A Straight Line Walk Across London

by Paul K Lyons

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75 - From handbags to a lake of slime, and a very useful chimney

I follow a wide path, passing an enclosure with fallow deer and blossoming cherry trees, to exit from the park through an alley way to Palace Gates Road. This is a road lined with two-story terraced houses, with double bays rising to pyramid-shaped rooves at the front. It's also where a local Liberal Democrat campaigner had her bag stolen in April 2002 while canvassing for the local elections in the Alexandra Ward. I zig-zag back over the 300 easting along Crescent Road past a range of shops. One is called Handbag Cafe. It sells new/vintage handbags and serves coffee/fruit juices! From here, I must walk northwest again, along Crescent Road and Crescent Rise, for nearly half a mile. This is because there's no more direct way over the railway line linking Alexandra Palace and New Southgate stations. After the handbag shop and its neighbours the road is purely residential. Unusually, some of the two-storey terraced houses have two doors built into their porches indicating that they must have been built originally to serve as flats.

Near where Crescent Road now meets Victoria Road, on the left, there used to be some open waste ground. This is where the Alexandra Park Cricket Club played its first games in the 1880s, before, moving several times and eventually settling at the Racecourse Ground.

Further along is Woodridings Court. There was a fire in this block of flats in early 2001, causing serious damage in some of the corridors. Some repair work was undertaken quickly, but this didn't stop the Liberal Democrats slagging off the Labour-run Haringey Council. In July that year it complained that 'the entryphone system at one of the doors was not working, with bundles of loose wires left hanging near the inside door' and that the carpets and corridors of the building were in 'a decrepit and unpleasant state'. Three months later it stated: 'Work on the block has been carried out in an absurd way by Haringey Council. What is the point of the painting and repair work, if the doors have been removed and the building is unsecured and open to the elements? Paint has been left around in cans, which the kids then splashed around when the painters knock off work. It is a disgrace.' Notwithstanding the problems of the fire, Woodridings Court residents have also complained persistently to the council about pigeon slime. A Liberal Democrat councillor said the mess caused by roosting pigeons was unbelievable, and that after visiting a resident she had nearly fallen 'in the lake of slime'.

There's a prominent chimney behind the houses of Crescent Rise. It belongs to a factory that once made tiles but now appears to be owned or managed by Medlock Group. A sign for Visual Packaging Ltd is the only one prominently displayed. Local people made a public protest in 2003 when O2 wrapped six mobile phone antenna around the chimney without planning permission. However, permission was not needed since the site is privately owned. Interestingly, Medlock describes itself as 'a leading national specialist organisation providing network delivery to the telecommunications industry'. Between 1991 and 2003, it had completed over 4,300 base station installations for UK operators, including O2. Its long-standing work for O2 includes: construction of 'new greenfield, rooftop and street furniture sites', the 'upgrading of greenfield and rooftop sites', and the 'supply and deployment of temporary sites'. Medlock - a name to watch.

Towards the top end of Crescent Rise, the properties become more substantial houses, with half-timbering on first floor heavy square bays. Crescent Rise brings me into Durnsford Road (the B106). On the other side there used to be a small swimming pool at the north end of a recreation ground here, but now Sunshine Garden Centre offers to supply 'all your garden needs under one roof'. I take a right angle turn to walk northeast, and above the entrance to a railway tunnel. On my right is the open railway, and, on my left, is a grassy bank covered in daffodils. Durnsford Road is wide and lined with modest semi-detached houses. Further along there's a very broad grass verge planted with a line of youngish trees. In the midst of them, though, is a much older willow, which must surely date back to the 19th century and thus pre-date the laying out of the road.

 A Straight Line Walk Across London - along the 300 easting

by Paul K Lyons
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