Hollywood Green, Wood Green: What was there before?

Chesser's Forge, 1924 on the site of Spouters Corner by J E Savery
Chesser’s Forge, 1924 on the site of Spouters Corner by J E Savery

It is very difficult to imagine that central Wood Green with its cinema complex, shops, road junction and busy traffic was ever peaceful countryside with the New River meandering through. So what was Hollywood Green before?

Early ventures

The name Wood Green comes from the Saxon ‘woodlegh’ or ‘woodlea’ meaning meadow or open ground near a wood, in this case Tottenham Wood, the site of Alexandra Palace and Park.

Here, in 1770, Chesser’s forge and farrier’s shop were established. This was the first commercial enterprise on Wood Green High Road. Its rustic charm and reminder of a bye-gone era, fast disappearing, led J E Savery to capture its quaintness in this watercolour of 1924. After the forge closed it became Willis and Sons seed merchants. The corner was an assembly point for contracting local labour before Labour Exchanges were introduced in 1910.

Wood Green became the location of a political meeting called by the Reform League in 1867. By the end of the 19th century the common land on the southern corner of Lordship Lane and the High Road became a venue for stump orators and political gatherings. Consequently it took the name ‘Spouters Corner’. It served this function during the First World War, the inter-war years and in the post-war years attracted both local and national political figures. In the 1950s and 1960s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) meetings were held there. The name is recalled in the name of the Wetherspoon’s pub now on the site.

Commercial development

Well into the 20th century the buildings on the corner included E Burridge Undertakers, established in 1850, and the Cinematograph Theatre, opened in 1910, one of Wood Green’s early cinemas. Later this became a furniture depository with a dance school on the first floor. In the 1980s this building became the indoor Market Hall on Lordship Lane, adjacent to Wood Green open-air market.

Wood Green Market in the mid 1990s
Wood Green Market in the mid 1990s

Construction at the corner of the Wood Green High Road and Lordship Lane of the present entertainment and retail complex under the banner ‘Hollywood Green’ was begun in 1997 and completed in 2000.

Hollywood Green, 2018
Hollywood Green, 2018

So the story of this location can command our interest as much as any of the films which cinemagoers experience whilst enjoying their popcorn in the multi-screen cinema complex.

Image credits

Chesser’s Forge – courtesy of Bruce Castle Museum; Wood Green Market – courtesy of Albert Pinching, Hollywood Green – HHS.

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