When the Queen came to Wood Green

The Queen meets the local community
Credit: Bruce Castle Museum

By Luchia Robinson

Thursday 13th May 2021 marks 40 years of Wood Green Shopping City (now called the Mall Wood Green), which was officially opened by the Queen in 1981.

The Queen visited the centre for a 90-min tour of the shopping complex and ‘the village in the sky’ – the housing development on top of it, known locally as Sky City.

On the day, the Queen was welcomed by then Mayor of Haringey, Cllr Eileen Garwood and a crowd of 2000 locals, amid a fanfare of trumpeters from the Royal Artillery.

The Queen was led through the complex meeting the centre manager and local artists with the art entries they’d submitted into a painting competition organised by the Shopping City in liaison with Haringey Arts Council.

School teacher Michelle Holloway said: “I came first in my age category for a competition entitled ‘The Queen comes to Haringey’ and won art materials from WH Smith’s.

“My design was a stagecoach with the old Haringey logo as wheels. I was about 14 at the time. I remember it well. It gave me a sense of achievement.”

The Queen then met many store managers including Paul Taylor, the manager of D.H Evans, before visiting the traders in the market hall (a core feature of the development providing 54,000 sq ft for 80 traders).

Tottenham resident Kim Adams, said: “I was standing in the restaurant of D.H Evans as part of an invited group, with my baby daughter. My mother-in-law worked in the restaurant and got us an invite. It was an honour to be that close to the Queen when she visited the restaurant as part of her tour.

“We all had tiny little flags to wave and my daughter wore a navy and white polka dot dress, trimmed with a red ribbon and red patent shoes. It’s amazing what I can remember from 40 years ago.”

The Queen with former Mayor of Haringey Cllr Eileen Garwood
Credit: Bruce Castle Museum

The Mayor invited the Queen to unveil a plaque commemorating the inauguration of the Shopping City, and Haringey Council leader, Cllr Robin Young presented her with a framed first day cover. This was followed by Lisa Hutchinson, the nine-year-old daughter of one of the centre’s cleaners presenting the Queen with a posy.

Lifelong Haringey resident Geraldine Marsand remembers the day well, she said: “We got half a day off school, so we all went up there. My mum had told me not to go inside because the Queen was going to be there and she feared an attack from the IRA. I didn’t listen to her, I went in and saw the Queen, then couldn’t get out because they’d locked all the doors − so I had to confess to my mum.”

Upon arriving at the housing development above the shopping complex, the Queen was greeted by tenants, construction staff who worked on the site, and more than 300 school children.

The Royal party toured the development, with the Queen meeting the Coralie family and the Newnham family – two families living in the new flats, before officially declaring the estate open and planting a commemorative tree.

Commemorative plaque
Credit: Luchia Robinson

At the time, Henry Jacobs was a publicity photographer at the council, he said: “It was a major achievement by the Shopping City in partnership with Haringey Council to get the Queen to perform the opening.

“Although many Royals have visited Haringey, I can’t recall the Queen being in the borough before or afterwards, and there was great excitement and a large crowd.

“I can remember Dickie Arbiter (former press secretary to Buckingham Palace, but then LBC radio commentator) being a judge for a baby competition.”

Before finishing the tour of the Shopping City, the Queen was presented with a multi-cassette duplicating machine on behalf of Haringey’s Talking Newspapers service.

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