A little bit of Palmers Green and Southgate’s history has reemerged in Sundridge Hertfordshire.
In our section on this website titled survivals, oddities and curiosities we told of the story of the weather vane which sat on a garage in the north circular road, on the site of McIntoshes old forge. The weather vane had originally graced the Weld chapel (built 1615) . The chapel was demolished in 1862 to make way for Christ Church, Southgate, and the vane had sat atop one of the Walker family’s barns until it was brought back to the forge in the 1920s.
Stephens Engineering moved to the forge site in 1968 and remained there for forty years before relocating five years ago. There were fears that the vane had been lost.
Not so. Engineer Bill Stephens has now restored and repainted it, and it now sits atop his new premises in Thundridge Business park. Bill welcomes anyone who would like to see it to pop along. More information about the story of the vane here.
Does anyone recognise this smiling local dignitary?
Jane Lloyd contacted us recently in the hope that someone in the area can provide information on the portrait, which she found in one of her family albums.
His name may have been Gibbs or Hole and it seems possible that he was a mayor or councillor of Southgate between the wars. Says Jane, it says Palmers Green on the back of the photo (and Camera Craft PG on the front) but there is no further information, and she is not aware of any particular family connection with the area. Unless you know differently….
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.
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.
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 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.
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 voodooskies.com. 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.
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.
Joe 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.
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.
For more than 30 years there has been no adult education offering dealing specifically with the history of Enfield as a borough. London tour guide and story-teller Joe Studman is changing all that this month with a six-week course at the Dugdale Centre.
Joe will be telling the story of Bush Hill Park, Edmonton, Enfield, Winchmore Hill, Palmers Green and Southgate from earliest times to the present day, looking at people, places and some of the national events which impacted on the local area.
The course is £50 and will run from 7.15 to 8.45 on Mondays, beginning on 6 October. Its been selling fast and there are just a few places left. so if you are interested, book now by emailing Joe@jaywalks.co.ukor phoning 0787 553 7295
To coincide with the course, Joe is also running a series of six Sunday walks exploring different parts of the borough:
BUSH HILL PARK Sunday 13th October 2013 Meet Bush Hill Park Station Queen Annes Place Exit 2pm
ENFIELD TOWN Sunday 20th October 2013 Meet Enfield Town Station 2pm
EDMONTON Sunday 27th October 2013 Meet Edmonton Green Station 2pm
CHASE SIDE Sunday 3rd November 2013 Meet Enfield Chase Station 2pm
ENFIELD LOCK Sunday 10th November 2013 Meet Tesco Car Park Enfield Island 2pm
WINCHMORE HILL Sunday 17th November 2013 Meet Winchmore Hill Station 2pm.
The walks are £5, £3 concessions or £2 or those who are taking part on the course. No need to book, just turn up and enjoy a fascinating afternoon in good company.
A new network for local creatives receives its formal launch on 1 October in Southgate.
Creative Exchange is a collective of designers, craftspeople and artists based in Southgate, Palmers Green and Winchmore Hill in North London though members are also welcome from further afield. You may perhaps have already heard the name at this summer’s fantastic Southgate and Palmers Green Open Studios and Art Trail event – now in its second year and growing fast, and an indication of just how much collaborative work can achieve.
Dan Maier of Southgate’s Extraordinary Design describes the exchange as being on a mission: to build a dynamic creative hub which benefits creatives in the area, residents and local businesses – by championing the arts.
“The aim of Creative Exchange is to create a mutually supportive group to combat the isolation which can be an unfortunate side effect of being a sole practitioner. The intention is to create a forum for meeting and sharing experiences, opportunities and support; we are also working together to create new outlets for selling work, meeting the public, and contributing to the community. The Network has just installed it’s latest exhibition of Members’ work in the former Blockbusters store at Southgate tube which has notably improved the area and the next event is a new Designer Craft and Art Fair on November 17th.” (More details of that soon).
“If you are interested in meeting like minded people, being part of a burgeoning creative community or participating in future events, why not come and meet us and find out more about what we do,” says Dan. “and if you are a local business interesting in getting involved in our events or supporting us we’d love to see you.”
Space is limited, so if you would like to be on the Guest List, please send your details to Ruth Berenbaum: email@example.com
It’s strange to think that, just over 100 years ago, the farms of Palmers Green were readying themselves to bring in the harvest. The fields and rural lanes may be long gone, but Palmers Green still has more green space than many parts of London. Look carefully and you will sometimes catch a glimpse of an ancient tree in a back garden that looks older than the house itself. It may well be.
The modern day character of the area is often attributed to the actions of one man – John Donnithorne Taylor. Born in 1798, Taylor was one of the famous Taylor Walker brewing family of Limehouse and acquired Grovelands on the death of his uncle, Walker Gray in 1839. Four years later, he sold out his interests in the brewery and settled to private life in the country and pursuit of his two loves, hunting and property acquisition.
Or did he? There seems to have been rather more to the story: shortly before, Taylor’s wife, Elizabeth, had left him, citing adultery. Taylor then refused to allow her to return to the marital home, and when the courts found in her favour, Taylor appears to have resigned from the company and even temporarily fled the country to avoid taking Elizabeth back.
Taylor was determined to prevent any disturbance to the sylvan surroundings and rural character of his estates (though he was quite happy to pull down the rustic cottages near The Woodman which were interrupting his view). By his death in 1885 the Grovelands estate had expanded threefold to over 600 acres, and included much of the frontage onto Green Lanes, the whole of the present day Lakes Estate and roads to the north – nearly one sixth of the borough of Southgate.
Taylor appears somewhat haughty and stern in some photographs we have of him. Certainly, Herbert Newby describes him as a strong personality. After being unable to prevent the coming of the Great North Railway, Taylor habitually snubbed Palmers Green station, instead taking a pony and trap to Colney Hatch station (now New Southgate) whenever he wanted to go into town.
Newby tells another story about Taylor’s horse being startled one day by the landlady of The Fox shaking out her carpets. Following Taylor’s remonstrations, the landlady declared she would shake her carpets when she liked. Taylor is said to have replied “Yes, but not where you like,” and promptly bought the inn, giving her notice to quit. Perhaps he mellowed, for in later years he could often be seen in a peasant’s smock digging up weeds, for all the world looking like a farm hand.
Taylor was attempting to hold back a tide stronger than he, and it was only a matter of time before the spell would be broken. On his death, his estate passed to his son, and then in 1901 to his grandson John Vickris Taylor. With London encroaching, the land was hugely valuable, and in 1902 the whole estate was put on the market in a series of lots. Some of the land was eventually bought by the Borough to become Grovelands Park, but most fell to speculative builders who began to build ‘artistic’ residences for the discerning customer wishing to escape to the fresh air of London’s northern heights.
Palmers Green was no longer, in the words of Leigh Hunt in the 1820s, a place ‘lying out of the way of innovation’. For a time, the old and the new coexisted. It must have been a strange sight, to see country people using public transport alongside smart city folk, the harvest still being gathered, and a thatched cottage still in the high street. By the first world war, Palmers Green’s transformation into a modern suburb was largely complete.
This article first appeared in Palmers Green life http://www.palmersgreenlife.co.uk/