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Arsenal News
Arsenal News
September 2021

Meandering down White Hart Lane 100 years ago

By Tony Attwood

As a youngster I lived just off White Hart Lane, on Devonshire Hill Lane.  If you are not familiar with the area, let me explain.

The two Lanes meander, going through sudden 90 degree turns for no apparent reason while roads of different names suddenly take over straight ahead.  At one point the two Lane’s cross the Great Cambridge Road – also known as the A10 – a dual carriageway carrying cars north/south in and out of London.

When I was a child in the area in the 1950s (thus I show my age, having no shame) I watched football in White Hart Lane – but not at Tottenham, because Tottenham was not and is not in White Hart Lane.  The only football ground in White Hart Lane was about 200 yards from my home – it was Wood Green Town, an amateur club.

Wood Green Town FC had been around from the earliest days of football, and their programmes (some of which I still have from the 1950s) welcomed supporters to the “poor end of White Hart Lane”.

But poor only meant in relation to football, because the western end of the Lane was gentrified with Edwardian houses.  Indeed Norfolk Avenue, where I set the home of Jacko Jones in the novel “Making the Arsenal” runs within a few hundred yards of White Hart Lane.  Jacko’s family are traditionally Tottenham supporters.

Wood Green Town FC is no more – so no more that an article in Wikipedia, to which I made a few minor contributions while writing Making the Arsenal, has now been removed in an act of footballing vandalism.

The excuse is that in 1976 clubs merged to form Haringey Borough F.C. and in a moment of savagery, equal to that of Wikipedia editors, Wood Green Town FC was removed.

To move from the old Wood Green Town ground to the Tottenham Ground along White Hart Lane is a crazy journey, involving a zig zag procession that would make you think you must be off track.  Indeed if you try to do it in a car, you can’t actually cross at the A10, but have to do a fairly long detour.

But supposing you are on foot, you cross the A10, pass the Tottenham Cemetary on the right (appropriately enough) do a 90 degree left at Creighton Road, a 90 degree right 50 yards later, then another, then a 90 degrees left, pass White Hart Lane railway station and on for another 100 yards and you hit, Tottenham High Road, wondering where the hell the football ground is.

Could you have missed it?

In fact, no, because White Hart Lane has no football ground other than the old ground of Wood Green Town.  To find the Tottenham ground you have to turn right, walk along the High Road and there’s the ground, in the High Road, in Park Lane, in Paxton Road, and in Worcester Road.

And you suddenly realise, that while the Wood Green Town end of the Lane has some Edwardian houses in, you are now in the darkest depths of London.  This is not a place to be out at night.

Not at all.

Why the club insist that they are in White Hart Lane is anyone’s business.  Maybe the had a row with dear old Wood Green Town, whose memory was probably deleted from Wikipedia by Tottenham fans.

Whatever the reason Tottenham’s ground (I use the word lightly) is not in White Hart Lane, is not even opposite White Hart Lane and has never been so.  It is a myth, a con, a trick, a travesty.

The ground  known as White Hart Lane was built in 1899 and has a capacity of 36,310.

The record attendance was achieved on 5th March 1938 against Sunderland and was 75,038.

The ground was originally a disused nursery owned by a brewer – and at that time it was known as the High Road ground.  The disreputable Archi Leitch (whose career gets a once over in Making the Arsenal) did the redevelopments there, and at Chelsea (where the whole terracing broke up) and Fulham (at the same time as Chelsea!) and at Rangers (where the terracing collapsed and many were killed).  Much of the work was done in and around 1910 – which is how I came across all the detail.

If visiting the High Road ground it is best to take a parachute just in case.

This is the ground where Tottenham Hotspur played their first league match against Woolwich Arsenal 100 years ago, with both sides knowing that relegation was a real possibility.

A very big crowd wandered from the White Hart (which was in Devonshire Hill Lane, just to add to the confusion) and all the other pubs and walked to the ground.

more anon

You can read about London and the Arsenal in 1910 in Making the Arsenal by Tony Attwood (that’s me).

