Edmonton Green Shopping Centre was planned in the early 1960s by Edmonton Council and built by Enfield Council in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was seen as quite innovative in its time with the combination of living, working and shopping though it is now generally considered to have been a horrendous mistake. Some thirty years on from completion it is undergoing some refurbishment and redevelopment.
An aerial photograph is perhaps the best way to illustrate the area and fortunately I came across one that clearly dates from the late 1970s or early 1980s (above left, since joined by a later one taken from the other side). The scene in early 2004 is largely unchanged as far as the Shopping Centre itself is concerned. A long since disused banqueting suite occupies the plot next to the oval multi-storey car park, Plevna Road Open Space in the background has now had a housing development on it, the west side of The Green is different, and of course foliage is more mature.
Perhaps the most striking thing is that there are still definite echoes of the old road layout from before the 1970s and how there is actually very little west of the New Road. The Green of old was demolished to make way for a road system that seems a little over elaborate, the bus station (really just a slip road), a long since disused car park, and a scruffy and uninviting main entrance to the complex. The bus station is now to be replaced by one that is much more substantial and the car park is to be demolished to make way for ae new leisure centre and residential buildings (presumably New Road will also be removed). So this all does make one wonder if there wasn't a much better way of doing things in the first place.
Here we have a rural looking scene from 1964 but that building in the background is actually the Granada (formerly the Empire) on New Road and this is Barrowfield Lane. It was completely lost to the 1960/70s redevelopment. It does show that building of the shopping centre itself wasn't all about demolition of existing buildings as much of the area east of the New Road was occupied by nurseries and the like.
The aerial photo shows up most of the key features of the area. Bottom left is Edmonton Green railway station with Church Street disappearing under the bridge. You can see the roundabout with the war memorial on it and to the right in front of the car park is the bus station on Broadway leading under the footbridge. To the right of the car park is New Road which is no longer a through road north to south and does little more than give a high level entrance to the now disused car park and allow buses to be parked out of the way and turned round.
Beyond New Road is the shopping centre itself which you can see also has three tower blocks, Grampian House, Mendip House and Pennine House (in that order from left to right). There are also a number of maisonettes built on the higher level which-i I never really think about. The main entrance (The Concourse) to the Green is by the bus station, then under the bridge and the centre tower block into the Market Square. You can see the parallel lines marking the roof. The area leading from there towards the top left of the photo is the North Mall with North Square at the end. Leading towards the bottom right is the South Mall and on the edge of the picture is Edmonton Leisure Centre. Between the South Mall and the New Road is St George's car park which is still open to the public (the other multi-storey one isn't) and below and to the right is Knight's Lane car park.
I believe that the original designs included a fourth tower block and a third multi-storey car park, as well as new council offices. It should not be forgotten that although it is quite common to find Enfield Council blamed for the shopping centre, it is largely selfnflicted as the previous Edmonton Council planned it. In my opinion the new borough should have been named Edmonton, not Enfield, and Edmonton Green should have been the administrative centre. Having the civic centre as part of this modern development would have benefited the area and I suspect wouldn't have been unpopular with many in Enfield Town where it is rather out of place.
I have no really detailed memories of Edmonton Green before the shopping centre came along in the late 1960s and was officially opened in the 1970s. I also have no real memories of its construction except that I can remember the district heating station with its big chimney appearing on the skyline, and I can remember the North Mall and North Square being later additions, and seeing the Baptist Church being built and wondering what it was.
District heating station I hear some of you cry? Yes, it was sited right by the railway where there is now a housing estate (Acton Close seems to be the road) and the chimney, which looked very like that of the incinerator plant in Upper Edmonton, was a landmark. So "new" Edmonton Green has already changed a bit!
The public face of the complex was presumably meant to be The Concourse and The Broadway so it seems curious they hid it behind a bus station and chose to plonk a multi-storey car park there. Having said that, although The Concourse is pretty pathetic the car park is quite attractive in its way and certainly not the reviled eyesore that was suggested in the local papers. I have never thought the rag bag assortment of shops underneath it did the place any favours though.
