Quernmore Road Street Party

Quernmore Road Project Street Party

The Street Party to end all street parties was how But First, Coffee, our local coffee shop, billed the Quernmore Road event on 29th October.  The sun shone warmly on hundreds of local people celebrating the unveiling of a beautifully furnished public space made possible by The Quernmore Road Project – a small regeneration project devoted to transforming the cul-de-sac by Harringay Station. A working group of local businesses and residents worked hard to apply successfully for a £10,000 grant from the Tesco Bags of Help Fund. Hats off to all those who voted for the Project at our local Tesco.  They also worked hard to organise the spending of the grant – on running children’s art workshops to produce the mural, a planter set, planting and, most wonderful of all, the lovely benches and chair with salvaged legs from an old snooker table. Some of the funding was matched with Haringey Council’s Ward Fund to organise the  street party.

Here’s the striking mural with our very own Snowy, the Harringay Station Cat, snuggling up in a tree.

Mural with Snowy nesting in a tree

And the bench with its snooker table legs.

David and his daughter Catalina sitting on the bench

I was interested in the display board giving information and old photos of the original shopping parade, the Library and Rail Station.

History of Quernmore Road

The planting schedule is designed to create year round interest: for example we can soon enjoy sweet box with its winter perfume and the greenery of the ferns and evergreen shrubs such as yew, bay and japanese spindle.  I look forward to the display of spring bulbs: alliums, tulips and narcissi.

Planters and bench

I had another engagement that Sunday so all I could do was a quick trot around the stalls when the event opened at 12 noon. I missed the unveiling ceremony which I understand was done by Haringey’s Mayor.

I met Peter and his nephew, Matt, at the bulbstore with their jumbo Hippeastrum bulbs.  My friend was sorely tempted to buy one of these.

Peter and Matt with their bulbs

Next up was Alan Briggs of Briggs Bughouses, whom I first met at Woodberry Wetlands Wild Weekend earlier this year. I had my eye on the loveliest winter wreath planted with succulents.

Alan Briggs and his Police Box

This is Suzie London with her vibrant pieces of joy – lampshades, planters, phone cases, make-up bags. You can iron one of her pretty patches onto your jeans.

Pieces of Joy

Here’s Nicole and Toby with their colourful vintage store.

Nicole and Toby

I lingered at the Friends of the Library stall.  The Friends earned £183 from the sale of books, DVDs and CDs, sharing their takings with the Library.

Friends of Stroud Green and Harringay Library

Then on to Etsuko, head librarian at the Stroud Green and Harringay Library, with her ‘Join the Library Today’ balloon.

Etsuko, Head Librarian

My friend and I joined the queue at But First, Coffee for a latte and a cappuccino.  Here’s Nic, one of the owners, and Alison working their socks off.

Nic and Alison of But First, Coffee

We couldn’t stay long but left with jazz music by BessDeeThree ringing in our ears. Note the amazing all-in-one van.  They just open the side and set up stage.


Well, all too short at time was spent I’m afraid, but I wish the Quernmore Road Project the very best and I’ll certainly be using the space – it’s a great place to meet your neighbours.


New Beacon Books

New Beacon Books: shop front

When I moved into Stroud Green 22 years ago I often popped into New Beacon Books to buy books by African, Caribbean and Asian writers. So I was so glad to attend the re-launch of the shop on Saturday 7th October.

New Beacon Books has been in Stroud Green since 1966, set up as a Black publishing company by John La Rose and Sarah White. Later, in 1973, it was established as a bookshop with the aim of encouraging Black writers and to sell books by Black writers, sadly lacking in other bookshops. John and Sarah were active campaigners in the educational field aiming in particular to address the negative stereotyping of Black schoolchildren. John La Rose also established the George Padmore Institute, an archive, educational resource and research centre of materials relating to the Black community of Caribbean, African and Asian descent in Britain and continental Europe. It holds educational and cultural activities, including talks and readings, and also makes its archives accessible to the general public.

The growth of ebooks over the past few years meant that sales of books decreased, leading to an insecure future for New Beacon Books. However, John La Rose’s grandson, Ronaldo, and his family launched a ‘gofundme’ campaign to raise money for a refurbishment, quickly exceeding the target of £10,000.

Today the bookshop is light and airy with space for a small coffee bar and a meeting place at the back.

Coffee and juice bar
Inside the bookshop: Sarah White speaking

It’s also colourful with paintings of Black women on the ceiling.

Ceiling painting

I went to the launch with one of our councillors, Kirsten Hearn, and we also bumped into Catherine West, our MP. There were speeches by Ronaldo La Rose and Sarah White as well as those who have been supporters of the bookshop for years: Professor Gus John and MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbot.

Jeremy Corbyn, MP
Diane Abbot, MP

Gus John spoke movingly about how important it was to give positive images to Black schoolchildren. Do read his informative lecture, given at the British Library in December of last year, in which he celebrates 50 years of New Beacon Books.

New Beacon Books is open Tuesday to Saturday 11 am to 6 pm; Thursday 11 am to 8 pm