Wednesday, 25 June 2014

1842 to 1891 at the Shaftesbury, omnibuses, strikes and disorderly mobs.

The other day @jennitpk (who you should follow if you don't already) found an 1842 watercolour of the Hornsey Road on the Museum of London website. You can see it here.*

The artist's a Robert Blemmer Schnebbelie, who specialized in likeable views of London backstreets and poor neighbourhoods. There's a building to the left that looks like a smaller precursor of the Shaftesbury and around it there's an omnibus queue.

There was still an omnibus station outside the Shaftesbury in 1891, when the employees of the London Omnibus Company went on strike. The London Daily News' and the law were, well, unsympathetic.

'Herbert Clarke, carman, was indicted yesterday at the London County Sessions, before Sir P.H. Edlin, QC, sitting at Clerkenwell, for having intimidated William James Perring, with intent to prevent him from doing that which he had a legal right to do, and also with having followed him in company with other persons in a disorderly mob with like intent.

Mr Geoghegan prosecuted on behalf of a London General Omnibus Company; Mr Besley appeared for the defendant. This was a case arising out of the recent strike by the employees of the London General Omnibus Company and the London Road Car Company.

The prosecutor was a driver in the employ of the former company, and did not join the strike. On the morning of the 7th of June, which was Sunday, he left the Holloway yard with his omnibus at a few minutes before ten o'clock for the Shaftesbury Arms, Hornsey road, where he usually began his journey to Victoria. On leaving the yard, he encountered a crowd of some 400 or 500 persons, who followed him down to the Shaftesbury Arms, shouting, hooting, hissing and using violent language. He tried to leave the Shaftesbury Arms on the way to Victoria, but was prevented from doing so, though he had the protection of ten policemen and an inspector.' [From the London Daily News dated Friday 26 June 1891]

* The Museum of London charges £229 plus VAT for one year's non-commercial internet use of the picture. The copyright on the painting expired decades ago but the UK is, as far as I know, the only country in the world where taking a photograph of an old painting creates a new copyright.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Transforming Seven Sisters

Seven Sisters has a name that belongs to a fairy tale, but it's a newcomer compared to the Hornsey Road. It was started in the 19th century and soon it sprawled for miles with no monuments, no squares I can think of, and precious little written about it

Now the traffic rushes by all going in the same direction, and the good things about the road (and there are many - Ocean Wave Fishmonger's at No. 60 for one) don't get to flourish as they should. It is a mess, so when I first heard that TfL had plans to scrap the one way system I was delighted and curious and looked for more. Then I didn't find anything. At all. I suppose I could have tried harder, but almost no-one seems to be talking about this even though it could be as important as the plans to scrap the Archway gyratory

Nick Kocharhook

Enter Nick Kocharook from San Francisco, who's lived in a few places around London, and became interested in TfL's plans when he bought a flat here. He's a democrat and a Democrat, 'because I'm not insane' and is trying to figure out what people would actually want and how to give them a voice, especially those who aren't in the habit of answering consultations/writing letters to MPs/generally sharpening their middle-class elbows.

We had dinner at Ajani's (update review: it's still great, Patrick's still lovely, I recommend the mushroom/halloumi burger) and talked about how cyclists, cars and pedestrians could fit together. Could cycle lanes with proper barriers help people in motorised scooters? If the north side of Seven Sisters becomes a one-way bus lane, what happens to traffic coming down Sussex Way?

He's on twitter as @K9 and as @t7sisters  for the Seven Sisters campaign. Go say hi.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Usually Quiet Hornsey Rise

'The usually quiet locality of Hornsey-rise was, for a short time on Sunday morning, in a state of great alarm. Between four and five o'clock, the police-constable on duty discovered that the shop of Mrs Soans, No 5, Sylvanus-row, was on fire. 

The stock consisted of light fancy goods and the fire spread with great rapidity. The Holloway Volunteer Fire Brigade were the first to arrive, and a plentiful supply of water being at hand, two powerful jets were soon playing on the burning building, but the fire was not subdued until the back part of the premises was totally destroyed, and the front shop damaged. 

Mrs Soanes is insured in the Scottish Union and the building in the Law Life Offices. The engines and men of the Met Fire Brigade, and also a fire escape, attended, but their services were fortunately not required. The police, under the command of Mr Superintended Manson and Mr Inspector Gale, rendered great service. The Holloway Brigade were led by Mr. Superintendent Badeely and Mr. Hollyman. The cause of the fire is reported unknown.'

From the Islington Gazette on 29 November 1870. There were a lot of fire reports back then and they always tell you whether there was insurance and who provided it. I wonder why. 

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Pooles Park's Secret Garden

This is Open Squares weekend, Open City's younger, greener and less famous sibling (Billy to its Alec in Baldwin terms) and a chance to go look at hidden things

Today I made the excellent decision to go visit the Pooles Park primary school garden. It was like time travel to a 70s commune before the infighting and the cult leaders. Long grass, chickens, willow sculptures, general sense of not being in London any more. Hurried and people-less (because I didn't want to break the spell by asking people if they minded going on the internet) photographs follow.

The bad news is that it's not open tomorrow. The good news (or what could become good news) is that they're planning to be open more often at weekends if they can find volunteers.

Oh, and there'll be a Spanish sing-a-long for babies starting in September. 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Nation of flat-keepers

Shops keep on turning into flats. I tried to keep count, but I lost track. Some are discreet. This one you could walk past and not realise that there was once a shop there. 

Others are more blatant. This place has been a flat for so long that no-one can remember what 'The Cabin' was, but it still looks like someone's camping there and has just chucked curtains up. 

The one below's in front a bus station. It was advertised as being very convenient for public transport. I suppose it is.

This last may be my favourite. It looks like a shop turned into a flat,

but actually there never was a flat there. 

Do you live in one of the ex-shops? Do you know someone who does? 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Red Rum and what happened when Arsenal came.

Red Rum in Bristol, from Wikipedia

Thanks to @rowanarts I spent Saturday morning in Kinloch gardens talking to Jim Pennington, who was born in South America and came to London from Brighton in 1967. He runs Lithosphere the printers. They're on Seven Sisters Road, but for a long time they were  based where the Hornsey Road narrows and turns round to join the Holloway Road. Their building had been the Avery blinds factory and still had a corrugated concrete asbestos roof. 'Last place you'd want to run a printer's, really. It was called Sunblind House and, despite the corrugated concrete asbestos roof, had not a little 60's style to it. At the back, where it overlooked gardens, it was terraced and all the windows had electric blinds and canopies.'

Then Arsenal came and they had to go, together with Baldwin's skips, the Favourite Pub and the council tip. The story of industry being pushed out of Islington starts with the brick kiln that Constable painted being shut down and won't end until the last shop becomes a flat, but nothing's as stark as the Arsenal spaceship landing and obliterating everything under it.

The Favourite is where Red Rum comes in. The horse had a celebrity retirement, turning on the Blackpool illuminations and such like. One day the landlord 'had a relaunch of some sort and brought Red Rum down for it. They're huge racehorses. You don't realise until you stand right next to them. That suffragette didn't stand a chance.'