My photo looking across towards The Concourse (above right) probably makes the entrance seem OK, but that is from up on the platform of the railway station. From ground level and up close it is pretty awful. Once you fight your way across the bus station you get a pretty uninspiring area lined by a selection of small shops that have never been very exciting that leads you under a tower block into The Market Square. I have a hazy recollection that when it was first opened, there was a linear water feature in this area but it wouldn't have lasted too many years and wouldn't have been switched on most of the time. It always has seemed a little odd that they chose to make the main entrance lead into the Market Square. I know The Green was very well known as a fruit and veg market but those aren't the smartest or cleanest of places.
These days multi-storey car parks in shopping centres are regarded as perfectly normal and are well used. Unfortunately Edmonton Green dates from a time when they were regarded as insecure, inconvenient and positively unpleasant places and so the car park on The Broadway was never going to be too popular. It also wouldn't help that it is out on a limb in the front of the centre away from the few decent shops there are. Not that there are many as the centre has always suffered for the lack of a Marks and Spencer or a BHS.
While on the subject, a curious thing is the lack of well known high street fast food outlets and the former building societies (there used to be one or two around but they have all gone now) which for some reason are well represented in Upper Edmonton despite the lack of any shops or anything to give a reason for people to be there.
The multi-storey car park closed to the public many years ago and I believe was then used for a while by the police for parking their vehicles. It is now completely disused and demolition was due to start in mid-2004. There does seem a certain irony in the car park being demolished as a controlled parking zone is being implemented in a wide area around The Green, presumably for those wanting to park to use the railway station. A new leisure centre is to be built on the site together with some residential properties and other odds and ends. It remains to be seen how this will end up. I should imagine New Road might be demolished so they can build a bit further back and make room for a larger bus station.
The Green was well known for its street market and I guess it seemed like a good idea to make The Market Square the centre of the shopping centre. I am not convinced it was such a good idea myself.
The Market Square started off as essentially just a covered square with all the old market stalls brought inside. The roof was immediately popular with pigeons and remained so for many years. Since the latest redevelopments the problem has eased with the installation of netting under the roof and the square not being quite so open in the corners.
The square had access to service yards in the north-west and south-east corners, with the North and South Malls joining on the opposite corners and The Concourse joining either side of Mendip House on the west side. The square had permanent shops on three sides on the ground floor and more units on all four sides on the first level. This level was served by a lift on the east side of the square. Tesco were the only really big name on the original square occupying a large unit at the north end of the east side. After a few years they moved to the North Square and this unit has been Superdrug for several years now. I've never thought there was much of interest on the first floor and indeed with the north side having an amusement arcade and a bingo hall it did seem quite unwelcoming to many. The Railway Tavern on the corner of the square and the North Mall carries forward a long established name from before the redevelopment.
The square remained unchanged for many, many years and then at some stage (I've lost track of time but possibly early 1990s?) permanent units were built for the stallholders out of concrete blocks.
The complex is now operated by St Modwen who have ambitious redevelopment plans. The first publicly visible change was to the Market Square where refubishment began in late 2001. The original talk of a indoor piazza style development with the market 'stalls' moved elsewhere gave away to one with new permanent stalls. This seems like another missed opportunity. There was also better exploitation of unused units around the sides to create more "stalls" and a new lift was installed over on the west side diagonally opposite where the old one was. The end result (above photos) is a nicer looker version of what they had before and does seem more spacious, but it would have been nicer if they cleaned up the roof and did something more to get rid of the pigeons (some netting eventually appeared).
Two of the photos above are 'borrowed' from Contar Flooring who did the flooring. Unfortunately although this did look OK to start with it soon started to look a bit yucky. Market stalls, especially in a food market, naturally generate wet, dirty floors and this has suffered more than most. It isn't helped by seemingly badly thought out drainage. The original gullies were an accident waiting to happen (or more likely several accidents waiting to happen and some of them probably did) and were replaced with shallower ones that don't seem so effective. Add to this parts of the floor being ripped up to install cables and things and it soon becomes a patchwork.
Although the heart of Edmonton Green was ripped out by the 1970s redevelopment, I always thought the soul of the place lived on despite everything. The Market Square is now a strangely soul less place and it does make one wonder what will happen next.
The next stage of refurbishment was again to the Market Square with an "extension" that began in June 2003. I didn't know this was coming although the relocation of Dewhurst's from their shop on the north side to the stalls opposite and the closure of other shops in the same parade should perhaps have been an indicator. The only obvious space for an extension was the loading bay to the north-west corner and this is indeed where things began to happen.
