If you think that nothing about Palmers Green has ever been cutting edge, then think again. Or perhaps not.
In October 1910 John Cathles Hill, a speculative builder who had been responsible for much of the development of the Bowes Manor Estate (and two of north London’s most beautiful pubs, Crouch End’s Queen’s Head and Green Lanes’ The Salisbury), opened a vast hall to cater for the craze of the age – roller skating. Named the Rosalie, on its opening day, 700 people thronged to whizz round on the maple floor, to the accompaniment of a military band.
Unfortunately Hill had opened his new amenity just a little too late. After a rousing start, visitor numbers quickly fell off a cliff and by 1912 the building was sold to the London Omnibus Company. The failure of the rink may have been the last straw for Hill, who at one time had been a major builder and owner of the largest brick kiln in the world. In 1912 he was also declared bankrupt with a deficit of over one million pounds.
The roller rink building is still standing, now the home of rather more enduring wheeled transport in the form of Arriva buses. In 2004 Maurice Cullum, Mike Wormall, Ted Simpson Arriva employees at the garage, decided to research the history of the bus garage further. The result was Palmers Green Bus Station – a comprehensive history, a 140 page tome detailing the history of the building and of London buses in the area. If you see it, grab it, because it now often goes for extortionate prices on the internet.
Nomination for the local list: Palmers Green Bus Station
This article has been prepared as part of the process to nominate buildings and landmarks to Enfield’s updated local list. For more information see http://www.palmersgreenn13.com/2015/09/11/every-street-in-palmers-green/. And if you have any suggestions for buildings which aren’t listed but should be included in the local list, please get in touch. But do get in touch soon, as submissions need to be in by the second weeks in November.
What do you love in Palmers Green? Are there buildings, monuments, or spaces that you think are worthy of recognition, either because of their value in their own right or historical or social associations? Now’s your chance to have your say.
Over the next few weeks a team of local volunteers will be tramping every street in Palmers Green – and Enfield as a whole – to take a look at it’s the streets to suggest what buildings, monuments and other items should be included in the next edition of Enfield Council’s Local List.
The project is being led by Enfield Council working in tandem with the Enfield Society and Urban Vision, and volunteers have been trained up and allocated specific sections of the borough. The aim is to look beyond those buildings which already have formal listed status via English Heritage and produce a longer list of things which, though perhaps not as nationally significant, are still of local importance.
Buildings and other items can be proposed on the basis of age, rarity, historical association, archaeological interest, architectural quality, landmark status, group value (or example a collection of buildings together), urban design quality, designed landscape, social and community value, aesthetic merit or literary or creative association.
The volunteers for central Palmers Green are
• Andy Barker and Fran Carman of Fox Lane and District Resident’s Association (looking at the area west of the railway line including the Lakes Estate) contact firstname.lastname@example.org
• Sue Beard of Palmers Green Jewel in the North (looking at East of the railway line, including central Palmers Green on Green Lanes and the triangle of roads inside the boundaries of Hedge Lane and the North Circular Road) contact email@example.com; and
We’re keen to hear your ideas, particularly if you think that there are gems you know something about and that could potentially be missed. I will be posting about some of the suggestions we will be putting forward as part of the project – and if you would like to volunteer to write any of the submissions, perhaps about a place you care about in particular that you think should be listed, we will bite your hand off…!
Just in case you are curious, local buildings and other features which have already been listed in the past Enfield as being of special architectural or historical interest include
• Appleby Court 128 Old Park Alderman’s Hill built by J B Franklin in an arts and crafts style, although the original features seem to have been lost as early as the 1930s. It is now flats
• 397 Green Lanes, the former site of Grouts, now Skate Attack. The frontage may be original dating from 1913.
• 84 and 86 Hoppers Road.
Sadly, the often fondly remembered Pilgrims Rest restaurant, made up of two C18th cottages, and previously on the list, was lost to developers in the 1990s.
If you are wondering what holds the higher, Grade 2 listed, status in Palmers Green, here is the list
• Parish Church of St John the Evangelist Palmers Green, including the Parish Room
• Broomfield House, Broomfield Park, walls around Broomfield Park on Broomfield Lane
• Menlow Lodge and the former Minchendon Lower school, Fox Lane
• Truro House including some parts of the wall and gate piers
• National Westminster Bank, Green Lanes/Lodge Drive.
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.
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.