People are always surprised when I say my family has lived in the same house for over a hundred years. I suppose that is less common than it once was, but it does give me a unique perspective on the house, the road and Tottenham as a whole. This has proved even more useful since I began working in local history.
The house is a mid-Edwardian terraced house, three up, three down, with a small garden. The house was rented – almost no one living in working-class housing owned their own property – and everywhere I look there are reminders of family history.
Even the scratched initials in the brickwork near the front door are those of my uncles’ various friends.
The house survived wartime bombing relatively unscathed – the windows were blown out a couple of times but we were lucky. I pestered my mother to tell me what life was like in Tottenham during WW2, wanting to know where the bombs fell – another bit of knowledge which helps me to explain to people what life was like in the Blitz.
In the later 1950s /early 1960s it was mostly unchanged from the building into
which my grandparents moved in 1912 –
brownish, heavily varnished wallpaper, no electricity, just gas lighting and oil lamps, an outside toilet, no bathroom, and a kitchen copper where the washing was done. The bowl from that copper is still doing sterling service outside the front door as a giant plant pot. Gradually my father made a difference – redecorating, altering – although we didn’t have electricity until 1973. I often
wonder what my grandmother would have thought about the modern kitchen,
washing machine etc. Such things would have been an impossible luxury for her
Being part of the house and road for so many years gives me a greater
understanding of the whole community and the privations and difficulties they
endured throughout the 20th century.