Seven Sisters

Seven Sisters, Haringey

A poor, multi-ethnic neighbourhood encircling the junction of Seven Sisters Road and the High Road in South Tottenham

Hidden London: A pavement in Seven Sisters, cluttered with housewares outside a shop
A crowd­ed pave­ment on Tot­ten­ham High Road

It is said that some­time around 1350 sev­en elm trees were plant­ed in a ring around a wal­nut tree by the road­side at Page Green by sev­en sis­ters when they were about to go their sep­a­rate ways. A Protes­tant mar­tyr was lat­er sup­posed to have been burnt here, after which the wal­nut tree flour­ished with­out grow­ing big­ger. Although there’s almost no doubt that parts of this sto­ry are myth­i­cal, the trees cer­tain­ly exist­ed in the 17th and 18th cen­turies. The wal­nut had died by 1790 but the elms last­ed long enough to give their name to a turn­pike road built in 1833 to pro­vide improved access from Tot­ten­ham to West­min­ster.

Sev­en Sis­ters Road became a rib­bon devel­op­ment of large vil­las, some with gar­dens back­ing onto the New Riv­er. The elms were removed around 1840, although the sev­en daugh­ters of a Tot­ten­ham butch­er lat­er plant­ed a new set, which has not sur­vived.

Sev­en Sis­ters sta­tion opened on the Great East­ern Rail­way in 1872, rapid­ly bring­ing two-storey ter­raced hous­es to new­ly built streets in place of an ear­li­er scat­ter­ing of mid­dle-class vil­las.

Many of the Vic­to­ri­an prop­er­ties were allowed to dete­ri­o­rate dur­ing the first half of the 20th cen­tu­ry and some were cleared after the Sec­ond World War.

Sev­en Sis­ters sta­tion became a Vic­to­ria Line inter­change in 1968 and over the fol­low­ing decade Haringey coun­cil built sev­er­al small estates of low-rise flats. The low-rent shops in the vicin­i­ty of the sta­tion entrances bear wit­ness to the depri­va­tion of this cor­ner of the bor­ough, although the pres­ence of that sta­tion has pushed up house prices.

At the 2011 cen­sus, 29 per cent of res­i­dents were white British and 20 per cent were black or black British. Both these fig­ures rep­re­sent­ed declines on 2001, with this mul­ti-eth­nic local­i­ty becom­ing even more diverse. Poles and Turks rank high among Sev­en Sis­ters’ oth­er sig­nif­i­cant minori­ties.

At Sev­en Sis­ters pri­ma­ry school on South Grove the major­i­ty of pupils are from minor­i­ty eth­nic groups. Accord­ing to Ofst­ed’s 2016 report, they are main­ly from Turk­ish, Caribbean and black African her­itages and the pro­por­tion speak­ing Eng­lish as an addi­tion­al lan­guage is above aver­age.

Postal district: N15
Population: 15,968 (2011 census)
Station: London Overground and Victoria line (zone 3)
Wesbite: Seventhsister – a cultural guide to Tottenham, Green Lanes and the surrounding areas