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Suburb · Islington · N1 ·
MAY
12
2019

Islington grew as a sprawling Middlesex village along the line of the Great North Road, and has provided the name of the modern borough.

Some roads on the edge of the area, including Essex Road, were known as streets by the medieval period, possibly indicating a Roman origin, but little physical evidence remains. What is known is that the Great North Road from Aldersgate came into use in the 14th century, connecting with a new turnpike up Highgate Hill. This was along the line of modern Upper Street, with a toll gate at The Angel defining the extent of the village. The Back Road - modern Liverpool Road - was primarily a drovers’ road where cattle would be rested before the final leg of their journey to Smithfield. Pens and sheds were erected along this road to accommodate the animals.

The first recorded church, St Mary’s, was erected in the twelfth century and was replaced in the fifteenth century. Islington lay on the estates of the Bishop of London and the Dean and Chapter of St Pauls. There were substantial medieval moated manor houses in the area, principally at Canonbury and Highbury. In 1548, there were 440 communicants listed and the rural atmosphere, with access to the City and Westminster, made it a popular residence for the rich and eminent. The local inns, however, harboured many fugitives and recusants.

In the 17th and 18th centuries the availability of water made Islington a good place for growing vegetables to feed London. The manor became a popular excursion destination for Londoners, attracted to the area by its rural feel. Many public houses were therefore built to serve the needs of both the excursionists and travellers on the turnpike. By 1716, there were 56 ale-house keepers in Upper Street, also offering pleasure and tea gardens, and activities such as archery, skittle alleys and bowling. By the 18th century, music and dancing were offered, together with billiards, firework displays and balloon ascents. The King’s Head Tavern, now a Victorian building with a theatre, has remained on the same site, opposite the parish church, since 1543. The founder of the theatre, Dan Crawford, who died in 2005, disagreed with the introduction of decimal coinage. For twenty-plus years after decimalisation (on 15 February 1971), the bar continued to show prices and charge for drinks in ’old money’.

By the 19th century many music halls and theatres were established around Islington Green. One such was Collins’ Music Hall, the remains of which are now partly incorporated into a bookshop. The remainder of the Hall has been redeveloped into a new theatre, with its entrance at the bottom of Essex Road. It stood on the site of the Landsdowne Tavern, where the landlord had built an entertainment room for customers who wanted to sing (and later for professional entertainers). It was founded in 1862 by Samuel Thomas Collins Vagg and by 1897 had become a 1800-seat theatre with 10 bars. The theatre suffered damage in a fire in 1958 and has not reopened.

The Islington Literary and Scientific Society was established in 1833 and first met in Mr Edgeworth’s Academy on Upper Street. Its goal was to spread knowledge through lectures, discussions, and experiments - politics and theology being forbidden. A building, the Literary and Scientific Institution, was erected in 1837 in Wellington (later Almeida) Street, designed by Roumieu and Gough in a stuccoed Grecian style. It included a library (containing 3,300 volumes in 1839), reading room, museum, laboratory, and lecture theatre seating 500.

The Royal Agricultural Hall was built in 1862 on the Liverpool Road site of William Dixon’s Cattle Layers. It was built for the annual Smithfield Show in December of that year but was popular for other purposes, including recitals and the Royal Tournament. It was the primary exhibition site for London until the 20th century and the largest building of its kind, holding up to 50,000 people. It was requisitioned for use by the Mount Pleasant sorting office during World War II and never re-opened. The main hall has now been incorporated into the Business Design Centre.

The aerial bombing of World War II caused much damage to Islington’s housing stock, with 3,200 dwellings destroyed. Before the war a number of 1930s council housing blocks had been added to the stock. After the war, partly as a result of bomb site redevelopment, the council housing boom got into its stride, reaching its peak in the 1960s: several extensive estates were constructed, by both the Metropolitan Borough of Islington and the London County Council. Clearance of the worst terraced housing was undertaken, but Islington continued to be very densely populated, with a high level of overcrowding. The district has many council blocks, and the local authority has begun to replace some of them.

From the 1960s, the remaining Georgian terraces were rediscovered by middle-class families. Many of the houses were rehabilitated, and the area became newly fashionable. This displacement of the poor by the aspirational has become known as gentrification. Among the new residents were a number of figures who became central in the New Labour movement, including Tony Blair before his victory in the 1997 general election. According to The Guardian in 2006, "Islington is widely regarded as the spiritual home of Britain’s left-wing intelligentsia." The Granita Pact between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair is said to have been made at a now defunct restaurant on Upper Street.

