Note: This is added for completeness since the original work finished in 1986 and the new edition is requesting contributions.
Streets with a story – The book of Islington by Eric A Willats FLA.
First published 1986: Islington Local History Education Trust
Digital edition (revised) 2017: Islington Heritage Service
The idea of this work, Streets with a Story, was first suggested to me by Charles A. Elliott, FLA, former Borough Librarian of Islington from 1954 to June 1978.
However, the pressure of work since June 1949 until May 1984 when I retired after nearly 35 years with my good friends and colleagues at Islington Libraries as Principal Reference Librarian made it only possible for a preliminary fragment to be completed before 1984.
The arrangement of this work is alphabetical under the name of a street, square, place, terrace or block of flats or tenement, followed by the date of first occupancy, if known. Most of the dating has been done from rate books and other items in the local history collections at both the Islington and Finsbury libraries and based on many years of work and accumulated information. Not only have present day streets been included, but also those of the past, courts, alleyways, terraces, places, mews, etc.., vanished backwaters with such intriguing names like Frog Lane, The Land of Nod or Cupid’s Alley! Any architectural features or buildings of interest, residents worthy of mention, and under every street all the flats or tenements in that street have been included so that a complete conspectus of the street is ‘at a glance’.
It is hoped to please not only the ordinary resident of Islington but visitors, genealogical searchers and family history search addicts, estate agents, students of architecture, art and the arts, literature, church architecture and history, schools, lovers of inns and pubs, etc..
Many living in blocks of flats or streets may not know why such a street or building has been so called and this I have endeavoured to satisfy although there are still a few where records of origin have eluded my quest. With a few exceptions, noteworthy present-day residents have been excluded for reasons of their privacy or for other reasons.
At the suggestion of my successor at Islington Libraries, Valerie Dawson, I have also compiled indexes of buildings, noteworthy residents, writers, artists and architects. [Note: These indexes have been removed from the digital version ].
This ‘anatomy of a Borough’ does offer some record of the endeavours and achievements of past Councils and Vestries and a cavalcade of life. It is realised that this can never be complete and there may well be omissions, but I have included what has come to my notice up to the early summer of 1986.
I would like to thank the Staff of the G LC Street Names section to whose premises I paid one visit in 1985, but above all to the staffs of the reference libraries at Islington Central Library and also at St. John Street, particularly the latter where I made over 250 searches of rate books alone!
I would particularly like to thank my wife Greta for her encouragement and co-operation in seeing this work
completed also for the encouragement which I have received from its inception from Councillor Pat Haynes.
I spent some of the happiest hours and years of my life working for the people of Islington.
It is hoped that this book may still offer some help and information to some.
E. A. Willats, 1986
I would like to record my gratitude to the Islington Local History Education Trust and the Brighter Islington Campaign of the London Borough of Islington without which this work would not have been published.
Notes to Digital Edition 2017
It has now been over 30 years since Eric Willats produced his work and it remains a reference book that is still widely used by all researching the history of the London Borough of Islington and its predecessor boroughs and parishes.
Staff at Islington Heritage Service (Islington Local History Centre and Islington Museum) are indebted to Eric for his work in producing such a valuable resource. Rarely a day passes when the book is not opened by staff or researchers and its contents perused or its pages recommended as the starting point for a journey of discovery.
However, since publication, many developments have taken place in the borough, with new roads and thoroughfares added to the 1,100 plus streets recorded by the author and, as a result, his pioneering work is in need of updating. New buildings have appeared while others have been consigned to history to make way for new developments and schemes. It is hoped that, with help from researchers and the general public, Streets with a story will also continue to develop, like the streets of Islington themselves.
To build upon Eric’s original work and to continue to tell the story of Islington’s development, we invite people to submit information to be added to the text, facts both new and old that have yet to be recorded. Heritage staff will verify submitted data and, on a regular basis, an updated version will be published online.
So please send in your historical facts, figures, events and incidents for any Islington street, park and open space etc.. that you and others may find interesting or are important to that location, and help build an ongoing history of your borough – Islington and its streets and stories!
Send your Islington information to: email@example.com with the subject: Streets with a story
Special thanks to Oonagh Gay for her work preparing the digital edition.
Islington Local History Manager
Islington Heritage Service
(Revised September 2017)