Wednesday 16 November 2011

Hail! Tottenham Hale [3]

Talking of Trams and Trolleybuses ...
This map is dated 1618 and has North at the bottom, the opposite of modern cartographic convention.

Tottenham High Cross was erected sometime between 1600 and 1609 by Owen Wood, Dean of Armagh, on the site of a wooden wayside cross first mentioned in 1409, and marks what was the centre of Tottenham Village. There is some speculation that the first structure on the site was a Roman beacon or marker, situated on a low summit on Ermine Street, which became the Tottenham High Road, as it is now known. There was a cluster of property around the Cross, and a separate community off to the east at the Hale.
By 1822, up-market property was spreading, in a 19th century version  of ribbon development, along the High Road whereas the community at the Hale (bottom right hand corner), located on the edge of Tottenham Marshes, remained a small and separate farming community.
With the arrival of the railway in 1840 (a low-key "St" on the map), and the bridging of the river Lea and its tributaries we see the shape of modern Tottenham evolving on this 1871 map.
"The Swan" in 1810 is just about recognisable as "The Swan" today ...
Horse trams ...
... became, briefly, steam hauled and then electric. This is extremely well documented on a 2001 web site by Michael Bruff (read here).

In 1935, trams begat Trolleybuses, this picture from about 1961.
The extent of Trolley operation can be gleaned from this extract from Mike Harris 1958 version of his London bus map. [details of his excellent products are available here] Trolleybi are numbered in the 600s.
Finally, from the "can you trust the internet" department, a picture of the "last two trolley overhead poles left in London" (Wikipedia quote) on the railway bridge at Tottenham Hale. This is one of them.
But, nip up the A1010 to Edmonton and here is the Tramway Avenue, leading to the depot ...
... and here is a similar view today. Note the chapel building on the left.
Are these recycled trolley poles, now used for phone lines? fbb doesn't know, but maybe someone "out there" does. [The duplicates outside the chapel appear to be a consequence of Google Streetview's image merging algorithm.]

From 1963, Tottenham became part of the London Borough of Harringey and has thus lost some of its identity. The magnificent Town Hall ...
... (Built in 1905) has been renovated and upgraded by the housing association developing the former council depot behind the municipal mgnificence. The main Moselle room has been returned to its Edwardian splendour. Impressive!
Thus concludes our tentative totter round Tottenham. Tomorrow we aim to find a ferry and reveal the ramifications of a river.

Next blog : due Thursday November 17th


  1. I don't have any particular knowledge of the Tramway Avenue situation, although it's always been a street name I'd love to include in my address.

    On a general point, I think you will find that Trolleybus poles were originally 'planted' in the ground so that they splayed outwards from the centre line of the road. This was to counterbalance the added weight of twin copper wires (in each direction) and the necessary hangers and paraphernalia. Once they were fully operational they assumed a true vertical alignment.

    Of course, when the wires came down, they inavariable relaxed to their unladen condition as built. I remember the poles in Maidstone and elsewhere leaning outwards in the days of Atlanteans and this explanation was given to me by a former traffic superintendent. The poles in Tramway Avenue look decidely erect (and wooden - note the telephone engineers' steps screwed on).

    So my vote is against your proposition. Incidentally, tramway poles didn't need to lean in the same way, as their wiring was lighter. I know that Edmonton became a trolleybus depot, but the Avenue didn't update its name. Wasn't there a Trolleybus Cafe on the corner?

  2. I think your are right, on second glance. Although POT (Post Office Telephones, remember them?) did toy with metal posts for a while.