Muswell Stream - Alexandra Park

Muswell Stream
Muswell Stream and a number of its tributaries meet and flow north east towards Pymmes Brook.

A suburban area in north London dominated by Alexandra Palace - a landmark for a considerable distance around. Housing to the south and north west of the Palace, was largely built on farmland in the 19th century and includes churches, pubs, schools, libraries and other facilities. There are a few small industrial units.  A rail line once accessed a station adjacent to the Palace and its remains include a pathway along the track.  The Palace still stands, despite its many mishaps, and is used for commercial and community events. It includes the remains of early television studios.

Post to the west Muswell Hill
Post to the north Bounds Green
Post to the south Hornsey
Post to the east Alexandra Palace Station - Wood Green

Albert Close
Muswell Stream To the rear is a tree lined bank which is evidence of the stream

Albert Road
The Muswell Stream flowed north along the western part of the road and was met by a number of tributaries. It flooded the area frequently until drainage was installed in the park.
Recreation Ground.  Some of the remains of the fields of Tottenham Wood Farm and it. It was opened 1893 land of Alexandra Park Company land and lies at the base of two hills. It includes the Pavilion Cafe.
The Muswell Stream flowed across the recreation ground.
Albert Works. In the 1880s this was the Wood Green and Hornsey Steam Laundry but later produced piano parts and like objects. In the Second Wrold War aeroplane parts were made here. In 1952 it was a tile works and later a packing company,

Alexandra Park
The square takes in the northern half of the park and palace.
Alexandra Park. This is now made up of 178 acres and is the remains of the fields Tottenham   Wood Farm. Thomas Rhodes, was the last occupant of the farm and when he died in 1856 and the land was sold. In 1863 the Alexandra Park Co. Ltd took it over and opened to the public.  Like other Alexandra Parks it was named after the Danish princess who became Queen Alexandra. Eventually financial difficulties led the park company to sell land on the north side for housing.  Formal beds were laid out close to the terrace by Alexander McKenzie and winding paths between clumps of planting on the slopes remain in an informal style to contrast with Crystal Palace. Now the total public area including the racecourse is 480 acres.
Boating lake. Built in 1900 on land meant for housing and immediately north of the Palace. It is one of a series of ornamental pools formed by the damming of the Muswell stream which ran down the western boundary of the site. The rest of the lakes were lost as land was sold in the late 1870s. Originally a water village was constructed on piles within it. There was a miniature railway nearby, now gone.
Blandford hall site. This was the old ballroom, used by a clothing firm in the Second World War and later burnt down.  The site includes a fenced area which is remains of a Royal Observer Corps bunker and this is now a now a peace garden. There was also a diving pavilion and tank here.
Rose garden. Built by prisoners of war and restored in the 1980s with the fountain from the Italian Garden.
Conservation pond
Gateway and lodge – originals
Barrage balloon weight
Letterbox with Edward VII cypher
Alexandra Palace Station.  Opened in 1873 by The Great Northern Railway who built the line from Highgate Station up to the Palace – with an eye to visitor traffic. At first this had two wooden platforms, underneath the terrace where there is now a blind arcaded wall left.  It was described as a ‘Dingy terminus'.  The line went over a small road and through a gate to the park. Between 1873-1898 it was intermittently opened and closed as needed and in the Great War used by army reservists and later enemy aliens, refugees, civil servants going to the Palace. After the war in 1922 it was a huge Boy Scout rally. A new island platform was built and much terrace removed, leaving just a flight of steps by the station entrance.  The station and the line closed in 1954. A Car auction firm later used the platform area and British Rail Research Lab was the track to the south. It is now a community centre accessed from The Avenue.
The line itself is now the Parkland Walk going to Finsbury Park via Highgate.
Sidings. Coal used to heat the Palace invariably arrived by rail, and a two-road siding was provided chiefly for this purpose.
Siding - this adjoined the up line, which was available if required for stock storage. This was situated alongside the station, and had some wooden staging near its country end.

