Lordship Recreation Ground

(Sept 2006 - Updated with new Photographs - Queenie Oakes School of Dance)

Lordship Recreation Ground, or the 'Rec' as most people fondly call it, was first opened to the public in 1936. The facilities available at the 'Rec' included the Shell Theatre, paddleboat pond and tennis courts.  However, for many past and present  residents of Summerhill Road, I suspect their fondest memories were of the 'Model Traffic Area' where many happy hours were spent during school and summer holidays. This was a unique facility for the children of Tottenham which first opened in 1938. Please refer to the following link to an article that was published in 'Weekly Illustrated' in August 1938:  (Click here -Newspaper feature)

You could hire a model car or bicycle to ride around the mini-road system. Alternatively, on payment of a small fee,  you could use your own cycle. There were also various pieces of play equipment sited within the landscaped areas of the road system, so that children were forced to cross the roads and thus encouraging road safety training There were miniature traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, roundabouts and even a miniature police call box.

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'Model Traffic Area' - Photograph  Copyright Bruce Castle Museum

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Opening Ceremony 'Model Traffic Area' - Photograph  Copyright Bruce Castle Museum

The Model Traffic Area has been described as a unique example of a pioneering education facility and much loved by those who had the privilege to use it as children.

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'Model Traffic Area  1947' - Photograph  Copyright Bruce Castle Museum

The following photograph is a wonderful panoramic view of the Model Traffic Area dating back to the early 1950's, and we are indebted once again to Bruce Castle Museum for allowing us to reproduce this picture on our website.

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Panoramic view of Model Traffic Area - dating  from the Early 1950's

Note: The playground equipment sited in the grounds and also the old 'Water Tower' in the background which was sited in Higham Road.   (Copyright; Bruce Castle Museum)

Many people will also remember that, in addition to the Model Traffic Area, there was also the Boating Lake and Paddling Pool Area. This was very popular in the 1950's and 60's particularly on those hot Summer days which are of course the only ones we remember from our School Holidays. We must have had wet days but somehow we never remember them. The following photographs should bring back fond memories of those carefree days.

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The Boating Lake at 'Lordship Rec' - Postcard Photograph C.1960

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The Paddling Pool at 'Lordship Rec' - Postcard Photograph C.1960

Many will recall that the Paddling Pool was at the bottom of a series of mini-pools that cascaded down the slope from the Higham Road entrance of Lordship Rec. Behind the trees in the background was the Moselle Brook that also run through the Recreation Ground.

They say you should always remember things as they were or face disappointment and I am afraid this is very true of the Model Traffic Area. On a recent nostalgic trip back to Lordship Rec I was surprised to discover that, after several decades of under investment and neglect by the local council, the whole area is now in a sad state of disrepair. The following photographs that I took during the visit help illustrate this point.

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Model Traffic Area - September 2003

However, on a more positive note, we understand that in a recently published strategy document for 'Lordship Recreation Ground' there are plans to renovate and redevelop the facility which will also include a BMX track etc. Clearly this is not before time and hopefully the children in Summerhill Road today will be able to enjoy the wonderful experiences we had in our childhood.

We have been contacted by a past resident of Tottenham who has fond memories of the Shell bandstand having once won a Fancy Dress competition there in the 1950's, and she has kindly sent us the following photograph of her dressed as a Piano. Apparently the small boy in the foreground was dressed as 'Three peas in a pod'

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     Rita Mart - Fancy Dress Winner - Shell Bandstand                (original photographer - R. Lawrence 36 Foyle Road)

The following two photographs have been provided by Valerie Elbourn, who is a cousin of Rita Mart's, and they show her performing at a local talent show at the Shell Theatre in approx 1957. Valerie and her friend Daryl Ashford were 2 dancers from the 'Queenie Oakes School of Dance'

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Performers at local talent show - Shell Theatre 1957

      (Original photograph provided by Daryl Ashford who appears in photographs with Valerie Elbourn - Valerie far left wearing short skirt standing alongside Daryl) Valerie & Daryl were members of the 'Queenie Oakes school of Dance'

Also included in the strategy documents are plans to renovate the Shell Bandstand. Apparently it was shaped like a shell for improved acoustics. (A forerunner for Sydney Opera House perhaps !) The shell was originally painted in delicate shades of yellow and green. The sunken auditorium seated 250 persons in deckchairs. A sunken garden in front and to the sides of the stage was planted in choice blooms and rock plants.

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Let us hope that these redevelopment plans are realised for it will be a tragedy if these uniquue facilities from Tottenham's past are allowed to be destroyed.

The 'Friends of Lordship Recreation Ground' are a group of like minded people committed to preserving this wonderful amenity for the residents of Tottenham.

Click HERE for more information on the work of the 'Friends of Lorship Rec'.

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