North London Railway
The railway from Broad Street here runs south westwards
A typically busy inner city area of Islington to the west of Highbury Fields and around a stretch of the A1, Holloway Road. It goes to the edge of, and includes some buildings of, Highbury Station, in itself a busy interchange serving a number of railway lines. Holloway Road includes buildings used by the Metropolitan University as well as the magistrates court, old mortuarys and coroners courts, the site of a brewery and the site of a major rocket attack in the Second World War. In the back streets are many industrial sites which include a major rail distribution centre for coal, cattle holding areas and a tram factory and depot. Reuse of industrial buildings include a city farm and a major music venue and club. There is much else.
Post to the east, Highbury Corner
This posting covers only the north west corner of this square
The last square built in Islington. It has a public garden in the centre which was bought by the council in 1957 and there is a playground funded by Frederick William Vanstone. It was built on Pocock's Fields – Richard Pocock bought land here which was later developed. Building began in 1850; row-by-row and apparently the money ran out before the south side was built. The north side has been developed with flats in 2013
1-17 these are the uses on the east side of the square, completed by 1852,
18-37 these houses on the north side were completed in 1855. Following a dispute on ownership in the 1950s they were taken over by Circle 33 Housing Trist and modernised
16-17 the original houses here were demolished for the deep railway cutting of the North London Railway which truncated the square
Gardens. These were originally managed by the Pocock's Trustees and from 1863 by a residents' committee. In 1936 playground equipment was provided through the National Air Raid Distress Fund and plaques remain on the gate piers to record those as well as a contribution by the King George's Fields Foundation. By the 1950s the garden was semi derelict and in 1957 Islington Borough Council converted it into a public park with a playground. The gardens had rose beds, but in the 1990s became overgrown ad shaded by large plane trees. It has since had a makeover from developers and has been extended with decking over the railway line and has a children's playground, table tennis, ball court with football goals and basketball hoops, a woodland walk, shrubbery.
Named after the Pocock family’s coal wharf in the City.
Housing on the site of the Highbury Coal Depot and sidings. The East and West India Docks and Birmingham Junction Railway to Highbury were originally to transfer coal, which had come by ship from North East England to Poplar Docks, around North London. The railway was not, at first, intended to take passengers, only to distribute coal. To this end a large coal yard was erected at Highbury and leased to the Northumberland and Durham Coal Company, a consortium of coal owners. It was an extraordinary site, with coal handling equipment more reminiscent of the coal staithes typical of North East ports.
Built up from the 1850s.
16 British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. This began as the ‘British Union’ founded at a public meeting in Bristol in 1898 by Frances Power Cobbe who had come into contact with the suffering of animals during scientific experiments in 1863. She died in 1904 and was by Dr Walter Hadwen. Since 1949, the organisation has been known as the– the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, to avoid confusion
Laid out in 1839 with stuccoed terraces and paired villas.
8 Albion Lodge built in 1884, detached and different to surrounding houses and with an openwork parapet.
18-20 Leeson Hall. Used as a Tory Social Club and centre. Although both the Islington South and Islington North Tories claimed ownership. The Club was ‘complete with vivid red velvet banquettes covered in cigarette burns, sixties bar, and permanent smell of stale beer and old men’. It had been built for the Sandemanian Church in 1886 by T. S. Archer
23-37 typical of the early 1970s. Stock-brick infill by L. R. Isaacson
The Garage – club and dance venue. This appears to have been built as a temperance billiard hall, which was briefly The Electric Cinema in 1910. It is also said to have been a tram shed. It was a bingo hall in 1970 and, then an Irish dance hall called the Town and Country Club.
Highbury Station Road
2 Centre for Recent Drawing. Part of the Saatchi Gallery. The buildings appear to be part of the original station structures.
1-3 Circle Housing Group Laycock Centre – this was previously Laycock Junior School but since 1982 this older part of the building has been a teachers' professional development centre. It was originally Station Road School opened in 1885 by the School Board for London in a new building for boys, girls and infants. The school closed in 1927 and the building was used by Laycock School to the south and became their secondary department. In 1947 with other schools it moved to become part of Highbury Grove School and this building was used as the Isledon Teachers' Centre and media resources building for local schools.
