Art and Culture Comedy Community Food History Music Planning and open spaces Southgate Uncategorized Winchmore Hill

Celebrate 100 years of Grovelands Park this weekend

At 2pm on 12 April 1913 the gates of Grovelands Park were opened to admit the public for the first time. Before long the park was full of people, with a liberal smattering of police, there to prevent possible attempts at disruption from the suffragettes – Mrs Pankhurst had been released from prison that very morning. What if they got up to their ‘old tricks’?

43-grovelands_park_N21_winchmore_hill_london-autumn-viewThe weather wasn’t entirely kind. Though the sun broke through the clouds from time to time, the opening ceremony was greeted with a brief sleet shower. The Lord Mayor, Sir David Burnett, and the vast entourage of guests invited by the Parks Committee (and those who had paid two shillings for the honour of joining them) were unaffected however – they were in the marquee in front of the mansion, which was decorated for the occasion with flags and artificial flowers.

The Lord Mayor’s progress to the ceremony was accompanied a guard of honour of boy scouts, playing, according to The Recorder, an ‘alarming rattle of drum and bugle’. Gratitude should be expressed to the Chairman of the Committee and Council for acquiring the land, said the Lord Mayor, who remembered Southgate and Winchmore Hill from when he was a boy. The park would prove ‘a boon to present as well as to future generations who would praise [their] wisdom in acquiring it for all time’.

At least, that is the rather dignified account given in The Recorder. An account from a local resident in the same issue tells a rather different story, reading more like the script of a Carry On film.

42-inverforth_gate_grovelands_park_N21_winchmore_hill_londonVirtually no one had paid for the tickets, which were locally thought to be very overpriced. There were a number of false alarms when the Lord Mayor’s footmen, and then the city sword bearer, appeared to check that everything was in order for his entrance, and were mistaken for the man himself. Later, as the marquee was on private property, the Lord Mayor had to process through a gap in the iron railings mid ceremony and into the park. Instead of returning for a vote of thanks, he then disappeared into the house for tea and cake. He had to be retrieved by embarrassed local dignitaries to complete the ceremony, all the time the crowd dashing in and out of the marquee as they second guessed what was actually supposed to be happening.

But the purchase of the park, for the local people, for all time, had been a great triumph for the area.

Originally heavily wooded, the lands which came to be called Grovelands had once been part of the great Middlesex Forest. Later, under the name Lords Grove, it is believed to have been owned by Lord Burghley, and then by James Brydges, the 3rd Duke of Chandos.

J D Taylor, image reproduced by kind permission of Enfield Local Studies Archive
J D Taylor, image reproduced by kind permission of Enfield Local Studies Archive

In 1796, the estate was sold to brewing magnate Walker Gray who commissioned the famous architect John Nash to design the house, and Humphrey Repton, to advise on the surrounding landscape. Repton believed that house and landscape should be a unity, and is thought to have been responsible for the lake and the ha-ha, though sadly Repton’s Red Book for Grovelands, which he set out his designs for the park, appears to have been lost.

Between 1835 and 1885, the estate became the property of John Donnithorne Taylor, before passing on his death to his son and then his grandson, Captain Taylor of the Welsh Guards. In 1902, the whole of the Taylor estate was put on the market.

Alan Dumayne in Southgate, a glimpse into the past tells us that a consortium planned to transform Grovelands estate into an ambitious garden city, with wide boulevards and substantial houses dotted among the trees, but somehow these plans never materialised, and in 1911, Southgate District Council went ahead with a purchase of 64 acres of the estate, later extending it to 91 acres. The refashioning of the park for the public was conducted to the design of landscape architect Thomas Mawson, also responsible for Tatum Park, and the very first president of the Landscape Institute.

As with Broomfield Park, the purchase wasn’t supported by everyone in the area. Was a second park in the area needed? Broomfield Park had opened only 10 years before. Some feared that the purchase would bring an unwelcome rise in the rates. But nevertheless, go ahead it did, and we have Southgate District Council to thank for Palmers Green, Southgate and Winchmore Hill being among the greenest areas in London.

The foresight of those counsellors 100 years ago, and the important part Grovelands plays in all our lives will be celebrated this weekend in an event packed two day festival in the park.    

31-the-friends-of-grovelands-centenary-logo-dates-and-timesOrganised by the Friends of Grovelands Park, The festival includes music on two stages, boats on the lake for the first time in over 30 years, a dog show, dance, film, poetry, photography, and a fair with a variety of stalls.

