Wood Green

Wood Green, Haringey

A strategic shopping centre and its multi-ethnic hinterland, situated two miles west of Tottenham

View of Wood Green from Alexandra Palace

Wood Green was first record­ed in 1502 as a clear­ing on the edge of Tot­ten­ham Wood. Until the mid-19th cen­tu­ry it remained an out­ly­ing ham­let in Tot­ten­ham parish, of much less sig­nif­i­cance than neigh­bour­ing Hornsey.

St Michael’s church was built in 1844 and the vil­lage began to grow in antic­i­pa­tion of the com­ing of the rail­way. Wood Green’s first sta­tion and school both opened in 1859, new roads were laid out north of the church and were lined with vil­las for the mid­dle class­es, while sev­er­al char­i­ta­ble organ­i­sa­tions built almshous­es here.

A plea­sure ground opened in Alexan­dra Park, fol­lowed by an enter­tain­ment palace in 1873. In 1883 the Arti­zans’, Labour­ers’ and Gen­er­al Dwellings Co. began work on the Noel Park estate, one of the largest projects of its kind in Vic­to­ri­an Lon­don.

Wood Green gained munic­i­pal inde­pen­dence from Tot­ten­ham in 1894 and has had a local gov­ern­ment head­quar­ters ever since, now in the form of Haringey’s civic cen­tre.

In the ear­ly decades of the 20th cen­tu­ry almost all the remain­ing gaps were filled by mid­dle-class hous­es in the north, work­ing-class ter­races in the south and fac­to­ries near the rail­way lines. The Lon­don Coun­ty Coun­cil built the White Hart Lane estate on the sur­viv­ing farm­land between Wood Green and Tot­ten­ham.

After the Sec­ond World War the retail­ers on the High Road began to out­per­form all their near­by rivals and by the mid-1960s Wood Green had become the north London’s most impor­tant shop­ping des­ti­na­tion.

Hidden London: Wood Green Vue, Nandos and McDonalds - September 2018

In the mid-1970s the defunct Noel Park & Wood Green sta­tion and many neigh­bour­ing build­ings were demol­ished to make way for Wood Green shop­ping city, a mall strad­dling the High Road, which else­where is flanked by a very mixed range of out­lets. Cin­e­mas and afford­able restau­rants have since broad­ened Wood Green’s leisure appeal – though its lure to shop­pers has declined in the face of com­pe­ti­tion from retail parks along the North Cir­cu­lar.

For a cen­tu­ry Wood Green was home to Barratt’s, the con­fec­tion­ers, but the com­pa­ny moved out in 1980 as part of a gen­er­al trend for offices and shops to replace man­u­fac­tur­ing as the district’s prin­ci­pal employ­ers. Marked with a pin on the map below, Barratt’s for­mer fac­to­ry on Claren­don Road became the focus of the Wood Green cul­tur­al quar­ter. Sev­er­al of the busi­ness­es based here func­tion as pro­duc­tion facil­i­ties for the cre­ative indus­try rather than attrac­tions for the gen­er­al pub­lic, and this result­ed in some mis­un­der­stand­ing and mock­ery of the ‘cul­tur­al quar­ter’ name. How­ev­er, the coun­cil is keen to encour­age more out­ward-fac­ing arts enter­pris­es, which may result in devel­op­ments of the kind late­ly seen at Hack­ney Wick and Fish Island, though prob­a­bly not on the same scale.

Among the Wood Green area’s many eth­nic com­mu­ni­ties, the largest groups are Turk­ish, black African (espe­cial­ly Soma­li) and black Caribbean.

Postal district: N22
Station: Piccadilly line (zone 3)
Further reading: Christine Protz and Deborah Hedgecock, Tottenham and Wood Green Then & Now, History Press, 2011
and Albert Pinching, Wood Green Through Time, Amberley, 2013
See also: Turnpike Lane


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* The view of Wood Green from Alexandra Palace at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Julian Osley, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.