More on Arsenal in 2010 here

58 comments to Meandering down White Hart Lane 100 years ago

  • Dear Tony. I would like to enlighten you and your readers about the reasoning behind the naming of the Spurs ground in the High Road. In the old days when few people had their own transport and the lure of creative football was beckoning the common people of Southern England, the railways were the only transport to get to the ever popular football matches. The nearest railway station was White Hart Lane and so this was adopted for the ground name hosting the greatest football team in England. Additionally, the public house fronting the High Road and next door neighbours was called the White Hart. Being an Old Boy of Tottenham Grammar School -it was a number of my 19th century predecessors who were members of the Hotspur Cricket Club and went on to be founder-members of the winter-interest offshoot to be named Hotspur Football Club in 1882. As an “accepted” pupil of the school, I was privy to many of the “inner-workings” of the original foundation of the club which were handed down to us, most of which we were sworn to secrecy. Indeed, as a local resident you would probably have known that my school occupied the island site between White Hart Lane and Creighton Road which was farmland when the ground was first played on in 1899. It is hard to believe that growing up in Tottenham did not suck you into the beautiful football that Spurs have played since inception. In contrast to the pleasant area of Tottenham, I remember visiting Highbury many times (I’m a glutton for any football) in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, when it was a very dark and dilapidated place to be.
    Regards, Philip Nyman

  • Tony Attwood

    Thanks very much for that Philip – now you spell it out it all is clear.

    By the strangest chance, having done my primary school years at Devonshire Hill Lane school I took the 11+ and got a place at Tottenham Grammar – but my parents moved to Dorset, and I went to Poole Grammar instead.

    But as you’ll know, that whole area around Boundary Park, Devonshire Hill Lane, and the Wood Green Town FC end of WHL was utterly mixed. We lived in a gerry built post-war set of flats – downstairs were Tottenham fanatics, and my family were complete Arsenal fans – and we certainly had a hard time of it.

    My father had been at Highbury in the 1930s, and my grandfather at the very start at Highbury, so there wasn’t much choice for me.


  • mike bayly


    I wonder if you could contact me re: Wood Green Town. I am researching a book on defunct London clubs and would relish a chance to chat.



  • Steve Gillies

    I went to St Ignatius school in South Tottenham and our playing fields were in Park Lane adjacent to “White Hart Lane”. A misnomer of great proportions. I did the only sensible thing and supported West Ham at The Boleyn Ground.

    I did see Benfica and the mighty Eusebio play at Park Lane though.

  • John Willcox

    I was born in White Hart Lane(184-no longer there) and watched Wood Green as well as Spurs and Arsenal playing home games at “white Hart Lane. I attended Devonshire Hill Lane Infants during the War and can endorse your comments on Spurs and White Hart Lane.
    I never met an Arsenal supporter. My grandfather always called them Woolwich. To this day I have believed that there are two teams in North London but only one North London team. Supporting Arsenal would have seemed as perverse as voting Conservative
    However, I have lived in Derbyshire for many years and appreciate good football whoever plays it. Thierry Henry has replaced Tom Finney as my all-time favourite and I admire Arsene Wenger. But you don`t choose your team where I come from. It`s Spurs for life. How did you go astray?

  • John Willcox

    Sorry,Tony. You did explain. Family tradition is right and proper. No excuses necessary

  • John(Bunsen)Matthews

    Hi Tony
    I used to live in the prefabs in White hart lane close to Devonshire hill lane and also went to the primary school of that road. I lived in the prefab from 1946 until 1967 .Of course they are no longer there.

  • Tony Attwood

    Wow John – two of us on this site actually went to Devonshire Hill Lane school – I guess they knocked it down years ago. What is on the site now. And I know exactly where you lived. When were you there? I was there until 1958.

  • Hello

    I lived at 139 Devonshire Hill Lane and was very familiar with the places mentioned on this web page – Wood Green Town FC, Devonshire Hill Primary School etc – and have written a book about the history of the district – see http://www.samuelsouth.co.uk/ruraltottenham2.htm for the precise area covered. Includes the histories of the football club and school.


