way to celebrate than a trip to Talkies Community Cinema at the Fox to see…er, Sunshine on LeitDexter_Fletcher_06dde16h!

There is method in Talkies madness, for director Dexter Fletcher is a Palmers Greener, and himself a familiar sight on the TV screen, most recently as Mike Noble, the trendy and edgy  East London artist in an episode of Rev screened a couple of weeks ago. He may be more familar from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Hotel Babylon though he also makes an uncredited appearance in the most recent Muppet movie!

Sunshine on Leith is based on the stage production of the same name and tells the story of two soldiers returning to Edinburgh after a tour of duty in Afganistan and their trials and tribulations as they settle into normal life, peppered liberally with music from the Proclaimers, who also make a cameo appearance. Mark Kermode said of the movie, “I shed a tear within the first 10 minutes, and spent the rest of the movie beaming like a gibbering, love-struck fool.”c

Starting off the esunshine on leithvening will be a short performance from the Disclaimers, a Proclaimers tribute band.

There are still a few tickets left. You can order yours online, or pop into Annita’s kiosk on Palmers Green station or Anthony Webb Estate Agents. Or, take your chances on the door.

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What Palmers Green will be like in 2014, probably…

The beginning of the year is the traditional time for looking into one’s crystal ball. Here are our predictions for 2014, courtesy of ‘Mystic Jewel’. All of them, I think you will agree, are almost certain to come true.

  1. The Palmers Green farmers market moves to the Triangle. Enfield Council embraces this as part of the regeneration of the centre of Palmers Green and gives permission for the wider streets on Green Lanes and Aldermans Hill also to be used for stalls.
  2. Bread - in 2014 Palmers Greeners will go mad for it Image:
    Bread – in 2014 Palmers Greeners will go mad for it Image:

    Palmers Green residents become so excited by fresh produce and artisan products that new butchers and bakers open, having first lovingly restored their new premises to the appearance they would have had in 1914. A deli follows.  Then a greengrocer. All of them open until 8 rather than closing before most people even get home.

  3. The fate of Broomfield House is finally decided and everyone in Palmers Green agrees that the outcome, whatever it is, is the best that can be achieved. Previously opposed factions make daisy chains together on the lawn in front of whatever is left of the building.
  4. Truro House and grounds are purchased by the Council, who restore the historic 19th century gardens right down to the New River, opening up river access with a new pocket park. A new zebra crossing links with the new developments around the library and town hall.  Palmers Greeners start getting noticeably puffed out with civic pride. Some people who don’t even live in Palmers Green start to have heard of it.
  5. Jona Lewie, who had a hit with You’ll Always Find Me In The Kitchen at Parties, the only song ever to mention Palmers Green in the lyrics, opens the 2014 Palmers Green Festival. A competition is launched to write a new song about Palmers Green, to be judged by online votes based on performances of each song at the 2015 Festival. Everyone in Palmers Green buys the winning song on iTunes and it becomes the Christmas no 1. Palmers Green is widely praised as ‘one sick ‘hood’ (whatever that means).
  6. The Palmers Green Conservatory runs a front gardens competition as part of Britain in Bloom. It is a precursor to the 2015 Palmers Green Garden Festival.
  7. The council gives all shop owners opportunity to apply for a grant to improve the quality of their shop fronts and fascias, provided that they follow a design code that takes Green Lanes back to its original, more uniform look.
  8. Railings on green lanes are replaced by tubs of hardy perennials. These are adopted by shops and kept tidy because they recognise that it contributes to the growing reputation of the area.
  9. The Reliant Robin - the new PG car for 2014 Image Commons (Michael Warren)
    The Reliant Robin – the new PG car for 2014 Image Commons (Michael Warren)

    Owners of black German cars in Palmers Green form a self policing group to crack down on the boy racers among their number. Said boy racers who cannot thus be reformed are required by law to change car to a pink Reliant Robin with built in speed limiter and are banned from residential streets and motorways.  A small Palmers Green workshop revives UK production of pink Reliant Robins with huge sound systems, and production goes into overdrive as robins become known as, you know,  ‘Badass’.

  10. Buoyed by development, Palmers Green declares itself an independent republic, and produces its own notes and coinage with famed local artist and man about town Ralph Hutchings’ head on it in place of Her Maj. Much blues is played in celebration.

What are your Palmers Green dreams and predictions, do tell us!