Celebrations kicks off on Saturday with an Edwardian themed historical pageant involving local schools and community groups. Civic dignitaries will officially open the proceedings to replicate the original 1913 opening by the Lord Mayor of London – though hopefully without the sleet and the mishaps of 1913. For full details click here

It looks set to be a great weekend. Go!


All images by kind permission of the Friends of Grovelands Park except where otherwise stated.

Art and Culture Palmers Green Southgate Uncategorized

Three new artists explore the rocky road of life at Space

The Space Art Gallery is exhibiting works by three artists this month.

Reinhard stammer time is running outGerman artist Reinhard Stammer grew  up on the Baltic coast and had his first exhibition aged just 17 before getting involved in counter-culture art and activism and spending a year in prison. Later, he went through a period of drug addiction before, aged 33, he founded a publishing house. The course of his life continued to be far from smooth however, and he was forced to sell up due to a serious and near fatal illness in 2006. Since then he has thrown himself into creating an art which is born from travelling the rocky road of life. His philosophy, he says,  is to ‘stay true and let life and art flow’.

561655_337695642995594_1568781356_nSomething rather different comes from 8-year-old artist Marina Gruzer. Born in Moscow, she came to the Uk three years ago, and has been taught by art teacher Veronika Leontyeva, with startling results.

If you prefer photography, there is also work by photography student Jasper Jones, who explores the relationship between photography and Scan_1art forms, and is also interested in portraiture. The result is a wonderful collection of often abstract but very compelling images.

Work by all three is on show throughout May. Visit the Space website for more information about opening times.

Art and Culture Bowes Park Community Food Health History Music Planning and open spaces Shops Southgate Uncategorized

That was April (and a bit of March) in Palmers Green –a round up of news and events

It was all rush rush rush in Palmers Green April.

Latest data published by the Office of the Rail Regulator revealed what we always knew – Palmers Green station is a tad busy. Roger Preston from FCC kindly furnished us with some additional data on some other stations on the Great Northern route. Some of them were even busier. But most were on the wider part of the route and all were interchanges. Looks like we are the busiest station that isn’t.

2013-04-10 10.30.36Palmers Green residents were distraught to be deprived of their burger fix in April when local Scottish brasserie MacDonald’s was closed for a number of days.  Meanwhile, the gym on Green Lanes suffered from water damage, also briefly closing Westlakes below.

There was much local debate over the suspended coffee scheme. Enfield Chase’s Karen Mercer, owner of My Coffee Stop on the platform, suggested that there might be better ways of helping the homeless than handing over money to Starbucks and other chains. The story was first covered in the local papers, and then went London-wide in the Londonist. In addition to running the coffee shop, Karen is the mastermind behind the Ideas Station, which provides training and support on social media. Sign up to her Facebook group to find out more.

Over in Westminster, our local MP David Burrowes campaigned for longer sentences for Chris Huhne and Vicky Price and opposed amendments to planning legislation which would have allowed individual councils to opt out of plans to relax controls on permitted development, in particular domestic extensions. However, Eric Pickles is understood to have given the red light to a compromise whereby neighbours are required to be consulted over extensions.

Mr Burrowes was back on Palmers Green’s streets in April opposing plans to open yet another betting shop, this time on the ground floor of Trios Banqueting Suite, an issue which is attracting attention on all sides of the political spectrum. Let’s hope the protest is successful in the way that it has been here in the past and more recently in Lewisham. Unfortunately fruit machines make huge amounts of money and betting shops and their ilk can move in because traditional shops are closing. If you don’t want them here, then that’s a big argument for making a resolution to use your local high street.

We unearthed a little more local history this month, including a fantastic piece of footage of a carnival in 1931 celebrating 50 years of Southgate as an independent borough from Edmonton, all shot in Palmers Green. We shone more light on the mysterious history of Truro House, Southgate Station turned 80, and we heard Chas n Dave sing about old Edmonton Green, and learned that the horsemeat scandal that rocked the country was nothing new – we had our own. Meanwhile, Grange Park was rocked by anarchist direct action, and a new local debating society was launched.

Grovelands centenary postcardAs we approach summer, the build-up is beginning for a number of local festivals. The first is next weekend when we celebrate 100 years since the opening of Grovelands Park. It looks set to be a fantastic event, with a pageant evoking the original opening ceremony, boats on the lake, music, food and a host of other activities. June 8-9 sees the return of Open Studios, now in its second year and bigger and even better than in 2012. June 15 is the date for this year’s annual Palmers Green Shopping Festival, organised by local businesses, and 1 September the Palmers Green Festival, with a week’s festival events building up to the big day. Meanwhile, Talkies continues at the Dugdale Centre, with its First Thursday series and some exciting additional events promised. More soon.

open gardenIf you are at a loose end this weekend, why not pop along to Arnos Park Lodge to view Elizabeth Dobbie’s beautiful gardens? The event is a fundraiser for Broomfield Park Conservatory, and there will be refreshments and the chance to buy plants from the local area. The entrance is beside 41 Brookdale N11, and the gardens are open from 2-5 on Sunday. You could perhaps combine it with a trip to see the new exhibitions by Reinhard Stammer, Marina Gruzer and Jasper Jones at the Space Art Gallery.

