This painting is available as a limited edition print on this link
A client who is a great Spurs’ fan, commissioned me to paint the Tottenham Hotspur Football Stadium in North London. There is some urgency in this commission as the current stadium will be demolished pretty soon and be replaced by a new 56,000 seater stadium suitable for 21st century football.
In addition to this, there will also be a regeneration of the surrounding area which means that these three grade 2 listed buildings will be sadly swept away.
I got on site pretty early in December so I was wrapped up warm and set about working in the basic shapes and sketched out a few local people too. As it was cold, I had to nip back and forth to a local Turkish café for hot drinks to thaw out. The owner noticed my sketchbook and pointed to a mural produced by her 15 year old son. ‘Very nice’ I toasted with my numb digests closed around a mug of tea.
Back on site again, I built up the compositions and windows and added a bit of shading in the thin winter light.
Behind me was St Francis De Sales Church and every ten minutes or so a parishioner would move past and announce that my subject matter was due for demolishment very soon. Each lamenting that it would be a great pity that these buildings would go and that ‘they should keep them’.
I didn’t mind being distracted; talking to local people helps inform the work and I decided to find out a bit more about these doomed structures.
What were they?
The pub on the left was originally called ‘The old White Hart’ then ‘Valentinos’ and has been there since 1899. It was a real favourite with Spurs fans and in 1991, the newly won FA cup paid an impromptu visit to the pub along with many of the players.
Then next is ‘The Red House’ and was the club’s headquarters for over 120 years. An odd name for a club that does not wear red.
Lastly, we have the Tottenham and Edmonton Dispensary. This was opened in 1864 to deliver medical advice and medicine to the local poor. Initially, it was a sort of mini NHS and was free at the point of delivery although small charges were requested later on. It remained in use until 1938.
Interestingly, the condemned buildings were initially to be saved as they locals were keen to keep them “Warmington House, the Red House, Dispensary and the former White Hart Pub – will all refurbished and brought back to life” although since that time, the plans were tweaked and they did not survive the amendments.
The tricky thing about regenerating an area is that it can often not be much fun for those who live and work there already. They can often be left out of big business regeneration plans and here is no exception. It’s not just these three are for the chop, many local businesses have been caught up in the compulsory land purchase and will be erased to make way for the new stadium and accompanying new shops, flats etc. Hopefully the pluses will outweigh the minuses once the all dust has settled. It’s still sad, however, that this elderly trio won’t be there to see it.
The final watercolour was completed with the help of the client supplying a few images and the crucial research on what types of shirts needed to be worn by the fans and what names needed to be on them, a true fan and proving that ‘The last 10% is 90% of the job!’.
Although I am not a Spurs fan, I enjoyed spending the best part of a day there and getting to know a few locals and sharing their memories of past triumphs.