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A year in Palmers Green

And so, we have made it to 2014. The New Year lies before us, full of unknown things and hopeful resolutions.

But before we move on proper, one last look at some of the things we covered on this website in 2013, including one or two stories you might have missed…


2013 kicked off with Betty Wright nee Walton’s amazing story of how she and her brothers and sisters grew up in Southgate Town Hall in the years leading up to and including the war – her father had been a fire officer and the Councils official mace bearer. Sadly letters to local councillors and Mayor Anwar suggesting that Enfield Council open the Town Hall to local people one last time before the developers moved in, and in particular to enable Betty and her family to  see the place where she was born, were simply ignored.

Graham Dalling at work image This is local London
Graham Dalling at work image This is local London

We heard the tale of Dr Alex Comfort, writer of the Joy of Sex and expert on ageing, who also grew up in Palmers Green, and lost fingers in a childhood experiment with fireworks. Sadly, we also learned of the death of much loved local author, historian and Enfield Archivist Graham Dalling, who once worked in the Town Hall.

Myddleton Road apparently became flesh and started tweeting about its unloved state and Enfield Council put on display a rare Constable drawing from its archives.

We discussed the origins of the word Broomfield, only to learn of news that another bid for funding for restoration of the house had failed, though some of the feedback was promising and hopes remained that a way forward could be found.


Space Art Gallery, a pop up venue on Southgate High Street, opened its second exhibition with work by Polish artist Maciej Hoffman. Wood Green’s Banksy was chipped and shipped to a US auction house, then withdrawn from sale at the 11th hour after a vociferous campaign, only to be put up for auction again later in the year. New artwork appeared in its stead, and in proof that you couldn’t make it up, we heard Poundland declare that they were fans of Banksy’s. Who knew? In the local corridors of power (also known as Enfield Council), Bush Hill Tory Councillor Chris Joannides hit the national press after being suspended from the party for making inappropriate remarks on Facebook.

There was news that PG could become better connected (though there could be disruption ahead for our neighbours in the south) – London First published its report on Cross Rail 2, this time linking North to South, and calling at Ally Pally. Still on transport, the third exhibition at Space Art Gallery featured 100 paintings of London Underground stations by Ross Ashmore. Broomfield Community Orchard embarked enthusiastically on the ancient ritual of wassailing.


IMG_3132Southgate underground station celebrated its 80th birthday and we looked at the story of its opening. We also learned about a wartime horsemeat scandal at Southgate Town Hall. A new local debating group was formed, and we heard Chas and Dave sing the praises of the long gone Empire in Edmonton. (There is a rumour that Chas and Dave first met in Palmers Green – does anyone know if it’s true?). There were long queues outside Palmers Green’s flagship branch of Laiki bank, as Greece announced a bank levy, but relief as it was later announced that UK customers would mostly be exempt.


Poor old soul - Truro house in a state of dilapidation May 2012
Poor old soul – Truro house in a state of dilapidation May 2012


An anarchist cell was discovered taking direct action in Winchmore Hill. We learned a little more about the mysterious history of Truro House, and rare footage was discovered of a carnival in Palmers Green in 1931. We also found out, as if we didn’t already have an inkling, that PG is one of the busiest stations on First Capital Connect’s Great Northern Route.

Palmers Green residents were distraught to be deprived of their burger fix when local Scottish brasserie MacDonald’s was closed for a number of days.


May saw the launch of a new website bringing together local community groups, news and activities for the whole area. Designed and managed by webmaster Basil Clarke, Palmers Green Community is an excellent source of news about local groups and issues, and includes a forum and an excellent ‘what’s on’ section. It’s a brilliant addition to Palmers Green life – please sign up and get involved!

The Thatched Cottage in 1903, image by kind permission of Enfield Local Studies and Archive
The Thatched Cottage in 1903, image by kind permission of Enfield Local Studies and Archive

The Centenary Festival, a great programme and the kind weather brought thousands to Grovelands Park to celebrate over two days. We uncovered the story of a past Palmers Green tourist attraction – the flower bedecked Thatched House that once stood on the site of Westlakes and was famed for miles around.


Cameras were rolling again in June as the BBC made a pilot episode of a new drama called Family. Locations included the Fox and a house in Selbourne Road. Our neighbouring site Bowes and Bounds Connected told an amazing tale of the kinky cobbler of Myddleton Road, one of my favourite posts of the year.

