Wednesday 21 February 2024

Elizabeth Way Roundabout: Brutality on the Eastern Gate

At the fag end of 2023 the current Housing Secretary, Michael Gove, announced the formation of a new Development Corporation to oversee the expansion of Cambridge and the building of 'northwards' of 150,000 homes. This dwarves the figure of 50,000 previously identified in the Greater Cambridge Local Plan. Gove promised to reveal more about how the water supply issues  would be dealt with later. Given that the Conservatives are almost certain to finally be given the heave ho by the electorate later this year, it seems more than likely that this 'vision' won't pan out quite as advertised. But Gove's plans are not entirely new and seem like an on-steroids extension of existing ones. Whatever happens, Cambridge is set to see significant expansion and development at an ever increasing pace. Gove's 'vision'  is 'for a new urban quarter – one adjacent to the existing city – with beautiful Neo-classical buildings, rich parkland, concert halls and museums providing homes for thousands....  accompanied by further, ambitious, development around and in the city to liberate its potential with tens of thousands of new homes'.   A seemingly intentionally vaguely defined idea combining faux-Victoriana and Silicon Valley sprawl, with the sole purpose being the expansion of the life science and tech economy. That's what the statement brought to my mind anyway.

We will have to wait and see exactly the future city will look and feel like. But development has been gathering pace for some time. There are a number of proposals and plans already in motion that were dreamt up long  before Gove came up with the plan for a 'Development Corporation'. A term which harks back to the utopian idealism of the New Town period. However, unlike that period, things like council housing, civic centres, public art, community,  essential infrastructure and services are not things that look like they are high on the agenda.

While it was easy to be skeptical about Gove's announcement, it gave me the kick up the arse I needed to think about documenting some of the places currently marked for development before they are altered beyond recognition or disappear altogether.

The first site I decided to visit and the destination of the  first official walk of the year, was Elizabeth Way Roundabout. This is located at an entry point to the city centre and the central feature of what has been termed the 'Eastern Gate', an area more likely known to locals as 'the town end of Newmarket Road'. The City Council's Eastern Gate 'supplementary planning document' (SPD), which looks to have been produced around 2011, gives a good overview of the area and has some good maps. But crucially, it shows that over ten years ago plans were already afoot to transform the area. It calls Elizabeth way Roundabout and its underpasses,  'unpleasant and hostile'. Later its says the roundabout 'lacks the qualities of a positive gateway into the city and severely limits pedestrian and cycle movements'. Part of the strategy suggested was to remove the underpasses and remodel the junction. More recently plans to do just that have been consulted on as part of wider development plan called the 'Eastern Access Project'. The Eastern Access Project covers the length of  Newmarket Road to East Barnwell, where significant plans have just been proposed. It seems likely that the Elizabeth Way roundabout underpass will be filled in, with the  surface remodeled into a 'dutch' style roundabout with surface cycle lanes and pedestrian crossings.

The roundabout and Elizabeth Way Bridge, which extends Northwards from the roundabout to cross the river, is an unusual site (and sight)  for Cambridge in its concrete enormity. Cambridge is a bit low on underpasses and 60s/70s brutalist concrete structures of any kind. It is probably because of this that I have a possibly irrational fondness for the roundabout and it's underpass. When I was a kid, I remember having a perception that other towns and cities were made up of underpasses, black tar stained railway bridges, scuffy back alleys, caffs and brutalist concrete offices, flats and road systems. I remember sometimes having the feeling that I was not living in a proper city because Cambridge lacked these things and I was missing out.  My perception was no doubt based on a combination of things I'd seen from the car window when going on holiday with my parents and television programmes from the late 70s and early 80s set in urban environments, like Grange Hill and The Sweeney.  So for me at least, the roundabout is a site of significant psychogeographic interest. It was difficult to get a photograph that does it justice due to it's size.

I headed down to the underpass from the South West side. Graffiti is a perennial feature of the routes leading in at all four corners. Every now and then, it is whitewashed. But the graffiti soon returns. The standard of graffiti has been getting increasingly poor generally, and most was not worth photographing.

But the first of several Nigels of the day greeted me as continued into the underpass. A deluxe Nigel in purple. 'Nigel' seems to colonise many of the peripheral spaces around Cambridge. The Eastern Gate was a zone in transition and in a liminal phase, waiting for something to happen, as the proliferation of Nigel's in the area made clear.

As well as graffiti, the four underpass 'tunnels' all contain official murals, each with its own theme. These had previously been kept pretty clear of graffiti, due to a protective coating making it easier to clean anything off. But the cleaning seems to have halted. I wondered if this was a sign that the city council had stopped bothering, on the assumption that it wasn't worth it given that the underpass was probably going to disappear in the not too distant future. But I'd also noticed a lack of graffiti removal elsewhere in the city so it could just be down to the council being short of money.

This section of the underpass contained the Technology, Science and History' themed  mural. Being  the entrance/exit pointing pointing to/from the part of town containing most of the colleges and University, this sort of made sense, given that Cambridge's Science and Tech economy originates from the University and companies that span off from it as 'The Cambridge Phenomena'. The Cambridge Phenomena began in the 50s, and now is the driver behind Gove's plans. Of course before that, the University has long been associated with science, back at least as far as  Newton being hit on the head by an apple.
I arrived at the open sunken courtyard. That doesn't feel like quite the right word, sounding a bit too old fashioned and stuffy for something resembling a sight you would expect to see in downtown Stevenage or Harlow. I don't really know what the right description for this type of feature is, but on entering the open space, once the science mural was forgotten, there was no obvious connection with the University or anything else people usually associate with Cambridge.  Rather, the feeling was of having arrived in a place that was once a vision of modernism that was never quite realised, very much like contemporary Stevenage or Harlow. This disconnect is, I think, one of the main justifications given  for removal of the underpasses and roundabout.  But the environment found here is a symbol of escape from the sometimes overpowering sanitisation  of other parts of Cambridge. It is somewhere where you could imagine seeing Roland Browning stuffing his face with chips while bunking off school. Its a place out of time and space.  Not one that was ever likely to be turned into a heritage feature for the delight of tourists on an official guided walk. 

It was again difficult to get a good photo that fitted it all in. But while I was writing this and doing a bit of googling about the roundabout, I came across the excellent 'Coleridge and Beyond' blog which contained a recent post about the roundabout. It contains photos much better than mine and further information about the roundabout and its murals.

I emerged on the North West side, next to National Tyres which has been there for as long as I remember, but I have a recollection of the logo being in black and white. Beyond this part of a new development, at least one newer than the Eastern gate SPD, came into view.

I followed the path that runs down the side of Elizabeth Bridge towards the river, alongside the development which was on my left. These blocks appear to be student flats. It wasn't made clear if they were any particular sort of students. No signs of a particular college or even the University were evident. The gate I passed was coupled with a residents only sign giving no further clue. I had hoped to cut through the development to investigate further but clearly the public were not welcome.

