If you’re familiar with Hartopp Road, no doubt you instantly recognise it from this photograph, taken in the early 1900s. The view is facing south, looking up the hill towards Clarendon Park Road. The photo has a slightly melancholy feel about it, with the single figure driving the horse and cart, the unlit gas lights and the solid, watchful houses on either side. The scene is made more eerie by the hazy light in the distance, perhaps a combination of smog from the chimneys and the limitations of photography at the time. You can just make out the houses of Clarendon Park Road at the end.
The houses have changed very little in the last century. In fact the major difference between then and now isn’t related to the buildings at all, but to transport. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the roads would have been busy with horses and carts. Our photographer has chosen a quiet moment for their snap, but you tell that a lot of horses used the road from the amount of mess they’ve left behind them! Needless to say, the view today is quite different, with cars parked along both sides.
The change from gas to electric street lighting is the other obvious change. The gas lights would have been lit by a lamplighter, who did the rounds every evening, lighting Clarendon Park’s gloomy streets. The light given out by these lamps was dim by today’s standards, as well as having an unsteady flicker and a ghostly green tinge. The lamplighter returned at dawn to extinguish the light. It was a steady and trustworthy job and those who did it also constituted an unofficial neighbourhood watch service.
Hartopp Road is one of Clarendon Park’s oldest and is named after Edward Cradock Hartopp. Edward was a rich landowner who sold 120 acres of his land to the Clarendon Park Company in 1877. It was this land that was to become Clarendon Park and a number of the area’s earliest roads were named after members of the Cradock Hartopp family. Today, the most notable public building on the road is Create Studios, a creative hub and rehearsal space that also offers a pre-school club, guitar lessons and yoga classes.