MOSELLE RIVER

From an account by Bedwell in 1613, in writing of springs, says ‘The second is called Moswell, which ariseth out of the bottom of a cellar of a fayre house situated upon the side of a high hill, a parte of that on which the great wood is seated, of this spring is that part of this hill named “Mosse-Hill” ‘

He also tells of a little brook Which issueth out of Moswell Hill in Hornsey parish and therefore we will call it Mosa, or if you please Mosella. This rivulet falling from the hill passing in between Hornsey and Tottenham Wood and running through the middeth of the Town in a meaner fashion of the Greek Capital Omega, leaving the parsonage and vicarage upon the north, runneth along by the highway until it comes to the great stone bridge where it suddenly maketh a right angle and falling under the same hasteth in a straight course to a branch of the Leigh divided from it by the labour of mans hand for a mill streame’

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Lordship Lane Tottenham - 1893 - Looking west towards Wood Green.    The Moselle river runs under the white bridge


Bedwell in another part states that
‘The “Mose” which from the Parsonage Lane hath runne for the space of halfe a mile directly south as it were repeating himselfe of that course, suddenly against the middest of the garden of Mr Wilcoxe turneth short and conveying it self under this (Lordship) bridge walketh leisurely eastwards in a straight line to meet the Leigh’

There is another report by Nordon who wrote in the sixteenth century, in giving an account of the locality of the Moselle, which says
‘There was a chapel sometime bearing the name of our lady of Muswell where now Alderman Roe hath a proper house, the place taketh its name of the well and the hill , mouse-well-hill for there is on this hill a spring of fine water which is now within the compass of the house. There was sometimes an image of the lady of Muswell in the water resulting to a pilgrimage to the water for a cure, which people believed a King of the Scots who being strangely diseased was advized to take the water of a well in England named Muswell. This was found and performed the cure.’

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Downhills Park 1928 - A ratcatcher sets his traps alongside the Moselle Brook


Yet another report by Robinson tells us that
‘The Great Stone Bridge ‘ Under the High Road’ the east end of which lies, is by the sluice gate at Scotland Green was formally called Lordship Bridge. This bridge is of brick with one arch and the waterway under the bridge is ten feet to the summit within the arch. There is a garden wall on one side and a parapet on the other. The map of the survey in 1619 by the Earl of Dorset shows the Moselle, soon after it enters Scotland Green, divides a branch running to the south, over which there is a bridge. This stream runs into the Hale where it terminates. This brook has been the cause of many floods in Tottenham in the past. Any exceptional downpour in the Muswell Hill district always causes trouble in Tottenham. On more than one occasion the surplus water has run down White Hart Lane with great force. Money was spent on new culverts and generally improving this brook and flooding is nearly a thing of the past.

The sluices, which for many years were on the east side of the stone bridge near Scotland green, were removed in 1833 and until 1836 the Moselle was open all along its course through Tottenham. It would now appear as if it could all be covered in a few years and but a few persons will know of its existence.

In 1836 the brook was covered over in White Hart lane and round the High Road. The records show that a Mr Fletcher purchased the houses and land now known as Moselle gardens and then covered the brook in 1839 with an oak fence to make a carriage drive in front of the houses. Then in 1840 the part of the brook running through the property of a Mr Sperling from Lordship Lane to Scotland Green and to the section through the marshes (Carbuncle Alley) had been covered in also.


The first part of the Moselle Brook from the High Road was covered in 1906 and the latter part some 18 months later.

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The Moselle Brook running through Scotland Green in 1906 before it was culverted over


Small parts have been covered in at different times so at the present time it is enclosed without a break from beyond White Hart Lane Station ( Tottenham Cemetery) across the marshes until it empties into the Pymmes brook. It is open through the cemetery and also through the Lordship recreation ground until Rusper Road.

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Culverting the Moselle Brook at Carbuncle Alley in 1906

The Carbuncle Alley, which was covered over was known as the Carbuncle ditch or the Garbell, which is the continuation of the Moselle.



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Scotland Green 1906 - Local unemployed men culverting the Moselle Brook. It was said at the time 'The Moselle had been a great deal of trouble and annoyance from time immemorial, with Tottenham often experiencing severe flooding

On the Earl of Dorsets 1619 map the Moselle diverts south from Scotland Green to Tottenham Hale where it comes to an end about where the Tottenham Hale Retail Park (Gestetners) now stands. This could well be the reason why this area would get flooded well into the 1970’s.

Summary: Originating in Muswell Hill the Moselle now runs underground through Haringey and only surfaces at Tottenham Cemetery and Lordship Recreation Ground. At Scotland Green the brook once flowed through the north side via Carbuncle or Garbell Ditch, through to the Marshes and the River Lea. The other tributary continued south until Tottenham Hale.

Please refer to the extract from an 1894 map of Tottenham at the back of this article, which has been highlighted to show the route of the Moselle. It can be clearly seen, even from these times, that large parts of the brook had been covered.

Prepared by: Ray Swain
(for ‘The Friends of Lordship Rec’)

May 2004

Footnote: Albert Pinching spoke at the F.O.B.C Wednesday talks in November 2003, and explained that a stretch is also open in Queens Wood. We also understand that Albert and David Dell are publishing a book later this year on the lost streams of Haringey

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