The other side of the path, there is  space beneath the bridge beyond a brown door, which looks like it has not been opened for some time. In the past there were calls to use the space under the bridge as a music venue, among other things. I imagine its mostly been used for storage as it has, to the best of my knowledge, never been opened to the public.

Further along part of the space is being used as a 'hidden' homeless shelter. This was revealed by the Cambridge News in a surprisingly coherent article. It highlights clearly the contrast between those living in the 'luxury'' student accomodation and those in the shelter. A stark microcosm of Cambridge being one of the most unequal cities in the country, with the student and 'luxury' flats in the new development offering views across the river and Midsummer Common and looking down (literally) on those having to exist in the shelter. 

I stumbled across a desire path heading in the direction of the new development, which from this angle looked not unlike three brick and glass made cruise ships poised to sail across the Common. I supposed the design might have been intended to produce associations with luxury and wealth. The ones with the biggest windows are presumably the most expensive ones.

The desire path led to an official path, which then took me to a gate which the public were allowed through, as long as they were following the 'permissive path' as signified by the green label on the gatepost. The gatepost was otherwise uninteresting and non-descript, save for sign that confirmed the development was called 'Riverside'. I always referred to the area the other side of Elizabeth Bridge that followed the road along to Stourbridge Common as 'Riverside' and wondered if this naming, as well as being a bit unimaginative, would cause confusion.

The development was large but fairly featureless, other than a strange pice of landscaping that resembled a mini amphitheatre, with a sort of abstract (or maybe just unidentifiable) metal public art piece at the centre. Well, more private than public, but it is not alway easy to tell until an officious security guard appears. Thankfully there did not seem to be any around. Here I guess its more a private/public-permissive space. Its probably not permitted to walk on the grass though.

Another piece of art appeared at the end of the route which comes out into Newmarket Road. A depiction of a skeleton belonging to a large aquatic dinosaur ran along a wall. The wall had an air of the temporary about it, but I could not be sure whether that was just a feature of its modern design. Behind the wall, the building that was once the Bird in Hand pub loomed up. More recently it had been an upmarket indian restaurant, but that has relocated across the road, leaving the building empty. The Bird in Hand was one of the few pubs in the vicinity of the 'Eastern Gate' memorable in my lifetime. No doubt there used to be more. My nanna always told me that there were many more pubs along East Road when she was growing up, whilst also reminding me that people didn't have the money to go to the pub 'in her day'. This seemed paradoxical. These days there seems to be an inverse relationship between the amount of affluence (and people) moving into the city and the number of pubs, which also seems paradoxical. So maybe what she said was less contradictory than it seemed at the time.

The building below is on the site of what used to the to be the offices of the Cambridge Evening News, before the paper relocated to the outskirts at Milton, just across the A14 and lost the 'evening' from it's name. The road next to the building is called Evening Court, as if the paper left the 'evening' behind on leaving as a reminder of it's past as a quality local rag. I can't recall exactly what the old building looked like, it has faded from memory,  but I think the site must have covered the area behind where the houses are now. Somewhere around here, probably on what is now the Riverside development, was a part of  Cambridge Regional College that used to train people to be chefs and hairdressers and where the public could go for a cheap meal and  haircut. I think these activities might still go on at the CRC Campus on the edge of town near the Science Park. 

Now next to Evening Court, the building that replaced the Cambridge Evening News offices houses the Cambridge Building Society Headquarters. It is unusual such an institution retaining its premises in town these days. With the Cambridge News, Cambridgeshire County Council and South Cambs District Council having moved out of town, and talk of even the Police station moving out, it feels like the people of Cambridge are being abandoned by an exodus of  public serving institutions as they move to cheaper sites in a bid for efficiency savings.

Across the road building previously known as Shakespeare House was being renovated and will be rebranded 'Generator'. The previous building was a probably from the 1980s or 1990s so not ancient. Although it had been unremarkable looking enough for me to have trouble remembering what it had looked like before and I had to look it up. Like the buildings that runs along Sun Street next to it, there hadn't been much to notice about it. The new version looks from the intranet computer mock ups a similar prospect, just a more modern version.

Heading back to the roundabout I mooched along Sun Street, which is less of a street and more of a layby. A good portion of this is taken up by another brown office building from the 1980s or 1990s called  Dukes Court. Currently it appeared empty and up for lease. At number 6 the letterbox was taped up and the notice board blank.

I retraced my steps under the roundabout and headed back between the luxury flats and homeless shelter until I reached the underpass beneath Elizabeth Bridge. The view towards the river between two large concrete supports was accompanied by the rumble of cars passing above.

I lingered under the bridge for a while, and looked up to see a number of cobweb covered lights. These appeared to have been untouched for years. There were no concessions to gentile aesthtics here. The huge concrete posts, ancient looking cobwebs and relentless vibrations of the traffic passing overhead and the metal barrier running beside the river created a waterside experience diametrically opposed to that to be found further along the Cam in both directions within the city boundary. An experience not to be repeated until well out of the City boundary along the river path under the A14 near Horningsea. The environment under the bridge was akin to something from a J G Ballard novel. There were no straw hatted men passing on punts here or tourists gathering on the riverside having picnics. Nobody stopped here, just passed through. I began to feel self conscious loitering as cyclists and joggers passed me as I photographed the cobwebs, which in this space occupied a similar position to the gargoyles and grotesques found carved into college walls, just with less people pointing their phones at them.

I left the scene and came out the other side of the bridge. I turned into Abbey Road to head back up to the roundabout. The street is mainly residential victorian terrace but at the corner of Beach Road is the Abbey House, a 17th century built of the site of the old Barnwell Priory, reputably the site of several hauntings. But I passed this by fairly quickly, distracted by the weathervane on top of the hairdressers at the end of the street. This seemed to symbolise the divide East and West in Cambridge. West pointing into the City and University. East meanwhile, was going out of town to East Barnwell, the most deprived part of Cambridge and also a part due to be redeveloped as part of the Eastern Access Project. That's a blog for another day but suffice to say anything currently existing on Council owned land in the centre of East Barnwell is up for change, while the drive through Macdonald's will remain unaffected.

I arrived  at the North East entrance to the underpass beneath the roundabout. I was greeted by another deluxe Nigel.

Instead of descending, I decided to head East along Newmarket Road  as the weathervane had directed.  I observed the traffic passing by the ex-Rose and Crown pub. The brown 1930s pub building exterior is intact, with the rose and crown symbols incorporated into the brickwork, along side the Greene King figure above the door. The interior of the building is now the offices of a property letting agency. It stands  almost opposite the old Bird In Hand pub building across the other side of the roundabout, which I had passed earlier. Both closed pubs appeared portents of potential blandness to come if the Eastern Gate fails to deliver anything more than the filling in of the roundabout, some cycle lanes and the erection of more bland 21st century residential buildings and office space.

