There may soon be one fewer historic building in Palmers Green following news this week of plans to demolish the Intimate Theatre and replace it with a new parish centre and flats.
There have long been rumours that the Intimate’s days were numbered. St Monica’s, who own the site, first made a successful planning application to replace the theatre (also known as the Large Hall) with a single story parish centre in 1992.
This week’s parish newsletter announces plans to demolish it and to also sell the current Parish Centre on Cannon Hill – which is a Grade 2 listed regency villa.
As you may be aware, the Large Hall and Parish Centre at Cannon House require major investment. Even after such investment they remain, in design, a theatre and private residence. Existing expenditure on maintaining these building is costly and will continue to be in the future. The buildings are not energy-efficient and some areas cannot be accessed by those with impaired mobility. To meet the present and envisaged future needs of the parish, it is proposed to build a new Parish Centre, one that will be a legacy for future generations.
Of course, the Intimate already has a legacy, and was successfully nominated for Enfield Council’s Local Heritage List two years ago. The site of Sir John Clements’ famous theatre company, the first play ever to have been broadcast live on television was beamed from the Intimate and it is one of the last surviving local theatres in London. Those who have trodden the boards include Richard Attenborough (making his stage debut), Irene Handl, Anna Wing, Nicholas Parsons, Roger Moore, Arthur Lowe, Bill Owen, John Inman, Dad’s Army writer Jimmy Perry and his wife Gilda, Tony Blackburn, Stephen Berkoff, Davy Graham, David Bowie, The Wurzels, Joe
Brown, George Melly, Tommy Trinder, Hinge and Bracket, and, in panto, Bill Pertwee, Ruth Madoc, and John Noakes. Many of those have of course passed now. And it seems that so too will our old Intimate.
St Monica’s are holding a parish meeting about the plans on 18 September at 7.30. At the Intimate Theatre.
In ancient Greece. a Prytaneum or Prytaneion, was the town hall of a Greek city-state, normally housing the chief magistrate and the common altar or hearth of the community. Ambassadors, distinguished foreigners, and citizens who had done signal service were entertained there.
Why mention it now? Well, it’s the name of the new Southgate Town Hall development. The restored and extended building now consists of one and two bedroom apartments, and if you want to have a sneaky nose inside to see what has become of our Town Hall, there is an open day on 26 September).
Dear Palmers Greeners, in case the penny isn’t dropping, they have called it, essentially, Greek Town Hall.
Missed, treasured, ruined, beyond hope, still rescuable…opinions on Broomfield House have long been mixed but wistful. A successful of fires brought it to its present state and since then there have been several attempts to revive its fortunes, lead by the hardworking Broomfield House Trust.
Following work by Enfield Council, the Trust, the Friends of Broomfield Park, Historic England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, a consultation is beginning this month to look at future options for house and stable block based on an initial a report produced by independent architects Donald Insall.
The report identifies options for a part restoration, part new build for those parts that are beyond repair, and potential for the enhancement of the landscape setting, possibly funded by a more commercial approach to the stable block.
Enfield Council will have a stall at this weekend’s Palmers Green festival where you’ll be able to pick up hard copies of the questionnaire and essential background material plus information on potential next steps. The Broomfield House Trust will also be at the festival to give their views on the best way forward and are urging as many people as possible to participate in the consultation so that local views can be taken into account.
Increasingly often I log in to find something wonderful is posted on the comments section on the website or on the facebook page.
One such recent post was from Carole Benson nee Rabbie who with her Mum, Dad and brother Harold lived in Hedge Lane from 1939 to 1961. These are her memories from the time.
It was a nice place to live growing up in the 40s, 50s and 60s — very neat, “waspy”, middle class, leafy, suburban neighborhood of well-kept front and back gardens, pretty, well maintained parks, lovely old growth trees, an allotment where you could get a very very small bit of land to grow your own vegetables.
Tatum park near the Cambridge Roundabout that had a playground with swings, two slides, and a roundabout and “the field”, a block away from my house — both on Hedge Lane. Broomfield Park on Alderman’s Hill Southgate was magnificent. Our annual school sports day took place there.
