Research into the family and local history of my maternal family (South) has resulted in a glimpse of life in Snells Park, Upper Edmonton, during the early years of the last century which seem to belie some of the published descriptions of a solely high density, working class estate.
Snells Park is one of three roads forming an inverted triangle off Fore Street immediately to the north of the boundary with Tottenham. Langhedge Lane and Snells Park diverge from the "apex" at the junction with Fore Street and connected by Grove Street at the "base" of the triangle. The area was formerly the site of a large house and grounds occupied by Nathaniel Snell and sold for housing development in 1848/49. In Snells Park there was an effort to provide mixed accommodation; terraced housing built at the junction with Langhedge Lane giving way to semi-detached properties and, on the west side, to larger detached houses.
My grandparents, Samuel South and Emily King, were married on 4 September 1899 at the Gothic designed Tottenham & Edmonton Congregational Church located between the junction of Langhedge Lane and Snells Park. The Rev. Thomas Bagley officiated at the ceremony and, later, he was to conduct the Sunday school attended by the South children. The couple first set up home in Tottenham Terrace before moving to 39, Snells Park in 1907/1908 and, finally, in 1917, to River House, Devonshire Hill Lane (formerly Clay Hill), Tottenham, where my mother, the last of their eight children, was born.
The father, also Samuel South, lived at "Langhedge House", 43, Snells Park. He was the owner of Samuel South & Sons, flowerpot manufacturers, established in 1868 at Dysons Road, Edmonton, and relocated in 1886 to White Hart Lane, Tottenham, where it traded until 1960. No. 43 is described by South family members as a large, detached house with a separate access to Langhedge Lane. In two glasshouses, a gardener grew prize- winning blooms.
A 1908 photograph of 39, Snells Park illustrates a fine semi-detached house, having nine rooms, on three floors with a half stucco front elevation and decorative mouldings over the sash window openings. There was a side tradesmen's entrance with a nearby chute to the coal cellar beneath. A further photograph depicts two of the elder South daughters standing at the front gate of No. 39 with "Gertie", the maid, complete with white apron and cap. Another maid was "Winnie" Brown, married to a South employee who delivered milk provided by cows kept by the South's in fields leased around the Pottery. A pony and trap was kept for transport.
Memories of the South family have recalled "almost a kind of 'village life" with a mixed population". The immediate neighbours were the Davies family, whose children played with the young Souths, and the Atkins, who ran a laundry from a building in their garden. Others in the vicinity were Hatch (councillor), Harrison (builder's merchant), Cartwright (solicitor) and Harrison (proprietor of "Dicky Bird's" confectioners). Opposite, at 46, Snells Park, Mr Lawman, the local Relieving Officer lived, in a similar semi-detached house. In 1911, the family of a young Edith Fisk (later Knight) rented No 46 and soon became friends with the South children.
The children of school age attended the St. James Church of England School, off Grove Street, which had separate entrances and playgrounds for boys and girls. The Catechism was learnt by heart and and the alphabet taught to the younger children by the copying of letters on the blackboard into a tray of fine sand. On the way to and from school visits were made to one of the two nearby sweet shops.
In more recent years, the housing stock seems to have been allowed to deteriorate and the estate was demolished and re-developed by the local authority. The street pattern, however, remains.
Ken Barker 6/00