On my side of the road, the North side,  it was clear things were being allowed to become run down in advance of development. The South side had already seen quite a bit of development and reflected a likely future state. I walked past a sign on a board around a site about to be brought into this Eastern Gate future. It stated stated 'Building your visions, creating reality' alongside an uninspiring computer generated photo of what was presumably to come. Underneath was a Nigel with a backwards question mark added to the end, perhaps expressing both confusion and  distain about what was coming.

A faded circus poster occupied position above the cracked pavement outside number 129, a premises that must have recently been something but I had no recollection what. The word 'Fun' in large letters had probably once been bright red but was now false teeth gum pink. I don't think 'fun' was a word or sentiment found in the Eastern Gate SPD, nor in Michael Gove's vision for an expanded Cambridge. I couldn't even recall noticing its more corporate counterpart, 'leisure', being much of a feature either. It did say something about there being several pubs in the area. Several is stretching it a bit, even if you count the closed ones.

The Cambridge Odd Fellows District Office, along with Casey House, was one of the few buildings on this stretch not in a state of pre-development dilapidation.

Across the road, I could see the building that replaced the old Five Bells pub and is now occupied by the game studio of Ninja Theory Limited, a company that make computer games and were recently acquired by Microsoft. On the ground floor of the building is the Bird and Worm, which operates as a pub but appears closed at the weekend. I heard somewhere that originally it was just intended for the workers of Ninja Theory, so presumably envisaged as a sort of social club. But does open to the public, although perhaps grudgingly. I've never seen much advertising on social media.

Bired and WEorm, Psychogeography, Cambridge

A bit further along is one of the few buildings on the South side that has survived the beige spreadsheet architecture invasion that has taken place there over the last few years. Cambridge Refrigeration Technology has occupied the  purpose built premises since 1962 and has its originated from the The Low Temperature Research Station formed in the University in 1937. So part of the Cambridge Phenomena and a place of research and development, while paradoxically having the appearance of something resisting the  development that phenomena is currently perpetuating.

Back on the North Side, the site previously occupied by the Veritas Further Education College, Logic House, was in a state of advancing decay. Profuse wild vegetation sprang from the walls and graffiti had developed within the open space behind the fenced off wall. The 'access in constant use' sign spoke from an earlier age. It looked like nobody had been in for months, possibly years. Its days were undoubtedly numbered.

Likewise, the former newsagents which used to be a well stocked and busy establishment. A large deluxe Nigel brightened up the whitewashed windows and signified this temporary stage in the life of the building before its inevitable demolition and redevelopment. 

Further along, I was amazed to see the former Coopers building was (just) still standing. The faded lettering and distinctive blue tiling were, I thought, things I was probably seeing for the last time. Last I heard an Easy Hotel was due to be built on the site to compliment the Travelodge and Premier Inn across the road, but its taking a while to materialise. I'm not sure if the delay is caused by the developer knocking down the adjacent Victorian house. Apparently it was to be kept and incorporated into the new hotel as part of the approved plans.

Coopwers, Newmarket Road, Cambridge, Psychogeography

Nigel had colonised the site, twice, this time with Tape and some cryptic symbols. Maybe these were protective and there to ward off the coming of the Easy Hotel  and the encroachment of more bland development.

They were not pointing hard enough to have prevented the new 'Anglia House' student building next door presenting messages on garish boards covering the windows. 'Take a peak to begin your extraordinary journey with us' was a phrase I was having trouble reconciling with student accomodation. Surely students go there to sleep and eat, not to set of on some kind of 'journey'. But then I ruminated on the proliferation of the nauseous expression 'customer journey' that is used by the corporate world to describe even the most basic and mundane transaction or service activity.

The nearest pub in the Eastern Gate area closest to the roundabout and actually still open is the Corner House. Up until a few years back live music happened here but now its all pub and food. Maybe its survival is in part due to people from Anglia House making a 'journey' across the road. One not very far in distance but one leading to a destination most likely miles apart in atmosphere and environment.

Just beyond the pub is a large Tescos, on the site of the old Gasworks. In front is an area with a war memorial where people wait for the bus. The Tescos car park is extensive, but has paths along each side and around the back that led to the river and the Technology Museum at the old pumping station. This is just beyond the periphery of the 'Eastern Gate' but I had hoped I might get a pint at the outside bar that Calverley's Brewery have in pumping station grounds.

Alas, it was not to be because they were closed, I was too early. I came back the other side of Tescos along Cheddars Lane. 'I almost died here' was one of the messages delivered by the graffiti infested wall on the edge of a light industrial area. I wondered whether to take this literally or if it was meant as a comment reflecting the general state of the area in which I stood 

I carried on back to Newmarket Road, past a white crumbly MOT garage on one side and the Wrestlers pub on the other. The Wrestlers is another brown 1930s pub building, which would have served the Gas Works. These days it does decent Thai food and served Charles Wells beer.

I crossed over to the South side on Newmarket Road. Here, between the Pizza Hut on the edge of the retail park and Coldhams Lane, were several sites in a state of flux, pending development.

One vacated building contained a more faded circus poster than the one spotted earlier.  The word 'fun' had disappeared completely. The colours had washed out leaving only cold blue, the warmth and joy expressed by the bright colours of the original version completely erased. 

It was not all gloom though. Directly across the road, the Seven Stars Indian Gastropub offered both curry and beer under one roof. I have only managed to get there to try their wares on one occasion about a year ago and very much enjoyed it. 

In a previous life, The Seven Stars was not encased by residential buildings with grey plague windows. The flats above, to the right side and to the rear are a relatively recent phenomena, dating from 2018/19. The building to the left obviously a bit more ancient, and typical of the remaining residential  buildings along the road between here and the Roundabout. The frontage of the original pub that closed in 2012 remains, despite a serious fire that broke out in 2014. At the time the building was being used as living accomodation. After the fire the building was left empty and boarded up for sometime, but the facade, which I think had to stay as a requirement planning permission, managed not to fall down. Before the 2012 closure, the pub was known as a bikers pub, and before that frequented by an older crowd. My mum used to regularly go there in probably the mid nineties or early 2000s  and went on pub outings to places like Blackpool. My only memory of going there in my youth was a brief stop on a pub crawl. Me and my friends found ourselves engulfed in a middle aged karaoke so drank up swiftly and left.

Back on the South side of the road, I approached the site where a Premier Inn now stands. This spot had previously been occupied by a black glass building which had stood for sometime on the corner of Newmarket Road and Coldhams Lane.