    Ken Barker

  • Tony Attwood

    OK you have me hooked I will order it tomorrow. Thanks for telling me about it… a book about the street where I lived as a youngster…

    Gor blimey, love-a-duck (etc etc)


  • John Willcox

    I`m fairly sure I watched cricket on the Wood Green Town FC ground. Can anyone confirm?
    And is the White Hart Inn still there in Devonshire Hill Lane? I used to have Christmas dinner just across the road from the pub. My grandparents lived at number 87. I told you he called Arsenal Woolwich. He also referred to Thames Ironworks(West Ham),Clapton Orient and Leicester Fosse.

  • Charles Cook

    Does anyone remember the man with the sweet cart outside Devonshire Hill School 19387-8?

  • Gerald Newman


    I was searching for what happened to Wood Green Town when I came across your name. I last saw you when we went to the Dell in about 1967.

    Glad to see that you still support the only sensible team with the greatest manager ever

    Gerald Newman

  • Gerald, how amazing to hear from you. I’ve sent you an email directly – would love to talk with you about, well, a lifetime, I guess.


  • Len Cleare

    Idly paying on my laptop I came across your article.
    I played for Wood Green Town F.C.,then in the Spartan League in the mid 1950’s. The manager was Con Duggan whose son also played for the Town.
    The ground was opposite the old ‘Wonderloaf’ bread factory.
    I’m in my late 70’s now, how lovely to go down memory lane.

  • Len how wonderful to hear from you. This litle piece of mine also got me in touch with one of the guys I went to Primary School with. We met up for the first time in so many years just a few weeks back.


  • Vera Hollowbread

    My family lived at Barkham Rd.White Hart Lane and when I was small also went to Devonshire hill School . Then we moved to Bush Hill Park Enfield . I met my husband who actually played for Spurs between 1950 -1964

  • Wow – Vera I will drop you an email.

  • Chris Phillips

    Hi Tony,

    What a piece of nostalgia I have bumped into. I was at Devonshire Hill School (school motto Determination, Honesty and Service – DHS – geddit?) between 1957 and 1963 before going on to Latymer in Edmonton.

    But my father continued our family’s association with the school as Chairman, Vice Chair and Secretary (at various times) of the Board of Governors until his retirement in 2005. The school is still going strong (http://www.devonshirehill.com/), as one of London’s most multi-cultural of schools (in 2005 there were 28 different mother-tongues!)

    I was actually born next to the entrance to the old Arsenal ground in Highbury Hill, before my parents moved to Tottenham when I was 10 months old. So my dad was an Arsenal supporter and I a Spurs supporter – it took a good few years to work him around to my way of thinking, but I won in the end!

    But best of all he was a sports teacher and a qualified schools referee, reffing or running the line at mainly Islington Schools’ games, but moving briefly up to International level. A proud memory is of sitting on the touchline at White Hart Lane while he was running the line for England v Germany schoolboys in the mid-60s. But I also got occasionally to sit in the Highbury director’s box for schoolboy games, while he was referring. Great stuff – especially seeing young stars like Charlie George score 9 out of the 10 unanswered goals that Islington Schools scored against Hackney Schools in that period.

    White Hart Lane (the road) was exactly as you remember it, but the White Hart Inn has turned into what looks like offices or flats (from Google Street View). We used to have a milkman who drove a horse-drawn float. He was often late and if you didn’t get your milk by 10:30, that was it – the horse would take the float up to the White Hart and wait there until he was chucked out at 2 pm!

    Another landmark in White Hart Lane was St Catherines’s College (RC training college I think), which burnt down spectacularly in the mid-60s. It’s been replaced by the austere Haringey 6th Form Centre.

    And I wonder if you remember the Rowland Hill Nursery School where I spent my first tender school years – it was (and is) on White Hart Lane just on the Wood Green side of the A10. And moving further along towards Wood Green there was a big factory making orange drinks – but I can’t remember which brand.

    Good memories – but I’d better stop now – I could go on all night!

    Cheers, Chris Phillips

  • Great to hear from you Chris. I think my little article about the area must have gone up the Google rankings of late – I recently met again my best friend from Devonshire Hill Lane school who found me through this site. We hadn’t seen each other since university days.

    Because my parents moved out of the area when I was 11 I don’t have the clearest of memories of it all, but milk floats mean a lot to me. My mum drove one (with a horse on the front) during the war and stayed in touch with the milk company thereafter, and used to chat with the drivers who delivered to us. A very early memory as a child, that one.

