Green Lanes

Green Lanes, Hackney/Haringey/Enfield

One of London’s longest stretches of road with a single name, Green Lanes runs from Newington Green to Bush Hill

Alan Stanton - Café Tramp - Green Lanes - Harringay

This was part of an ancient route that led from London’s Shored­itch through Enfield to Hertford, and may have been in use from the second century ad.

The road connected a series of greens, most of which have since been lost, even in name. Among these were Beans Green at present-day Manor House, Ducketts Green, and Elses Green, which lay at what is now the junction of Wood Green’s High Road and Lordship Lane.

Drovers bringing animals to London for slaughter liked the road because it was less busy than other highways.

It was formerly called Green Lanes for an even greater length than its present extent, but in the mid-19th century the south­ern­most part was renamed Southgate Road, and the section that passes through Wood Green became the High Street, which was changed to High Road around 1895.

This was a time when devel­opers were laying out a series of middle-class streets in Green Lanes’ Harringay hinter­land (which is the focus of the map below) and the main road was lined with long, imposing shopping parades.

Over the first half of the 20th century the Harringay area declined in social status and many houses were subdi­vided, making property afford­able to Turkish immi­grants who arrived from Cyprus from the late 1950s onwards. A snowball effect strength­ened the community here and the eastern Mediter­ranean ambience of the shops and cafés later drew Greek Cypriots too.

Despite the inter­com­munal tensions and occa­sional violence on their native island, the two commu­ni­ties lived in harmony – and in 1981 the magazine New Society called Green Lanes the ‘spinal chord’ of Cypriot London. Many Greek Cypriots have since moved further north, although some continue to operate or work in busi­nesses here.

The Turkish Cypriots have increas­ingly been joined by compa­triots from mainland Turkey, and more recently by Kurds and Bulgar­ians. These ethnic groups also have a history of rivalry with the Turks but co-existence was peaceful on Green Lanes until conflict arose between Turkish and Kurdish gangs over drugs territory. In a mass street fight in 2002, four men were shot and another was stabbed to death. The stresses caused by this incident have mostly been resolved since as the commu­ni­ties strive to prove that the majority of their number are hard­working and respectable.

Other south-eastern European minori­ties repre­sented on Green Lanes include Kosovans and Albanians.

Sections of Green Lanes have recently begun to take on a more gentri­fied, non-ethni­cally-specific aspect, primarily in the form of some stylish cafés and bars.

The area’s harmonious fusion of Greek and Turkish Cypriots has been the subject of frequent media attention, including a 2001 BBC radio documentary entitled Green Lines, Green Lanes.

Postal districts: N16, N4, N22, N13 and N21
Station: London Overground (Harringay Green Lanes, zone 3)
The picture of Café Tramp, Green Lanes, Harringay, on this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Alan Stanton, at Flickr, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.