Just before this, behind the Majestic wine Warehouse site, another new building was going up. I couldn't recall if the glass building had also occupied previously this site or if something else had. What was coming next was ground floor retail/office space with, presumably, flats above. I wondered at the possibilities the retail space might afford, and wss not optimistic. The building did not look like one designed for the provision of fun. But hopefully something more interesting than a Costa Coffee or an estate agents will materialise on the ground floor.

I turned off at Coldhams Lane to follow the back of the Travelodge on Harvest Way, which appropriately features some allotments sandwiched between the Travelodge and New Street.

It only took a short time to get along Harvest way, which is essentially a service road for the back of the Travelodge and other new buildings along the stretch of Newmarket Road that runs parallel. I don't recall seeing much of interest, The street was one of back doors and tradesmans entrances. I emerged at the junction where York Street, New Street and the short street leading to the pedestrian crossing over Newmarket road and the Bird and Worm meet. I took a diversion down the latter and noticed a profusion of shopping trolleys left at the base of one of the the residential block. 

Back at the junction, the two large advertising boards that are usually well maintained had become infested with poor quality graffiti. Advertisers had given up entirely on one of the boards, which resembled a modern art nightmare of ripped paper and despondency. Nigel watched over the scene from a nearby green telecoms box. The small blue advert between the boards promised 'boutique living', presumably in the beige block behind. Images of the flats inside being lined with psychedelic wallpaper, clothes rails, lava lamps, hammond organ music and 'groovy' people briefly flitted through my mind, as if someone had just put on an early 70s library soundtrack album. I quickly came to my senses and realised the reality inside would be more in keeping with the exterior of the building and with probably much less space than the place that had briefly manifested in my head.

Further along New Street I looked for the old blue Lacon's Rodney Stores building. This had disappeared since the sojourn I documented here where I first noticed it. I hadn't noticed the subsequent disappearance until now. It's replacement was another typically 21st century building, presumably containing flats. Next door, part of Mackay's still existed. The Metal Warehouse's metal shutter contained some half hearted graffiti. Mackay's have recently announced they will be relocating out of town, which will free up space that will presumably become inhabited by similar buildings to the one on the right.

Further along another part of Mackay's backway featured another metal shutter, this time with a Nigel which was unchanged since my previous perambulation in search of the 'mythical' Gas Lane back in 2017.

I head back down Occupation Road, which these days is lined with student accomodation on the left hand side and flats or possibly student accommodation on the other, until emerging atbthe Rose and Crown and the roundabout.

Occupation road was previously more reminiscent of the old back of Mackay's in my memory, and somewhere that raves used to happen in the 1990s prior to redevelopment.

From this side it was still not possible to photograph the roundabout in full. 

I descended and wandered into the underpass featuring the mural dedicated to Stourbridge Fair. Thie fair was apparently a ribald affair and the mural paid homage to this with scenes of drunkenness among the market stalls and juggling entertainers. The sort of debauchery depicted is probably about as far from the ethos of the Eastern Gate SPD as it's possible to get.

I took one last look across the space under the roundabout in the direction of National Tyres before I departed. I'm sure it won't be the last time I pass through the underpass before it is filled in, but by the time I get around to documenting it again it may well be gone, faded into the memory and imagination of the collective psych of Cambridge.

The graffiti on the way back up to East Road I think summarised this and the residence of the roundabout in my mind pretty well. 'Everything you see now is part of your imagination'.  A much better and more positive way of looking at the loss of places previously taken for granted than becoming mired in 'nostalgia' for things past. Elizabeth Way Roundabout may represent part of a lost future of 70s Newtown utopianism that was never to be in Britain and is a hauntological landmark in Cambridge. But with its dissapearance will come another era. The forthcoming buildings may seem bland now, but maybe one day as they themselves are about to be removed for whatever comes next, they will be regarded similarly to the way I regard the roundabout. They might be documented by somebody who has lived with them for decades and regards them as an intrinsic to the psychogeographic fabric of the City, hard to imagine as that might be now.

Thursday 28 December 2023

The Illusory Gas Holder of North London

I had seen it, several times out of the window as the train passed through the Northern outskirts of London. Somewhere near New Southgate, or so I thought. Its not easy to read the station signs in the run up to Finsbury Park. The distances between the stations at train speed is short. A less than rigorous internet search mentioned the last gas holder in New Southgate as if it was a thing of the past. New flats had been approved, according to the Enfield Independent in December 2021. But soon after reading that, on another trip to London I saw the gasholder again looming up briefly as the train sped past. 

I made a subsequent trip to see if I could find the gas holder. I didn't see it from the train window on the way towards London. I got distracted whilst in the vicinity and forgot to look. The search for the gasholder was the catapult (or excuse) for a wander around an area I used to pass through a lot and live not far from when I was a student. When viewed through the lens of hindsight mixed with a weird sort of nostalgia for the places I'd never been, I saw the area as somewhere I hadn't explored nearly as much as I should have at the time. There was, thirty odd years later, still much uncharted territory to traverse and get lost in. The plan, such as it was, involved finding the gasholder and then meandering to The Fishmongers Arms near Wood Green, a former pub which was still open when I was a student.  Like many of the streets in the surrounding area, the pub was never visited by me at the time. There is no explanation I can think of as to why. But we mainly slept in Wood Green and rarely went out in it, instead heading further South for beer and entertainment. The Fishmongers Arms must have been the nearest pub to Arcadian Gardens, which was where  I shared a house at the time. Just off the High Road, which is what Green Lanes briefly turns into along that stretch. 

After emerging at Bounds Green and taking a reasonable breakfast at the Sunrise Cafe nearby, I headed towards New Southgate Station across 'The Green', an elongated green corridor sandwiched between the houses of Tewkesbury Terrace and The Bounds Green Road. This threw me out the other end near the junction with the North Circular Road. The junction was immediately disorientating. I could remember coming across it on the bus from North Finchley, another place I lived as a student. I had taken the bus journey most days for about a year in order to catch the tube at Bounds Green down to Finsbury Park. But my memories of the place from that time were so vague and distorted that they were counterproductive. Having decided that I wanted to walk free of google maps, and only refer to the paper A-Z if absolutely necessary, I turned right onto the North Circular in the mistaken belief I was on the road to New Southgate Station. I followed the road to my right and an  unidentified water course to my left flowing through an inaccessible vegetated area. Away from the vortex of the junction, my sense of direction partially returned. I turned off at the first opportunity into a a series of streets named after poets; Chaucer Close, Milton Grove and Shakespeare Avenue. The last of these flung me into a passage which emerged onto a main road, featuring Arnos Grove Tube station. When I lived in Wood Green, I had imagined Arnos Grove as somewhere far more distant from Bounds Green. This only added to my current sense of disorientation and promoted a sense of freeness from the constraints of set routes, phone checking and worrying about destination. I began to think if I didn't get to New Southgate (the place I'd planned to properly start drifting) anytime soon, or indeed at all, then it wouldn't really matter. But Charles Holden's iconic tube station design design resembled, in my current obsessed state, a gas ring. An optimistic sign that I was on the right track.

