Broadwater Farm

Broadwater Farm, Haringey

An ill-famed housing estate situated between Lordship recreation ground and Bruce Grove in west Tottenham

Hidden London's photo of Broadwater Farm in 2017

The orig­i­nal Broad­wa­ter Farm cov­ered 119 acres of the huge Down­hills estate, which Tot­ten­ham coun­cil bought and began to devel­op in 1902.

Built between 1967 and 1973, the present Broad­wa­ter Farm estate con­sists pri­mar­i­ly of twelve con­crete-pan­elled blocks, most of which have four to six storeys, orig­i­nal­ly with a deck access sys­tem of pedes­tri­anised walk­ways.

By 1976 the design faults, lack of ameni­ties and fear of crime on the estate result­ed in more than half of those on the hous­ing wait­ing list refus­ing accom­mo­da­tion here and a long queue of trans­fer requests from exist­ing ten­ants.

In Octo­ber 1985, dur­ing a police search fol­low­ing the arrest of her son, Cyn­thia Jar­rett col­lapsed and died at her home near the Broad­wa­ter Farm estate. In the ensu­ing Broad­wa­ter Farm riot PC Kei­th Blake­lock was hacked to death. Three men were con­vict­ed of the killing but were all even­tu­al­ly acquit­ted on appeal. Almost 30 years after the riot anoth­er man stood tri­al at the Old Bai­ley and was cleared of killing PC Blake­lock.

Mike Hawthorne: Broadwater Farm
A depic­tion of the Broad­wa­ter Farm riot by the Lon­don-based artist Mike Hawthorne

Dur­ing the ten years from 1993 com­pre­hen­sive improve­ments were car­ried out to make Broad­wa­ter Farm a more humane place in which to to live.

Dis­used shops were replaced by smart new homes and over­head walk­ways were dis­man­tled. The estate-based man­age­ment pro­gramme designed to address the social prob­lems in Broad­wa­ter Farm has been rel­a­tive­ly suc­cess­ful, part­ly through the use of ‘super-care­tak­ers’ and also because the neigh­bour­hood is so well-defined; oth­er projects have attempt­ed to encom­pass ‘com­mu­ni­ties’ with which res­i­dents do not iden­ti­fy.

How­ev­er, writ­ing of the scheme in the New States­man, Paul Bark­er pes­simisti­cal­ly com­ment­ed that “you need only go there to see that it is a high-wire act. The small­est slip, and things will be back at the bot­tom.”

On 4th August 2011 Broad­wa­ter Farm res­i­dent Mark Dug­gan was shot dead by police in near­by Tot­ten­ham Hale. Two days lat­er a protest march from Broad­wa­ter Farm into the cen­tre of Tot­ten­ham esca­lat­ed into the most seri­ous riot­ing seen in Lon­don for many years, fol­lowed by sev­er­al nights of dis­or­der, arson and loot­ing all across the cap­i­tal – and beyond.

In June 2018 Haringey coun­cil revealed that 11 blocks on the estate had failed struc­tur­al tests and two of these – Tang­mere House and North­holt – were at risk of cat­a­stroph­ic col­lapse. The coun­cil esti­mat­ed it would cost around £28m to strength­en the two build­ings so it pre­ferred to demol­ish them. Reme­di­al safe­ty mea­sures would suf­fice in the oth­er nine blocks.

Postal district: N17
Further reading: Lord Gifford QC, The Broadwater Farm Inquiry, Karia Press, 1986