    I actually went back to the area (roughly) when I was a head of music at a comprehensive in Phillip Lane, leaving just down the road from there. But only stayed one year – I then got what I was after, a job in the theatre, and so life moved on.

    You came to the school as I was leaving Chris, so we would not have met, but it really is good to hear from you. Many more emails like this and we’ll have an ex-pupils association.

  • Terry Puddefoot

    I played for WGT in 1953-4 & was intoduced to the club by my uncle George Brighton who also played for them .I have been looking for info on the years that i played Can you help

  • Terry, I am sorry to say that I have never found any repository of the records of Wood Green Town. Through my article I have re-met, after 60 odd years, my best pal from primary school, which has made it very much worthwhile, but no one has come forwards with anything other than that which you can read in the comments. If there is more information on the club, I really don’t know where it is. I wish I did.

  • Peter Bassett

    Hi there,

    I lived in Compton Crescent for many years and went to Rowland Hill Nursery and Devonshire Hill school.
    The White Hart pub is now unfortunately, a block of flats. Another gem long gone, is the Spurs pub that was situated on the Roundway. Had the classic cockerel in THFC attire, holding a football underneath its arm.

    I suspect that I’m a mere “youngster” ((50)compared to others here.
    The drinks factory next to the Wonderloaf factory was Corona.

    I still live in Tottenham to this day….and have had a season ticket for many years, as has my daughter.

  • Peter Bassett

    ….a Tottenham season ticket, of course!

  • Peter many thanks for your update. And just as in my time living in Devonshire Hill Lane Tottenham and Arsenal fans can live in harmony here. Even with regards to your second post!!!

  • Alan Twitchett

    Does anyone know anything about tunnels that run under the pitch at White Hart Lane.From what I have been told these are quite old, dimly lit and not used very much as the are behind locked doors that lead to steps down(about20) then into concrete lined tunnel that is concrete lined with doors leading off.

  • Denis Martin

    This is a message for Terry Puddefoot. I still have a programme where you are named at Left Back and I was Centre Forward. I think we played many games together. Do you remember other players in that team. Bernie Bennett {whose uncle Les Played for Spurs] Albert Cottrell and Bob Bygraves. I was born in Wood Green in 1933 and left there in 1970.

  • graham capes

    well hello tony , i was born at creighton road 1948 went to rowland hill i lived 4 houses away from bill nicolson (spurs ) manager what a gentleman he was by name by nature. i also remember at least 5 pupils in my year that went to spurs to play for them. went back to my road about 5 years ago and was lost no grammer school any more i remember my parents telling me during the war a doodle bug landed on an airaid shelter which killed some of the pupils my mother was cleaning the front windows and was thrown on the floor with the blast which also took out the windws onthe front of the house bless you tony graham

  • Graham – wonderful to hear from you. We’re just one year apart in age then so knew those streets at the same time.

  • graham capes

    hi tony , a neighbour along the road was also an atwood (lenny) i left tottenham when i was 26 are you still in the area. i suppose my only claim to fame is that when spurs won the fa cup mr nicholson knocked on our door and allowed me to hold the cup did not think in those days to take aphoto. still thank you replying to me if you want to pick my brains whats left of them only to pleased. i used to spend most of my time in bruce castle park playing football.if you would like to contact me again i would prefer email please.bless you graham

  • Derek O'Neil

    Hi Graham, that was a V2 Rocket that landed next to the Grammar School on March 15th 1945, two boys were killed and another boy lost his arm, it was good to hear that your mother survived it must have been quite a shock for her. Regarding cricket being play on Wood Green Town ground I can confirm it was having played there in the 50s.I watched the Town play quite a few times in between Spurs games and can still remember the smell of bread from the Hovis Bakery close by. Cheers!

