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Tottenham town hall 1.jpg
Tottenham Town Hall
Grid reference: TQ3390
Location: 51°35’49"N, 0°4’16"W
Post town: London
Postcode: N15, N17
Dialling code: 020
Local Government
Council: Haringey

Tottenham is a town in Middlesex within the metropolitan conurbation, found six-and-a-half miles north of the centre of London.

Tottenham is believed to have been named after one Tota, presumably a farmer or chieftain; Totanham would mean "Tota's homestead". In the Domesday Book of 1086 the manor is recorded as Toteham.


Early history

Dorset Map of Tottenham in 1619 (South shown at the top of the map)

There has been a settlement at Tottenham for over a thousand years. It grew up along the old Roman road, Ermine Street, which became the Great Cambridge Road (the route of which became, in part, the A10 road), and between High Cross and Tottenham Hale, the present Monument Way.

When the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086, about 70 families lived within the area of the manor, mostly labourers working for the Lord of the Manor. A humorous poem entitled The Tournament of Tottenham, written around 1400, describes a mock-battle between peasants vying for the reeve's daughter.

From the Tudor period onwards, Tottenham became a popular recreation and leisure destination for wealthy Londoners. Henry VIII is known to have visited Bruce Castle and also hunted in Tottenham Wood.

Rural Tottenham also featured in Izaak Walton's book The Compleat Angler, published in 1653.[1] The area became noted for its large Quaker population[2] and its schools (including Rowland Hill's at Bruce Castle.[3]) Tottenham remained a semi-rural and upper middle class area until the 1870s.

Modern era

In late 1870, the Great Eastern Railway introduced special workman's trains and fares on its newly opened Enfield and Walthamstow branch lines. Tottenham's low-lying fields and market gardens were then rapidly transformed into cheap housing for the lower middle and working classes, who were able to commute cheaply to inner London. The workman's fare policy stimulated the relatively early development of the area into a suburb.

On 23 January 1909 occurred a crime which was at the time known as the Tottenham Outrage.[4] Two armed robbers of Russian extraction held up the wages clerk of a rubber works in Chesnut Road. They made their getaway across Tottenham Marshes and fled across the Lea. On the opposite bank of the river they hijacked a Walthamstow Corporation tramcar, hotly pursued by the police on another tram. The hijacked tram was stopped but the robbers continued their flight on foot. After firing their weapons and killing two people, Ralph Joscelyne, aged 10, and PC William Tyler, they were eventually cornered by the police and shot themselves rather than be captured. Fourteen other people were wounded during the chase. The incident later became the subject of a silent film.[5]

During the Second World War Tottenham also became a target of the German bombing campaign against Britain. Bombs fell within the town and surrounding street during the first air raid]] on London on 24 August 1940. The borough was also hit by four V-1s and by V-2s, the last of which occurred on 15 March 1945. Wartime shortages led to the creation of Tottenham Pudding, a mixture of household waste food which was converted into feeding stuffs for pigs and poultry. The "pudding" was named by Queen Mary on a visit to Tottenham Refuse Works. Production continued into the post-war period.

Broadwater Farm

After the war, Tottenham declined into serious social problems. In 1985, the Broadwater Farm housing estate in Tottenham was the scene of rioting between the police and local youths following the death of Cynthia Jarrett, a resident of the estate who died of heart failure after four policemen burst into her home. The response of the members of the black community in Tottenham and surrounding areas culminated in a riot beginning on Tottenham High Road and ending in the local Broadwater Farm Estate. One police officer, Keith Blakelock, was killed; 58 policemen and 24 other people were injured in the fighting. Two of the policemen were injured by gunshots during the riot, the first time that firearms had been used in that type of confrontation.

