10 May 2023

Remembering Andreas Michli & Son

I was out and about wandering* along and through the back streets of Harringay/Haringey recently. After delivering a framed print to an address in the Hornsey Vale area (which, incidentally, offers amazing views of Ally Pally) I was intending to head straight back home to Holloway but on venturing slightly off-piste I rediscovered the lovely old library near the junction of Quernmore Rd which beckoned me inside and, after half an hour of book browsing, I then got distracted and delighted by the shops that form the old station parade there and, oh gawd, here we go again... I was out for hours. I'm not complaining though. 

Emerging into Wightman Road, I first investigated some of the streets that form the lower rungs of 'the ladder' including the parallel worlds of the New River and the Harringay Passage, a footpath that links Turnpike Lane to Umfreville Rd but stops short of the railway land, today converted into a marvellous bug-tastic and diverse eco-park. 

I wandered up and down Green Lane's Grand Parade looking at the adapted facades on the buildings (ooh, I feel a montage coming on soon) and after a yummy lunch in a Turkish restaurant I made my way into the streets on the eastern side of the road, with the idea to follow the railway line as best as as possible, eastward to South Tottenham station. I found some more little green spaces abutting the line and made my way into and around the old St Ann's Hospital site, coming out almost opposite the recreation ground and Black Boy Lane renamed La Rose Lane earlier this year.

I then recalled that I had recently noticed from the top of a passing bus that the grocery shop at the corner of St Ann's Road (where it meets Salisbury Rd a sharp point) hadn't yet re-opened. I had assumed it had closed due to coronavirus but that did seem odd. And, even if that was the case, why would it still be closed now? So I instead of heading towards Seven Sisters I made my way back towards Green Lanes to investigate.

I had often thought that if I lived in the vicinity I would definitely frequent Michli's with its marvellous selection of fruit and veg and so much more – see this retrospective streetview for how the shop looked twelve years agoBut I've missed out. Because now it's closed for ever. It's empty. And there's a very sad reason for this. 

A type-written sheet on the glass door near the corner tells the story. It seems the shop has been closed for over four and a half years now. Andreas passed away in August 2018.

I peered inside and saw the remains of a once-thriving business. Wood-panelled walls, a delivery tricycle, empty shelves, pots and pans and pictures, racks and rubbish and, bizarrely/ironically, one of those Oriental perpetually waving cats, still waving. Other windows contain healthy houseplants. 

I can't really do this justice being as I never went inside and I never met the evidently much-missed Andreas Michli. But I've read some marvellous reviews of the shop like this one from 2011 explaining Andreas's ethics and how he was proactive in offering locally-grown produce. After his death many heartfelt remembrances have been posted online – I particularly like this one by Shilpah Shah

So what's going to happen to the shop? There is an estate agent's board on the building that seems to intimate that the property is already let. However, they have an active listing here (approx £4K a month available for a 15 year lease) which also includes some excellent photos of the interior spaces. 

I really hope whoever takes on the site respects it and doesn't lose all the layers of architectural history here. I'd be more than saddened to see this all replaced wit UPVC. And I am sure Andreas would be saddened too. Fingers crossed. 

How sad on so many levels. My best to the Michli family.

*wandering. I do a lot of wandering. I set out to go somewhere and, once I have been to the shop or delivered the package, I get easily distracted by backstreets, old signage, intriguing alleyways etc. I follow my nose wherever it takes me until my feet ache or my belly gurgles. I will write about being a Nosey Parker soon.

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Thanks, Jane