One of the most charming and characterful houses in Tufnell Park is in danger of demolition. 156 Junction Road is beside the rail tracks close to the junction with Wyndham Crescent. It's the one with a small monkey puzzle-type tree amid the dense foliage fronting Junction Road..
It's a lovely detached Victorian property in an area where all three attributes are not exactly common.
The house has been on the market recently for a million. The Zoopla details speak of a detached property with three double bedrooms and 'very spacious front and rear gardens'. But there's a note of caution too: 'Cash buyers only! A truly unique double fronted detached Victorian house requiring extensive modernisation and extensive remedial work due to subsidence.'
These two images are courtesy of the Zoopla site:
According to the Islington Gazette - and God bless local papers! - a property investment firm has lodged an application with Islington Council to demolish the building. The firm says that the building has 'serious structural issues' and they want to rebuild in a fashion that provides housing for more than 'a single wealthy family' - hmmm!
Happily, both the Islington Society and the Better Archway Forum are taking up cudgels against the demolition. What makes the fate of the building of still greater interest is the suggestion that it was linked to one of London's 'lost' rail stations, and may even have been the station master's house.
This 1912 Ordnance Survey map shows the old station - Junction Road Station - though it doesn't categorically demonstrate that 156 Junction Road was part of the station estate.
Junction Road railway station (originally Junction Road for Tufnell Park) opened in 1872, just as this area was starting to get built-up. Station Road on the east side of Junction Road was laid out to give access to the station. According to the Wikipedia entry, there were two wooden platforms with footbridge and stairs, which also served the Tufnell Park goods depot nearby.
When Tufnell Park tube station opened in 1907, the number of passengers using Junction Road station plummeted. John Betjeman wrote a (not very good) poem which referred to Junction Road as 'this lonely station'. It closed in 1943 and was demolished in the early 1950s.
Junction Road station was in between Gospel Oak and Upper Holloway - that's quite a stretch. There's been talk from time-to-time of reopening it but it is just talk. There's nothing left at all of the station structure. Gone!
I had always imagined that two of the buildings at the top of Huddleston Road, now flanking the entrance road to the student halls of residence, were station related. They are certainly in a different style from the neighbouring houses, and they must have had some sort of public purpose.
And the house on Junction Road - whether or not it was the station master's house I do hope it can be saved.
If you want to comment on the planning application. here's the link.
This small building stands aloof adjoining the Sainsbury's car park just off Hornsey High Street. I suppose we should be grateful it has survived at all. But what was it? I'm not at all sure. A watch room? The lobby to a larger building?
You can see the coat of arms. These were the arms of the Borough of Hornsey granted in 1904 - two oak trees representing the woods which once extended across the area, and crossed swords borrowed from the arms of the Diocese of London. The Latin motto translates as; 'the better prepared, the stronger'.
The borough disappeared in 1965, amalgamated into the new London Borough of Haringey - one of the more unfortunate names bestowed on the new outer London boroughs. If you want to get a sense of the area the borough covered - though beware, the boundaries did change from time-to-time - this map will help:
This was taken from an early municipal publication, Healthy Hornsey. The area prided itself on being part of the northern heights of London and so healthier than the lower-lying (and poorer and more crowded) area to its south. As you can see, the coat of arms features in this publication -
The coat of arms also appears on the plaque on the side of Hornsey Library - the last building to be commissioned by Hornsey Borough before it disappeared beneath the waves of municipal progress. The plaque is in the shape of the old borough, which is a nice design touch.
But that brings me back to where I started. What was that building in Sainsbury's car park?
There is something magical about pamphlets and political ephemera from the era of the English Civil War. This is a really wonderful six-page tract from the run-up to the breach between King and Parliament which led to war and eventually the execution of Charles I in 1649.
John Pym was a champion of the Parliamentary cause and an opponent or arbitrary rule. He was one of the five MPs whose attempted arrest in Parliament in 1642 led directly to civil war. As you can see, this pamphlet is from the previous year - June 1641 to be precise.
Pym here addresses his demands to Charles, calling for the King to disband his army, give his assent to disputed bills and to remove Catholics from the queen's retinue. It also calls for the king to guarantee the safety of Pym and his family.
