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The Workhouse

In the early 1900s, St John's Way passed through what was still a fairly open rural space. It was therefore an ideal place to build a large workhouse: a place for the poor, physically and mentally disabled, and morally 'destitute' - the latter often a euphemism for single mothers - to be cared for and housed, in exchange for work on the premises.
The main building, stretching along at least half of the road, was large enough to not only serve the local parish of St Mary's, but the borough as a whole, and was set up by the Board of Guardians - local dignitaries and church personnel. The institution had its own infirmary and chapel in its grounds. There was enough open land in the surrounding area for other institutions - such as the Aged Pilgrims Asylum (now Hillside Park, Hillside Estate, and Louise White House) and the Alexandra Orphanage (now Welby, Goldie and Ritchie council blocks). The Whittington College almshouses were where Miranda Estate now stands.
London County Council took over the workhouse building in 1930, turning into an old peoples' home called Hillside, and dispersing its other existing inhabitants to other appropriate institutions. The building was only actually demolished in 1970.
All that remains of the original workhouse today is the Eastgate wing, which most locals will recognise as the Roger Casement Irish Centre, now redeveloped as private flats.


The well-known Elthorne Road, which gives the Elthorne Estate and the Elthorne Community Project their names, originally ran almost as far down the site which is now Elthorne Park. It was originally called Redcap Lane - The Mother Redcap public house still stands on the Holloway Road - and, being named after a bird, betrays the area's original rural village character. Despite good examples of 18th and early 19th century village housing still in Hornsey Lane, Mulkern Road and Calverly Grove, we are mostly familiar with the Victorian houses, many of which still exist, when the area we know today developed most rapidly with industrialisation from the mid 19th onwards. Both Warltersville and Hazellville Roads were named, rather unimaginatively, after the two builders who constructed them.

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Location: Caxton House Community Centre, 129 St. John’s Way, London N19 3RQ
Phone number:
020 7263 3151
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