Highgate Society to release a book celebrating its 50th anniversary

PUBLISHED: 08:12 17 July 2016

The Highgate Society celebrates its 50th anniversary at Fair in the Square. Photo: Nigel Sutton

The Highgate Society celebrates its 50th anniversary at Fair in the Square. Photo: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email

The poweful and committed Highgate Society emerged in 1966, in the early days of motorways, with threats to turn Archway Road into a one-way system, and designs to turn old houses into modern flats.

Book describes Book describes "Mum's Army" at Highgate Cemetery in 2006. Photo: Nigel Sutton

Campaigns have been fought and won – notably against Athlone House being demolished – but author Richard Webber said he is particularly proud of how Highgate has remained a village.

“It’s persuaded lots of older people to stay in Highgate, rather than go to the countryside.”

Highgate Society members Tye Blackshaw, Robin Fairlie, Michael Hammerson and Mr Webber are producing a book on the society’s history, delving into archive material from the Society’s quarterly publication, Buzz.

One section focuses on the Jackson Lane Community Centre, founded when teenagers broke into a derelict church.

“One of the group’s members... found that some teenagers had been breaking in to the abandoned church at the junction of Archway Road and Jacksons Lane and so, seeing that they were already using it illicity, she applied to Haringey Council for them to be able to make legal use of it,” it describes.

In another chapter, Highgate Cemetery volunteers fight back against “allegations of authoritarian behaviour”.

The book quotes a 2006 Ham&High story: “Highgate Cemetery volunteers have hit back at claims they are a brigade of stroppy silver haired ladies.

“The army of volunteers donned helmets and brandished brooms to prove their point after they were mocked in the 2006 edition of a Lonely Planet guide.”

The authors recall the centenary of Archway Bridge.

“The mayors of Islington and Haringey contrived to introduce humour to the staging of a ceremony on the bridge itself, the Mayor of Islington shouting “welcome to my bridge” with the Mayor of Haringey responding by bellowing an identical welcome.

“It had been discovered that the intention had been for Princess Alice, Duchess of Argyll, to open the original bridge but that she had not been able to. So, on the principle of better late than never, a lookalike of the Duchess was driven to the bridge in an Austin.”

– The Highgate Society book will be launched on September 12.

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