The King’s Highway

Hornsey Journal, 3 October 1919

Every railway station that serves Hornsey – Great Northern, Midland and ‘Tube’ – were closed in the early part of this week owing to the strike of the railway men and the public took to the King’s highway as it has probably never done before.

Happily, the weather for the most part was propitious to pedestrians while the putting back of the clock one hour on Sunday made early rising a matter more of habit than compulsion.

Probably our streets have never before borne so much vehicular traffic at one time. The passenger and goods traffic were diverted from rail to road and the sight will live in human memory. On the borough border to the east, Green Lanes had a great stream of people on foot and in every imaginable kind of conveyance. On the border to the west, the Great North Road, there was a continual flow of merchandise on heavy lorries and other vehicles which gave an idea of the stupendous task it is to feed the millions of people who inhabit the metropolis.

How Londoners got to business these days would take a book in telling. Coal carts were loaded with merry maidens, lorries collected Government and City clerks, steam wagons were pressed into service, motor cars and taxis made several journeys to and from the suburbs and bicycles were literally out in their thousands. Queues of would-be passengers lined the pavements at the termini of the important bus routes; at The Wellington, Turnpike Lane for the Sidcup service which passes the Bank; at Muswell Hill for the London Bridge service, at Finsbury Park for the Camberwell; and at Hornsey Rise for the Putney service.

And it was a similar story with the trams. Those unlucky enough had to walk along the choked pavements talking with others. The crowd preserved its good humour and generally made light of the hardships imposed. The later traffic was lightened by the fact that fewer shoppers ‘went West’ but the scenes were renewed when the homeward journey began.

Happily the days were fine, except on Wednesday, when rain fell during the afternoon and many slips were experienced by cyclists but no serious mishaps have been reported. Pickets were on duty at all the stations but they had a thankless task. The public was generally unsympathetic.

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