The United Dairies and Express dairies delivered our milk (choice of pasteurized, sterilized or Jersey with cream at the top) to our doorstep year round on weekdays, and later bread and eggs. Got free milk each day in school plus artificial orange juice and Radio Malt for our vitamins. We were healthy considering.Walked 20 minutes from my house on corner of Connaught Gardens, to Hazelwood Lane Infants and Primary School — and later on took the bus from the corner on Green Lanes to Glendale Grammar in Wood Green.
During the war, the council gave us concrete and corrugated iron and helped us to make an Anderson bomb shelter in our back garden. It was creepy, smelly, musty, full of spiders and mice and terrifying to sleep in it as a child so my mother took me (my brother wasn’t born till after the war as Daddy was posted to Aldershot and other barracks around the country and was away for 5 years, with hardly any leaves) to family in Edgeware and other relatives much of the time when the bombing was bad. (No homes were bombed near mine but there were some direct hits to factories in the neighborhood.) our garden lawn was never the same after they dug up the shelter. The concrete was left behind and we couldn’t afford to get a digger in to remove it.
There was a prisoner of war internment camp nearby (i don’t remember exactly where) and the prisoners could be seen doing road repairs and manual labour. One family facing us were Italians and were met with suspicion and were ostracized by most of the fearful neighbors.
Food and everything such as shoes, clothes, linens, were on ration and very scarce. Sainsbury’s for cheese and bacon, sliced from slabs and a butcher with cheap cuts, including rabbit, a decent baker with great doughnuts and a Fishmonger frequently sold out so you had to be in the queue when they opened to be sure to get your supplies. (When you had enough coupons or money.)
Nice department store near The Triangle, Evans & Davies”. a drapery shop near Fox Lane, with a wire to convey invoices and money across the ceiling in a pod to the cashier’s kiosk) and Etam’s, i remember, for stockings and undies.
Hardly anyone had a car. Petrol was scarce. Everywhere was walking uphill and downhill. The family doctor Seifert whose home and office were next door was the only person i knew personally who had a car.
The local policemen were nice to kids, i recall. I don’t remember hearing about any crime in our neighborhood growing up.
We were required to take in lodgers in our spare room for the war effort. We had a nice refugee Jewish family (the father was a psychiatrist who was obliged to work as an orderly in a local mental hospital) from Czechoslovakia for a year or so and a after that a Welsh schoolteacher who took me with her to school when i was 3 so i learned to read at that age. We were lucky. Keeping warm was a challenge in the winter. Coal was on ration and virtually unobtainable, wood was impossible to get so we used coke which was cheap and inefficient. One hot bath a week in a freezing bathroom had to suffice.
After the war when my Dad came home from fighting for King and Country, my Dad drove his own London taxi, so we could go to Westcliff or Brighton for the day and have peppermint rock and prawns, cockles and mussels and jellied eels and fish and chips when the weather was nice. We were lucky.
Loved the three movie houses in Palmers Green. There were 2 near The Triangle –the Palmadium was the big one. There was another one The Capitol, in Winchmore Hill where i took my younger brother Harold to see The Ten Commandments. Mummy preferred American musicals to British movies but i loved them all. Went nearly every Thursday, rain or shine. Sat in the one and nines if we were flush.
Remember fabulous Victory Party on Huxley Place (where some of my relatives lived) and other celebrations in Palmers Green. Tea and buttered toasted tea cakes in Lyon’s tea shop on the Triangle with Wall’s ice-cream wrapped in paper in a cone was next to heaven. Of course, going up West to Lyon’s Corner House at Marble Arch for a knicker-bocker glory really was heaven.
Don’t remember much about going to pubs as i was too young. Remember sitting outside with a lemonade while the grown up Mums chain smoked and chugged a port and lemon.
If you remember Carol, she’d love to hear from you – especially her friend Valerie Rowe (born Knight).
This week sees Southgate Photographic Society’s 73rd annual exhibition – and this year it’s a blockbuster, or certainly at the old Blockbuster’s in Southgate Circus. TfL has kindly lent the space until 17 June.
Why not go along and look – or join the Society for its new season of activities in September. For more information visit http://www.southgatephoto.org.uk/