John Pym died in 1643, probably from cancer, and didn't see the full depths of the turmoil into which the nation plunged.
An idle browse led me to this site from which the above photo is taken - the grave is that of one of the English O'Brienities, John Days. He emigrated to the US in his twenties and became a politician of some note in California. He came from Hull and is buried close to - not the North Sea, but the Pacific Ocean.
Here's what the site has to say:
John M. Days was born in Hull, Yorkshire, England, the son of a shoe maker. His father died when John was young, and the family ended up in England's workhouses for the poor.
John had been skilled as a tailor by trade. He further educated himself and became active in labor and politics during his early years in England, where he also became a follower of James "Bronterre" O'Brien.
In 1854, he sailed to America. He lived for a brief time in Missouri and Oregon before settling in Grass Valley, California.
While living in Grass Valley, John worked as a tailor, was a school teacher for a short time, helped establish a town library, and practiced politics. He later became a member of the California State Assembly 21st District (Nevada Co), 1867-69, 1871-73; delegate to Republican National Convention from California, 1868; Clerk in Superior Court (S.F.) circa 1880; elected CA State District Senator, 13th District (Santa Clara), 1885; Attorney-at-Law, and Deputy County Clerk 1889-1891. John was a political and personal acquaintance of Henry George, and is mentioned in the book, "The Life of Henry George".
It was in Grass Valley that he forged his most lasting relationship - that with Aaron Clark and his family. From 1870 until his death in 1901, John lived with the Clark family in Grass Valley and in San Francisco. 8 Months after Aaron's death in 1893, John and Aaron's widow, Martha, married and moved to Summerland, Santa Barbara, CA.
Lincoln Clark, son of Aaron and Martha Clark, who later became John's step-son, was shipwrecked on Pitcairn Island for 6 months in 1881-82. He later returned to Pitcairn in 1909 with his son, Roy Palmer Clark, where they both remained until the end of their lives. John had been a part of the Clark family since the time Lincoln was born.
After John's death Martha wed Amariah "Homer" Buelle Wheelock.
It's is remarkable that O'Brien has a connection of sorts with Pitcairn, one of the world's smallest and most remote human settlements. There's quite a few Clarks on Pitcairn!
John Days made a visit to London in 1868, by which time he was already a member of the California State Assembly. This prompted the most remarkable of the O'Brienite ventures, the attempt to establish a cooperative colony in Kansas. It didn't work, but about 200 would-be colonists made the journey out to the US.
A postcard from 110 years ago of a military camp in southern Sri Lanka (once Ceylon) - the main use of which, to this date, had been as a detention camp for Boer prisoners of war. Diyatalawa is 5,000 feet up in the central highlands of Sri Lanka. Indeed, it's described as a hill station - the sort of place where people came to escape the suffocating heat and humidity of the plains.
The British established a military training base here in the 1880s which was expanded hugely to take in Boer prisoners (I've blogged before about the British policy of dispersing Boer PoWs across the Empire) in the early years of last century.
This camp when enlarged could take up 5,000 prisoners - and you can see from this image how extensive the base had become. There are other photos of the camp, and some its detainees, here. It's curious that a detention camp appears in a series of postcards. But clearly there was demand to be met. The postmark is 1910 and stamped Ratnapura, the centre of Sri Lanka's gem trade, about seventy miles away.
Once established as a detention camp, that the role Diyatalawa reverted to in both the First and Second World Wars. In the latter conflict, enemy aliens - including German nationals in Hong Kong and Singapore - were held here; another section of the camp housed, unlikely as it seems, Italian PoWs until the threat of Japanese attack prompted their evacuation to India.
It's always nice when these cards have a message on the other side. There are a couple of Edward VII stamps ... on the front not the rear of the card. What I don't quite understand - given the absence of an address - is how the postcard reached its intended destination.
What a fantastic piece of political ephemera! It dates from the early 1640s, when tension was rising between King Charles 1 and Parliament. (Spoiler alert: it didn't end well for the king).
