Small businesses, big personalities in new Crouch End documentary

A documentary about Crouch End’s small businesses has been selling out at the Arthouse.

Produced by award-winning journalist and filmmaker Harvey Marcus, Beneath the Clocktower, tells the stories of the traders giving Crouch End its unique character.

(Harvey Marcus)

Harvey, who lived in Crouch End for 25 years and saw its rapid transformation, interviewed some of the area’s longest serving independent businesses on the high street. The humorous and moving film tells the story of their daily struggles for survival against rising rents, competition from big chains and the Internet and issues around whether younger generations will take over the reins.

Among the businesses interviewed are the Electrical Market, Dunns, Banners, Thomerson Timber, Bishop’s Hardware, Freemans Butchers, Flashback Vinyl and Purkis Fishmonger. The movie was sponsored by Hornsey Historical Society and some local businesses.

Harvey, 45, said: “When Andy, who owns the Electrical Market, told me he was retiring I thought ‘we see it every year; these shops close or disappear, never to be replaced. When he goes so do his stories’ – that was the starting point for the film.

“A lot of traders spoke about Bob Dylan’s visits to Crouch End. It’s interesting how many musicians have hung out here.

“When Clocktower Drycleaner’s was bought 15 years ago, Crouch End was changing rapidly. The new owner said he was going to concentrate on shirts – but at that time the business was cleaning just 50 shirts a week. People told him he’d got the wrong idea – that Crouch End wasn’t about shirts. But the changes came fast, now they clean 1,000 shirts a week!”

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Harvey has worked as a journalist specialising in entertainment for magazines including Marie Claire, Nippon Vogue, Elle and more. He ghost-wrote Coleen Rooney’s book ‘Welcome to My World’ and is now a partner in the film and digital production company Bruise Film.