  • Bill Anderson

    I know you are an Arsenal supporter but it doesn’t make you a bad person. Born in 1944 I lived in the prefabs in Perth Close just off Perth Road, Wood Green, right opposite the Wonder Bakery and being a Spurs supporter came with the Territory. Les Bennett and my father were good friends, I knew him as uncle Ted. My dad, Alf Anderson, joined the RAF in 1933 but he was a terrific footballer, he played for the RAF and also for England in Forces Internationals during the war. He was a career airman but when home on leave in the earlier days he turned out for Wood Green Town, he clearly had friends there. I have a team picture of him in what I think is WGT strip with their one trophy, I don’t know if any of your contributors would find it interesting but I would be happy to send it to you.
    The drinks factory down White Hart Lane was Tizer if my memory serves me right, it was right next to the alley that led up to Norfolk Park.
    Happy Days.
    Bill Anderson

  • Thanks Bill, if you can scan in the picture of WGT that would be great – email it to me at Tony.Attwood@aisa.org



  • Will thank you so much for writing in and sharing your memories of the era. The whole area was a mix of Arsenal families such as mine, and Tottenham families such as yours, and my memories of the era are that somehow it mattered a little less then. Or maybe that was because in the 50s Arsenal were pretty awful much of the time, so we pretended it didn’t quite matter.



  • Wow! what a discovery. Born in 1939 (November) at 737 High Road Tottenham (immediately opposite Spurs main entrance). Bombed out and went to I’ve with – my grandparents in Brunswick Road, off West Green Road. After the war, moved to Weir Hall Close, next door to Devonshire Hill School (American prefabs). Attended Devonshire Hill School – still can remember, almost word for word, the school song! “Devonshire, Devonshire, Devonshire Hill, in days to come we’ll remember you still”. “Like the blacksmith (a table statue with the names of the houses – I was in Siward – all the houses were name after ancient Britishkings) strength we’ll gather, strength to climb the steepest hills. Strong in body, mind and spirit from our days at Devonshire Hill.
    I also passed my 11+ to go to Tottenham Grammar, but by then we were being re-housed in more permanent housing in Waltham Cross. I then attended Cheshunt Grammar School. Joined the Parachute Regiment when I wa seventeen. Active service at eighteen. Commissioned into the regiment at nineteen. After leaving the army, worked in Africa and the Middle East. Now, almost seventy-seven, still run a company called DHS – how about that for a coincidence!

  • Robert – how fantastic – we were both at the same school, although some years apart. I went back there last year for the first time, and having time to spare did the walk from Devonshire Court down Devonshire Hill Lane to the school. It was open, despite being a weekend, and I wandered around the playground. An extraordinary feeling – when I had been there my whole life was still in front of me. I was in Bruce House. The others were Compton and Pembroke.

  • Rita Franklin (single name)

    While browsing on line this evening after talking about ‘school houses with my husband (can’t recall how the subject came up) decided to look up Devonshire Hill Primary for inspiration and curiosity. Your name sounded familiar (albeit from around 70 years ago!) so imagine my surprise when I read your message. I was born September 1939 so I’m a couple of months older than you and started at Devonshire Hill when I was 4/5, leaving at 11. I then won a place at Trinity Grammar School in Wood Green. I was also in Siward house (yellow). We lived on the Great Cambridge Road and I remember walking through the alley-way adjacent to the vast allotment area which went from the Gt Cambridge Road to the School. I still have a couple of class photos from around 1950. Mr Crowther was our form teacher. I visited the school quite a long time ago for sentimental reasons and was shown some school archive photos. Looking at the present photos of the school, the single storey veranda building are still there.

  • Fantastic coincidence Rita, I too stumbled on this site and owe a great debt of gratitude to Tony for taking the trouble to create it.

    I remember your name so we must have ben in the same class. I remember the pipe smoking Mr Crowther and also Miss Reid (or was it Reed). The only other name that I can remember was Jimmy Edwards (could hardly forget that). If you could copy the class photographs for me I would be very grateful. The numbers are growing so perhaps we aught to try and arrange a reunion.

  • Rita Franklin (single name)

    Robert, thanks for refreshing my memory even further. I found just one class photo which looks like it was taken around 1950/51, possibly early summer of our final year at Devonshire Hill. I’ve scanned it and could attach to an email. I’ve added a couple of names including mine on the pic. If you could let me have an address, I’ll be happy to send it to you and anyone else interested.

  • Rita, have ben away for a few days. That’s great news you can reach me at robert@dhsltd.co.uk Look forward to hearing from you.

