I don't have a detailed history of the Hawes & Curtis site. But here's what I've been able to piece together.
The first record I can find of the land is when it was sold in 1881 to one Charles Cleverly Paine* by an Isaac Edmondson**. (In the same year Edmonson sold the neighbouring plot on which was built 600 and 602, the former of which became the Langham Working Men's Club in 1910.)
However, the plot already contained two pairs of early Victorian semi-detached villas 590/592 and 596/598 which are shown on the 1869 Ordnance Survey map. The plot between them was empty. I am assuming that Cleverley had plans for the central plot. But whatever his plans, it seems that they may not have been realised for quite some years.
The first building on the centre plot was a single storey building that opened as C R Laundry in November 1901. It was given the address of 594 Green Lanes. Other newspaper reports show the company acquiring land for development in other parts of London, including Finchley, at around the same time.
....and in 1904:
In that same year, the company was self-confident enough to be sponsoring a challenge cup:
One can imagine that the work was quite demanding as this 1908 advert shows.
(Attached in a comment below is a record of a visit to the Laundry by Islington Council).
The London Gazette records the dissolution of C R Laundry in 1917. Then, from an advert for a 'Motor Driver' in a 1917 edition of Autocar Magazine, we know that the business had started operating as The Oakwood Laundry by that year. In 1921, the Oakwood Laundry was listed in the handbook of the National Federation of Launderers. We also know that it was there in 1934 because in that year, the laundry was one of the signatories to a covenant giving London Underground a right of way to its soon-to-be-built air shaft building.
The last occupants were recorded at 590 and 592 in 1929. The houses were demolished soon after. By 1932 the London Underground air shaft had been constructed and the new tube line was up and running.
I'm not sure of the exact date, that the laundry moved out, but we know that it was still there as late as 1966 because the land was registered in that year in the name of Oakwood Laundry by the Times Laundry Company (The London Gazette, 1st March 1966).
The next occupant I can find that plays a role is BDC.
The company was formed in 1956 or 1957 as the British Distrubting Company. Originally, they operated out out of 591 Green Lanes (on the opposite side of the road).*** . They moved across to 594 in 1976 or 1977. It is possible that they bought and developed the entire site prior to occupying. This would give a date during the early/mid 1970's for the demolition of 596 and 598 Green Lanes and the building of the 20th century building on the north eastern part of the plot. This snippet from the Electrical Review in 1978**** suggests that it may have been built as an 'exhibition centre':
".....it's the electrical trade's very own exhibition centre. ... THE ELECTRICAL WHOLESALER THE BDC EXHIBITION CENTRE 590 Green Lanes London N8"
The last permanent occupant was Hawes & Curtis who moved in 2011.
Hawes & Curtis moved up the road to Wood Green High Road in 2016/7.
BDC was the previous tenant who moved out after the business went bust in 2009/2010. Both BDC and Hawes & Curtis used either 590 or 594 as their address.
Prior to that it seems that a storage company called Millioner was operating out of the premises.
The final 'meanwhile' tenant operated a high value car storage business from the premises and for a while the southern part of the plot was used as a car wash. A company called Leon Selective Cars was also selling cars from the address during this period.
When I first wrote this piece I was unable to find out much about the occupants of the Victorian semis 590/92 and 596/98 (but, see addendum below). I originally only found few records from the National Archives and one newspaper obit.
The National Archives records the case of a taxi driver appealing against a military draft in 1915 (case attached):
William Roland Frank Hewitt of 598 Green Lanes, Harringay. Occupation: Taxi Cab Proprietor and Driver.
Grounds of Appeal:
D: On the ground that serious hardship would ensue if the man were called up for Army service, owing to his exceptional financial or business obligations or domestic position.
E: On the ground of ill-health or infirmity.
Next door at 596, two occupants sought to register as conscientious objectors. Both applications were refused (cases attached):
Ernest Edward Salmon of 596 Green Lanes, Harringay. Occupation: Invoice Clerk.