Psychogeography, Charles Holden, Arnos Grove

After following the main road for a bit, I veered off left and after wandering through a small and detritus infested park opposite a church, I found myself among the passages of a small housing estate behind some shops. I soon emerged onto the main road opposite New Southgate Station, the road I thought I was on about 20 minutes before.

I crossed the bridge over the railway tracks and emerged into a zone between the station and a wall that was clearly the remnants of a previous age. The wall had become colonised with street art and graffiti. The message on the wall directly in front of me was 'rest in peace'. My immediate thought was that this was a lament for the gas holder and I really was too late. Maybe the vision from the train window had been a mirage all along.

The wall stretched onwards but these days was an ineffective barrier between the station and what sits other side. Previously behind the wall had been large Victorian lunatic asylum, The Friern  Hospital. But the vast site has since been turned to residential use. I walked through the archway where a door would have once blocked my way and onto the fringe of the still new(ish) looking housing development.

I followed a path along the other side of the wall which turned into a park. When presented with a junction, I took the path to the left which led to a green space with a circle of bushes and vegetation surrounding a dip in the ground, presumably an old pit of some type. There was no-one around. But evidence of people being here in the form of a discarded crisp, chocolate and coke picnic in one corner and a housing estate on the other side, demonstrated the area was far from a secret. But it  felt off the beaten track despite the proximity of housing. I decide to walk around the circle, but as I got a quarter of a way around I saw what I first thought was someone's dog staring at me. But no person emerged and I realised it was a fox. Quite a big one. The creature stood still for what seemed a long time staring at me before turning and running off into the undergrowth. I decided to abandon my circuit and leave the fox in peace. Its sudden appearance had been slightly unnerving and the atmosphere of the space was somewhat off-kilter, in a 70s public information film sort of way.

I went back to the right hand path and soon emerged alongside a retail park. I decide to stop for some light refreshment, more due to the need to a wee than being thirsty. The best of very few options  available was Costa Coffee where I sat outside and took in the view. I was glad I had taken breakfast at the Sunrise Cafe earlier since there appeared to be no decent breakfast options in the retail park, which I suppose is typical of these sorts of places.

I left the retail park and after crossing a bridge over a small lake, I emerged onto Atlas Road, which ran parallel to the North Circular. The road appeared deserted. It was only the sound of the traffic hidden by the trees to the left that reminded me I was in London, but otherwise I could have been walking through farflung peripheral region. The road's purpose had presumably become largely redundant once the North Circular had been built, other than to get to the retail park. But there was no sign of any retail park traffic, which presumably preferred Orion Road, on the other side of the North Circular. The names of the two roads brought about images of the titanic and galactic, but Atlas Road at least was the antithesis of those things. It did though have a strange and eerie feel to it.

A sign featured an image of a spectral bison, hinting that the fauna to be found behind the fence was probably something to beware of.

Bison on Atlas Road

Similarly spectral was the advertising board. I wondered how long it was since anyone was tempted to advertise there. I reckoned I was the first person to see the board that morning judging by the number of people or cars I had seen along the road (none).

After a walk that was beginning to seem endless, I turned back to investigate an opening in the vegetation. This lead to a footpath that followed the Bounds Green brook. The path was as deserted as Atlas Road. Although netting supporting the banks of the brook from collapse showed that the watercourse was one not left to its own devices and carefully managed.

The path turned off into a residential area, the brook going its own way, impossible to follow. The residential area was non-descript and soon led to a main road. This road, for once, was not the North Circular or any of the other roads emanating from the vortex of the earlier junction. After crossing over and following the road beyond the large Tesco Extra to my left, I discovered I was on Colney Hatch Road.  

The name Colney Hatch was both familiar and meaningless. I had no conception of it as a place. I was curious enough to break the rules and check the ordinance survey app. The name Colney Hatch appeared over an area not too far away, until I zoomed in a bit then it disappeared. Colney Hatch was both on and off the map. Wikipedia calls it 'loosely defined'. Further along the road, after crossing the North Circular, I encountered the crumbling edifice of Colney Food and Wine. The building seemed to me to be the most defined manifestation of the place 'Colney Hatch' I would find. The previously mentioned Friern Hospital asylum grounds extended to and was associated with Colney Hatch, the place name being  used as an abusive term for madness as a result.  The food and wine building looked like it might be one of the few surviving along this stretch contemporary to the asylum. 

Colney Hatch is a place on the border of Haringey and Barnet.  I had already traversed between the two boroughs, a fact only really noticeable by the local authority symbols on road signs. This part of Barnet was far removed from the Northern area where it merges with Hertfordshire. Here instead, it blends in with Haringey and Enfield to form an almost amorphous and extensive part of outer North London.

I turned down Albion Avenue. Although the battered street sign appeared at odds with any Arthurian or Blakean connections the name might have suggested, there was a definite change in atmosphere as soon as I entered the street. It had been another dry day and getting hotter. But as I passed the sign a very welcome light rain shower suddenly started. Attached to a wall on one of the houses was a brown terracotta sun, its alchemaic expression ambiguous.

At the end of the Avenue, which was not a long distance, was Halliwick Recreation Ground. I sat on one of the benches surrounding the grassy expanse. I looked at the A-Z to recalibrate and get my bearings. I soon realised that I would be going completely the wrong way if I carried on out the other side of the rec, in relation to the suspected site of the Gas Holder around New Southgate Station. I'd come way off course.  I retracted my steps and instead followed the road down the side of Colney Food and Wine.

I passed through a residential area with a mix of housing types and at least two MOT garages. This eventually led me to an opening to a park or green space of some kind. Somehow I then ended up back on the North Circular. A complex pedestrian footbridge led over to the other side and I decided to cross. From the bridge I could see the towering adverts from the retail park I had sat in earlier. The realisation that I had walked in essentially a large semi-circle, when the journey had felt far more erratic, was discombobulating.

Walking along the path alongside the North Circular felt odd. Although the path existed, it didn't appear to be very well used. Probably not surprising given the volume of traffic which seemed relentless. I approached a bridge, which featured the mark of the mysterious 'Ouch' emblazoned in black paint. The two crows circling overhead, vulture like, adding to the ominous atmosphere. Once under the bridge I was suddenly engulfed in a concentration of exhaust fumes and pigeon shit. The pigeon detritus and  vehicle pollution had coalesced into a noxious tar-like murky film on top of the asphalt. This 'enhanced' the  stench in the air and made walking feel like a significantly less than healthy activity for the duration of the underpass. 

