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Harringay, Haringey - So Good They Named It Twice?

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Harringay is a local area in the London Borough of Haringey. Because of this, there's some confusion about its name, even among some of the people that live there. Most are aware that Harringay isn't the same as Haringey, but they're unsure as to whether there's any reason or if it's just down to bureaucratic bumbling.

How the Harringay/Haringey Confusion Started

Harringay developed in the late Victorian era as London expanded into the countryside to the north of Islington. It took its name from Harringay House, the grounds of which occupied most of the area west of Green Lanes as far as the Great Northern Railway.

The name Harringay came from the Saxon, Haering's Hege — the enclosure of Haering's people. During the following several hundred years, spellings were rarely fixed and the name went through 162 recorded variations. The Harringay variant was first recorded in 1569. The variant for the nearby area of Hornsey appeared in 1646. But oldest of all, Haringey, was first recorded in 1387.

The choice of the Harringay spelling in 1792 by Edward Gray, the builder of Harringay House, ensured that this variant survived as the name for the area today. The spelling's survival was not always safe however. In the early 20th Century the Municipal Borough of Hornsey tried to enforce use of the Haringey spelling. It was only resistance by local residents that prevented its adoption.

In 1965 local government in London was re-organised, and a new borough was created by combining Hornsey, Wood Green and Tottenham. (Harringay had been split between Hornsey and Tottenham). At this point the descendants of the early burghers of Hornsey got their revenge on the former residents of Harringay and chose the name Haringey for the new borough. Whilst there's no record about why they chose that spelling it's likely that went for the oldest recorded form. Children attending schools in the borough in the mid to late 1960s were taught that the -ey in the new borough's name should be pronounced as in Finchley.

It's of little surprise then, that ever since the 1960s, people have been confusing Harringay the place and Haringey the borough.

A Quick History of Harringay

The last owner of Harringay House, Edward Chapman, died in 1869 and the sale of his estate began the development of Harringay as we now know it.

Most of the streets built on the land to the west of Green Lanes were developed from 1881 by the British Land Company. Built up in two halves as the Harringay Park and Hornsey Station Estates, these streets became known as the 'Harringay Ladder', simply because they run east to west between Green Lanes and Wightman Road. Looking at it on a map, each street is a 'rung' on the Ladder between Finsbury Park and Turnpike Lane. The Ladder has always been the poshest part of Harringay, and after years of decline it's recently led a bit of a comeback of the whole area. These days it's getting quite gentrified. Mercifully, it's not gone too far in that direction yet.

A large section of the streets on the east side, known as the 'Harringay Gardens, was built from the late 1890s on the land previously occupied by St John's Lodge Farm1. They were built by the prolific self-made Scots builder JC Hill2. The houses are smaller than those on the Ladder, and have always been cheaper as a result.

Hill, safe in the knowledge that the local population was about to increase by 50%, also built an imposing row of shops along Green Lanes in 1899, known as Grand Parade. At the end of Grand Parade he built the Salisbury Hotel3, a huge and impressive building with a large billiard room, restaurant and concert hall. It's still there, still huge and impressive. By the end of the last century it had become distinctly shady and was given a wide berth by most locals. Strangely this neglect has worked in its favour. Its Victorian splendour has survived almost completely intact and a refurbishment just over five years ago has made it a spectacular slice of Victoriana and it's become once again a popular community hub.

A sad loss for Harringay came in the post-war period with the closure of the hitherto famous Harringay Stadium and Harringay Arena. Harringay Stadium was a major greyhound and speedway track. The Arena, built right next door4 was built as an ice hockey rink and had a pretty successful ice-hockey team - the Harringay Racers, who now play at Alexandra Palace. The Arena also hosted the Horse of the Year Show for its first ten years, was a venue for the London Olympics in 1948 and hosted classical music and ballet performances including early performances by Dame Alicia Markova.

However, the popularity of the main sports for which both venues were designed went into decline. The Arena ceased operating in 1958 and the stadium soldiered on till 1987. Both buildings were demolished soon after, and now there's a Sainsbury's where the Stadium used to be and a modern shopping area where the Arena stood.

The modern boundaries of Harringay are:

  • North - Turnpike Lane.

  • East - Warwick Gardens and roughly diagonal lines from its northern end to Duckett's Common and from its southern end to the tip on Finsbury Park.

  • South - The southern boundary of Finsbury Park.

  • West - Wightman Road and the Great Northern Railway line, and the western boundary of Finsbury Park.

  • Viewed on a map It's essentially shaped a bit like slightly misshapen boot, though not quite as elegant as Italy's slender calf. Green Lanes runs from north to south as its spine.5

    Why There Isn't a Tube Station

    When the northern extension of the Piccadilly Line from Finsbury Park was announced in 1929, Underground stations were planned at the northern and southern ends of Harringay, at Turnpike Lane and Manor House. The line was to pass underneath Harringay without stopping there, and the Harringay Ratepayers Association led a spirited campaign for a station for Harringay, next to the Salisbury Hotel at the junction of Green Lanes and St Ann's Road. However, the railway company insisted that the required average speed for the Piccadilly Line would not allow another stop at an extra station, and the campaign eventually subsided.

