Next week sees us launch a new miniseries, ‘A Victorian Hotspur’ which is preceded by tomorrows ‘Hotspur by Gaslight’ The series will take us right back to the very beginnings and look at the first six years of Tottenham’s existence when they played on Tottenham Marshes. It’s an adventure that takes us from lampposts via bible classes to fisticuffs with some football along the way.
In this curtain raiser we explore Tottenham in a time before Hotspur and a quick glimpse of how the series came together. In revisiting this story as well as the usual histories much of my findings are taken from journals written at the time where possible and even if you think you know the story it still contains a number of tales that you will find of interest and deserve to be recalled. After all without those first pioneers setting out on that journey there would be no Tottenham today. I’ve attempted to keep the narrative in a chronological order wherever possible but some of the tales unfold over a longer period and I trust I’ve made it clear where this happens. Unlike other parts of the clubs history I’ve no family memories to rely on (I can only trace my families support of the Spurs back to just before the First World War) so I can’t blame my faulty memory this time just a lifetime reading every boys comic and football book that came within reach as well as a great deal of digging. There are still a number of gaps in the story and the quest continues, I will suggest that some common myths have been distorted over the years.
So if you have a few minutes I do hope you will cast your minds back to a very different time, the horses are clopping along the High Road, you can feel the chill of the early evening fog on your cheeks and you better remember to keep one eye open for the ‘Bulldogs’ after all it’s a Victorian Hotspur.
Or catch one of the new steam driven trams in The High Road, this one is about 1899.
What else was happening in 1882?
Under the streets of London steam powered trains travel through the tunnels pulling open-topped carriages while showman PT Barnum buys Jumbo from London Zoo for his circus. In America Jessie James is killed by Robert Ford while in Russia, Tchaikovsky’s premieres his new work, ‘The 1812 Overture.’ Oh and Jack the Ripper is still six years away.
There is only one Hotspur
Or so they tell us. Whilst choosing Hotspur might have been an inspired choice it certainly wasn’t completely unheard of at that time. In ‘A Victorian Hotspur’ we will learn how Hotspur FC added Tottenahm to their name to avoid confusion with a South London based London Hotspur, who was often referred to at the time as just Hotspur.
Despite being brushed aside by many people these days they were quite a successful side. When our team was formed they were already in the habit of touring the north of the country and were taking part in various cup competitions with their matches regularly reported in the press. References to the side suggest they were made up of schoolmasters and had their own chaplain. They may have faded from the scene but at that time clearly they were a force to be reckoned with.
The Royal Navy had HMS Hotspur and tugs of the same name plied their trade in various docks. Tottenham boosted a Hotspur and Son (an Ironmongers). A racehorse of the same name was one of the more fancied of its day and ran in the 1884 Grand National. Dog racing also had its own Hotspur. A large country estate north of London was called Hotspur House while teams (football and cricket) bearing the name could be found around the country and one of the Daily Telegraphs top sports writers went by the name Hotspur!
And with that, tomorrow our adventure of discovery begins enjoy the journey.
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Notes - You might to also check out ‘Adventures in N17’ to discover some of the research that helped lead to this point. It would be boring to note every contradiction (and there are plenty) in various texts; even those written at the time tend to differ in places.
Top Image - The High Road, about 1900.
Thank you to, and in no order and apologies to anyone I’ve missed, for the forthcoming series, Andy Porter, Bob Goodwin, Phil Soar, John Fennelly, The Romance of Football, THFC, G.Wagstaffe-Simmons, Tony Matthews, Julian Holland, The Weekly Herald, British Library, The FA, British Newspaper Archive, Tony Sealey, Bruce Grove Museum, The Summerhill Group, Daily Telegraph, Derek Brown, The BBC, The Times and The Edmonton Weekly,
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