Liverpool Buildings. These were model buildings from 1883 and demolished in 1971,
Albert Square. This was to the south of the road and appears to have become the site of the school. One writer says it was taken over by the railway in 1867 – and this could account for the lack of a north side on later maps.
Cattle lairs – these were at the Liverpool Road corner and were areas where cattle, on route for Smithfield and death, could be rested overnight.
The hollow way of the old north road.
2 The Highbury Imperial Picture Theatre. This opened in 1912 Built for gold miner Richard Harris and designed built by H. Courtney Constantine. The facade was brick and stone with five Ionic pillars at the entrance. It included flats on the top floor. It was taken over by the General Theatres Ltd. in 1928, and soon after they were taken over by the Gaumont British Theatres chain. In 1933, it was re-named Imperial Picture Theatre and in the mid-1950’s re-named The Picture House. It was closed by the Rank Organisation in 1959 and demolished and a Regent Lion Service Station built on the site. This has also been demolished and a Majestic Wine Warehouse built.
6-40 School of Architecture and Interior Design, buildings by Brae & Mallalieu, 1996.
40-44 Spring House. Metropolitan University Department of Architecture and Spatial Design. This has concrete columns on the ground floor to display student models and drawings.
51 Highbury Corner Magistrates Court. Opened in 1975 with six court rooms to relieve the pressure on Old Street Magistrates Court.
52 W. H. Hayden, wholesale stationers, founded in 1829 in Paternoster Row, moved here in 1971. In 1972 they built Digby House and employed c. 70. Demolished
53/4 Highbury Brewery Founded in 1740 by William Willoughby and became Ufford and Oldershaw in 1840. The buildings were accessed via an archway off Holloway Road to allow access to rear stables. An archway is a feature of the development now on site. The brewery was taken over by Taylor Walker in 1912, when it had about 40 pubs and closed in 1914.
Highbury Gardens development on the site of the brewery and surrounding buildings,
54 The Lamb. This was the Highbury Brewery Tap and has also been recently called: Barcosa. The Tank, the Beer House, Hedgehog & Hogshead and, the Flounder & Firkin. As the Brewery Tap it has been rebuilt in the 19th for the Highbury Barn Brewery. In 1840 this was Uffold and Oldhaw. The pub had a well, and had to keep boring as water table fell.
Hopkins Engineering works 1950s-1960s
81 The Bailey. Pub previously called The Castle
97-99 The Wig and Gown. Pub which was previously called ‘Li’l Red’ Closed (lost their licence). Before the Second World War the premises had been used by electrical engineers and asbestos manufacturers. In the 1970s this was the ‘Black Centre’ run by black activist Michael X.
St. Mary Magdalene. This is the parish church of Lower Holloway built in 1814, as a chapel of ease to St Mary, Islington and as an evangelical bias. It is a tall, gaunt bay box with stone porches, and a tower with a vestry below to a design by William Wickings. The bell tower has eight bells, cast by John Warner and Son at Spitalfields in 1875. They are a “maiden” ring and have never been re-tuned. There is an organ of 1814 by George Pike England, with a mahogany case; altered by Willis, 1867, and N.P. Mander, 1947. There is a War Memorial of 1918 from Offord Road Drill Hall with a bronze relief and a painting by the churchwarden, William Wickings, who was also the Middlesex County Surveyor.
Gardens. This is the churchyard which is very large and was provided to cater for big increase in population. It was opened to the public at the end of the 19th.
Islington coroner’s court and mortuary. These have been adapted to provide a school for pupils with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and two houses. They have previously been used by the Council’s Parks Department for the storage of vehicles and goods,
Named for Richard Laycock, 18th dairy farmer and developer who also had cattle lairs here to rest cattle en route to deaths at Smithfield.