As of August 2003 it still wasn't clear exactly how the new shops would relate to the Market Square but the shell had appeared (above left). Work then also started on the other side of the Square with Hallmarks cards having been displaced to the North Mall opposite Tesco and the old shop and the unit next door on the South Mall, which had become a Police 'shop', both now hidden behind hoardings.
Come November 2003 and the situation on the north side was much clearer. Three double width units had been constructed on the ground floor with the frontages brought forward to the edge of the first floor walkway and going back well into the old yard. One shop remains between them and the Railway Tavern on the corner. On the first floor the first four units have also been refurbished. Bon Marche, a well known chain of womens wear shops, opened for the second week in November in the right hand shop on the ground floor and Ethel Austin opened for December next door (above right). Ethel Austin seem to be quite a big chain of discount clothing stores that are particularly known for their childrenswear (it seems to be the latest in a number of chains that are big in the north of England and Scotland and are now expanding in the south).
Work was continuing on the other side of the square in late 2003 (strictly speaking on the South Mall). The frontage of the shops has been brought out to the edge of the original covered way giving them about ten feet more depth. Hallmark returned in mid-December to a narrower but deeper shop with empty units on each side of it. I had heard the 'police shop' was due to reopen but if so it will be relocated as a dry cleaner opened in the right hand unit in May 2004.
I came across a suggestion that New Look was one of the stores being lined up for the new units but that could have fallen through. It was then announced that Wilkinson had taken up a vacant unit but no more has been heard of that. The only obviously vacent unit at the time was next to Ethel Austin but the shopfitters moved in during May 2004 and Poundland is due to open in June 2004.
In May, St Modwen were quoted as saying Wilkinson were looking very closely at the possibility of taking space, as are Burger King, KFC and Domino Pizza, but that might be after the redevelopment of the front of The Green so it could be a year or two away. So much for Wilkinson definitely coming.
I've always claimed the lighting under cover in the shopping centre is a little poor to take handheld photos with my camera but Michelle Mason managed a night shot looking into the South Mall. This prompted me to see what I could do in daylight and the answer was that I proved I was probably right in the first place :-)
The South Mall runs from opposite the leisure centre to the Market Square. It is basically an open air mall though it has been roofed over. It has a decent sized Post Office at the south end, which sadly has recently lost it's separate retail counter, with Barclays and HSBC banks opposite and the Edmonton Credit Union next door to those in a former building society. Barclays and HSBC in various previous guises stood sentinel either side of the south end of the New Road for many years.
Moving along the west side towards the Market Square an anonymous doorway leads to St George's Chambers which is the office space above the shops and is where you will find the Social Security office. A collection of small indoor shops called "In Shops" is of note for being in the unit that was originally Caters supermarket and then became Presto when that company took over the business. Caters was a well known name from The Green of old. Next to the Market Square is a unit that is still just about recognisable as having been a pub. This was The Exhibition, another long established name from the old Green but unfortunately it closed a few years back.
On the east side about half way along there is a passageway that I haven't walked down for years. It provides an alternative entrance and also access to Knight's Chambers. Knight's Chambers is the office space above the shops on the east side of the mall. I have never really looked at who occupies the offices but I would say that you tend to find 'organisations' rather than 'businesses' up there. At the far end of the passage is another shop unit which I always remember as a rather odd 'cheap shop' type place but I forget the name (I think it cropped up on the message board). I forget what it is now. This passage is followed one shop and then Edmonton Library on the ground floor of a multi-storey unit. Upstairs are some other council related offices and things such as Social Services. This unit was originally a large London Co-Op department store but now has "The Edmonton Centre" in big letters above the entrance. Next door was Dancy's record shop when the centre opened. Dancy's had been a music and record shop next to the Empire/Granada on New Road. This unit spent a few years as some kind of flower shop, though I seem to recall only seeing synthetic flowers so maybe that is what it sold, and was empty for quite a while, before becoming a Police "shop" which was apparently to do with crime prevention advice etc. The last triple unit was a card shop from the time the centre opened, if I remember correctly, though I think it was also a florist too. These last four units were remodelled into four deeper ones in late 2003 with Hallmark Cards returning from a temporarty displacement to occupy the centre two units and the other two units still empty as of April 2004. I thought the Police "shop" was returning but if it is then it isn't in the old unit as that opened as a dry cleaners in May 2004.
