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How Haringey helped to free Nelson Mandela

The sad loss of Nelson Mandela this week took me back to student days, the boycotting of Barclay’s bank, and concerts and campaigns all over the country in support of the ANC’s struggle.

I was interested therefore to see the excellent piece by Richard McKeever of Bowes and Bounds Connected on the day that Nelson Mandela came to Alexandra Park, not long after his release in 1990. Mandela had come visit life long friend and fellow campaigner Oliver Tambo at his house in Alexandra Park Road – Tambo had spent 30 years in exile in the UK, from 1960 to 1990, and had recently suffered a stroke.

It wasn’t, however, Mandela’s first visit to the area. A self-confessed Anglophile, Mandela had stayed with Tambo during a ten night ‘underground visit’ in 1962.

The area’s connections with the anti-apartheid movement go much deeper however. The presence of Tambo and fellow campaigners Yusuf Dadoo and Vella Pillay, all living in Haringey, meant strong links with the ANC at a time when they were still regarded by some as a terrorist organisation.

African Sounds, the first Nelson Mandela birthday concert, took place at Alexandra Palace in 1983. Headlined by Hugh Masekela, it was attended by one Jerry Dammers who at that time had never heard of Mandela. The chants of “Free Nelson Mandela” from the crowd inspired him to write the Specials song of the same name, and go on to form Artists Against Apartheid with Tambo’s son Dali. Together with the Anti Apartheid Movement, Artists Against Apartheid organised the 70th birthday concert at Wembley which was broadcast all over the world and lead in no small measure to Mandela’s final release.

Tambo died in 1993 and a memorial was erected in the Albert Road Rec in 2007 – Mandela sent a message care of his daughter Zenani, who attended the unveiling.


Community Film Music Palmers Green

Guillermo and Bob at Talkies this October

Talkies Community Cinema’s autumn programme continues this month with a surreal tale from fascist era Spain at the Dugdale Centre on 10 October, and a night dedicated to Bob Dylan at the Fox on 30 October.

Heart of SummerWritten and directed by Guillermo del Toro, and interweaving real and mythical worlds, Pan’s Labrynth tells the story of Ofelia, a girl fascinated with fairy-tales, who is sent along with her pregnant mother to live with her new stepfather, a ruthless captain of the Spanish army. During the night, she meets a fairy who takes her to an old faun in the center of the labyrinth. He tells her she’s a princess, but must prove her royalty by surviving three gruesome tasks…

imnottheresquareThe next in Talkies’ music related nights at the Fox, I’m not there, features six actors exploring different facets of Bob Dylan’s life and public persona, through intercutting story lines, though Dylan’s name is only mentioned once!  The stars include Heath Ledger giving one of his last ever film performances, and Cate Blanchett who won the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Jude Quinn, a version of Dylan from the Newport Folk Festival era. Other left field casting includes Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. Film review site Rotten Tomatoes describes it as ‘a deliciously unconventional experience’.

Both nights are fantastic value at just £5.00. To book your ticket, visit

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There are thousands of Palmers Green stories – and one of them is yours

Do you remember the Black and White Café? Have afternoon tea in Evans and Davies? Buy your undies in Grout’s, or your butter hewn from a big slab in Sainsbury’s?

Those were some of the memories and stories shared by local residents at a special event hosted by the Ruth Winston Centre in conjunction with Talkies Community Cinema a couple of weeks ago as part of the Palmers Green Festival celebrations.

IMG_0612[1]The aim was to look at what Palmers Green was like 50 years or more ago, and the way in which Palmers Green, and our feelings about it, have changed. Once with a reputation for being rather snobby and high falutin’, Palmers Green is now busier than many of its neighbours, excitingly  multicultural, and, in the words of Ralph Hutchings, one of the introductory speakers, ‘definitely on the up’ – a far cry from the 60s when ‘you couldn’t get a decent kebab!’.

The event has now given birth to a new oral history project.

“We have yet to agree a title, but the emphasis will be firmly on ‘now’ as well as ‘then’”, says former Hazelwood teacher Jenny Bourke who is coordinating the project team, which includes Palmers Green Jewel in the North. “The aim is to talk to as wide a range of people as possible, of all ages and from all parts of the community”.

