Day 22 (Part 1) – Finsbury – City Road – Old Street

Back out in the relative wilds today so managed to fit in two separate sections. Before we get into the first of those however here’s an update on the total area covered so far (including today’s double-header).

Route so far April 2016

First up today was the triangular area bounded by Goswell Road, City Road and Old Street, which is basically the Finsbury district of the Borough of Islington. It’s an area with a high concentration of social housing though the most northerly section is now succumbing to luxuryflatitis. Won’t be coming across any blue plaques today – anecdotally the most famous residents of this part of town appear to have been Arthur Mullard and the mother of the Kray twins.

Day 22 Route 1

So we kick off from the Angel tube station and head down City Road. After a hundred yards or so turn right into Wakley Street and then from Goswell Road return to City Road via Hall Street. From here you get one of the clearest impressions of the contrast between the shiny new private developments and the old public housing estates. To the rear on the right is Kestrel House – one of several blocks named after birds of prey.

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Turn right again down Pickard Street then do a circuit of Moreland Street. Here there is one of several graffiti’ed memoria to trainee plasterer Darren Neville who suffered a cardiac arrest while in police custody in 2015. I suspect that the other piece of graffiti which reads “We must learn to live beside each other as brothers or we will perish together as fools” is unrelated.

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Take a detour down Mason’s Place, which has a charm of sorts, to return again to City Road.

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Cross the road to get to City Road Basin which forms part of the Regent’s Canal and is the site of a huge luxury housing development scheduled to come on stream (so to speak) in the summer of 2016.

Next we make a brief foray north of City Road. First up is Wharf Road which is home to the adjacent art galleries, Parasol Unit and Victoria Miro both of which are between shows at the moment but are always worth checking out when open.

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From here we head east along Micawber Street then duck in and out of City Road via Thorseby Street, Windsor Terrace, Wellesley Terrace and finally Shepherdess Walk (which less poetically is also known as the B144). At the end of this latter, just next door to Shoreditch Police Station, is the Eagle public house; almost certainly the only pub to be mentioned in a nursery rhyme as in :

Up and down the City Road / In and out The Eagle / That’s the way the money goes / Pop ! Goes the Weasel

which was a verse added in 1856 for a variety performance at the Theatre Royal.

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Cross over to the Finsbury side again and taking a route via Dingley Place, Dingley Road, Macclesfield Street, President Street and Central Street arrive at Kings Square. This is the site of St Clement’s Church, completed in 1824 and now Grade II listed. Unlike most churches closer to the centre this isn’t accessible to the casual visitor.

 

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From here Lever Street returns to Goswell Road. This actually has a curry house called Ruby Murray – after the Northern Irish singer of the 1950’s who is now far better known as an example of nouveau cockney rhyming slang than for her recorded output which included seven UK top ten hits in 1955.

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Criss-cross between Goswell Road and Central Street using Seward Street, Pear Tree Street, Bastwick Street, Ludlow Street and Gee Street. The last of these borders the Stafford Cripps Estate built in the early 1950’s and named after Sir Richard Stafford Cripps (1889 – 1952), the Labour politician who was ambassador to the Soviet Union during WW2 and subsequently served in Clement Attlee’s immediate post-war government. The estate was also used as the location for a “bomb explosion” in a December 2015 episode of Luther.

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On to Old Street now which has been an important route out of the city since as far back as the 12th century. Even then it was known as Ealdestrate which morphed into Eldestrete before evolving into Oldestrete in the 1373 records.

Moving east we turn north again on Central Street and then take Mitchell Street to get to Helmet Row, at the southern end of which lies St Luke’s Church. Originally built in 1773 and partly designed by our old friend, Nicholas Hawksmoor, this Grade I listed building is now home to the London Symphony Orchestra’s community and music education  programmes.

The tomb shown in the picture above is dedicated to Thomas Hanbey, a Liveryman of the Ironmongers’ Company and a freeman of the Company of Cutlers (in Yorkshire). This was paid for by his wife Mary and replaced the original tomb sited there in commemoration of the Caslon family. Since she was a Caslon herself by birth there’s obviously a story behind this but her will remains stubbornly silent as to her precise motive.

Doubling back up Helmet Row we pass St Luke’s Garden (see bottom right above) to get to Norman Street. On the corner here stands the Ironmonger Row Baths, built in 1931 as a public wash house and later upgraded to a Turkish Bath. After a major (£17m) refurbishment the baths reopened in 2012 as a state-of-the-art leisure centre and spa but including a restoration of the original Turkish Baths.

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Next we head north on Ironmonger Row itself as far as Lever Street again. Then cut through Hull Street to get to Dingley Road where there is still an opportunity to see this advertisement for Black Cat Cigarettes before the adjacent development obscures it. The brand was introduced in 1904 by Carreras Ltd whose Camden factory we encountered back in the Day 2 post.

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Via Dingley Place back to Lever Street and on the corner with Mora Street another pub has fallen victim to residential redevelopment.

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There’s also evidence here of the impact of Storm Katie which passed through a few days ago. And yet another one of those damn pigeon photos.

Now we’re back yet again on City Road emerging by Moorfields Eye Hospital. Originally founded in 1805 as the London Dispensary for curing diseases of the Eye and Ear, the hospital moved to this site in 1899. It is the oldest and largest centre for ophthalmic treatment, teaching and research in Europe.

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That’s really the end of the sightseeing for today so it just remains to fill in the missing spaces which entails the sequential perambulation of Bath Street, Cayton Street, Baldwin Street, Peerless Street, Galway Street, Radnor Street and Bath Street again before briefly revisiting Old Street.

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And then finishing off with St Lukes Close, Mitchell Street, Bartholomew Square and Lizard Street to close the loop.

After tha I leg it back to Goswell Road for lunch at today’s pub of the day, The Old Ivy House. Another Shepherd Neame establishment where I enjoy a substantial Greek salad and a large glass of Pinot for a tenner.

Then it’s just a question of waiting for the bus to take me down to Holborn….

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