Suburban trains using this line run to Welwyn Garden City or Hertford North. There is an underground line with stations quite close to this line, so that my routing keeps clear of tube stations in case you also plan to “walk the tube”.
Routing note: This walk connects with walks 1 and 6 at Finsbury Park and with walks 3 and 7 at Alexandra Palace. It will also connect with Picadilly line walks 1 and 2 and Victoria Underground walks 3 and 4 at Finsbury Park.
FINSBURY PARK station
The station opened 1861 on the already existing train line as “Seven Sisters Road (Holloway)” station and the name was changed in 1870 when the adjacent park was opened. There were two branch lines starting from Finsbury Park, so that the station was an important interchange very early. One branch went to Alexandra Palace via Highgate; it opened in 1867 and closed in 1954. The other branch went to Moorgate; it opened in 1904, but the connection was suspended from 1964 until 1976 because of engineering works (how convenient when they last 12 years !). The line is back in use and I have written a separate description for it.
Finsbury Park also has connections with the Underground Piccadilly Line (southbound since 1906, northbound since 1932). The tube line follows the train line relatively closely and this is unusual in London as train companies would normally be keen on preventing this competition. It happened here because the company had (and still has) serious congestion issues at the Kings Cross terminal. The connection with the Underground Victoria Line was opened in 1968.
The train station façade on the east side is strikingly modern and was redeveloped in 2007. There are conspicuous references to Arsenal football club as Finsbury Park is the station used for the stadium, nearer train and tube stations being too small to deal safely with the crowds.
Turn L when you exit the station towards a bicycle shed. There is a small paved path entering Finsbury Park just left of the shed.
Finsbury Park itself was originally to be named Albert Park but Parliament changed the name in 1857. The name sounds strange as the part of London called Finsbury is actually much further south (close to the City) – it is said that the initiators of the park lived in Finsbury and thought it would be nice to be remembered in this roundabout manner. The park was built on the site of Hornsey Wood, demolishing a popular inn with amusements, and this caused quite a deal of complaints in the neighbourhood. The park was opened in 1869. It soon became a setting for important demonstrations such as pacifist rallies during the First World War. In the 1970s, the park was not well kept and became dangerous, but significant improvements were done in the 1990s. It became a popular venue for open-air music events during a few years (Bob Dylan, Sex Pistols and Oasis played here).
There is a nice boating lake and a pavilion with a café in the middle of the park at the top of the hill (convenient for a lake). Other attractions for walkers include a few modest flower beds south of the lake and a number of beautiful mature trees on the slope north of the lake.
Leave the park through the main car exit on the west side.
Cross the rain tracks on Tollington Park bridge.
R Oakfield Road
R Stapleton Hall Road
R Quernmore Road ending at a footbridge for
The station was opened in 1885 in connection with a large housing project and 1/3 of the cost was actually paid by the developer. The initial name was supposed to be Harringay Park in order to attract house buyers, but the train company ignored this. For some reason, the station was called Harringay West between 1951 and 1971. The station looks like an afterthought with a timber shack serving as the ticket office, but this is due to a fire destroying the original building in the 1960s. The platforms also look rather squeezed between the many mainline tracks.
Harringay is a somewhat confusing name: the historical name of the area was actually Stroud and there is also a “Borough of Haringey” of which Harringay is a part. Haringey was the original form of the name back in 1387 but the local landowner preferred a new spelling in 1792. Harringay was developed after the death of the last owner of the estate in 1869.
Go back to Quernmore Road. Note a nice mural on your right on leaving the footbridge. The delightful scenery on the mural does not reflect the immediate environment of the station !
R Oakfield Road
Ahead Denton Road
Enter L Stationers Park at the SE corner
This is a small park built on the grounds of a disused school. The school educated the sons of members of the “Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers”, a particularly venerable City of London company founded in 1403 and chartered in 1557. The school was closed in 1983.
The park has a lovely feature that is extremely rare in London parks, running water with a small waterfall and a fountain. I did not notice any exciting flower beds.
Exit the park at the NW corner
R Mayfield Road
L Weston Park
R Inderwick Road
R Tottenham Lane to
This was the first station out of King’s Cross when the line was originally opened in 1850 and is the site of an important train depot. There are only small rests of the original station buildings.
Hornsey and Harringay/Haringey are actually two derivations of the same etymology (Haering’s Hege, a Hege being a Saxon enclosure).
Cross the train line using the station footbridge and exit on the East side in Hampden Road. You will cross a water course (more later about it) and pass a mosque at the corner.
L Wightman Road
L Denmark Road, street turns R
L Turnpike Lane passing underneath the tracks and back above the water course.
Continue ahead in High Street until the corner with Middle Lane. You will be passing Hornsey parish church with a tower from the 16th century.
After crossing Middle Lane, enter L Priory Park
This is a very nice and well-kept park with flower beds near the entrance and there are good interpretation panels at several spots around the park.
The park was created by the Local Board from farmland bought in 1891 and was opened in 1899 with an additional section added in 1926. It took the name “Priory Park” at a later point in time from a 19th century mansion located nearby although there is no link with a priory.
The massive granite fountain stood originally in the churchyard of St Paul’s Cathedral and was given later by the City of London to the Local Board, explaining the coat of arms. It was a real fountain before turning into the present planter.
At the very end of the park, there is a separate enclosure called Philosopher’s Garden, a cute reminder of the PPP or Priory Park Philosophers, a group of elderly gentlemen who liked to meet in this spot for a chat.
Turn back from the Philosopher’s Garden towards the paddling pool and the toilet block; turn then left
Exit the park using the path between the tennis courts.
R High Street
L Nightingale Lane
R Newland Road
L Footpath along south edge of the water treatment works.
This footpath crosses a water course that will be familiar by now. It is the New River, a water supply scheme devised for London in the 17th century. If you try my walks further north between Alexandra Palace and Enfield Chase, you will get much better opportunities to enjoy the waterside walk and you will learn much more about this pioneering engineering work.
The footpath turns L along the tracks, then R down a long subway.
L Western Road
L along the edge of Wood Green Common
L up Station Road to
ALEXANDRA PALACE station
The station was opened as “Wood Green station” in 1859 and changed the name to “Wood Green (Alexandra Palace) station” in 1864. It then changed back to “Wood Green” in 1971 but this caused confusion with a tube station using the same name and it got the present name in 1982. The name had become available as an other train line which had an Alexandra Palace station had been closed in 1954.
Alexandra Palace is a train junction with the so-called Hertford Loop branching off from the main line towards Palmers Green, Enfield Chase and Crews Hill.
The ticket office is in a 19th century building and there is an impressively high footbridge linking the station building with the other side of the tracks. This is a nice place to take pictures of trains below.
Alexandra Palace itself is the building on top of the hill above the station. You will see it up close if you continue on my walk to New Southgate.