The North Mall leads up from the Market Square to the North Square and was built as a later phase of the redevelopment. Whereas the South Mall had the shops relocated from The Green itself and, I think, The Broadway, the North Mall was the home of shops relocated from the west side of the Hertford Road slightly to the north. One I particularly remember is Mr Scher's Spectacle Shop on the east side which was originally Edmonton Opticians and used to be on the parade near Woolworths.
At the south end of the North Mall there is a record shop next to the pub that, if I remember correctly, started off as Mr Music and then became a branch of Derek's. I think it may have changed name quite a few times since then. Next door to that was Edmonton Green Sports. This was essentially another branch of Ramsbotham's, who had a sports shop opposite the old Town Hall for very many years, and then operated both together for a while before closing the old shop. Old Mr Ramsbotham passed away in 2002 and the shop was closed shortly afterwards.
The most notable units are Woolworths on the east side about halfway along, and then on the corner with the North Square is a Tesco. In its day I think it was the biggest thing they had and indeed I seem to remember it made national news when it was opened. Tesco now have much bigger stores on the Southbury Road in Ponders End and Enfield Town and a huge one on the North Circular. It seems they wanted to shut the store when the latter one opened but were forced to keep it open because it was a condition of planning permission. The first floor once had a restaurant and record department which went many years back along with clothes, toys and household goods which lingered on for many years. The first floor is now closed and the remaining household goods are just in one aisle of the store which is now no bigger than some of their "Metro" sites. The in-store bakery has also been closed and this means fresh bread is now apparently brought in from the Ponders End store and prices doubled over night. The remaining serving counter for cut meats etc was closed around May 2004.
The North Mall apparently has maisonettes on the first floor level. Unlike the South Mall, which has been roofed over, the North Mall was mostly already covered by the paved areas for the first floor with gaps every so often for the stair cases. Unfortunately this means that when it is raining you get wet every twenty yards or so :-)
About half way down the east side there is a sign for St James Chambers. This would again seem to be office space used by local organisations and the like.
In the North Square (above left) next to Tesco there is a small Iceland store (I don't think any of them are very big are they?). This double unit was a hardware store for many years (the name completely escapes me). Next door is a small Boots (with the usual irritating security guards that all Boots stores seems to have), and next door to that was Kwik-Save. Both (?) these units used to be a Sainsburys but now the nearest of those are on the Edmonton/Tottenham border on the high road and on the A10 on the trading estate around Crown Road north of Southbury Road (which is also where you will find Homebase and B&Q Warehouse). This is something of a shame as Sainsbury's was another long established name from the old Green. The remaining unit on the north side of the square is now a Peacocks (not the best stocked one I have ever seen) but was originally a larger Boots with a rear entrance and an upstairs for household goods and a record department.
Kwik-Save closed down in the first week of May 2004 and a 99p Stores replaced it in the first week of June.
On the west side of the North Square there is the back of the Old Circus pub at the north end by the unattractive entrance (which usually smells of urine) and then seven more small units leading down to another entrance / exit which goes through the service yards. As of June 2004 only the two end units are occupied (by a shop selling mobile phones and other odds and ends, and a cafe) and the central five units have all become vacant. There have been rumours that Wilkinson were going to be opening on this side of the square but this seems inconsistent with St Modwen's comments mentioned earlier. The units aren't very deep so even if all knocked together the resulting store wouldn't be very big. There would be some scope to build backwards into the service yard but it would certainly need quite a lot of work. I remain dubious, though it does seem odd that five units next to each other have become vacant at the same time so it isn't impossible and it would make a lot of sense to have a larger store on that side.
Once upon a time the North Square had a pond and fountain. In an age when such things were given no respect this thing was more often than not switched off or the pond was litter strewn. The fountain was left as if it was a sculpture (above right) but the pond was removed. It was originally just unpainted concrete. Yes really. No I'm not joking it really was.
