Book of Hornsey residents’ lives welcomed by Catherine West MP

Catherine West MP and Hornsey Historical Society’s Jennifer Bell MBE were among speakers at Crouch End Picturehouse on 5th October, to launch a book of the life stories of eight local residents.

Left to right - Hephzibah Lewis, Phil Dart, Catherine West MP.

(Left to right – Hephzibah Lewis, Phil Dart, Catherine West MP.)

The stories were collected by Jennifer Bell between 2011 and 2013, and then more recently the project was picked up by Hornsey Housing Trust Chief Executive Alwyn Lewis, who organised the transcripts to be edited, more photographs to be gathered and a book to be put together.

The result is ‘Memories of the Tenants of Margaret Hill House’, an 84-page book containing the tenants’ stories and featuring many old and current photographs.

The residents were, when interviewed, all tenants at Margaret Hill House, run by Hornsey Housing Trust. Some describe living in Hornsey and other areas of the UK, during the Second World War and other key events, while others describe coming to the UK from overseas and making this country their home.

One of the tenants, Phil Dart, spoke about his experiences, including growing up with eleven brothers and four sisters, and how his mother worked hard to make ends meet. Another tenant who contributed her life story, Mrs Hephzibah Lewis, was also present at the launch.

Catherine West MP said: “Hornsey Housing Trust and Hornsey Historical Society do great work in our community, and by publishing this book they are increasing understanding of how this area has evolved, and how its unique spirit is a result of its diverse people”.

Phil Dart said: “It’s very flattering that people are interested in my story, and I hope it helps people understand what life was like, and brings our community closer together. My own attitude is to just enjoy life and embrace new things”.

Jennifer Bell MBE said: “I spent many happy hours with the tenants and it’s great to see their stories in print for everyone to read and enjoy. They give a wonderful personal picture of life at different points in the twentieth century, and into the twenty first century when they all lived in our area.”

Alwyn Lewis said: “As soon as I saw these stories I knew they were an immensely valuable record of the lives of people that we pass by in the street but know nothing about. They paint a fascinating picture of the people who make up our community”.

Where to buy the book

The Book ‘Memories of Tenants of Margaret Hill House’ is available for the general public to buy for £9.99 from the Hornsey Historical Society, 136 Tottenham Ln, London N8 7EL. Tel – 020 8348 8429.

Hornsey Housing Trust tenants can buy the book for £4.99 by calling the HHT office on 020 8340 6374.