This is the first of a two-part article by Stephen Gilburt which appeared in newsletter 220, Winter 2020. The second part, covering the history after 1914, will be published in 2021.
The name of the manor of Edmonton appears as Delmetone or Adelmetone (Eadhelm’s Farm) in the Domesday Book of 1086. The manor was given by William the Conqueror to Geoffrey de Mandeville and was later purchased by Henry VIII. Edmonton Green lay on the main road north from London to Waltham Cross, between Fore Street to the south and Hertford Road to the north, at the junction with Church Street which led to All Saints Church (see Newsletter 178 Summer 2010) and to Enfield Town. In the 18th century Edmonton was famous for its fair for hiring servants and the village was popular with wealthy citizens from London seeking a pleasant place to live.
Before the Northern and Eastern Railway built a line along the Lea Valley in 1840, and a branch line through Edmonton Green to Enfield Town was opened by the Enfield and Edmonton Railway Company in 1849, there was a horse bus service at 15 minute intervals between Edmonton and the City of London. In 1872 the Great Eastern Railway constructed a direct line from central London via Hackney Downs and Lower Edmonton to Enfield Town. The nature of the area changed when cheap fares on workmen’s trains led to a large numbers of working class dwellings being erected in Edmonton. Horse drawn trams arrived in Edmonton in 1881 and the route along Fore Street and Hertford Road to Tramway Avenue was electrified in 1905.
Some Georgian houses, often with Victorian shop fronts inserted, have survived in Church Street (see Newsletter 195 Autumn 2014), Hertford Road and Fore Street (see Newsletter 206 Summer 2017) but those on Edmonton Green were demolished, along with several public houses, when the area was redeveloped between 1965 and 1974.
1. This print of 1806 shows Edmonton Green with Salmons Brook flowing through the rural village on its way to join Pymmes Brook and then the River Lea.
2. This view of Edmonton Green in1904 shows the level crossing, signal and signal box on the 1849 railway line. Edmonton lower level station was to the left of the signal box. Beyond is the triangle of The Green where circuses and fairs were held and travelling salesmen offered their wares. Shops including Dale’s department store can be seen on the far side of The Green.
3. The Cross Keys, by Salmons Brook and the railway line, was built of stone and brick covered with tarred clap-boarding and rough-cast cement and had a pantiled roof. Parts dated back to to the 17th century and it became one of the largest inns in the area. The earliest mention of the inn was in 1680 and the first recorded landlord was in 1716. This view dates from just before the inn was rebuilt in 1886.
4. This view from about 1905 shows the nearby Ragg’s Chemist and Post Office, which was in existence for over 100 years.
5. Mr W.W. Ragg is shown behind his pharmacy counter. The leech jar to the left of the clock face was about 150 years old.
6. This is a view from about 1886 of the east side of The Green looking north towards Hertford Road. In the foreground is Young’s the baker with Beeton’s the butcher further along.
7. This 1899 view of the east side of The Green is looking south from Hertford Road. The man with the dog is Mr. Wise, headmaster of Croyland Road School.
8. This 1912 view looking south from Edmonton Green shows the working class street food market which was established about 1900. Frederick Fisk, in his 1914 ‘The History of the Parish of Edmonton’ states “the roadway round some parts of Edmonton Green is given up on Saturdays to the coster class on whose barrows are displayed for sale goods of nearly every description for the poorer classes”. Edmonton Council tried without success to stop this market. The Exhibition public house on the left was built in 1851, taking its name from the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. Further down the road on the left is the Golden Lion which is first recorded in 1521. In the 18th century it was a coaching inn.
9. This 1910 view shows Edmonton Empire music hall in Fore Street which opened in 1908. “Edmonton Empire. This new and beautiful hall. Tip-up seats throughout. Private boxes to hold four for 7s 6d (371/2p). Orchestral stall 1s (5p). Circle 6d (21/2p). Pit 3d (1p). Cycles stored free of charge.” (Enfield Gazette 28 January 1910). Among the performers were the singers Marie Lloyd (whose last performance took place here in 1922 a few days before her death) and Florrie Forde. There were also variety, comedy and juggling acts and films from the Bioscope Company.
10. The east side of Fore Street with a horse drawn tram is shown in this photograph from around 1900. Edmonton Town Hall on the right was opened in 1884, less than three years after Southgate was separated from Edmonton in 1881. In 1903 indoor swimming baths were built behind the Town Hall in Knights Lane. Edmonton became and urban district and a borough in 1937. Next to the Town Hall is Lower Edmonton Congregational Church built in 1883. (It was demolished in 1957 and replaced by a new church further south on Fore Street in 1959).
11. On the left in this 1910 view looking north along the west side of Fore Street is the Grade II listed former Passmore Edwards Library by Maurice B. Adams of 1897. (It was extended in 1931 by Cuthbert Brown. It is now a Sikh community centre.) The adjoining building is the Salvation Army Citadel which has since been rebuilt. Open top electric trams were introduced to Fore Street in 1905.
For more information see: Southgate and Edmonton Past by Graham Dalling 1996; The History of the Parish of Edmonton by Frederick Fisk 1914; The New Enfield, Stories of Enfield, Edmonton and Southgate by David Pam 1977; Edmonton Ancient Village to Working Class Suburb by David Pam 2006; The London Borough of Enfield by Alan Dumayne 1996; Treasures of Enfield, Discovering the Buildings of a London Borough, edited by Valerie Carter 2000; A-Z of Enfield Pubs Part Two by Gary Boudier 2002; Theatres, Music Halls and Cinemas in the London Borough of Enfield by Geoffrey Gillam 1986; The Buildings of England London 4: North by Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner 1998; Middlesex by Michael Robbins 1953/2003.
These publications may be consulted at Enfield Local Studies Library and Archives, which also provided the illustrations used in this article.