I was not sorry to emerge the other side, where I realised I was back at the junction that had confused me earlier. I stopped to take stock and noticed on the A-Z that not far from where I stood there was a large circle depicted which was presumably a site of gasholder. The A-Z I had was not current. No Gas Holder loomed over the fence, only an ariel mast. It was clear, however, that I stood on the other side of the wall from the former site of one of the New Southgate Gas Holders and knew that the one I had seen out of the train window was not sited here.

Around the corner was the road leading back to New Southgate Station. Across the road the new development included a Premier Inn and other buildings that looked almost identical to it but were probably flats. I speculated that they stood on the site where other gas holders had stood.

I crossed the road, and found myself as confused by the junction as I was the first time. I had assumed the road ahead lead to Bounds Green but soon realised I was wrong. The traffic was a relentless jam in all directions. An old lady was begging at the traffic lights of one of the junctions. It was an effective but dangerous looking strategy. The cars could go nowhere once the lights turned red and she approached them. I'd seen a younger woman doing the same earlier at another part of the junction. I somehow got sucked into the vortex of the junction again, and managed to find myself on the exact opposite side from where I realised I wanted to be. It took some time to get back to the right place, where I managed to orientate myself again on the road towards New Southgate Station and the newly developed area, which was presumably the one where flats had replaced gasholders.

Just before that I can remember the scene below which I think was across the road from the new development, on the still semi-industrial side where the large gasholder shown on the A-Z had been. But I couldn't swear to it.

But I recall with much more clarity seeing the enormous blue edifice of a little further along. The giant blue wall didn't look quite real, as if it had been superimposed by a computer graphic. It was hiding the railway line behind.  I couldn't quite fathom the enormity of it.

I crossed the road and made towards the new development, which had been called Montgomery Park. An online search after the walk revealed nothing of the origins of this name, only that the place was a 'new chapter of city living'.

I followed what looked like the obvious route into the site, despite the 'no entry' sign on the floor. There was still development going on but some of the blocks appeared finished and occupied. These blocks were non-descript typical 21st Century. A sign told me 'City Living and a vibrant Community are right on your doorstep'. I can't say I noticed anything particularly vibrant, nor much living going on. But maybe I'd arrived too soon.

I emerged out the other side of Montgomery Park into a road belonging to an earlier era. I passed an older block, from a time when such places were called  flats rather than 'apartments'. The car park/waste ground behind the fence was a much larger open space than any I'd noticed in the new development and looked like a prime place for football games and other 'vibrant' but possibly more dangerous social activities.

Less social was what would have been the only place to stop for a sit down near Arnos Grove Tube station, were it not for the potentially arse injuring spikes. The small corner, with it's no parking sign,  was resolutely anti-social.

I had emerged back at Arnos Grove by accident and it was getting warmer. The unwelcoming 'seat', combined with the equally unwelcome increasingly intense sun, helped convinced me that the nearby Arnos Arms might provide a much needed respite.

Feeling replenished after a sit in the darkest corner of the pub I could find and a couple of refreshing weak rhubarb beers, I braved the heat of the sun again. It was even depicted on an electricity utilities box, it's intensity represented by size and its effect on a being standing below. A Ludwig/Mr Potato Head hybrid with a demented sunstroke grin hovered above grass that was too pointy to stand on and probably about to catch fire. 

I found myself in Arnos Park and being offered a choice of destinations. I was not heading to any of the places on offer but took the left turn.

The park offered shade alongside the course of the Pymmes Brook, which I followed as closely as possible.  Across the brook was a cut off and private area containing what looked like allotments and an area used by park maintenance people.  Drifting through the green corridor of the park afforded a pause from suburban housing, arterial roads and intense heat and sunlight. It was over all too soon, and I was thrust back out into streets of houses and the blazing sun, a week too early for the 6th Enfield Gin and Rum festival.

Not too much later I escaped from the streets again into another park.  Broomfield Park was much busier than Arnos and there was more going on. Or at least evidence that there once had been. A boarded up kiosk has been closed long enough for graffiti to develop.

Not very far away a much larger dilapidated building was being slowly renovated. Broomfield House was surrounded by boards design to both keep out intruders and to inform visitors about it's history.  As well as some history of the building I learned that progress with the repairs was likely to be slow due to lack of funding.
Beyond the house a large concrete plain expanded across the park. This was also dilapidated, and had been colonised by grassy tufts wherever there was a crack in the surface. I imagined it must have had fountains dotted around in the past. But now resembled a bit of abandoned World War 2 airfield.

From Broomfield park I emerged into Palmer's Green. I remembered this as being the next place up from Wood Green along Green Lanes, the other side of the North Circular. I had only passed through it on a bus once when I lived in Wood Green when I'd forgotten to get off. Another time I got off train at Palmers Green station in the dark. So had little knowledge or memory of it. 

Once I reached Green Lanes, I found myself in a place sort of parallel to the part of the road South of Turnpike Lane, but much less intense and with a more suburban range of shops. But there was a very similar atmosphere. A building with a large ghost sign above a nail bar provided an image which perhaps captured this best.

I headed North beyond where the shops gave way to the between space leading to Winchmore Hill. The most notable sight in this zone was the Parish  Church of St John The Evangelist. The building featured unusual green topped twin turrets each side of the large arched window at the front.

A little further along a green beared face confronted me from a lamppost. In place of eyes some sort of  incomprehensible symbol or hieroglyph stared at me from the face. The visage was of a similar green hue to that of the turrets of the church. I wondered if it was a depiction of the head of St John the Evangelist in a hip mode, notifying passers by that they walked in his parish.

Not long after this encounter, an ornate brown and white curved and bay windowed facade above a parade of shops marked my arrival at Winchmore Hill. The impressive sight was only slightly marred by a massive Paddy Power logo

Beyond this a stretch similar to, but shorter than, the Palmers Green bit of Green Lanes gave way to a turn in the road, near the point where a Waitrose now occupied the former Green Dragon pub. The pub had closed in 2015. But a bit further along, at the start of a parade of shops was the Little Dragon, a micropub named in tribute that opened in 2017. I had noted earlier the heraldic symbol of Enfield Borough Council on the street signs of Green Lanes which I mistook for a Red Dragon, but in fact is a Red Enfield, a mythical beast that is an amalgam of fox, lion, eagle, wolf and greyhound. The creature is used in the heraldry of Enfield Borough as well as the emblem of some local schools, football clubs and other organisations. The Enfield is associated with the mythology of the O'Kelly family in Ireland but its not clear what the connection is between the beast and Enfield Borough. The Green Dragon, as a pub symbol, is associated with loyalty to the Earl of Pembroke, so connected to Wales. So although Winchmore Hill was physically heading towards and contained a slight whiff of Hertfordshire about it, there appeared to be a hidden Celtic connection somewhere below the surface.