Here are just a few of the many topics the team would love to know more about

  • Do you remember your first impressions of Palmers Green? How has it changed?
  • Can you help us piece together more of the story of Truro House?
  • Do you recall a gymkhana being held in Broomfield Park?
  • Did you have any notable, famous or infamous neighbours or stories about your own street?

“If you took part in the event, the team will be back in touch soon, “says Jenny. “But we’ll also be asking for more people to come forward with their local memories later in the year – we hope as many people as possible will want to be involved.”

But you don’t have to wait until then. If you are a Palmers Greener, old or new, we would love to hear your stories about Palmers Green, whether it be from of 1963 or something that happened just last week.

“We are keen to hear from everyone, but as we are looking in particular at the last 50 years, it  would be great to hear from some people who were actually born in 1963!”

A website will be set up in the New Year, but in the meantime you can contact the project group by emailing

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A beautiful day in Palmers Green …

Palmers Greeners gather round the bandstand for an afternoon of music
The sun was out, the sky was blue … thousands of people flocked to the Palmers Green Festival for a day that was so good it took us half the week to recover.

Palmers Green Jewel in the North were there with a joint stall with local history compadre Joe Studman’s Jaywalks, as well as a display of fascinating old views of the area and publications from Southgate District Civic Trust.

Thank you to everyone who came to say

SDCT deep in conversation with Joe Studman of Jaywalks
David Cooper of SDCT deep in conversation with Joe Studman of Jaywalks

hello – it was great to meet so many wonderful people – and thank you in particular to the Palmers Green Festival team for all the hard work which went into such a brilliant event (I am sure we don’t know the half of it!).

If you signed up for information about Jaywalks, the oral history project Rock n Roll Enfield, or to receive our articles about Palmers Green, we will be back in touch very soon.

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We await our public!
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Come and see us at the Palmers Green festival

The sun is shining, the forecast is good, and tomorrow  is the Palmers Green Festival. The big day runs from 12 til 7, and there will be food, a fun and entertainment. and nearly 100  stands.

Palmers Green Jewel in the North  and Joe Studman of Jaywalks have a stand in the community area. We will be talking about Palmers Green history and people, Joe’s new local history course  – the first to be run in the area  for more than 30 years – and the new Rock n Roll Enfield oral history project.

But you dont have to talk to us  about any of  those. We’re just looking forward to meeting you all. Why not pop along and say hello, and pick up one of our Palmers Green Jewel in the North bookmarks?

2013-08-17 12.30.23For more information about the festival programme, visit the festival website




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Palmers Green festival week begins this Sunday

The Palmers Green festival kicks off on Sunday with the first in a string of events leading up to our Festival Day in Broomfield Park on Sunday 1 September.

Opening the festivities Sunday lunchtime are the Chicago and Memphis Electric Blues Band, playing from 1-5 at the bandstand in Broomfield Park. At 5.30 there is another opportunity to join Joe Studman on a fascinating walk through the history of Palmers Green. Booking is through

red minies talkiesOn Monday there is a BBQ and live music at the Inn on the Green, and more live music at the Bookafe (Bookafe also have live music on Tuesday). Talkies at the Fox hosts Red Minies on Tuesday evening, featuring short films  from students at Middlesex University.

On Wednesday, Baskervilles hosts a summer tea concert with live cellist at 12 and 2, and the Ruth Winston Centre has a pop up cafe and live music from 11.30 to 2.30.

bishopsgreenlanessmallPalmers Green residents are encouraged to share their memories of the area over the last 50 years with Talkies and friends (including Palmers Green Jewel in the North, Jaywalks and the Southgate Photographic Society) on Thursday at the Ruth Winston Centre, and Thursday evening sees wine and cheese tasting also at Ruth Winston.

On Friday you can try line dancing at Ruth Winston from 11-1.30, or hear some classics at The Vintage, St Harmonica’s Blues Club on Friday evening. Skinners Court hosts a garden party on Saturday, and there will be flashmob song and dance courtesy of Centre Stage Performing Arts at Morrisons at 1. Festival Eve sees Talkies hosting singalonga (and optional dressy-uppy) Wizard of Oz at Burford United Reformed Church.

And of course, Sunday is festival day itself, with music, food, games and over 80 stalls descending on Broomfield Park for an afternoon of neighbourly fun.

For full details of the festival programme, visit The festival team still need people to help manage and steward the day, so if you have a few hours and can help, please get in touch via the website.

See you there!