In 2011 further riots began after 29-year-old Mark Duggan had been shot dead on the street in Tottenham on 4 August 2011 by Metropolitan Police armed response officers.[6][7]


South Tottenham station
  • Northern and Eastern Railway – Running from Stratford to Broxbourne was opened 15 September 1840 with two stations in the district - Tottenham Hale and Marsh Lane.
  • Tottenham & Hampstead Junction Railway – Opened 21 July 1868. South Tottenham was opened in 1871, two other stations on this line within Tottenham were opened later. Harringay Park (Green Lanes) opened in 1880 and St Ann's Road opened in 1882 closing after service on 8 August 1942.
  • Palace Gates Line – Opened within Tottenham on 1 January 1878 with stations at Seven Sisters and West Green. Passenger services ceased in 1963 with the line finally closing on 7 February 1965.
  • Tottenham & Forest Gate Railway – Opened 9 July 1894.


London Underground:

  • Piccadilly Line – Extension through Tottenham opened on 19 September 1932.
  • Victoria Line – The first section of this line opened on 1 September 1968.

Parts of Tottenham

Tottenham's growth has spawned several distinctive areas within the general description "Tottenham".

North Tottenham

North Tottenham stretches along Tottenham High Road from the Edmonton border in the north to Lordship Lane in the south. Districts within it include Little Russia and Northumberland Park. Landmarks include White Hart Lane, home of Tottenham Hotspur, White Hart Lane station and Northumberland Park station.

Central Tottenham

Central Tottenham is found by continuing along the high road, Central Tottenham includes Bruce Grove, Tottenham Green and Tottenham Hale, as well as Tottenham Hale station and retail park, Tottenham Marshes (part of the Lee Valley Park) and Bruce Castle.

South Tottenham

South Tottenham is further along the A10 from until St Ann's Road, this area includes South Tottenham, St Ann's neighbourhood, West Green and Seven Sisters. Transport links include Seven Sisters station and South Tottenham station. Landmarks include the Markfield Beam Engine and Downhills Park.

West Tottenham

West Tottenham is the western area, where the Broadwater Farm, Tower Gardens Estates are found and Lordship Recreation Ground.


Ethnic composition

Tottenham has a multiracial, multicultural population. It contains one of the largest populations of Afro-Caribbean people, a community founded with the first of the Empire Windrush era. Soon afterwards West African communities, notably the many Ghanaians, began to migrate into the area. Between 1980 and the present day there has been a slow immigration of Colombians, Congolese, Albanians, Kurds, Turkish-Cypriots, Turks, Somalis, Irish, and Portuguese. South Tottenham is reported to be the most ethnically-diverse area in Europe, with up to 300 languages being spoken by its residents.[8]

According to David Lammy MP, Tottenham has the highest unemployment rate in London and the 8th highest in the United Kingdom, and it has some of the highest poverty rates within the country.[9] There have also been major tensions between the Black community and the police since (and before) the 1985 Broadwater Farm riot.


Tottenham has been one of the main hotspots for gangs and gun crime in the United Kingdom during the past three decades. This followed the rise of gangs and drug wars throughout the area and all of the areas surrounding Tottenham. An organised crime ring known as the Turkish Mafia was said to have controlled more than 90% of the British heroin market.[10]


  • The Broadwater Farm riot occurred around the Broadwater Farm area on 6 October 1985 following the death of Cynthia Jarrett in a police search of her home. The tension between local black youth and the largely white Metropolitan Police had been high due to a combination of local issues and the aftermath of riots in Brixton which had occurred in the previous week. During the riots resulted a police officer was murdered.[11]
  • The 2011 Tottenham riots were a series of riots sparked out of a protest in Tottenham after Mark Duggan had been shot dead in the street by Police officers while carrying a gun. Attacks were carried out on two police cars, a bus, a Post Office and several local shops from 8:00 pm onwards on 6 August 2011. Riot police vans attended the scene of disturbances on Tottenham High Road. Later in the evening the riot spread, with an Aldi supermarket and a branch of Allied Carpets also destroyed by fire, and widespread looting in nearby Wood Green shopping centre and the retail park at Tottenham Hale. Several flats above shops on Tottenham High Road collapsed due to the fires. 26 shared ownership flats in the Union Point development above the Carpetright store – built in the landmark Cooperative department store building – were also completely destroyed by fire. On 17 August 2011 the Prince of Wales and his wife the Duchess of Cornwall visited an emergency centre to meet victims of the riots.[12]