By this point, I was hot and in need of refreshment. I bought water and ice cream from a shop on the parade and sat on the bench near to the sign which told me I was patronising Masons Corner Shopping Centre. The row of five of six shops curved around the corner and felt like somewhere on the periphery, a small haven slightly removed from the rest of Winchmore Hill. The sign felt defiant, these shops existed in their own right and were their own centre. Feeling a bit refreshed but too exposed to the Sun I decided ot would be sensible to pop into the Little Dragon for a swift half and some shade. The beer was good  and I felt ready to head back out into the Sun after half an hour of respite. 

I had reached the Northern peak of my journey. I decided to head back towards the North Circular and beyond to Bowes Park following the New River.  At the end of the parade of shops a short road, which turned out to be a dead end, featured  'Gasoline Alley' which I'm guessing is (or was) a secondhand car car dealer but there was no sign of life or any cars for sale. The double glazing, painted 'vintage' woman and sign all looked like they post-dated the rest of the white flakey painted building by some years, but despite that were sympathetic additions that enhanced rather than ruined the building. I left before I could be accosted by the proprietor, should they be inside doing some bookwork while waiting for prospective customers. I wasn't up to any kind of sales pitch, particularly from a skilled used car salesperson.

The next turn led me into a residential street that was heading back towards Winchmore Hill. The New River cross under the street about halfway along and I entered the gate to the footpath. The gate featured a Thames Water logo and stated that the path was a 'non-public right of way'.  While of course I knew what it meant, even in my by now sun-addled state having walked quite a few miles, I thought it was an odd way of saying it. It did have me wondering initially who exactly were the 'non-public' who had the right of way. I did know I wasn't one of them.  It went on to say that the owner allows the public to use the path at their own risk  'for the time being'. I set of along the path hoping that 'the time being' would be a sufficient period for me to reach the other end. It was unclear what would happen to me if not. The path and river  stretched in front of me, devoid of people or activity. The notice, and its public information film tone had unnerved me slightly. I wondered what or who I could expect to encounter ahead.

Soon I was provided with some 'New River Path Safety Precautions'  courtesy of an unmissable notice. The small print at the bottom pointed out that the New River brings fresh water from Hertfordshire into London and requested that people do not litter or let their dogs shit on the path. 

It wasn't long before I found myself leaving the path onto another street, as access under the bridge was not possible. Across the street, I could not rejoin the path. This was the first in a series of temporary departures from the path where parts of it were inaccessible.  I found myself at Stanbridge Place, marked by a round blue placque bearing its name. There was little of note, other than a Chinese takeaway that looked like it might have been frozen in time in the 1980s. It featured a faded plastic 'vintage' Pepsi sign attached at right angles to the contrasting grey concrete of the building.

I got back on and off the New River a few times, and the memory of which bit was which has become muddled in my miod since the walk. At some point I emerged back onto Green Lanes where the path separated the road from the river. Here a couple of engraved stones helpfully reminded passers by that the New River is neither new, nor a river. It was new once, when it was first opened but it was a choice of name that seems odd now. A bit like Sonic Youth. Although I  suppose Sonic Youth probably didn't think they would still be a concern in their 40s, but presumably the New River was supposed to last a lot longer. And it has.

Various streets seemed to bear names related to the river, including River Avenue which ked me back on to a stretch of the New River featuring a few floating footballs. This part of the route seemed particularly vibrant. I still had encountered no other people on the path but here the ominous public information film element had completely disappeared. The greenery was particularly fresh here and there was no hint of the industrialised nature of the watercourse found elsewhere along the path.

This was short lived. No much further along a discarded childs blow up horse lay in the path. There was something both melancholic and apocalyptic about the sight of the abandoned equine toy.

Here the River had also taken a turn for the worse, presumably due to the fallen tree laying across it. The tree appeared to be responsible for what looked like a midden of static sludge that had replaced the flowing water. There was an unpleasant whiff coming from the direction of the sludge. I couldn't be sure that it was silt due to the flow of water being restricted by the tree or the result of discharge into the river from an undisclosed source. Possibly dropped litter and dogshit were  a contributory factor.  Whatever the cause, the atmosphere was somewhat sinister and brought forth depressing thoughts of wider environmental degradation.

Attached to a nearby tree was what appeared to be a small spent plastic bottle that would have contained cleaning product of some sort. The sight seemed symbolic of a futile attempt to clear up the mess. The contents of the container was nowhere sufficient enough to combat the sludge in the New River. And it was made out of plastic itself so would become part of the problem itself. It seemed to be a metaphor for the apparent inability of humanity to do anything effective to prevent much of the world slipping into a similarly degraded state as this part of the river. A little further along I witnessed a cormorant display its distain at this state of affairs as it pointed its arse in my direction and let out a stream of liquid birdshit. It was too far away to do me any damage but the message conveyed seemed quite clear. 

I was forced to leave the path again for a short detour due to a 'danger keep out' sign and grey pointed metal fence prohibiting access to the next part of the New River. Eventually I rejoined it and walked alongside an extensive grey and graffitied warehouse of some kind. Again, there was no sign of any other human life. But the grim geeling brought on by the sludge had dissipated. I was enjoying the New River and its all but uninhabited low key mixture of greenery and low key defunct industrial structures.

I exited the New River path for the last time next to the building that fronted the long warehouse I had followed. The square brown premises of Chris & Sons Ltd did not look abandoned and although the shutters were down (it was Saturday) it appeared to be a going concern. A cursory glance at google while writing this confirms that it is, but what I hadn't realised was  the road I stood on to take the picture was Green Lanes. I had stuck to my not using the map rule. This and the combination of heat and the slightly off kilter state resulting from having now walked some miles had contributed to my sense of orientation being more vague than normal. Still good enough for me to know I was heading in the right direction, just not exactly how.

I headed down a road opposite and followed it to its conclusion, where I was spat out onto a main road. This time I knew I was back on the North Circular and that I needed to get across. 

A set of traffic lights futher up allowed easy passage over the North Circular and into a residential street that was heading (according to my wonky orientation) parallel to the New River and towards Bowes Park. I didn't check the map to find out but I was more or less on the right track. I soon found myself on Myddleton Road, having past Bowes Park Station and an entrance to the New river path, which I had hoped to have emerged from had I not lost the thread of the river at Chris And Sons Ltd.
I had hoped to engineer the walk to take in Myddleton Road for two reasons. One was that I had seen a YouTube video posted on a thread connected  with the Mill Road Bridge closure plans in Cambridge. The video featured a local trader voicing concerns about the imposition of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) on Myddleton Road where she had a shop. The concerns were the same ones Mill Road Traders had about reduced business and to some extent gentrification. The second and more pressing reason was that after having seen the video, I remembered walking down street of shops somewhere between Wood Green High Road and the back of Bounds Green Tube when I was at University. I only remember going their once and buying some chips. I couldn't recall how or why I had gone there and why it was only the once. The place had remained dormant half remembered in my mind ever since to the point where I thought I'd probably imagined or dreamt it. I was convinced it must have been Myddleton Road having seen the video.

