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A Straight Line Walk Across London
by Paul K Lyons
77 - Into Enfield for Jag's Trophies, carrom and a Broomfield digression
Leaving Bounds Green by Brownlow Road, I pass a dentist's surgery which still advertises its telephone number with an 01 prefix (not 0208 or even 081), and reach a notice, above my head, that looks to be stuck on the back of a road sign. It says, in small letters, 'Enfield welcomes you. Linked to Gladbeck and Courbevoie. Enfield Top London Borough', and there's a red dragon logo. Looking behind me on the other side of the road, Haringey has a bigger bolder notice for those going south down Brownlow Road.
Opposite an entrance to Bounds Green Bowls and Tennis Club, I turn left into York Way. Some peckish, cleverdick has scrawled a Y on the street name to make 'Yorky Way'. High up on a lamp post, I read more crime prevention advice, only it's not for me (at least not obviously so), it's for tall thieves: 'Burglars and street robbers beware plain clothes and uniform police are patrolling this area in an effort to reduce crime.' I turn right into Natal Road, a quiet street of pleasant terraced houses, some with stained glass still in their front doors, and some with pargetting in triangular gables. The door and windows of the last house in the row on the east side, on the corner of Bowes Road, number 96, are barricaded with metal sheets. A notice says 'children are strictly prohibited from entering this site'.
In front of me, on the other side of Bowes Road, is a long parade of shops, with its own access bay. The building, which looks like it dates from the 1930s, is architecturally symmetrical: both ends starting as two storeys, then rising to three stories and to four stories in the central section (painted cream and purple) above the entrance to a hall. Today this is the Assembly Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses. Indeed, as I pass there's a crowd of suited Jehovah's Witnesses milling around outside. However, in the past the hall was a cinema (sporting the Ritz name in the 1960s and the ABC name in the 1970s). Shops along the parade include Peter's Plumbing, Universal Radios, Rojincafe and Jag's Trophies. The latter says it has over 3,000 trophies on display in its storeroom, and carries components to produced hundreds more. It also specialises in supplying boards and pieces for a game called carrom.
The term carom has long been associated with billiards (as in 'carom billiards' and is also short for 'carambole', a cannon in billiards) but carrom itself is now considered an oriental game, of which there are many varieties. Basically, though, it's a cross between drafts, marbles and pool. It's played, between two or four people, on a square, wooden board with four corner pockets. Using their fingers, players flick a striker disc to hit the draft-like pieces present on the board in formation at the start of the game to pocket all their own pieces (either black or white) and the single red queen piece.
There's a school (Broomfield) and sports ground behind the Jehovah's Witness hall, so I must walk round, along Bowes Road and Wilmer Way. Since Bowes Road is part of the North Circular Road (A406), London's inner ring route, it's dense with traffic. No wonder, then, that a monstrous metal footbridge (with a base taking up more than half the pavement) traverses it outside Bowes Primary School. There are several substantial semi-detached houses along here which have become derelict, numbers 252, 256 and 260, for example, are all boarded up. Presumably, this is due to the blight of traffic.
Wilmer Road is quieter. A driveway here leads to Broomfield School, a secondary school, with a mixture of older and newer buildings and over 1,200 pupils. In 1999, Ofsted reported that its GCSE results were well above the national average and that it was one of the most improved in the country. But Ofsted criticised 'important weaknesses' in science and with the library facilities.
There are at least a dozen schools around the country which use the name
Broomfield; moreover the term 'broom' is found everywhere in place names.
The golden-flowered shrub called broom (Cystus scoparius) was once much
more commonplace in this country than it is today. It was used widely in
medicine for heart and liver troubles, and, not so widely, for food and
drink (the seeds were roasted for a type of coffee for example). But it's
main use - as the name implies (even the Latin scopa means a broom) - was
for besoms. But I've taken this slight digression without proper cause:
Broomfield School is probably named, like Broomfield Park, after John Broomfield
who owned land in this area during the 16th century.
A Straight Line Walk Across London - along the 300 easting
by Paul K Lyons
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