My visit to Tottenham Hale over two days is thanks to Greater Anglia’s Stansted Express service, which started operating in 1990 out of London Liverpool Street station. Why Tottenham Hale? Well, it’s as far as I can travel using my freedom pass without having to pay.
The station opened on the 15th of September 1840 as Tottenham. The suffix ‘Hale’ was added in 1875 and removed in 1938. The suffix was finally reinstated in 1968 when the underground station opened on the 1st of September.
Until 1868 Tottenham Hale was a railhead for cattle traffic from East Anglia. Trains were unloaded there, and the cattle were driven miles down what is now the A10 road towards London. However, in 1868 a link (now removed) to the Tottenham and Hampstead Junction Railway was opened, and the cattle traffic transferred to Tufnell Park, which was closer to the site of the cattle market off Caledonian Road.
The station is busy with trains arriving and departing frequently. Since the opening of the Stansted Express service, passenger numbers have increased significantly because of the convenience of the station’s interchange with the Victoria Line.
The station now has step-free access via lifts to all platforms from the main entrance and a new wide overhead footbridge that connects the lifts. There are also escalators to supplement the older stairs and footbridge, but at the time of my visit, only one was working.
A Gateway to North London
Tottenham Hale is on the eastern edge of the London Borough of Haringey, and it’s a borough I know well as this is where I started my London career after moving from Cardiff. It was quite a culture shock, but the diversity on my doorstep was a unique and enriching experience. I started work in Wood Green in the winter of 1989, followed by spells in Tottenham and Edmonton.
As an aside, the name Haringey derives from Old English Hæringeshege. Hæring was a Saxon chief who lived in the area. From my time here, Haringey was synonymous with the name Bernie Grant. He was a former leader of the council, and later, he became one of the first black Members of Parliament. He was an outspoken, charismatic character who campaigned for the reparations of slavery and racism and a champion for black rights. In his honour, the Haringey council opened the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in 2007.
Tottenham Hale has seen significant development in the last decade in an attempt to encourage investment in the area following the riots of 2011, triggered by the death of a local man, Mark Duggan, in Ferry Lane.
Part of the investment saw the bus station and the station interchanges redesigned. The bus station roof, seen here, was a finalist for the Best Urban Design in the 2018 Haringey Design Awards and the 2015 British Constructional Steelwork Association Structural Steel Design Awards.
The concourse in front of the station could be more attractive, but it does double up, serving both National Rail and the underground. A carefully abandoned Lime bike in this photo helps to add to the transport hub context.
Its large open paved area allows passengers to gather their thoughts as they determine where to go next. It’s an ideal location for a nicotine fix where electronic vaping has become a new habit.
It’s a sad indictment that no matter how much money is invested in regenerating areas, homelessness still stares you in the face, as evidenced outside the station’s entrance. Unfortunately, this is an all too familiar sight in London, as wherever you go, you’ll inevitably stumble across signs of homelessness and poverty. Are we really in the 21st century?
I’ve seen many sights during my travels and spoken to a few who seem resigned to their homelessness. And in doing so, I feel guilty for not doing more as I walk away. So I have decided to donate my 2022 Winter Fuel Allowance to three charities that help and support the homeless. Namely Crisis, Shelter and Centre Point. Does that remove the guilt? No, but it makes me feel I can contribute in some small way.
What’s the significance of the suffix ‘Hale’? A quick internet search suggests it means a nook. The first mention is in 1754, although there is evidence of pre-Norman economic activity beside the River Lee as far back as the late 13th century.
I’ve walked and written about the River Lea and the River Lee Navigation several times, and it’s hard to avoid as it dominates the landscape as the waters run through north London from Hertfordshire. But avoid it at your cost, as there is always something to enjoy, and it helps you to ‘switch off’ for a short time.
Tottenham Lock is unmissable. It’s right on Ferry Lane, next to the station, and forms part of the boundary between the boroughs of Haringey and Waltham Forest. It’s a little unkempt now, but much is being done to regenerate the riverside with a footbridge at Hale Wharf and new developments along the eastern river bank.
The footpath under Ferry Lane leads to Walthamstow Wetlands, part of the London Wildlife Trust, so why not take a stroll and see what you can see? Here are a few images that caught my eye as I ventured along the footpath for a short distance.
I’ve already mentioned the area’s regeneration, so let’s look at what’s being built so that you can decide whether the investments are achieving their aims.
Hale Village, the area immediately east of the station, is now a purpose-built sustainable urban village inspired by Hammarby, a re-developed waterside district of Sweden’s capital Stockholm. The area is rich in local history as it was the former site of the renowned furniture maker Harris Lebus. Vickers Court, seen here, is one of the buildings along Waterside Way where commuting from the station is now an attractive option.
One of the newest developments is Millstream Tower, next to the Premier Inn and directly opposite the station. This development by Newlon Living comprises 80 self-contained apartments costing up to £500k each. I’ll stick to viewing them through this puddle’s wintry reflection, as it doesn’t cost anything.
And in contrast to the new developments, the Warren Court tower block in Hale Gardens celebrates what social housing building construction looked like in the 1950s. Flats in here market for half the cost of the Millstream Tower across the road. Even so, for many, the prices are still prohibitive.
Out and About
It’s time to stretch my legs a little, so I head towards Bruce Grove. The area is richly diverse, meeting the catering needs of its community. The streets are lined with small independent grocery shops and hair and beauty salons. It’s a colourful area, and maybe the colour will be one of my lasting impressions of North London.
I end my visit to Tottenham Hale with a whimsical quiz – How do you carry eight boxes of hazelnuts on top of each other without toppling? Easy – you spike them with a road sign, which makes the load heavier. Or is it just a quirk of the photo angle?
Picture of the Day – Full House
This photo shows all three platforms occupied by British Rail Class 720 Aventra rolling stock. The rolling stock is a familiar sight on this line and, I believe, are the show’s real stars.
It was a perfect moment as the partially sunny sky, after a deluge of rain, highlighted the wet platform in the foreground. The red platform seating ideally complements the train’s red livery, and the train’s yellow markings match the platform rumble strip.
The train at Platform 2 is the shuttle service from Meridian Water to Stratford, and Platform 3 is the Stansted Express service from Liverpool Street. Platform 4, on the far right, sees the Hertford East service out of Liverpool Street.
I’ve accentuated the red and yellow a little to help them stand out from an otherwise gloomy steely grey backdrop, and I think the colours work well.
I’ll leave you with a question. Whatever happened to Platform 1?
- Location: Tottenham Hale Station, Platforms 2&3
- Date/Time: Tuesday, 25th October 2022, 12:03 PM
- Settings: Camera – Canon EOS 200D; Aperture -f/5.6; Shutter Speed – 1/250; Focal Length – 46mm; Film Speed – ISO100
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