  • Tony, sorry for the delay, I’ve been away, Thank you for filling in the gaps. As soon as you mentioned the other houses it all came flooding back. Do you think there might be enough interest to arrange a lunch or something, would be fun to swap stories.

  • keith comley

    Wood Green Town; I recall opposite the Wonderloaf, indeed became Haringey Borough F.C. in a similar way Southgate Harriers and Hornsey St Marys became Haringey AC who ran n jumped at the top of White Hart Lane where Wolves Lane is. My grand parents lived in Arcadian Gardens just off Wolves Lane, me grandfather, Charlie Comley claimed he was Wood Green’s “bucket and sponge” man, I guess in the late 40’s/early 50’s. Charlie was very much a Spurs fan, whilst I followed my father to Highbury…

  • Brian Reeve

    I had a friend, Ian Anderson who lived in the prefab in Perth Rd circa 1956/57′ I lived in Acacia Rd, just off of White hart lane and went to W H L primary school from 1945 to 1952 My uncle Joe drank in “The Oaks” every night for 40 yeasrs

  • Ron Stalley

    Coming across a blazer badge for Wood Green Town designed in about 1957 by my father Charlie I went on Google and discovered your Arsenal site. I was surprised to see a contribution from an old team mate Len Cleare I played with him for two full seasons at Wood Green in 1956/7 and 1957/8. The second of these was pretty successful and Wood Green Town ended sixth in the Spartan League which was pretty good for us. I wonder if Len remembers the game at Wolverton when Georgie Wells scored four goals for us and still ended on the losing side by 8 goals to 5.
    I can’t help with much of the history of the club but do have a large number of match programmes of the above mentioned seasons and also annual reports of the club dated 1958 and 1962. The latter states the club had no outstanding liabilities having paid for the tv set and washing machine!
    After 1958 National Service got me and I never got back to being a regular first team player again.
    Incidently my wife came from Highbury and is still a firm Arsenal supporter.
    Hope this is of interest Regards Ron Stalley

  • Ron Stalley

    Don’t understand moderation

  • Ron, we’ve had a large number of comments come in from supporters of other clubs that really add nothing to our search for Arsenal’s history and the history of the area in football terms, and which really break up the discussions. So all comments go into moderation. Because it is just myself who runs the site there can sometimes be a delay of a day or two before I get to comments an release them.

  • Bill Anderson

    For Will Tipping. Long time since I visited this site, old age and everything that goes with it saw to that. I do remember Roger, we lived at number 64 Perth Close with my elder brother Ian who is now 76 and living in Florida. Like you my mum couldn’t keep us off the dump, wish I had a quid for every time we got chased off.
    Also went to Lordship Lane, I was a couple of years before Roger I think. Mum worked in the paper shop in the Crossways, it was known as Strands, owned by two brothers.
    Also had a Spurs season ticket, sorry Tony, you definitely won’t print this now!

  • Clifford Raven

    Tony Attwood I have read all this column and wish to be remembered to yourself and others who have contacted with memories over the last few years. I myself Born 1943 lived in Edmonton Devonia Gardens the back gate of which was along the footpath from those Flats at Devonshire Court. I had all my friends living in D H Lane and the estates of W H Lane area some who I see on here Johnny Matthews from the prefabs for one, (Tottenham Grammer boy, school Javelin champ, and others nearer to you, Michael and Patrick Toovey, Devonshire Court Flats, the Maxwell boys Alan and Dennis, Malcolm Titman Norfolk Ave. many more, girls included, but wish to keep this short if I can. I have personal stories of many and places around. The latest concerns that story of Spurs never playing at W H L where it was W G United that did. Only the other week I was at Southgate Gym and one member was telling the story of how his father became a member of W G Utd and had written a letter to BBC radio sports prog complaining about the untruth of saying “we are now going over to W H Lane for a spurs match report” for which Eamon Andrews apologized and gave out that the report would be coming from Spurs ground at number **** High Road Tottenham N17 This very happening I can remember word for word as I heard that broadcast in the 1960’s and so told this person that I had, that of course opened up further talk W G Utd history and also me finding a picture c.1940/50’s on websites of a W G Utd/Town which I could send you with some names of players. Also from 1955-58 I did a paper round all over the said area.

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