    Oddly enough, the stretch between Turnpike Lane and Manor House is one of the longest gaps between stations on the whole underground network.

    What Harringay's Actually Like

    It's a great place to live. Despite not having a tube station, or maybe because of it, it feels as if you are somewhere with a discernible identity rather than just another anonymous part of urban London.

    Walk down the main strip of Green Lanes and you'd be forgiven for thinking that you'd arrived in one of London's Turkish or Kurdish enclaves. But scratch the surface and wander into the Ladder or Gardens streets and it quickly becomes clear that Harringay's population is actually pretty diverse. Today, as the census data shows, the population is typical of much of Zone 2 /3 north London with three quarters of its population being European.

    The Turkish connection dates back to the post-war period when a large Cypriot population moved in to Harringay. Whilst this was initially mainly Greek Cypriot, a large proportion of this community has now dispersed. As they did so, the shops that had served the community on Green Lanes went into decline and were replaced by first Turkish Cypriot, then Turkish and Kurdish shops.

    So today there's something of a disconnect between the residential population of Harringay and the quite Turkish feel of Green Lanes. The street is something of a draw for the Turkish and Kurdish communities from hereabouts in North London. But the locals also happily avail themselves of some of the best and most interesting food shops in the city. Fresh fruit and vegetables are always available at fantastic prices, and at all hours of the day as well. One shop, Yasar Halim, on the block between Pemberton Road and Warham Road, has its own bakery, selling wonderful fresh Turkish bread and pastries. Another, Andreas Michli, one of the few remaining Greek shops, on the corner of Salisbury Road and St Ann's Road, has a nifty sideline in plants and statues.

    There are also possibly the best kebab houses in Northern Europe. And they're not just the sort that sell doner kebabs to drunks after closing time, either. Of course, they won't turn you away if you've had a few, and they'll sell you a doner if you really want it, but the Shish rules in Harringay - marinated spiced lamb or chicken freshly cooked over a traditional Ocakbasi, or charcoal grill. Or there are a multitude of variations from different parts of Turkey, many of them involving aubergines or yoghurt. These guys have made it into an art form, and it's all fantastic value compared to your average London restaurant.

    But it's not all Turkish, several new eastern European delicatessens have opened and the favourite local café, Café Lemon, intentionally blends Turkish and English, emphasising the fact by dotting its walls with historical prints of Harringay. Other decent places to eat include an Eritrean restaurant and a paella-cum-tapas place.

    Towards the southern end of Harringay, where the Arena and Stadium used to be, there is a modern park'n'shop retail development. It's mainly brand names including Next, Carphone Warehouse, Sainsbury's etc. You know the type of place. Quite well designed of its type, but it's caused more than a few local traffic headaches.

    Harringay's also got a surprising amount of green space. As well as the enormous Finsbury Park, all of which is in Harringay Ward, there are surprising hidden tranquil spots like the Railway Fields nature reserve and walks along the New River away from the bustle of Green Lanes.

    There are two train stations. Harringay Station is on the old Great Northern Line (with services now operated by First Connect) and connects Harringay to Finsbury Park, Moorgate and Kings Cross - great for getting in to the city quicktime and just recently it's become a doddle to connect with Eurostar. Going north you're connected with the tourist meccas of Welwyn and Stevenage. Harringay Green Lanes station has just been rescued from obscurity by Ken Livingstone's investment in the Overground. Going east, it'll get you out to Southend. Turnabout and you're set for an easy connection to Hampstead and beyond.

    A new social networking site, harringayonline.com, has been set up to help Harringay's locals connect with each other and build the local diversity into a core strength and make sure that everyone knows where Harringay is and what is it. It seems to be a very lively and informative community, full of information on the area.

    But the local council seemed determined to keep the confusion over the name going. The Harringay Passage, which cuts through the Ladder streets running parallel to Green Lanes, misleadingly has name plates bearing both versions of the name. If that wasn't bad enough, as you enter or leave Harringay, a huge council-sponsored banner on the railway bridge welcomes you to or thanks you for visiting...........Green Lanes.......

    1 There are no public gardens to speak of. It's known as the Gardens simply because all the street names end in 'Gardens' rather than 'Street' or 'Road'. St John�s Farm took its name from previous owners of the land, the Knights Hospitalier of St John�s � established as a crusader organisation to provide succour to pilgrims visiting the Holy Lands in the Middle Ages.2John Cathles Hill (1858-1915), a prolific Scottish builder and architect whose other achievements include part of Crouch End Broadway.3 The Salisbury was opened to loud cheers from the residents of the new Ladder roads, whose builders thought it too 'exclusive' to include public houses.4 Opened in 1927, it held over 50,000 people, and was the venue for the Greyhound Derby.5A map which can be linked to via the front page of harringayonline shows the boundaries in detail.

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