Day 24 – Shoreditch – Hoxton Square – Kingsland Road

For this latest outing we move from one extreme to another both geographically and culturally; from Mayfair with its embassies and swanky hotels in the south-west to the Shoreditch/Hackney gentrification frontline in the north east. Today’s walk is another meandering affair covering a broad but narrow stretch of territory demarcated by City Road, Old Street, Hackney Road and the northern perimeter of our designated target area. Distinct lack of blue plaques to distract us on this occasion you may be relieved to hear.

Day 24 Route

Starting point for today is the southern end of City Road from where we head up Westland Place past Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant and into Nile Street. A quick circuit of Underwood Street, Underwood Row, Britannia Walk and Ebenezer Street gets us back to City Road without troubling the photographer. At the junction with Provost Street there is another phase of the new developments we looked at last time we were around this area.

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Provost Street splits into itself and Vestry Street with those two forks joined by a bit more of Nile Street that has offshoots in Custance Street and Allerton Street which must be among the most truncated thoroughfares in the capital. Continue further north on East Road just beyond the boundary of the prescribed target area where the Hackney estates dominate.

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Get back on piste via New North Road which takes us as far as the splendid St John the Baptist Church, Hoxton. The church was built in 1826 but the impressive painted ceiling was created in the early 20th century by the architect Joseph Arthur Reeve. The parish  has had continuous patronage from the Worshipful Company of Haberdashers (another of the City of London’s twelve Great Livery Companies. The stained glass window shown in the selection below is one of my favourites so far on these travels and was installed in commemoration of George Purves Pownall who was the first dean of Perth Cathedral (the one in Australia) before becoming vicar of this parish after returning to England.

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From the church we head west again along Bevenden Street back to East Road and then double back along Haberdasher Street, named in honour of merchant and City of London Alderman Robert Aske (1619 – 1689) a prominent member of the aforementioned Livery Company. And turning right onto Pitfield Street takes us down to another memorial to the 17th century local benefactor in Aske Gardens. The gardens are bounded to the north by Buttesland Street, the south by Chart Street and west by Hoffman Square. The latter was built as almshouses by the WC of H in 1825-27, designed in a proud Greek Revival style by D R Roper. The building has undergone several enlargements and modifications since and for a century or so it functioned as a furniture design college. (I think we all know what’s coming next don’t we). In the late nineties the Grade II listed building was converted into a gated apartment development.

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Across the road on Pitfield Street stands one of the free libraries created by the journalist, newspaper owner and philanthropist John Passmore Edwards (1823 – 1911). The building is now home to the Courtyard Theatre.

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Westward again on Chart Street back to East Road then south to where this merges into City Road and there’s further stark evidence of the changing nature of the area with one of those luxury blocks dwarfing Moorfields Eye Hospital in the background.

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Turn off down Cranwood Street then hook a right into Vince Street (got to write a script about a failed 1956’s pop star so I can nick that name). Not entirely sure what this is but it appears to be London’s smallest tower block.

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Back on Old Street now and a right turn takes us down to the tube station and the so-called Silicon Roundabout, the centre of which, it has to be said, is a right old tip.

Across the other side of City Road, as we head back up it, is the Imperial Hall (see left hand picture above). This was originally the home of the Leysian Mission which moved  here in 1904, having been founded in 1886 by the Methodist Church as a welfare centre for the East End poor (one of around a hundred in industrial cities around the country).  Four years earlier the building next door was built to the order of tea magnate and philanthropist, Thomas Lipton  (1848 – 1931) and opened as the Alexandra Hall Dining Trust which provided affordable hot meals to the poor. Spread over three floors, some 100 waitresses could serve up to 12,000 meals per day. This building is unused today. The Leysian Mission wound itself up in 1989 and its building, which had been granted Grade-II listed status two years earlier, was (surprise, surprise) converted into loft apartments and retail units in 1998 (and renamed Imperial Hall).

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Turn right in to Brunswick Place then fork left into Corsham Street and hang right down Bache’s Street to get to Charles Square. This small square was completed in the 1770’s and unfortunately only one of the original Georgian houses has survived, no.16, which is sadly hemmed in by some particularly unlovely 1950’s flats.

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Leave the square via the south side in order to return to Old Street with the first example of the graffiti that is going to become something of a signature of this post and the next.

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Move northward again on Pitfield Street passing another of those distinctive green-tiled Truman’s pubs that is being put out to pasture – by the look of it.

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Ashford Street on the right just heads into the estate of the same name so that’s a quick shuffle back and forth and we then turn right proper down Fanshaw Street. Bi-secting Aske Street (him again) this emerges into Hoxton Street. Turning southward the view brings the proximity to the City of London into sharp relief.

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Route into Hoxton Square is via Mundy Street with some graffiti of a more intricate persuasion en route.

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Hoxton Square is one of London’s earliest garden squares, details of which can be traced back to 1709. From the 1990’s onwards it was the epicentre of an eastward shift in London’s arts, media and clubbing scene but in the last few years it has lost most of its edge. The White Cube gallery decamped in 2012 and the hipster fraternity has largely moved on. St Monica’s Roman Catholic Church has occupied no.19 on the north side of the square since 1866. Major restoration work has only recently been completed.

After a quick up and down Rufus Street on the south side we leave the square via the north-west corner along Bowling Green Walk. After a brief revisit of Pitfield Street return towards the square along Coronet Street. Here we find the former Shoreditch Electric Light Station, an electricity generating station established in 1896. These days it’s the National Centre for Circus Arts.

Coronet Street forms the northern edge of Hoxton Market. At no.13 Hoxton Market (aka Shaftesbury House) is a plaque commemorating its original incarnation as a Victorian Christian Mission. Nowadays this former life is echoed in the name of the restaurant/bar which currently occupies the premises – Meatmission.

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Boot Street runs the southern end of Hoxton Market and this joins up with Coronet Street again to the east. This is the home of the Standpoint Gallery (one of the few that haven’t been priced out of this area). You have until 04/06/2016 to catch the current show, Megan Broadmeadow’s A Corruption of Mass.

(Did you spot the extremely subtle selfie of the day).

Follow Old Street round to Hoxton Street again where there is this increasingly rare reminder of the old East End.

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Turn right down Drysdale Street  and stop at today’s Café of the Day (like to ring the changes occasionally), the highly recommended Enjoy Café where I did just that in relation to a massive plate of grilled chicken, chips and salad for a measly £5.50.

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Drysdale Street runs straight across to Kingsland Road where we head north as far as Cremer Street then turn briefly eastward before veering south down Nazrul Street. I am going to take a punt and say this is named after the Bengali poet, writer, musician and revolutionary Kazi Nazrul Ismal (1899 – 1976). This enclave that we’re entering now, between Kingsland Road and Hackney Road, and intersecting by the mainline railway is one of the few semi-derelict areas encountered on my travels and none the worse for it. Nor surprisingly it is also home to a collection of quite vibrant graffiti. So before we get out onto the Hackney Road we navigate through Union Walk, Waterston Street, Long Street, Gorsuch Street and Gorsuch Place.

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There’s just the very north-eastern apex of our designated area to go now which involves crossing over Hackney Road to Diss Street then heading south down Pelter Street past Strouts Place as far as Columbia Road.

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It then only remains to return to the junction of Hackney Road and Kingsland Road which is the site of the original Shoreditch Railway Station that was a stop on the old North London Railway from 1865 to 1940. It is now a coffee-shop cum wine and whiskey bar alongside pop-up retail space and you can’t get any more Shoreditch than that in the 21st century.

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Though not every drinking and dining concept  manages to thrive here…

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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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