Stanley Albert Goodwin of 596 Green Lanes, Tottenham. Occupation: Missionary Student.
Grounds of Appeal:
F: On the ground of a conscientious objection to the undertaking of combatant service.
In 1929 there is a record of the death of a doctor who lived at 592 (on of the houses replaced by the underground air shaft a few years later):
M'ELFATRIUK- At the Royal Northern Hospital, Holloway Road, Loudon, on tha 5th January, 1929, Dr. Kennedy M'Elfatriuk, late of 592 Green Lanes, Hornsey. Interred in Edmonton Cemetery.
Addendum: Since I originally wrote this piece I have been able to find out a reasonable amount about the Victorian houses and their occupants. I will share this elsewhere.
*Paine was a builder who lived in the very respectable sounding Cedar House on Stamford Hill near the Junction with Amhurst Road. Uncannily like John Cathles Hill, the builder of the Salisbury, Paine was an immigrant to London who had arrived also as a penniless young carpenter. By all accounts he also made his way rather well. By 1901 he was leasing an eighteenth century stuccoed house on Haverstock Hill where he lived with his family. (The story of Paine's early months in London are told through the publication of his diaries and Letters in A South Devon Carpenter in Victorian London: The Diary of Charles C....)
**Isaac Edmonson was probably the builder whose son James became known as the "Highbury Builder".
***BDC's precise business during their earliest years is difficult to determine and it may well be that they flexed as they found their feet. Their phone directory listing for 1957 describes them as "Plastic Moulders, Fabricators". by 1960, it's "Salvage Merchants". However, a 1957 copy of Wireless World cites a leaflet by the company about a crustal wireless set. So it sounds like they were already exploring the electrical business that became their primary focus. From 1960 to 1970, they list themselves as 'Radio Wholesalers'. It is only in 1971 they start appearing as 'Electrical Wholesalers'.
Thanks Hugh. I’ve always wondered what the building was originally.
I now have a title for my photos.
I've got it back to 1902 now, Sam - which rings more true with the apparent age of the building.
As an addendum to the above, I'm attaching a newspaper report of a visit to the Laundry by Islington Council in 1903.
Thanks Hugh, great bit of archive,
I guess it's my obituary to a Harringay landmark.
A tiny bit more information from the 1939 Register (the information was used to produce identity cards and, once rationing was introduced in January 1940, to issue ration books. Information in the Register was also used to administer conscription and the direction of labour, and to monitor and control the movement of the population caused by military mobilisation and mass evacuation)
592 - unoccupied
596 - Thomas Light, Laundry engineer in charge
Rosina Light, Unpaid domestic duties
record officially closed
Emily Field, Contact welding on key springs for autom/custom ???
598 - unoccupied
Thanks Angela. I wonder if the laundry bought 596 to house key staff.
More info just added in the first main para about the guy who built the houses on the plot. Sounds like an uncannily similar tale to that of John Cathles Hill (see my Wikipedia article for more on him).
The following has been posted by Richard Woods on a thread about the new buildings:
In the 50s we used to play roller hockey on the forecourt of Oakwood. We waited to be turfed off but it never happened. Years later I met someone who knew the boss - apparently he said he didn't mind - better than tearing round the streets! Wonder what he would make of the street line of the development!
Attached below is report on the opening of the laundry from the London North Middlesex Standard And Tottenham And Wood Green Echo of November 8, 1901.
Updated with more information on BDC. I also now have a pretty full history of the two pairs of houses and their occupants which I'll cover in a separate post.
Here's an interesting (for me!) advert from 1901, in their launch month. The picture of the laundry suggests that the building demolished last year was probably the second building on the site, or at least a development of the first one shown in the picture below (double-click it to enlarge). I love the wee 'garden gate' at the entrance. Behind the laundry, you can see the roofs of the houses on Harringay Road.