Audio reminiscences

In 2011, we interviewed local historian Jack Whitehead, who shared with us his memories of Coldfall Wood when growing up on the Coldfall Estate when it was first built in the 1920s.

Below are some fascinating clips, where he talks about how things used to be.

Jack died in 2014, age 98 but his insightful essays on ‘local’ local history are still available to view online.

Social housing

Jack talks about social housing at the end of the First World War, and the influence of Lloyd George’s Homes for Heroes on the building of the Coldfall Estate.

Farm fields

How Coppets Road was once sited amongst farm fields that were sold off to build houses.

Ancient oak trees

When Jack’s family moved from Stroud Green to Coppett’s Road they had a garden for the first time, and beyond it the ancient oak trees of a much larger Coldfall Wood.


After living on Coppett’s Road for a few years Jack’s family was shocked when workmen started felling the oak trees behind their house to create more houses.

House building

Jack enjoyed watching the men build the houses by hand, using traditional methods.

Coldfall child

Later, Jack became a teacher. He describes the post-war ‘Coldfall child’ who had benefited from fresh air and home-grown vegetables.

The stream

Jack and his friends made a daily attempts to damn the stream, and spent an enormous amount of time examining insects, and abundant moths and butterflies.

Private wood

Although at the time Coldfall was a private wood, Jack describes how a friend in Durham road had a key to enter the woods.


Jack recalls how Muswell Hill Playing Fields was once a meadow, very briefly home to cattle.

Sewage farm

On the outer edges of the meadow lay a no-go area – an open sewage farm, now a site of more housing.

Listen to the full interview

2 replies on “Audio reminiscences”

Brought back many memories. I lived at 35 Coppetts Rd from 1942 opposite Wilton Rd where there was 2 shops on the ground floor of Wilton Court.The woods was our playground,many a happy hour spent there

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