This broadside dates from 3 January 1642 (yes, I know it says 1641 but at this time England used 'Lady Day' dating when the date moved forward from one year to the next on Lady Day, that's 25th March). Although it cites a resolution of the House of Commons and was published over the name of Henry Elsynge, the clerk to the House, it's not an offiicial Parliamentary publication but the work of a small publisher/bookseller in the Old Bailey district of London.
The content of the broadside is remarkable - a bold assertion that MPs have the right to resist arrest unless that detention is authorised by Parliament itself.
'And this House doth further declare, That if any person whatsoever shall offer to arrest or detain the Person of any Member of this House, without first acquainting this House therewith, and receiving further Order from this House: That it is lawful for such Member, or any Person, to assist him, and to stand upon his, and their guard of defence, and to make resistance, according to the Protestation taken to defend the Priviledges of Parliament.'
At this time, Parliament was concerned about the King's determination to raise funds for the developing war in Scotland and his reluctance to call Parliament. The king reckoned that some outspoken Puritan MPs were in league with his enemies in Scotland and were intent on a prosecution of the Queen.
The day after the broadside, the king - accompanied by about eighty armed soldiers - violated Parliamentary privilege and entered the chamber of the House of Commons. He was seeking the arrest of five MPs he regarded as particularly troublesome, including John Pym and John Hampden. They had all been tipped off by the French ambassador and had hopped on a barge and travelled downriver to the City. As word of the king's action spread, some Londoners came onto the streets bearing arms to resist the king and his troops if, as rumoured, he headed to the City in pursuit of his Parliamentary quarry.
When Charles asked Speaker Lenthall about the whereabouts of the five members, the Speaker replied in one of the bravest - and most renowned - remarks ever uttered in Parliament : "May it please your majesty, I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as this House is pleased to direct me whose servant I am here; and I humbly beg your majesty's pardon that I cannot give any other answer than this to what your majesty is pleased to demand of me."
The king failed to arrest any of the five MPs - and they returned in triumph to Westminster the following day. Within a week or so, the king withdrew from London to Hampton Court and later to Oxford. He had lost his capital. Charles only returned to London seven years later, having lost the war with the army of Parliament, for his trial and execution.
So this broadside is from the moment that the row between monarch and Parliament started veering towards civil war.
Although Karl Marx was living in London when he published the first volume of his commanding work Das Kapital in 1867, it appeared in German not in English. Indeed, it was another twenty years before the volume appeared in an English translation - by which time it had already long been available in Russian and French.
But some extracts from Das Kapital were published in English in the year of Marx's death - 1883. They appeared in a new and none too well known radical monthly To-Day, which was published by the Modern Press, an imprint later associated with the left-wing Social Democratic Federation. Ernest Belfort Bax was the editor of To-Day, but I'm not clear whether he was the founding editor.
The journal does not make clear who was responsible for the translation - though the second of the two extracts states that the translation was made not from the original German but from the French edition.
The English translation which appeared in 1887 was the work of Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, the latter Marx's son-in-law, with Marx's great friend and collaborator Frederick Engels keeping a close eye on the edition. Aveling and his wife, Eleanor Marx, were both contributors to To-Day in its early years and they are likely to have had a role in the extracts which appeared in the journal's first two issues
The brief extracts published in To-Day are perhaps a footnote in Marx's publishing history. But they are nevertheless the first appearance in English of Marx's most enduring work of political economy, and so the first chance that an English-speaking audience had to get their heads round the fairly abstract arguments that Marx advanced.
Yes, this is the Albert Hall - NW5 style.
I went on a Lockdown cycle ride this morning - a jaunt round a corner of Kentish Town which, shamefully, was new to me. This is the area east of Malden Road and south of Queen's Crescent. And wheeling along Bassett Street, I came along this extraordinary building in the middle of a row of three-storey mid-Victorian villas.
This is Kentish Town Evangelical Church, a 'Bible-believing 'congregation according to its website which has been based here for approaching fifty years. The building is of course much older, and with a bit (well, a lot) of help from the Camden History Society's Streets of Gospel Oak and West Kentish Town, I've been able to piece together some of its history.