I walked the length of Myddleton Road and although vaguely familiar it wasn't how I remembered the street I had bought my chips in. Maybe  the 'chip shop' street was a figment of my imagination, and I'd been here at some other point, possibly when a friend of mine briefly lived near Bounds Green. I cannot be certain.  Inevitably the street would have changed to some extent in thirty years, but I didn't recognise it at all.

What was certain was that the LTN had been implemented and judging by the posters stuck on the planters there was some resistance to the idea. Meanwhile, the official wording painted onto the planters is 'Haringey Streets for People'. The wording similar to the name of the pressure group 'Mill Road for People' who are on the side of closing Mill Road Bridge and creating an LTN as a result. Walking through the planters it was clear that the arguments and divisions the issue has caused here are exactly the same as in Cambridge and no doubt elsewhere. The video I had seen and a number of others can be found on YouTube and several threads on a local internet forum are like reruns of the 'discussions' found on 'Nextdoor' about Mill Road. 

It was apparent that Myddleton Road was undergoing a process of transition towards something more gentrified. Some newer cafes and vintage type shops were evident. But there were just as many empty or at least apparently empty shops. The process was slow and didn't seem guaranteed. The name of the street incorporated into the facades was an original relic from the past rather than a contrived attempt at authenticity.  

The same feel could be found in many of the other shop fronts, particularly the empty ones. The Lyons Cafe stood out in particular. The windows were covered in brown paper, but the signage did not look overly dilapidated, so much so that I wondered if it was in the process of being tarted up to be re-opened. After the walk, I found a Geograph post from 2015 showing a picture pretty much identical to the one I took below, 8 years later. Nothing had changed. A blog post I found called 'A Street in London' from 2018 by Cecily McNamara talks about Myddleton Road and the state of the street in the context of the predicament of high streets in general. Wood Green Shopping Centre, which opened in 1978, had a detrimental effect on Myddelton Road in the same way large shopping centres, in or out of town, have had on high streets across the UK. The papered up windows of some of the closed shops masked ongoing business still operating from within, just not the sort that relies on passing trade. Workshops  and recording studios operated hidden away. I don't know if Lyons concealed any ongoing operations behind its brown paper but it appears to have been closed as a cafe for some time. How long I haven't been able to find out.

Lyons Cafe, Myddleton Road, Harringey, Psychogeography, Gentrification

I past a definitely opened and busy  cafe called New Salami FC. New Salami FC are a local football side, and the cafe caters to their supporters. Similar cafes/clubs exist along Green Lanes beyond Wood Green Shopping City dedicated to different FCs, linked to the Greek Cypriot community. New Salami FC currently play in something called the Isthmian League North, along with some other London based clubs as well as ones as far flung as Gorelston and Lowestoft.  New Salamis FC in Bowes Park is associated with a parent club,  New Salamis Famagusta FC which based Larnaca in Southern Cyprus. The parent club is a refugee club, forced to move South away from Famagusta following the Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus in 1974. The club had originally been established in 1948 by left leaning athletes. At this time the Greek civil war between Leftists and Rightists determined the organisation of football in Cyprus with left leaning clubs forming a separate league. The wiki article about the history club is well worth a look, even for those like me who have little interest in the actual game of football.

I left Myddleton Road, still unsure as to whether it was the street I remembered buying chips in 30 years ago. I wondered how it will fair over the next thirty years and if the LTN will have much of a positive or negative effect either way. I followed the 'hidden river path' under which the New River flowed.

I had assumed it was flowing East in roughly the direction of the Fishmongers Arms which was going to be my final destination. The heat had not abated much and I was getting to the point where I was getting weary. I'd been walking since about 9am with only a couple of short stops and now it was probably about 3.30pm, maybe later. Unfortunately the river path was not a direct route and I ended up meandering somehow back onto a main road to Wood Green Station, so my imagined 'as the crow flies' route was not to be.

I followed the High Road which although a road I walked up countless times years ago, felt a lot less familiar than I thought it should have done. In particular, I was amazed that I had no recollection whatsoever of the Civic Centre, the headquarters of Haringey Borough Council. The building looked contemporary to 60s/70s postwar Newtown Architecture. It is listed and due for a revamp according to the information board that extended along the front.

Harringey, Civic Centre, Wood Green, Psychogeography

I was too weary to appreciate the rest of the stretch up to the Fishmongers Arms and decided a return trip in the near future was needed to do the area justice. I was glad when the now closed pub emerged into view.  The pub had closed sometime in the 2000s and turned into flats. The building was not how i remembered it and had it not had the words 'Fishmongers Arms' still painted on it I would not have recognised it. I recalled it having a metal looking statue of John Lennon standing above the front door and I had no recollection of the wall and hedge separating the pub from the High Road. 

The Fishmongers Arms, Wood Green, Psychogeography, Perambulatory Ramblings

The pub was noted for hosting the Wood Green jazz club in the 50s. In the 60s the emphasis shifted to rock. There were early appearances by Graham Bond, Julie Driscoll, Fleetwood Max and Pink Floyd among others. I don't know if any music was still going on in the 90s but I can't recall anything being advertised at the time.  The John Lennon Statue was apparently sold off by the owner. Before that it had been moved to another pub he owned called 'Legends' further up Green Lanes near the North Circular. 

I stood briefly in front of the Grade II listed cattle trough and drinking fountain that stands in front of the building on the High Road. This was constructed in 1901 for the Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association. The bowl under the tap appeared to have been converted into an ashtray. I didn't try the tap, although I was thirsty, put off by the fag butts and assumed  that the drinking fountain was probably defunct in any case.

I headed for the tube, tired but glad I had reached the Fishmongers Arms and brought the walk to a proper conclusion. On the train home my thoughts returned to the gasholder. This time I made sure I kept an eye out. I saw the back view of the giant blue board of Then a bit further North, further than I had walked today, I saw it. The gasholder was there. Just not in New Southgate. A bit of googling revealed it is located in New Barnet, decommissioned but still standing in the site of the New Barnet Gas Works. Quite a bit further North on foot but a fleeting few seconds by non stopping train from New Southgate. I would have to make a return journey at some point. I part cursed myself for not bothering to find this out in advance but mostly congratulated myself. The expedition had been well worth it. That I did not find the gasholder was not really the point. It was the idea of it that had led me on a perambulation that otherwise would not have been. One afforded not by tiresome hours of screen time and  internet 'research', but  based on a whim following fleeting views of a random object out of a train window.