Finally, our thanks to Tony Ourris of Anthony Webb estate agents, who have kindly agreed to support this website. Thanks Tony!

And so we march on into Spring….

Sue from Palmers Green

All through May Space Art Gallery Southgate presents work by Reinhard Stammer, Marina Gruzer and Jasper Jones

Friday 10 May Hill Street Blues Band and Blue Patch at St Harmonicas Blues Club

Saturday 11 May St Paul’s Church May Fair 11am-2pm

Tuesday 14 May Buskers Night at the Step, Myddleton Road

Thursday to Saturday 16-18 May St John’s Players present Hobsons Choice at the St John’s Hall

Friday 17 May St Harmonicas Blues Club

Saturday and Sunday 18-19 May Grovelands Park Festival

Thursday 23 May The New River – a Discover London talk by Peter Berthoud at the Step, Myddleton Road

Friday 24 May St Harmonics Blues Club

Sunday 26 May Plant swap at the Broomfield Conservatory 2.40 to 4.30

30 May to 1 June Acorn Theatre Group present Grease at the Intimate Theatre

Sunday 2 June Live celtic music from Maurice Judge at Broomfield Conservatory 2.30-4.30

Sunday 2 June New River Walk – Hertford to Enfield led by John Polley of the New River Action Group. More walks planned over the summer.

Saturday and Sunday 8-9 June Open Studios and Art Trail

Sunday 9 June Art workshop in Broomfield Conservatory

Saturday 15 June Palmers Green Shopping Festival

Sunday 1 September Palmers Green Community Festival

Community History Southgate

Meet the lawyer who played with matches

joeLocal storyteller and City of London Guide Joe Studman heads out on the streets of Southgate this Sunday to tell the story of the town’s gradual emergence from two villages, and some of the characters who have lived there and shaped its history

Joe will be introducing the owner of the first motorcar in Southgate, the lawyer who played with matches and got burnt, and telling the story of the Walkers and how they shaped the area.

The 90 minute walk is being run in association with the Southgate District Civic Trust. Meet at Southgate Tube at 2pm. £5.00 £3.00 Concessions. For more information about Joe’s walks visit

Highly recommended!


Art and Culture Community History Palmers Green Planning and open spaces Shops Southgate Uncategorized

Carnival day Palmers Green 1931

Huge thanks to Nick Cox who alerted us to this wonderful video of carnival day in Palmers Green in 1931.

Made by Camera Craft, the footage was found in a skip by You Tube user Andyvalve100, who we are trying to contact now. He says of this amazing find

The Southgate featured here is the London Suburb and indeed it was while working in the area a few years back that I found this film amongst things being thrown away in a company clearout.

In fact, as you will see, it is all shot in Palmers Green, and gives a wonderful impression of what it might have been like to walk along Palmers Green’s streets over 80 years ago, when many of the buildings were 20 or 30 years old, the streets bustled and the cinemas were still with us.

It shows a wonderful procession of local trades, businesses and groups: the fire brigade, soldiers, nurses, local hospital groups, marching bands, penny farthing riders, peace campaigners (‘truth is the first casualty of war’), polo players, life savers, and a group of ladies with placards showing the evolution of women’s rights. There also seem to be riders from a local hunt.

Among the businesses are Express Dairy, Stapleton and Sons, Northmet, Clayton Homes,  John Eaton, a 1903 Humber car advertising a local garage, and a float from the Cock Forge imagining its own past in 1732. The Easiest Way and Easy Money are showing at the cinema.

The date of the film is September 26 and celebrates the ‘jubilee’ but for the moment I am stumped as to what jubilee this is. George V’s diamond jubilee was in 1935. Does anyone know?

Betty Wright (then Walton) remembers the day well, because it was her fourth birthday – in fact, her birthday often seemed to coincide with annual civic events .

The film taken from there, showing the beginning of Alderman’s Hill…showed where my ‘best friend’ lived…at No 3, above an Estate Agents…her parents were the Care Takers.  It’s a pity the Town Hall wasn’t shown….or at least I didn’t see it.  I feel certain my elder sister and brothers would have been in the Parade…they would have been 14, 15 and 18.