The completion of the Victoria line and redevelopment of Angel tube station created the conditions for developers to renovate many of the early Victorian and Georgian townhouses. They also built new developments. Islington remains a district with diverse inhabitants, with its private houses and apartments not far from social housing in immediately neighbouring wards such as Finsbury and Clerkenwell to the south, Bloomsbury and King’s Cross to the west, and Highbury to the north west, and also the Hackney districts of De Beauvoir and Old Street to the north east.


Main source: Search | British History Online
Further citations and sources



The exterior of the Agricultural Hall in Islington (1861).

The exterior of the Agricultural Hall in Islington (1861).
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NEARBY LOCATIONS OF NOTE
Islington Islington grew as a sprawling Middlesex village along the line of the Great North Road, and has provided the name of the modern borough.
White Conduit Fields White Conduit Fields in Islington was an early venue for cricket and several major matches are known to have been played there in the 18th century.

THE STREETS OF ISLINGTON
Allingham Mews, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Anderson Square, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Barnston Walk, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Boreas Walk, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Camden Passage, N1 Camden Passage is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Chapel Market, N1 Chapel Market is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Chapel Place, N1 Chapel Place is a road in the N1 postcode area
Charlton Place, N1 Charlton Place is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
City Garden Row, N1 City Garden Row is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Collins Yard, N1 Collins Yard is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Copenhagen Tunnel, N7 Copenhagen Tunnel is a road in the N7 postcode area
Copford Walk, N1 Copford Walk is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Cruden Street, N1 Cruden Street is a road in the N1 postcode area
Dagmar Terrace, N1 Dagmar Terrace is a road in the N1 postcode area
Danbury Road, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Devonia Road, N1 Devonia Road is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Dewey Road, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Draper Place, N1 Draper Place is a road in the N1 postcode area
Duncan Terrace, N1 Duncan Terrace is named after Admiral Duncan the commander of the Naval Fleet at the Battle of Camperdown against the Dutch in 1797.
Eckford Street, N1 Eckford Street is a road in the N1 postcode area
Elder Walk, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Elia Street, N1 Elia Street was named for local poet, Charles Lamb.
Georgian Village Camden Passage, N1 Georgian Village Camden Passage is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Gerrard Road, N1 Gerrard Road is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Gerrards Road, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Godson Street, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Graham Street, N1 Graham Street is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Grantbridge Street, N1 Grantbridge Street is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Grantsbridge Street, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Imber Street, N1 Imber Street is a road in the N1 postcode area
Islington Green, N1 Islington Green is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Maryland Walk, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Nelson Place, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Peabody Square, N1 Peabody Square is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Peldon Walk, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Pied Bull Yd, N1 This is a street in the N1 postcode area
Pierrepoint Arcade, N1 Pierrepoint Arcade is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Pierrepont Arcade, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Popham Road, N1 Popham Road is a street in London
Popham Street, N1 Popham Street is a road in the N1 postcode area
Queens Head Street, N1 Queens Head Street is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Quick Street Mews, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Raleigh Street, N1 Raleigh Street is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Rheidol Terrace, N1 Rheidol Terrace is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Ridgewell Close, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Risinghill Street, N1 Risinghill Street is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
River Place Health Centre, N1 River Place Health Centre is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
River Place, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Rocliffe Street, N1 Rocliffe Street is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Rosemary Street, N1 Rosemary Street is a road in the N1 postcode area
Saint Peter’s Street, N1 This is a street in the N1 postcode area
Spellbrook Walk, N1 Spellbrook Walk is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
St. Peter’s Street, N1 St. Peter’s Street is a road in the N1 postcode area
Steeple Walk, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Sudeley Street, N1 Sudeley Street is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Theseus Walk, N1 Theseus Walk is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Tibberton Square, N1 A street within the N1 postcode
Tolpuddle Street, N1 Tolpuddle Street is one of the streets of London in the N1 postal area.
Wilton Square, N1 This is a street in the N1 postcode area




LOCAL PHOTOS
24 Cloth Fair (1890)
TUM image id: 2357
Fore Street (1890)
TUM image id: 2358
Doughty Street, WC1N
TUM image id: 1443044786
Highbury New Park (1910)
TUM image id: 1466548663
Risinghill Street, N1
TUM image id: 1467032267
Highbury Corner
TUM image id: 1489497654
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