Thursday, 11 December 2008

*Hornsey Journal article about the Green Room

Newspapers used to become tomorrow's chip wrappers - but one title, detailing a historic event, has managed to survive 108 years.

Tucked away in a small Highgate shop you can find the original newspaper published during the Siege of Mafeking in 1900 detailing when the British Army fought back the Boers after a 217-day siege.

The Green Room in Archway Road has been described as the most unusual shop in London - and it is not hard to see why. Along with the newspaper, which carries the masthead "Published daily, shells permitting", you can find an 80-million-year-old dinosaur egg, a Maggie Thatcher flatulating doll, a piece of dinosaur dung and a Zimbabwean $500,000,000 note.

Noel Lynch, who runs the shop, said: "A friend of mine got the newspaper for us and was kind enough to donate it. I've put a £50 tag on it but it's not something you can really value and you certainly couldn't put an accurate price on it. It will be worth different amounts to different people."

The shop, which is owned by Barnet Green Co-op Ltd, is a not-for-profit charity which promotes and raises funds for environmental causes. It opened in its current location in 2005 and Mr Lynch uses all his resources to make sure it is stocked with the weird and wonderful.

He said: "We have stuff coming in every day. I've got a newspaper from the French Revolution from 1798 and also a letter from the fellow who shot Martin Luther King. Sometimes I look for stuff myself but I have a lot of people who owe me favours and support the shop looking for us."

But Mr Lynch admits that with a low footfall on Archway Road the shop has had to resort to different methods to get prospective customers in the door. He said: "There's not a lot of pedestrian traffic along here so to get around that we proactively try to stock unusual and quirky things that are not too expensive. For us to be able to survive we need to have stuff that people will talk about and remember. We rely on people sending their friends in."

Also in stock are an ancient Roman bronze ring, a replica of the tribute penny used by Jesus Christ in render unto Caesar, a 13th century horseshoe and medieval English ship nails.

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