A local road, for local people

crown court london wood green, by SEvER3D

crown court london wood green, by SEvER3D

I’m now strong enough in the legs to take myself all the way from home to the station in Wood Green by shanks’ pony – the first time this morning not taking the fun-packed (‘fun’ optional here) 243 or 144 bus. My hobbling is a sight slower than my usual trekking pace, and because it’s easier to get a seat at Wood Green than Turnpike Lane, I’m going there rather than the usual Turnpike Lane.

All of which preamble means that I’m getting a daily sightseeing tour of Lordship Lane. The A109 (described in its satisfyingly geeky glory at Sabre) runs from Tottenham High Road, through Wood Green and New Southgate, and ends at Whetstone. My route is just the stretch from Gladstone Avenue to the tube, but it’s one of the most familiar roads to me of any in London – a major part of my mental map.

I commence in the heart of Turkish Wood Green – TFC and Sirwan are strongholds here, and make up a significant proportion of the population. All throughout Noel Park and the surrounding parts of Wood Green, Tottenham and Edmonton the Turks and Kurds are the largest ethnic minority group (according to UCL’s London Profiler) and their presence is felt in the community through shops, presence in schools (large families…) etc. A walk through the area is enough evidence of this that you’d really need.

I skirt around the edge of Noel Park, the Lordship-Lane-facing houses not being a part of the estate technically. You can see the difference as you glance down Farrant, Morley or Moselle Avenues – these are wide, attractive, tree-lined residential avenues, even though the buildings were designed to be smaller and cheaper at this end of the estate. A big difference in housing schemes from those days, but its success is echoed wherever money is not the prime motivation/hindrance and effort is made to create communities with good, attractive houses that don’t look like social schemes or pity. Bring back Nye Bevan and the Garden City to Tudor Walters standard, perhaps.

Round the bend past empty shops and flats, and the very pleasant Chapman’s Green (try walking around this, there’s plenty of cute little houses round the back, sort of like Prospect Place in Tottenham), and you have Perth Road leading to the Scotch Estate. This has something of the estate agent’s creative hand on it, and although parts of it are nice, it doesn’t have the self-contained, cosy feel of Noel Park, surrounded as it is by main roads. One step in the wrong direction and you’re in the tower blocks which contain Murderers.

The shops on the other side of the road are not much of anything really, a source of lentils in times of wants. I’d recommend Brothers bakery though – filthy cream doughnuts and actual friendly people, which is unusual in these parts (although go see John’s fish bar, you might be greeted with a grin as well). On the South side there’s new housing developments and more poky houses and units – a Texaco, a RAC repair centre, the Wood Green Animal Shelter. The new houses, or rather flats have much of the ‘crammed in’ about them, and although they look pretty horrible to me, the WJ Meades’ signs suggest they’re mostly already sold. The vacant slot closer to the station looks to be a potentially valuable site, with much more space, but that’s sat empty for several years now. Credit crunch, I suppose. There’s a new block close to the tube as well, which has been heavily marketed of late – it looks suspiciously like a more windowed version of the monolithic Mecca bingo next door. Not a good look.

That final stretch, from Peter’s barber shop to Spouters’ Corner, is a real mixture. Salisbury Road is technically the shopping heart of Noel Park, but you wouldn’t know it: there’s a bleakness in the air which belies the estate as a whole. Nevertheless, I heartily recommend the excellent Akbar, and the lovely chap who runs Seashell. Also look out for the man with funny fingers in the food&wine shop.

Opposite Salisbury Road, Winkfield Road cuts through the estate to White Hart Lane. Eyes left, and you’d see the back of the monstrosity that approaches as you continue on Lordship Lane – the Crown Court. I say monstrosity because it clearly is, but I love it: orginally a Masonic school for boys, it’s been extended to the point of ridiculousness with space age turrets and roofs that stretch the edifice to Gormenghast-ish proportions. Each day you’ll see suited young types, out of place here, overtaking black-clad elderly women bearing wheely suitcases, heading for some trial or other.

After that, the only notable is the tube station itself, a Charles Holden Piccadilly line extension from the 1930’s, but not nearly as  dramatic as Turnpike Lane before, or Bounds Green and Arnos Grove after. Spouters’ Corner, opposite, now dominated by the cinema used to be the local equivalent of Speakers’ Corner; and what’s now a blank bit of High Road heading towards Palmers Green was then Jolly Butchers’ Hill. Things get less interesting, don’t they?


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