As we stand with our backs to the gates of the Lordship Recreation Ground at the Downhills Park Road entrance, looking south is Downhills Park and the midnight alley, which runs through the park to the west green (details in Downhills Park walk). Looking east from midnight alley is the site of the old Downhills House* and where the road bends to the south at the corner of Pendennis Road and Willmott Road once stood the water tower*, and approx from the east side of Willmott Road and the west side of Higham Road looking in a northerly direction was a wide avenue of trees which gave a clear view from Downhills House* to a pond structure which we believe was site of an Anglo Saxon moat, referred to as Homestead moat on the map of Antiquities of Middlesex 1931 and listed as such. (See 1864 map below)
From our standing position at the entrance gate, we now look down the hill to the west and in a straight line along Downhills Park Road * was an old footpath which led to the old turnpike at Turnpike Lane, which would have been the area known as Hawke Park on the Earl of Dorset’s 1619 * map. This footpath ran from Turnpike Lane past where we are standing to the water tower where it turned in a north easterly direction down to where Wimborne Road is today, then turning to the north past Bruce Castle and All Hallows Church to Rectory Farm White Hart Lane. The footpath through Tottenham Cemetery today is the same footpath, so this was an important route in times past.
If we now turn to the north and go through the gates and look to the east *, this is the site of an underground public air raid shelter which took a direct hit from a high explosive German bomb on the 19th/20th September 1940 when many people were killed and injured, the highest death toll in Tottenham during WWII *. A little further along the path a second bomb fell with no damage. A third bomb* fell that night and hit two houses to the west of the path, killing six more people at 38/40 Walpole Road *. The new wooded area to the east of the path was planted by schoolchildren a few years ago; as we get to the end of this wooded area there is a path going east leading to the Higham Road gate (this path is on our list for repair). This gate is at the top of a steep path from north to south but provides very good views to the north and west (Alexandra palace) and is the best viewing point in the park.
Looking east from this point is the Broadwater Farm Estate* where all the blocks are named after the Battle of Britain airfields of WWII.
As we walk in a northerly direction looking to the west we see the model traffic area * which, when built, was the jewel in the park’s crown. It was first opened on 27th July 1938 by the Rt. Hon. E.L. Burgin, the then Minister of Transport
This event created nationwide interest and was filmed by the Pathe News and can still be seen on their website today. Chief Inspector Ernest Newark from Tottenham Police made radio broadcasts to impress the importance of this area for children’s’ safety on the roads. Inspector Newark was also in charge of rescue operations in the air raid shelter and was awarded the British Empire medal for leadership and gallantry in this rescue.
The model traffic area was closed during the war and was re-opened * on the 17th July 1947 by the Rt. Hon. A. Barnes, Minister Of Transport, which showed the importance of this pioneering area which is still firmly in the minds of all that used it *. (We are working to bring the area back to its former glory).
As we continue our walk we come to the bridge crossing the Moselle Stream, which is very important in Haringey’s past history (we hope to bring this stream back to how it was). From this point looking in a south easterly direction was another old footpath * called Sheep’s Walk, which ran to Bruce Grove. On page 156 of Frith’s History of Tottenham*, he states that a policeman taking a girl along this path across the fields on reaching the brook murdered her, bring Sheep’s Walk into notoriety in times past.
On the north bank of the Moselle looking east is a new nature area planted by the Tree Trust. An information board on this is by the Freedom Road gate where the Moselle now goes underground, under the Broadwater Farm Estate, which you can see is on stilts due to the fear of flooding from the Moselle.
As we go along the path we come to the Shell Theatre which was opened on 13th June 1936 at a cost of £1,410 and over the years has provided many happy days in the park for people of all ages.
Despite all the flooding problems from the Moselle, this area is due to the transformed in May 2005 with many new facilities being built around this area for children that should be finished by September 2005.
If we now look across the football pitches to the north west corner of the park we can see the roof of St. Benet Finks Church* which got its name from a Sir Christopher Wren Church of that name which was demolished in 1844. Our St. Benet Finks was built in 1912 and the organ font is said to be the work of one of England’s greatest wood carvers, Grinling Gibbons. Just beyond this was Graingers Farm*, owned by the Phillips family who also rented Broadwater Farm from the Townsend Family. This is where they lived and farmed this area until 1861 (Mary Phillips has written a wonderful history of this period *).
If we now look east of the path we have more closed in football pitches used by the Broadwater farm community centre. We now carry on to the main gates to the park where just inside the gates was a larger underground air raid shelter*, and also an ARP warden’s post. We then exit the park turning east along Lordship Lane passing the houses on the south side of Lordship Lane when we come to a break and an entrance to the now closed Rowland Hill School, named after the great man of postal fame* and the family school, which was once operated from Bruce Castle House. Further on we come to a new housing estate, which is built on the site of the Tottenham Lido*, a wonderful place full of memories for Tottenham people.
This was opened on the 5th June 1937*; prior to this it was the site of the Broadwater Farm House, which had been extended by the Phillips family whose builder was William Hobson of Markfield House *.
William Hobson also built the Martello Towers along our southern coastline to repel any threat from invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte*, among many other buildings of historical interest built by William Hobson.
Walking past this site we come to Moira Close, which is approximately where the Moselle crosses Lordship Lane * on its route to the cemetery.
We then come to Mount Pleasant Road, followed by Lordsmead Road and then Broadwater Road, which follows the old footpath south to Wimborne Road * and then south west to Turnpike Lane Opposite Broadwater Road is Bruce Castle Park* and Church Lane through to All Hallows Church and the old footpath to Rectory Farm and White Hart Lane.
All quotes marked * are stored in the archives of Bruce castle Museum in books, photos, papers, maps, official programmes, many of which can be obtained from the Museum. At this point we would like to thank all the staff of the Museum for their tireless help and support in providing the information to us and also for the help of the “Friends of Bruce Castle” and the “Haringey History Forum” based in the museum.
“The Friends of Lordship Rec” 2005 (February)
Appendix 1 – 1864 Map showing the site of Lordship recreation Ground