Although many find the sight of the tower blocks depressing, I have grown up with them and think they are, if not attractive, certainly less ugly than they could have been. Exterior refurbishment over recent years has improved them with use of pastel colours on them and the stair well glass reflects the light beautifully. They are probably at their best when viewed from angles where you can't see what is underneath them. The photo on the left is taken from Plevna Road.
The above photos taken from Knight's Lane were originally taken to show just how far back the main complex really is from The Broadway but this now much better illustrated by the aerial shot. However it does make one wonder why St George's car park wasn't made a little more attractive. Clearly the open space by the side of it must have been intended for another building that just never happened and I could speculate that perhaps this was where the council offices might have been as the old Town Hall was opposite. It does show that they didn't really care about the appearance of the centre from all directions. In the photos showing New Road you might be able to see the old railway bridge that once spanned the low level railway. As far as I know, it now just provides access to the service yard for the shops under the car park.
Every now and again I manage to take a decent photo. The deliberate close up of St George's car park is one of them. I also took a shot of the roof line on the day of a royal visit. This car park is certainly one that looks better up in photos like this than it does up close or when you can see the entirety of it.
The north end of the Green does seems a little more "finished" and certainly an effort has been made with landscaping around the junction with New Road as shown on the right. This photo does highlight the roof over the Market Square quite well (to the left of the tower blocks). However turn your eyes to the left a little and you see an entrance to the North Square that goes through the service yard for the North Mall shops and that is rather an inelegant public face to put on things.
Futher to the north you can see that the main entrance by the Old Circus pub isn't that inviting (and unfortunately smells of urine most days) though the side of what is now Peacocks has at least had a nice coat of paint over the years instead of remaining in the original bare concrete. This store was originally a two storey Boots and there was a rear entrance to it which was probably the most inviting entrance anywhere in the shopping centre. The view of the north end from Monmouth Road (left) isn't very impressive either.
Always having lived on the west side of the town I don't really get to see the shopping centre from the back but it certainly isn't its best face. Anyway I took a walk around the back to refresh my limited memories and took a few photos (above and below).
I'd have something more to say about these photos if I could remember what they are showing ;-)
New Road was constructed in 1849 to bridge the then new low-level railway line and until the redevelopment of the 1970s it was the through road. It was often referred to as New Road Hill or Empire Hill and this is understandable as it was lined by buildings on both side, including the Empire / Granada at the southern end. New Road after the redevelopment was simply an access road to the first floor entrance to the multi-storey car park. The car park has long since closed and New Road now provides essential bus standing as well as some on street parking at the south end.
It seems strange that it survived at all. It if had been removed, as it presumably will be in the redevelopments from 2004-2006, it would have opened up a lot more useful space.
Taking a walk over New Road lets you see things from unusual angles and often to see things you aren't normally aware of like the loading bays for the shops and the roof lines. The second photo shows the area north of the Market Square and west of the North Mall and this became a building site in mid-2003 for the Market Square extension.
New Road also affords a view above the Concourse but below the roofline and also lets you see St George's car park from the west side.
Just now and again you can get quite an interesting aspect. The one (above left) from the up platform on Edmonton Green station is a case in point. Note the long since forgotten logo on the structure top of the car park which I have looked at again in the second photo. This used to be echoed in two concrete thingies (can't think of the word as sculptures isn't really accurate) at either end of The Green. One of them is hidden behind the bushes at the New Road junction and I think the other vanished when the banqueting suite came along. At least I think there was one at that end, it could be my memory playing tricks.
The offending object is shown above right. I hope this is preserved because it is so bad it is quite brilliant :-)
I don't think I had ever seen these first three views until the day I took the photos. The first two photos are from the footpath on the line of the old low level railway and look across the Jewish Cemetery. The third one looks across the allotments alongside Salmon's Brook. I would have seen the view in the last photo many times in the past. It is taken from Balham Road and the camera has underexposed the tower blocks which looked very bright in the sunlight.
Another walk down the footpath mentioned above allowed me to take these two photos of Pennine House from the south-east (pictures left). The later photo on the centre right shows Grampian House in rather a good light (this is taken from the Hertford Road) and I also found a nice angle on Pennine House. It do feel that the tower blocks have scrubbed up well and in bright light or catching the sunset they can look attractive in their way, if still a little out of place. I do feel that they look better than most tower blocks you come across.