8 February 2022

On the tiles at George's Fish & Chips shop, 45 Tottenham Lane, N8

At the northern end of Tottenham Lane, on the right and just before the fork where the road meets Church Lane and leads down to the right and Hornsey railway station, there is a fish and chips shop, opposite the old police station buildng

The shop doesn't look like much at first glance, being as the exterior is modern plate glass, having lost almost all of its Victorian metalwork and embellishment over the past few decades. You need only to look around at some of the nearby shops to be able to get an idea of how attractive this junction would have been 120 years ago. 

if you venture into George's because you'll find some fabulous examples of fin-de-siecle tiles along the lower sections of the walls on both sides, specifically in the small seating area at the left and behind the counter too, albeit mostly obscured by cabinets. But hey, they are there and that's great.

These tiles really show of the colourful patterns of the Art Nouveau 1890s area. The grassy greens, deep golden yellows and peacock blues are absolutely gorgeous. There is also a stained glass panel at the rear which I assume is of the same era, but I doubt it would have been situated exactly in that position when the shop interior was first created. As regards the 'since 1890' claim, I am not sure what is intimated here. The 1901 directory shows this shop as No.9 Rathcoole Parade and the premises of James Brunton, fishmonger. Perhaps George is a descendant of James? Or they simply mean a chippy has been on this site since 1890.

I popped in to check up on the place earlier this month but, though the door was wide open and the place clearly open for business, there was no one about to talk to – I called out 'hello' but got no response and, in a rush to be elsewhere, I simply snapped these pics and sped off. Last time I popped in, ooh about 3 years ago, I'd had a nice chat a man who worked there. He was really proud of the tiles and loved that the history of the place is appreciated by many people who come into admire the original features (and eat the lovely chips!). I didn't ask if his name was George.

Nearby, there are other places that still hang on to their mad patchworks of Victorian glazed tiles. I mean 'mad' in a good way. Personally, I'd never consider putting some of these patterns together except in a catalogue. But the effect is dazzlingly good, such as a few doors along, at 59 Tottenham Lane, on the corner of Harvey Road where there are some lovely vertical panels of mixed tiles that are strangely at odds, yet enhanced and contrasted by, the faded ultramarine paint of Garden Transformations. The 1901 directory tells me this was Lucas & Co, house furnishers. You can also find lovely mixed tile collections surrounding the front doors of many residential properties in the area, as well as some excellent examples of old shop fronts in Hornsey High Street, but I will save those for a separate bulletin.

UPDATE 2023:

I discovered last year that although the premises is still trading in fish and chips, the lovely colourful Art Nouveau tiles along the left side wall have been obliterated or removed. The guy I spoke to in there said it was for Health and Safety reasons, but that really cannot be the case being as some original tiles remain visible behind the counter in the food preparation area. Sigh.  

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Thanks, Jane