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Monday, February 22, 2016

This is what you could shop for in Green Lanes in 1948

This is an extract from a 1948 directory of businesses on Green Lanes in Haringey, north London.

It's a reminder of a world that was starting to slip away when I was a kid, a world where most people worked for small firms and most of those small firms were specialists in one very particular area. They sold yeast or knitting wool. They loaned money or fried fish. They manufactured shoe trimmings or fireplaces. They advertised trades like mantle maker-up and hem stitcher that are entirely mysterious to us now.

If you drive down Green Lanes now the shops are overwhelmingly owned by members of immigrant groups who arrived after 1948 and seem to offer food, phone cards or hairdressing. Presumably in another twenty years it will have changed out of recognition all over again. Makes you wonder why anybody talks about "planning".