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A Straight Line Walk Across London
by Paul K Lyons
73 - Nightingale Lane to a school with both Page Three and Socialist connections
Ideally, I would like to exit the park along Oak Avenue or Ashford Avenue, both of which I can see and which poke in, as it were, to the park since they would take me close to the 300 easting, but there is no exit to either road - railings and flower beds run along the dead end edges of both streets. So I return to Middle Lane and arrive at a t-junction with the road called High Street. On my right are the premises where a man named David Murray Greig and his wife Mary first set up shop - in the 1870s - to sell cooked foods. His son, also David Greig, went on to found a grocery chain in competition to Sainsburys. He was also generous patron to the local area (hence Greig's Close).
A notice has been flyposted onto a lamppost here: 'ABC carpet event at Alexandra Palace. Free admission. The UK's largest hand-made carpet retailer offers 50-75% off. Small rugs to over-sized carpets, from India, China, Pakistan, Iran and Nepal. Classic traditional styles to modern decorative designs.' On the north side of High Street, there are several small patches of grass enclosed by low brick walls. But, as with the park, the walls and grass have been neglected. A concrete area in the middle, once a playground, is fenced off and derelict. I turn west, along Priory Road, in front of the relatively modern school, St Mary's, built in place of the local rectory. Next to it is an alleyway leading to Hornsey Bowling Club, a block of flats, and then an aggressively fortified wall protecting some premises of the Territorial Army. It seems, from the visible notices, that several units are based here including 'Eight (Queen's Regiment) Company and Machine Gun Platoon' and '144 Parachute Medical Squadron(V)'.
In the 1890s, while Crouch End was booming, much of this area, especially north of Priory Road, was yet to be developed. A mansion called The Priory was the largest of the properties, and the area around it was called Priory Park. However, by the start of World War One, the Priory had gone, and all the roads had been laid out with terraced housing, more or less as they look today. Only the small plot around the Rectory, the army land, and the area that was to be renamed Priory Park escaped residential housing.
Because of the layout of the roads, I need to turn north again a little before the 300 easting, along Nightingale Lane, which, together with Priory Road and Middle Lane, predates the urbanisation. There are late Victorian terraced houses along here, with attractive details, such as pretty ornamental tiles lining the porches. Half way along is a pub called, unsurprisingly, The Nightingale, dating from the turn of the century. The building still advertises its brewer as 'Watney Combe Reid'.
Further north, where the terraced houses on my left, and down the side streets (North View and South View) are less decorated but, nevertheless, still handsome, I pass a series of school buildings on my right: Campsbourne Infant and Junior Schools. The infant school is quite striking. It's made up of a series of low buildings, one facing the road, with rounded gables, and, behind it, there are four, parallel to the road, all with pitched rooves and the same rounded gables. Next door, the three-storey junior school building has a similar style.
Old pupils from the junior school particularly remember a teacher called
Miss Welch, as much for her authoritarian ways, her battleship stature,
her tendency to visit the boys changing rooms, as for her techniques in
teaching sewing! Gaynor Goodman and David Triesman, both spent time at this
school. Goodman made a name for herself as a Page Three model, while Triesman,
a life long trade unionist, is currently the Labour Party's Secretary General.
Today, over a third of the school does not have English as its first language,
with Turkish being the main other language. Moreover, two out of every five
pupils is entitled to free meals, which is way above the norm.
A Straight Line Walk Across London - along the 300 easting
by Paul K Lyons
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