28 Central Islington Medical Centre. Part of a larger development by Brady Mallalieu Architects with One Housing Group.
Transenna Works of Tidmarsh and Sons, Window and Sun Blind manufacturer, since 1843.This building is now flats
London General Omnibus Company factory. This lay on both sides of the road by the 1880s and had closed by at least 1915 when the site was in other use. LGOC had other works in the area including a large coach building establishment in Caledonian Road and it is assumed that this works was complimentary and eventually superseded by it.
Laycock Street Council School opened in 1915 for boys, girls and infants. In 1927-32 it was used reorganised and by 1939 had juniors in the Laycock Street building. In 2012 a modernisation programme has seen the school greatly extended including accommodation for hearing impaired children. The outside of the school is decorated with mosaic panels.
Laycock Green. Green space and playground including an area to encourage sparrows.
Laycock Mansions. Inscriptions over the windows state that this was built in 1910, financed by a trust set up in the will of Samuel Lewis. Born in Birmingham, Lewis began by selling steel pens, opened a jeweller’s shop and became a financier and, philanthropist. This was the first building.
Old back lane to Upper Street, named in 1822. An attractive stretch of similar two- or three-storey terraces and pairs of villas of the 1830s and 40s, extending to the large leafy churchyard beyond. Built up between 1820 and 1840. Some superior houses part of the development of Barnsbury. East side was always more miscellaneous and has been much rebuilt.
489 Adam and Eve. In Paradise Terrace and first noted in 1851. It was a Watney Coombe Reid house and later Whitbread. Converted to a restaurant.
St.Mary Magdalene School. This all ages Church of England school opened in 2007 in a flashy new building and has a web site totally devoid of content . This is on the site of St.Mary Magdalene Church of England Primary School which was originally the church school of the parish church St.Mary in Upper Street founded in 1710. They moved here in 1815 as the Chapel of Ease School on the Madras System. This school was destroyed by a bomb in 1940. A new school was opened in 1953 on the same site by Norman and Dowbarn.
441 Duchess of Kent. First noted 1843 – and presumably named for Victoria’s mother,
Samuel Lewis Buildings. This is a philanthropic tenanted block with art nouveau lettering and five rows of trees. This is the earliest of eight schemes for this housing trust, all designed by C. S. Joseph & Smithem. There are five rows of flats with trees between. They were built on the site of Laycock's cattle lairs
Named for the Madras system of education used at St Mary Magdalene Church of England School. The Madras, or Monitorial system was where a schoolmaster would teach a small group of brighter or older pupils basic lessons, and each of them would then relate the lesson to another group of children. It was developed in Madras by Rev. Andrew Bell
Site of public toilets where in 1963, Joe Meek was arrested for importuning. The playwright Joe Orton also frequented it.
This was once Union Mews
This was once Union Street
Freightliners Farm. The Farm was founded on wasteland behind Kings Cross station in 1973 where the animals were housed in railway goods vans, hence the name. It moved here in 1978 and new farm buildings erected in 1988. There is an ornamental garden, with flowers and a kitchen garden with herbs, fruit trees and bushes. The Farm has rare breed pigs and goats, lambs and chicks, Dexter cows, and sheep or goats. There are 5 beehives, producing honey as well as beeswax
Metzo. This takeaway was once the Arundel Arms
St.Clements Church. Built in 1864 and designed by Gilbert Scott. The building is mow flats. War Memorial, this is on the street facing wall and above the lists of names is a cross, a small shield. Below the names, on a frieze:” Greater love hath no man than this” and below that “Rest eternal, grant them, O Lord. Let light perpetual shine upon them”.
Arundel Square. Web site
British History Online. Islington
British Listed Buildings. Website
Cinema Treasures. Web site.
Clunn. Face of London
Cosh. Squares of Islington
Field. London place names
Freightliners. Web site
London Borough of Islington. Web site
London Gardens Online. Web site
London Remembers. Web site
Nature Conservation in Islington
Pevsner and Cherry. London North
Robbins. North London Railway
Willatts. Streets with a Story