Sights of the town

Bruce Castle, the old Tottenham manor house
  • All Hallows Church – This is the oldest surviving building in the town, and dates back to Norman days. For more than 700 years it was the original parish church for Tottenham. Presented in 1802 with a bell from the Quebec Garrison which was captured from the French in the 1759 Battle of Quebec, Canada. Adjacent to the church is
  • Tottenham Cemetery – A large cemetery, which makes up part of an open access area of land and habitat, along with Bruce Castle Park and All Hallows Churchyard.
  • Broadwater Farm – Housing estate built in 1967, that was the site of the Broadwater Farm riot in 1985.
  • Brook Street Chapel – Non-denominational Christian chapel established in 1839, one of the earliest Plymouth Brethren/Open Brethren assemblies in London that still exists. The church was associated with local notable Christians such as Hudson Taylor, Dr Barnardo, John Eliot Howard, Luke Howard and Philip Gosse.[13]
  • Bruce Castle on Lordship Lane – Grade I listed, it was Tottenham's manor house, and dates from the 16th century, with alterations by subsequent occupants. It was given the name 'Bruce Castle' during the 17th century by the 2nd Lord Coleraine, who was Lord of the Manor at the time. He named it after 'Robert the Bruce', whose family had been Lord of the Manor during the mediæval period. The building was purchased by the Hill family who ran a progressive school there. Sir Rowland Hill was its first headmaster and he was living here when he as Postmaster General introduced the Uniform Penny Post in 1840.
  • Clyde Circus conservation area
  • Edmanson’s Close previously known as the Almshouses of the Drapers' Company. They were built in 1870 and were established out of the generosity of three 17th century benefactors, Sir John Jolles, John Pemel and John Edmanson.
  • High Cross – Erected at some time between 1600–1609 on the site of an earlier Christian cross, although there is some speculation that the first structure on the site was a Roman beacon or marker, situated on a low summit on Ermine Street. Tottenham High Cross is often mistakenly thought to be an Eleanor cross.
  • Markfield Beam Engine
  • St Ann's Church – Consecrated in 1861, St Ann's Church houses the organ which was originally in Crosby Hall, Bishopsgate, on which Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, who composed the famous Wedding March from A Midsummer Night's Dream, regularly gave recitals.


White Hart Lane

Tottenham is the home of Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur FC ("Spurs"), one of Britain's most successful club sides. The club's home ground is White Hart Lane, located on Park Lane, rather than the road of the same name. The ground is named after the White Hart Inn that it was built behind, and the nearest station to the ground.

  • Football:
    • Tottenham Hotspur (professional, premier league)
    • Haringey Borough FC
    • Haringey & Waltham Development FC

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Tottenham)


  1. "The Complete Angler by Isaak Walton – Free eBook". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  2. "Tottenham Quaker Meeting (Religious Society of Friends)". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  3. "E.Howard, ''Eliot Papers'', 1895". Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  4. The Tottenham Outrage. Retrieved 2 February 2008.
  5. Tottenham outrage- silent film. Retrieved 10 November 2008.
  6. "Tension builds in Enfield Town as small groups arrive in area". Enfield Independent. Retrieved 7 August 2011. 
  7. Bracchi, Paul (8 August 2011). "Violence, drugs, a fatal stabbing and a most unlikely martyr" (in British English). Daily Mail. London: Associated Newspapers. Archived from the original on 8 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  8. JUMANA FAROUKY (15 February 2007). "Unity Begins at Home – TIME". TIME<!.,9171,1590193,00.html?iid=chix-sphere. Retrieved 2009-12-10. 
  9. David Lammie. "Response to the Comprehensive Spending Review". Retrieved 25 February 2011. 
  10. TONY THOMPSON (17 November 2002). "Heroin 'emperor' brings terror to UK streets". The Guardian (London). 
  11. Newman, K - [ Police-Public Relations: The Pace of Change: Police Foundation Lecture 1986, The Police Foundation, 1986
  12. News report Retrieved 22 August 2011
  13. "Brook Street Chapel". Brook Street Chapel. 31 October 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-10.