I do remember each year on my birthday (just a co-incidence) the Southgate Fire Brigade gave a display in Broomfield Park (or may be in the grounds at the rear of the Town Hall where the fire station was).  They put on a display of a burning building,  and firemen running up ladders to ‘save’ people.  They also used hook ladders, which my brother excelled at.  Unfortunately, shortly after my son joined the brigade and had set his heart on ‘being as good as Uncle Jack’ with hook ladders…they were banned because of ….yes, you guessed, ‘health and safety’.


Please show this film to your friends and relatives  – we would love to hear all your memories, of days like these, what life was like then, and Palmers Green’s people, shops and businesses.

Art and Culture History Southgate Uncategorized

Happy Birthday Southgate Station

IMG_3119Eighty years ago today, on 13 March 1933, the very first passengers streamed through the round ticket hall of the newly opened Southgate station, armed  with free return tickets to Piccadilly Circus, part of a London Underground opening promotion to local residents.

We have got used to the wonderful, now Grade II listed, stations on the Piccadilly Line, but its hard to imagine what people must have thought in staid and respectable Palmers Green as the new art deco-inspired station emerged at the tail end of 1932, on land which had til recently been countryside.

The new Underground station wasn’t the first ‘Southgate’. Palmers Green station was known as Palmers Green and Southgate until the 1970s, and New Southgate had been opened in 1850 (though it was originally known as Colney Hatch). Plain old ‘Southgate’ also wasnt the only option  on the table prior to opening. Other suggestions included ‘Chase Side’ and ‘Southgate Central’.

IMG_3132The stations on the Piccadilly, as well as many on other parts of the underground, were designed by Charles Holden, a man who can truly be said to have changed the face of London. Notoriously modest – he refused a knighthood on two occasions, arguing  that architecture is collaborative work, not of one individual –  Holden described his stations as brick boxes with concrete roofs, but behind his modesty was an obsession with form and function combined with remarkable attention to beauty and detail in everything from structure down to fixtures and fittings.

Holden’s background was far from privileged. Born in 1875, he had left school at 13 to become a railway ticket clerk, before becoming an apprentice to a Manchester architect and graduating from Manchester Technical College. In 1899 he came to London and the employ of H Adams, architects.

Holden was initially influenced by the arts and crafts movement before becoming increasingly drawn to a kind of classical, stripped down, modernist style in which his prime interest was solving functional problems – for example, in the case of 55 Broadway, how rainwater could be harnessed to clean buildings.

IMG_3141Holden first met with London Underground managing director Frank Pick in 1915 when both became founder members of the Design and Industries Association (DIA), set up with a mission to improve standards of design in public life with a mantra of ‘nothing need be ugly’. His first commission for London Underground was a redesign of the façade for Westminster station, and in 1924 he was commissioned to design stations on a new southern extension to the Northern Line, from Clapham Common to Morden. He ultimately became involved in the remodelling or design of over 50 stations and as well as designing London Underground’s HQ at the aforementioned 55 Broadway, which, at 10 stories, dwarfed the buildings around it when it opened in 1929, a kind of first sky scraper.

In 1930 Holden and Pick embarked on an architectural tour of Northern Europe, prior to beginning work on the Piccadilly Line.  The buildings they saw in Holland, Sweden and Germany influenced the development of an instantly recognisable style, one that  was to be crucial in the next phase of LU’s quest to establish itself as a modern company, pushing forward to a new future.   The architecture of the Piccadilly line was used to publicise the  newly opened line, which was promoted as a tourist attraction – ‘come and look’, said the posters.

IMG_3128Last year, despite some opposition from local people, the tatty roundabout in front of the station was restored to its 1930s appearance, setting off the station once again.

Holden’s station still appears weird and wonderful today, though its vision of the future is very much of its time, and would be at home in Metropolis (1927) or the original Flash Gordon films (1936).

Says RIBA’s excellent micro site on Holden

At night, Southgate station emanated an eerie glow and with its dramatically lit canopy and futuristic beacon on the roof, looked more like an alien space ship than an Underground station.

Love it or hate it – and I hope you love it – this amazing piece of architectural history is ours.

More information

Bright Underground Spaces: The Railway Stations of Charles Holden

London Underground By Design

Underground, Overground: A Passenger’s History of the Tube

London Underground archive video of the creation of the Piccadilly line extension.

Modernism in London – page on Southgate

RIBA’s micro site on Charles Holden and his work with London Underground mG