Walking a North London lost river: the Stonebridge Brook

Haringey’s Lost River: the Stonebridge Brook

Back in the summer of 2021 I received an email while on holiday about the sighting of a river with a boat in the 1980’s behind Salisbury Mansions N4. I was intrigued and had a quick look to see if this aligned with the course of any of the lost rivers of the area I was aware of, but drew a blank.
Then I checked the 1863 – 1869 Ordnance survey map of the area and could make out what appeared to be a possible watercourse running off Green Lanes just north of present day St Ann’s Road (Hangar Lane) – along the top of Chestnuts Park which cut across Avenue Road and South Grove (Newsam Ave). Then it could run along modern day Culvert Road, across Seven Sisters Road shortly afterwards flowing parallel to the railway line near South Tottenham Station, beneath the A10 (Ermine St). The watercourse then appeared to feed a lake at Page Green, run beneath the railway line and join the Lea just South of West Junction and near South Junction where it is joined by another stream from the north (the Moselle). Stonebridge House is marked near the course as well – which was another possible indicator.

I was excited to share this potential course with Rebecca who replied that she’d received an anecdote about the St. Ann’s Hospital site. Apparently there was access, via a door and a few steps, to an underground lake – with boats in the basement of one of the nurses blocks. It was said ‘that there is a Victorian underground water holding area, to the south of site.’ “Another former staff member, was able to verify that there was a spring onsite.”
 The only way to find out for sure was to walk the course of this potential lost river of Haringey … and try and find a name for it.

Haringey Map 1873 'Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland' 
‘Reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland’ 
Stonebridge Road, South Tottenham from Stonebridge Brook walk

A year and a half or more passed then a comment from Joe was posted on my Crouch End video in March this year. “At the end of the street that Hornsey Library is in, there’s a manhole cover where you can see and hear the Stonebridge Brook. It starts here in Crouch End and flows down to the River Lea, somewhere near the Markfield Brook. There are a few places in Hornsey where you can spot it running beneath the streets.”
Looking online I found this fantastic thread of information. Including this historical record of the river being discussed for culverting by the local council in its 1906 Report on The Health of Tottenham.
Outlining Typhoid statistics the report refers to the Stonebridge (and Moselle) Brook: “It is a noteworthy fact that 52 out of the 62 cases occurred in the portion of the district “ watered ” by the Moselle and Stonebridge Brooks, most of the objectionable portions of which are now fortunately being culverted.
Amongst the public health improvements put forward the Report recommended, “Culverting Stonebridge Brook (East of Avenue Road to South Grove); Culverting Stonebridge Brook at Green Lanes; Culverting Moselle Brook at Scotland Green
The works under consideration included:
(a) Culverting the Stonebridge Brook between Chestnuts Estate and Culvert Road
(b) Culverting the brook rear of houses in Hermitage Road.”

 I now had enough information to plot a course and head out to walk the Stonebridge Brook.

You can watch my videos of the Moselle walk here and Part two here