Image: Dan Maier
Image: Dan Maier

Open Studios weekend saw the Creative Network team get last minute access to the old Blockbusters building in Southgate and use it to stunning effect. This year, thanks to an Arts Council grant, the weekend also included a number of free workshops, alongside the opportunity to view work by over 30 artists, designers and crafts people. A second craft fair in November was packed out and full of excellent work.


In July a few lucky ticket holders got an opportunity to travel the whole of the Piccadilly Line from Cockfosters to Edgware on a 1938 vintage train as part of London Underground’s 150th anniversary celebrations. By then we were in the grip of a summer heat wave, but learned that it was far from as hot as PG has ever got according to In August 2003, the temperature reached 100 degrees. The coldest temperature recorded was just 17 degrees on January 12, 1987.

Enfield Council consulted on plans to ‘open up the park’ and build a new school on an unused Thames Water site adjacent to Grovelands park, splitting opinion in the area, given the love of the park and the desperate need for school places in the area. Meanwhile Alexandra Park celebrated its 150th birthday.

Image by kind permission of Leithcote, Creative Commons
Image by kind permission of Leithcote, Creative Commons

We investigated Palmers Green’s strong connections with the suffragettes and the Pankhurst family, including a riot in Palmers Green Triangle. Good thing then that July also saw news that spitting would be banned across Enfield.

Finally, an excellent film was launched to promote the restoration of Broomfield House.  Created directed and produced by Christine Lalla, the film celebrates Broomfield’s unique history and heritage in the words of local people. If you haven’t seen it yet, you really should.


August saw our neighbours in Winchmore Hill out on the Green again for the Summer Art Exhibition including work by some of the area’s most interesting artists, photographers, sculptors, ceramicists and jewellers. There was a UFO sighting in Enfield and we explored the story of how one man’s unofficial green belt policy shaped the future of Palmers Green


September’s Palmers Green Festival in Broomfield Park was the biggest and best for many years, and the park was positively buzzing. The Palmers Green Tales project – recording memories of local residents – was launched at Ruth Winston House as part of the festival, and Southgate Photographic society produced and excellent video showing how familiar views in PG had changed during the last 100 years. We also revisited the story of the Cuffley airship, and a world war one dog fight which was witnessed by thousands of people in North London’s skies.


And so the nights began to draw in. In October, a worrying PG betting shop shortage was averted with the news of the opening of another bookies; people danced in the streets.  We investigated some of Enfield ghosts but found that although the borough has more than its fair share, PG itself just isn’t that spooky. Unless you know different.

IMG_0758Joe Studman launched the first local history course for 30 years at the Dugdale Centre, accompanied by six themed walks. The course was so successful that it will run again in April – book your place now, it’s selling fast. Palmers Green Triangle’s underground toilets were sealed off and the clutter in the triangle removed though there is still no news about how long we will have to wait for more substantial improvements to the area and the reinstatement of our lost tree. We told the story of the terrible night in 1941 when the Princes Dance Hall was bombed with great loss of life. Betty Walton’s father was one of the first on the scene.


In November, the library was closed for the first part of the changes to the Town Hall area, and hoardings were put up around the Town Hall itself. But on the upside, we had our first real Christmas tree in many a year.


With the sad death of Nelson Mandela, we explored the role of Alexandra Park in the fight against apartheid. The BBC screened a follow up to the programme it filmed 10 years ago on the buildings at risk in London, including Broomfield House. And Palmers Green featured in an award winning feature film writtenby local lads Sam Bourke and Stefan Georgiou, Dead Cat, screened at Talkies Community Cinema.

On the subject of Talkies, it would have been difficult to mention all the great events that the Talkies team has run in the last 12 months; the programme has been varied and interesting and is becoming an indispensable part of PG’s social glue. As has Palmers Green Life, the new monthly magazine set up by Anthony Webb estate agents, featuring history, people, local groups and events. PG has needed something like this for years and now we have it.

Finally, a thanks to everyone who has been so kind about this website and the articles we have provided for Palmers Green Life. We had more than 10,000 individual visitors to the site this year, ad 34,000 ‘hits’ which is gobsmacking. I hope that you enjoyed what you read. If, perchance, you would like to contribute an article to the site, please do get in touch.

Here’s to a great 2014. Happy New Year!