Writer Sam Cullen takes us inside the story of Haringey’s pub names
The latest pub audit carried out by the Greater London Authority (GLA) revealed that there are 120 pubs across Haringey. Nestled in amongst the typical names like The Nags Head, The Victoria Kings Head and The Rose and Crown are a scatter of original and intriguing ones. I discovered these while digging down into the history of pub names for a book I wrote with my friend, James Potts investigating the stories behind the names of an immense 656 pubs around London.
The pub names we covered in Haringey provide a fascinating insight into the history of the borough, revealing potentially long forgotten aspects of the local history of the area. In writing this book, we really wanted to go beyond solely focusing on the central London pubs which get all the attention as we felt the outer boroughs have plenty to offer too, so it was great Haringey’s pubs made such a memorable contribution. My dad grew up in Wood Green and was a fan of both history, pubs – and
Spurs – so I hope he would have liked this book. It is true that pubs find themselves under pressure like never before, with competition both from cheaper supermarket prices and the threat of conversion into commercial or residential premises. We hope that in creating a book that highlights so many different pubs across the city, we will encourage people to explore and venture to pubs they may not have tried before – we will certainly drink to that!
The Antwerp Arms
168–170 Church Road, Tottenham N17 8AS
Originally known as The Hope and Anchor, when a British brewery won several prizes as part of a beer exhibition held there in 1861, this pub was renamed after Antwerp as the owners wanted to proudly demonstrate how their beers had beaten off fierce competition from the Belgian brews. The Antwerp Arms almost vanished off the map for good in the early 2010s, as the PubCo Enterprise planned to sell up to a property developer who would convert it into flats. However the community rallied together, setting up a co-operative to raise the money to buy it, with over 300 people investing as shareholders. One of these included Tottenham legend Gary Mabbutt, who poured the first pint when it reopened in 2015.
The Great Northern Railway Tavern
67 High Street, Hornsey N8 7QB
Located on Hornsey High Street near the train station, this pub is named after the former company which built London King’s Cross station, which offered services as far as York. The name vanished in 1923 as the company was merged with the Great Eastern Railway to form the London and North Eastern Railway Company, or LNER, which ran trains all the way up to Inverness. Both the Great Northern and LNER brands are back in use today, with Great Northern stopping at various stations in the borough while LNER trains whoosh past at high speeds on their way to the north east.
The High Cross Pub
350 High Road, Tottenham N17 9HT
This unique example of a mock-Tudor fronted former-public-toilet-turnedpub takes its name from a nearby monument which was originally built at the beginning of the 17th Century in order to mark the centre of Tottenham village.
180 High Road, Wood Green N22 6EJ
This pub is built on a piece of land which was once known as Spouter‘s Corner, used for open-air meetings. The first took place in support of the Reform League campaign to extend the right to vote to all men in 1867 – and the space was still in active use right up until the 1950s, hosting early Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament demos. There are probably still people keeping the tradition of spouting alive at the pub to this day – although perhaps not over such weighty matters.
The Victoria Stakes
1 Muswell Hill N10 3TH
Though located at the opposite end of Alexandra Park to The Starting Gate, this pub name also commemorates the fact there was once a racetrack in the park. This building originally began life as a coach house and stables. The story goes that a lucky punter in the Victoria Stakes race at Alexandra Park used his winnings to buy this very pub and so named it after that race. While horse racing ceased at Ally Pally back in 1970, the Victoria Stakes race which started in 1903 at the Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto is still going strong.
‘What’s in a London Pub Name?’ by Sam Cullen and James Potts is available at Highgate Books, House of Books and other bookshops around the borough.