Islington

The Borough of Islington was formed in 1965 by amalgamating the two metropolitan boroughs of Islington and Finsbury. It is one of the inner London boroughs and borders Camden, Haringey, Hackney and the City of London.

Population change

1966: 255,150 people
1998: 176,800 people

Islington began to build up as a residential suburb in the 18th century. Speculative builders laid out squares and estates of villas and terrace houses in what was then an area of green fields. Industry became more prominent in the 19th century when large brewing and printing concerns arrived, along with better roads, new rail links and the Grand Union Canal. By 1900, Finsbury had become one of London's most overcrowded and unhealthy areas, although Islington retained a more salubrious atmosphere.

In the first half of the 20th century, Finsbury was a particularly innovative metropolitan borough in its housing provision. It built several showpiece estates of modernist flats, the Spa Green estate designed by Berthold Lubetkin being the best example. Finsbury also built a pioneering heath centre in the 1930s.

During the 1960s, Islington was one of the first inner London boroughs to be affected by gentrification. Middle-class families began to buy up the crumbling Georgian terraces and the trend continued until the end of the century when the borough's house prices were amongst the highest in the capital.

Islington is the home of Arsenal football ground. The 'Gunners' first came to the stadium known as Highbury from Woolwich in 1913. Workers at the Woolwich Arsenal Armaments Factory had formed the club, and they played under the name Dial Square (part of the factory complex). The team decided that its location discouraged spectators and decided to move. The name was changed to Woolwich Arsenal and 'Woolwich' was dropped after the team moved to Highbury.

In the 18th century Islington was famous for its spas, which could be visited for their health-giving properties. Only one name has remained famous -- Sadlers Wells. The theatre that now stands on the site was built in 1931 and was specially deigned for the staging of opera and ballet.

Another well-known landmark is Whittington Stone on Highgate Hill. It stands on the spot that Dick Whittington is said to have heard the Bow Bells peeling across London and felt that they were calling him to be mayor. He was Lord Mayor of London three times. In the 1960s, a sculpture of Whittington's black cat by Jonathon Kenworthy was added to the stone.

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