A Brief History of Harringay

The name of the London Borough of Haringey and its relation to district of Harringay causes much confusion. Before 1965 no such confusion existed since the London Borough of Haringey had not been formed and the spelling of the name the district of Harringay was of little consequence (See What’s in a Name?).

Early developments

The district of Harringay developed between 1880 and 1900, straddling Green Lanes. Before then Green Lanes was known as Beanes Greene, first recorded in 1393. The Survey of Tottenham dated 1619 clearly shows Beanes Greene running from the southern border of Tottenham, beside the land belonging to St John of Jerusalem, to the lane leading to Hanger Green – present day St Ann’s Road. The name was still in use in the 1840s for the road between the Williamson’s Tile Kilns and Hanger Lane.

To the west of Green Lanes the land was to the greater extent part of the estate of the Haringay House, in Hornsey. The main development of what became Harringay began in Hornsey on the lands of Haringay House, and later from the 1890s on the land of St John’s Farm in Tottenham.

Other land in Tottenham between St Ann’s Road and West Green Road was developed slightly earlier as was the land just north of Finsbury Park. By the early 1900s this whole area had been converted from rural open land to densely populated urban streets and a new suburban shopping centre.

Changing names

By the 19th century Hornsey was established as the name of the parish local government whist Haringey, Haringay, and Harringay all continued to be used interchangeably in a variety of contexts. The Ordnance Survey used both Haringey and Harringay. For example, when Mr Collier auctioned the local mansion in 1883 it was named as Harringay House on Harringay Park; a British Land Company’s estate plan shows Haringey House; the Post Office directory in 1890 designated the neighbourhood as Harringay.

These variants all referred to the district created by the development of the two estates that we now call the Ladder; the Hornsey Station Estate or North Harringay and Harringay Park Estate or South Harringay. On the other side of Green Lanes the only reference to Harringay was in the naming of the road between West Green Road and St Ann’s Road in the 1890s.

A local council

The Hornsey Urban Distinct Council, formed in 1894, created the two wards of North and South Haringey that fell within their jurisdiction, which excluded a significant number of houses in Tottenham on the Hornsey Station Estate and a fewer number on Harringay Park Estate.

By 1897 the residents of Tottenham felt they should be included with their neighbours under the same jurisdiction and petitioned to be transferred from Tottenham to Hornsey. Not surprisingly Tottenham resisted the demand that would have resulted in a loss of rate income.

However, as a compromise a Harringay ward in Tottenham was created in and new representatives for Harringay were adopted on the Council. So in 1901 there were three Harringay wards – North and South Harringay in Hornsey and Harringay in Tottenham.

Up until the mid-1930s these three wards encompassed all that we now call Harringay, and then Tottenham re-organised and re-named its wards and Harringay in Tottenham disappeared from the formal record. By then Harringay was firmly established and well known as a locality and made popular by the Arena and Stadium that stood where Williamson’s Tile Kilns had been.

When three become one

A new London Borough was created under the London Local Government Act of 1963, as one of several that had to have a new name since names formed by simply combing two or more locality names were discouraged. The three councils of Hornsey, Tottenham and Wood Green set up a Joint Committee of representatives to plan for the new Borough and submit the name Haringey to the Minister for Housing and Local Government.

This historic name, being associated with the area common to both Hornsey and Tottenham, was considered best suited to the new Borough. The spelling used was the one that Dr Madge had identified for legal and formal use as opposed to the commonly used name for the district – ever since it has caused some confusion in the minds of residents and visitors alike.

Further reading

John Hinshelwood & Stephen Rigg, Harringay A Century of Change, HarringayTraders’ Association, 2015

John Hinshelwood, How Harringay Happened, Harringay Food Festival Committee, 2011

Steven Denford, Hornsey Past, Historical Publications, 2008

Mike Ticher, The Story of Harringay Stadium & Arena, Hornsey Historical Society, 2002

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