Research Visit


Early_facade_of_Bruce_Castle

The way it was, the way it is.

Took a trip down Memory Lane yesterday.

Bruce Grove Museum used to be around the corner and up the hill from where I once lived in sunny Tottenham. I never went there back then. I do remember, my peer, Roger Braithewaite, doing an article on it for our Community Magazine, Haringey Ghost Town, scripted and produced by unemployed writers. Or at least I think I do. Memories are illusive. Some are made up. Others ill remembered; inaccurate. I used to have a great memory. It was good at sequencing, getting things right.

Nowadays I’m more dependent on others. Yesterday my dependency hinged on the cooperation of the Borough’s Archivist. We were never introduced by name. Though she knew mine for to get into the inner sanctum of the museum an appointment is strictly necessary.

My business such as it was involved researching histories. Not mine. Someone elses. Well, maybe. Certainly somewhere elses. To be specific I was researching next door, 70-72 Shepherds Hill, on the recommendation of the Victorian Society, who suggested that to campaign against its demolition we needed useful facts and figures. Something that said this building was of historical significance.

The time I spent there was interesting bordering on fascinating. I started by flicking through plastic sheathes holding post cards and photographs dating back more than 130 years. Then considering maps from 1894 and later, where I could see the buildings clearly but could not ascertain their house numbers. Its amazing to think that there have been so many changes on this road even down to the house numbers. We were a rural community then. Fields stretched out before us. A shepherds cottage existed on our corner with Coolhurst Road. A priory was at the top of the hill. The area behind the block of flats I live in was called something like North View. All gone now of course. All gone bar these Victorian Villas – a small reminder of our past, the people we used to be. Highgate Street Directories gave the names of the people who lived on the hill. A Lt Colonel became a local dignitary. But I could not link a name to the numbers.

Maybe the Villas have no historical interest. Some are saying they have no architectural merit.  but they have been here through different ages, they have seen, their walls have heard, and in spite of their many years they are still standing, their good condition in question.

I also know from other maps that behind them, behind us, we have ancient woodland. We look out on to some greenery still. Fields, allotments, Queens Wood, Highgate Wood. They are in our view and our street is tree-lined, a distinctive feature that I personally value more than the buildings. And of cause this verdant wonder is of itself at risk for with the demolition comes the destruction of up to four amazing trees. .

I am more linked to this campaign today because of the yesterdays I visited in Bruce Grove Museum and I am grateful of the time spent there and accordingly I recommend to all that you take the time to visit your borough’s archivists to take the time to reconnect with your pasts.
But for now in this present moment, can I ask you to sign this petition and share it on your social networks knowing that the technological advances we use at home or hold in our hands can save the past for the present whilst we continue to look to our futures.

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