Hall of fame: landmark Tottenham Town Hall starts new page in its history (From Haringey Independent)
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Hall of fame: landmark Tottenham Town Hall starts new page in its history
'Best of the old': a sketch of Tottenham Town Hall, copyright of copyright Bruce Castle Museum, Haringey Culture, Libraries
IT has survived two world wars, seen massive population change and even hosted Spurs after they won the double in 1961. Now, the 104-year-old Tottenham Town Hall is about to enter the next phase of its vibrant history, writes Jennifer Lipman.
Last Friday, the keys to the Grade II listed historic building were passed over to affordable homes charity Newlon Housing Trust in advance of a major redevelopment project which has been several years in the planning.
More than 100 new affordable homes, including shared ownership and socially rented, as well as new business and community facilities, will be built on the Clyde Road depot site just behind the hall.
The Edwardian building, a well-known sight in south Tottenham thanks to its baroque architecture, will also be renovated with the ornate Moselle Room kept for community use.
It officially opened in November 1905 and has been witness to a century of history.
From the 1880s onwards, Tottenham became an important industrial centre, helped by the railway connection to Liverpool Street, which at the time cost only a shilling.
This was followed by a wave of immigration of Orthodox Jews from Russia.
And with the community growing rapidly, it wasn't long before plans were drawn up for a new Town Hall which acted as a central hub in the area.
A competition was launched in 1902 for architects to come up with a design for the new building with the foundation stone laid in 1904, marked by local dignitaries with a celebratory dinner.
Arthur Rutherford Jemett and Arnold S Taylor were the winning duo whose blueprint shaped the building that stands today. "The last quarter of the nineteenth century was a boom time in the centre of Tottenham," said Robert Waite, acting curator at Bruce Castle Museum, in Lordship Lane.
He added: "When the Town Hall opened it was a really momentous occasion.
"A lot of communal activities took place there, not just civic administration but boxing matches, concerts, dances and, of course, political protests.
"When Spurs won the double in 1961 that is where the dream team with Jimmy Greaves appeared".
Building work to redevelop the the landmark will start in the new year taking up to 11 months to complete and has sparked mixed reactions from the community.
Local historian and lifelong Tottenham resident Christine Protz was less than enthusiastic about the plans.
The author of 'Tottenham - A History' said it was "tragic" that so many of the Tottenham's sights and buildings were disappearing.
She said: "I think this is a shame.
"All this housing isn't going to give the place any character. People want something other than accommodation and that's all that's being provided.
"They can only preserve the history by not crowding more people in. It's not a dormitory suburb."
Others were positive that the plans would be a good thing for Tottenham.
Liberal Democrat councillor Rachel Allison, opposition spokesperson for regeneration said: "I welcome the much needed new affordable housing and look forward to the restoration of the historic part of the town hall."
Mr Waite said the plans were a wonderful way to give an old building new use as opposed to it sitting empty.
The curator said: "It is a fabulous building and it will remain for people to view.
"Newlon will have to keep some of the Grade II features. It will be recognisable and still have its character.
"Buildings need to be used. They need to breathe. There's a need for housing and this won't destroy the look of the area. It's one the most interesting buildings in Haringey. I'm delighted that it will be looked after. Regeneration is keeping the best of the old and encouraging the best for the new. Things have to move on.
"Haringey should be very proud that the building is still on the landscape".
Joe Molloson, strategic communications manager for Newlon Homes said that there had been significant public consultation and that residents comments had been taken on board. It was residents' views that informed the decision to build only 109 homes on the site, as opposed to the 160 it had originally planned. The size is going to be less dense now, it was 160 homes and it is now 109."
He made assurances that the facade of the Town Hall would not be altered, just modernized.
Mr Molloson said: "It's about giving local people the opportunity to get access to affordable housing and helping to regenerate this part of Tottenham."
The memorial honouring Cynthia Jarrett would remain, he said.
Mrs Jarrett died in 1985 , aged 49, having suffered a heart attack after police raided her home believing her son had been driving a stolen car which later proved to be false.
Her death is recognised as acting as a catalyst to the infamous Broadwater Farm riots.