Alexandra Palace
The idea of a People's Palace here began in 1858 and was forwarded through designer Owen Jones and engineer Sir Charles Fox, following their work on Crystal Palace. What they proposed was a glass structure plus to a lecture theatre above a railway station. This the Great Northern Palace Company was established in 1860 and built the first Alexandra Palace with materials from the demolished 1862 South Kensington exhibition. It stood on a 300 ft. high hill in the centre of the park and it opened on Queen Victoria’s birthday in 1873. Unfortunately it was burnt down a fortnight later.   It reopened rebuilt in 1875 designed by Meeson's partner, Johnson, including towers housing water tanks as a fire precaution.  However it was closed for several years and finally in 189. It was then bought by a consortium of local authorities and re-opened as a Trust while the British Broadcasting Corporation leased the east end. In the Great War It was used to house refugees in and later Prisoners of War. . It was returned to public use by 1957 but without the Great Organ.  In 1966 it was transferred to the Greater London Council but then to Haringey Council in 1980. It was burnt down again shortly after but Haringey Council decided to build a new palace within the surviving exterior walls, retaining what they could from the fire. The scheme was completed by 1990 including the Great Hall and a new ice rink.
Great Hall. The remodelling after 1980 removed omitted the arcades of iron columns. The engineer was Pell Frischmann. The 1980s interiors are decorated in an eclectic Grand Manner. The VI landed just outside of here in 1944 and blew out the rose window, which was later restored by the Ministry of Works. The organ by Willis was installed in 1875, vandalised in 1918, restored and reopened in 1929, partly burnt in 1980  is still working..
Londesborough Room. Entirely new, has a green marble fireplace with figure of Solomon and large murals by Cinelli. Used for weddings and ‘events’
Palace Suite with murals by Christopher R. Boulter, 1988.  Murals at either end create a trompe l'oeil effect of Italian courtyards complete with wandering peacocks
TV studio.  In 1934 the BBC the leased the east end of the Palace and the first TV was broadcast from there. It became the television centre of the British Broadcasting Corporation and the mast rising from the roof of the building was a landmark. The first broadcast was made on 26 August 1936 and the world’s first regular high definition television service in November 1936. The BBC built a 1930s facade as the entrance to the studios and offices and inside was a contemporary lift with hand-operated metal doors. The studios were on the second floor and electricity generators were installed in the strengthened basement, a canteen was opened (actually the BBC called it a restaurant) with a kitchen, dressing rooms, make-up facilities etc. There is a Blue plaque commemorating the television service.  The Alexandra Palace Television Trust has been formed with the main object of preserving the studios as far as possible and to develop the site as a museum dedicated to the promotion of the technical development of TV.
Alexandra Palace Theatre. It is not known who designed the theatre by the building suggests that it was the work of someone with little previous experience of theatre design. It was a commercial failure at a time when theatre business generally was most profitable. The auditorium is more like a music hall or concert hall than a theatre as a rectangular room with a raked floor and long enclosed corridors along the sides. There is one balcony, distant from the stage although a second balcony, was removed. There faded ‘toy theatre’ colour scheme which is original. It has a complex of wooden machinery both below the stage and in the fly tower.
West Hall. This was the Italian garden
Ice Rink

Alexandra Park Road
Muswell Stream and two streams met at the junction of The Grove and The Avenue. An open section of stream ran past the area of the library in the 1920s.
St.Dunstans Well. This was located on high ground between here and Victoria Road in a field named for it. A stream ran north from the well to join the Muswell Stream. The well was a public water source and was fitted with a pump in the 1860s.
Tributary stream – another stream ran parallel to St. Dunstan’s
Alexandra Park (Whitefield Memorial) Congregational Church first met in the house of Doctor Mailer in the road.  The building opened in 1907 and at first was called Whitefield Tabernacle but was recertified as Alexandra Park Congregational Church in 1922. It is red brick and a brick hall was built on the north side in 1932 and a lower hall added in 1965. It is now housing.
Alexandra Park Library. Built in 1960
St.Saviour. The church was built in two stages 1903 with additions in- 1909. The architect was J S Alder. It was demolished in 1994 and housing St Saviour's Court built as housing on site.2
War Memorial. This says Dedicated to the memory of men from the parish of St Saviour who died in the 1914-18 World War”. It was designed by John Samuel Alder and dedicated by Seymour-Isaacs on Passion Sunday 1919. It is a Carved Portland stone cross with a stone plinth inscribed with the names of the dead.
The Maid of Muswell. Pub
Slag or burnt brick in front garden walls. The use of brickmakers' waste in front garden walls can be found all over Wood Green

Crescent Rise
The Muswell Stream flows under the road.
Railway embankment – there is an inspection hatch for the stream on this.