So, Bassett Street was built in the 1860s and was initially known as Winchester Street. What is now the evangelical church was built by 1865 as a temperance hall, taking the name of the Albert Hall (Albert of course was Queen Victoria's consort and died in Deceber 1861) a few years before that other place with the same name.
Within a few years, the building had become a 'Strict' Baptist church - and it was used by several varieties of Baptist down to 1930. It subsequently became a children's mission.
The moniker of the Albert Hall didn't last for too long - but perhaps it's time for this rather grand title to be resumed!
A really choice piece of ephemera - which throws light on the personal, the social, the political and the global.
During the Boer War, roughly 120 years ago, the British notoriously rounded up tens of thousands of civilians - particularly women, children and the elderly - and kept them in what amounted to concentration camps. They were insanitary and the diet was very poor. More than 27,000 people - mainly women and children - died in these camps.
Very few adult men were detained in this manner, largely because Boer men were either combatants or likely to be seen by the British as potential combatants. 28,000 Boers were detained as Prisoners of War (and thousands more surrendered to the British) - and in a chapter of this grisly conflict which is rarely talked about, almost all of them were shipped out of South Africa to detention camps in other parts of the world, largely to deter escape.
Initially, these prisoners were held on the tiny Atlantic island of St Helena, where Napoleon was detained and died. When that proved too small, prisoners were sent to Bermuda in the Caribbean, to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and to India. Several hundred Boers who fled to Mozambique to escape the fighting ended up in detention in Portugal.
This sliver of paper is a permit giving Lieutenant Jones standing permission to enter the Boer camp at Bellary and talk to the PoWs. Bellary is a city in the south Indian state of Karnataka, half-way between Bangalore and Hyderabad.
These rather grainy images of the Bellary camp are from the excellent angloboerwar.com site.
Another site records these details:
'A camp for 821 prisoners was in operation at Bellary, in Madras Command, between May 1901 and August 1902. The men were accommodated in barracks, and tents with thatched roofs, surrounded by barbed wire entanglements. During the 15 months of the camp's life three prisoners broke parole and were subsequently recaptured, and another was shot one night trying to escape from the hospital. Although conditions within the camp were described as generally good, the health of the prisoners was indifferent, despite having the use of a 50 bed hospital at the station: during 1902 smallpox accounted for two deaths and the hospitalization of six men.'
Some of these Boer camps in India even issued their own informal currency notes - I found this image on the net.
It's all evidence of a classic Imperialist strategy - bringing one part of the Empire into play to help out with problems in another.
This is the note that accompanied an intriguing array of maps and charts delivered by the postman in the past week. And as Jane says: better late than never.
Back in 2001, I wrote to a Captain Wimbush, a veteran of the British Indian army, to ask whether he had any memories of serving in or around Kashmir. I was researching what became my book A Mission in Kashmir - an account of the opening salvos of the Kashmir conflict in 1947, and particularly of a massacre at a Catholic mission in which an off-duty British army officer and his wife were among those killed.
As far as I can make out, I never heard back from Captain Wimbush. I didn't think too much of it - it's in the nature of research that many leads are dead ends.
But very recently I heard from Jane who now lives in Captain Wimbush's old house. In a big Lockdown sort-out, she had come across my old letter. And with huge kindness and generosity, she parcelled off to me Captain Wimbush's maps and charts relating - as best as I can tell - to his service in the North West Frontier and (perhaps) Afghanistan between the world wars.
In the inter-war period, the Frontier was the most turbulent of the extremities of the British Raj and there was a specific Frontier Force (known as the Piffers) to keep it under control. The maps which Captain Wimbush and his colleagues appear to have relied upon were first drawn up in some cases as early as the 1860s. The cartography at the time of the Afghan wars and the initial incursions into the tribal areas on the border of what's now Pakistan and Afghanistan served the British army - it seems - until independence in 1947.
Alongside the maps, there's this wonderful chart, marked 'CONFIDENTIAL', which lists the various Frontier tribes and their fighting strength. It specifies where each tribe is located and whether these are Pathans or otherwise. It also lists which British official or agent had responsibility for each group.
An extraordinary document. And well worth the wait!
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