Donovan Avenue
14 & 15 Boundary marker at ground level "1934 BH" indicates the boundary between the Boroughs of Hornsey and Wood Green, both created in 1933. This boundary line is also that of the more ancient parishes of Tottenham and Hornsey back to the Saxons. Note the line in paving stones outside 14.

Durnsford Road
Dip which shows the line of the Muswell Stream

Grove Avenue
Built on the site of three lakes which were inside the park
The Muswell Stream crosses the northern end of the road from Rosebery Avenue where it joins another stream
A stream ran between this road and Roseberry Avenue to join the Muswell Stream. This stream was used for a string of ornamental lakes in the park when the Palace opened for the second time in 1875. The area was sold off for building in 1899
Over bridge on the railway.

Railway Line
Bridge – the line between Alexandra Palace and Bowes Park curves out of the station and the down crosses the main line on a three span plate girder bridge. The up line came down on the eastern side of the station.
A short section of the Muswell Stream remains open between the main line and the Hertford loop tracks.

Rhodes Avenue
Copse on the corner of Albert Road.  A stream once flowed through this,
Tottenham Wood Farm House. The farm dated from the end of the 18th with the clearance of woodland. In 1789 it was owned by a Michael Mitchell but in 1812 it was bought by Thomas Rhodes who established a large dairy herd there. The farmhouse was used by Muswell Hill Golf Club as a clubhouse until 1932 when it was demolished.
Portico of Tottenham Wood Farm house – this is now situated in school grounds.
Lake once stood south of the farm house which was part of the system of streams.
Alexandra Park School. This is an “academy” The school for secondary pupils. It opened in 1999 sharing the premises with the College of North East London. The buildings date from the 1960s

Rosebery Mews
A stream ran down here from Cecil Road towards the confluence with Muswell Stream and another tributary

Rosebery Road
Named after the 1894-96 Prime Minister who was a popular figure on the Turf. Alexandra Park extended to here before Dukes Avenue, Rosebery and other roads were built up in the 1900s. Built on the site of three lakes which were inside the park
The Muswell Stream crossed the road from between Cranbourne and Muswell Roads going to the northern end of Grove Avenue
A stream ran between this road and Grove Avenue to join the Muswell Stream

The Avenue
Once the main entrance roadway, with parkland each side and a gate at the bottom.
Circus.  Until the 1880s a permanent circus, with provision for seating an audience of 3000, stood to the east of road. The land was sold for housing and developed in the 1880s.


A walk around Muswell hill
Alexandra Palace web site
Blake. Northern Wastes
Blue Plaque Guide, English Heritage
British Listed Buildings web site
Cherry & Pevsner. London North
Clunn. The Face of London
Davies. Rails to the People’s Palace
Disused Stations web site (wonderful site by Nick Catford)
Field place names,
GLIAS Newsletter
Lewis. Lea Valley London’s Best Kept Secret
LMA web site
London a Business cavalcade,
London Borough of Haringey Web site
London Encyclopaedia
London Railway Record
London Transport Country walks-79,
London, City of Science. Museum of London
Muravyoya and I Sivolap-Kaftanova, Lenin in London
O’Connor. Forgotten Stations of London
Pinching and Dell. Haringey’s Hidden streams revealed
Smyth. City Wildspace,
Stevenson, Middlesex
Symonds. Behind the Blue Plaques of London,
TBAOG, A Survey of Industrial Monuments of Greater London,
Walford Highgate to the Lea
Walford. Village London


Great article. Thanks Edith. I've added a posting about this on Harringay Online. Your readers may be interested in our collection of historical photos of Ally Pally and Park linked to at the end of that article.

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