ISLINGTON – ABOUT THE AREA
Islington can give you the best of both worlds – Upper Street and the Angel offering a bustling and vibrant high street packed with restaurants and shops and just a few streets away a gentler, very calm place to live in green leafy squares flanked by beautifully proportioned Georgian Houses. The borough appeals to a wide range of people from professional singles to families and has an abundance of accommodation from period properties to some superb new developments such as the Wenlock Building overlooking the canal and Queensland Terrace offering spacious, modern apartments. Visit Camden Passage with its independent shops selling everything from fresh fish to cheeses, vintage clothes to antique and curios as well as a variety of eating places. Take a walk down by the canal and admire the houseboats moored by the bank and on Sundays visit the thriving farmers market not far from Angel tube. It’s a great place for young singles to live with easy access to the City and West End – Shoreditch is nearby if you want to enjoy an edgy night out. But it’s also perfect if you are looking for a settled, long term home to raise a family where there are good schools nearby, lots of clubs and societies with activities going on plus theatres, the cinema and arts venues. Although an inner London borough, green spaces abound from the lovely garden squares to parks such a Highbury Fields in the north of the borough with sports facilities and Gillespie Park that has an ecology centre and nature reserve. Islington has a real feel of community which has been lost in so many areas of London that makes it a favourite for both people seeking a short term stay and those who are keen to put down roots for years to come.
ISLINGTON – TRANSPORT LINKS
Underground and Train Links: The Northern Line runs through Islington via Angel and Archway stations giving speedy access to Kings Cross / St Pancras where you can pick up trains to the north of England and the Eurostar service. Angel to Bank is just a five minute journey. Highbury and Islington is on the Victoria Line – from there to Oxford Circus takes seven minutes and you can catch the Piccadilly Line in the north of the borough at Arsenal station. There are several Overground stations dotted around Islington with trains that connect to Clapham Junction, New Cross, Canada Water, Shoreditch and Stratford. http://content.tfl.gov.uk/standard-tube-map.pdf
Buses: Islington is extremely well connected with 14 bus routes passing through the Angel that will take you to Waterloo, London Bridge, Marble Arch, Paddington, Moorgate and Victoria. There is also a good night bus service. http://content.tfl.gov.uk/bus-route-maps/islington-angel-160615.pdf
Cycle: If you prefer to cycle there are several Boris Bike docking stations in the vicinity of Angel, from here cycling gives you quick and easy access to the City and West End. https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles
ISLINGTON – MARKETS AND SHOPS
Supermarkets and Shops: Because it’s so highly residential Islington is blessed with a good selection of supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose, Iceland and M&S to be found on Liverpool Road, Essex Road and around the Angel and there is also Angel Central Shopping Centre with many of the high street chains such as Accessorize, Monsoon, H&M and Argos. But the nicest thing about shopping in Islington is the number of one off, specialist retailers that sell all manner of things from top quality fresh fish, a huge variety of cheeses (both to be found in Camden Passage) to a shop called Brora selling lovely cashmere items, plus trendy boutiques catering for vintage and up to the minute fashion lovers, fabulous interior design and lifestyle emporiums and for those who like handicrafts a shop called Loop at the Angel has a wonderful selection of rainbow coloured wools.
Chapel Market: Located at the Angel, it is a traditional street market operating from Tuesday to Sunday selling a wide variety of goods including fruit and veg, meat and fish, flowers and plants, stationery, cards, travel goods, handbags and much, much more.
Whitecross Street and Exmouth Market: These are both lunch time markets catering mostly for people working in the area who want to grab a bite to eat and be on their way. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to what to pick – they appeal to foodies who like to try cuisines from all parts of the globe.
Camden Passage: Already mentioned several times in this piece on Islington! It’s a delightful place to visit time and time and again with its antique shops and stalls, one off independent outlets and an abundance of eating places. It’s always worth a leisurely stroll along Camden Passage.
Islington Farmers’ Market: This was the first ever farmers’ market to be opened in London and therefore the most established. Islington Farmers’ Market operates on a Sunday at the Penton Street end of Chapel Market and is open between 10.00am and 2.00pm.
ISLINGTON – GOING OUT, PLACES OF INTEREST, RESTAURANTS and THINGS TO DO
Theatres: These include Sadler’s Wells where you can enjoy the very best of international and UK dance including tango, tap, ballet, Bollywood and much, much more. The 325 seat Almeida theatre puts on productions such as George Orwell’s 1984, Hamlet, Boy by Leo Butler and Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya; the Little Angel Theatre that, for the past 50 years, has been devoted to keeping puppetry alive, and then there is the famous Kings Head on Upper Street which, in 1970, was the first theatre pub to be founded since Shakespearean times. Islington has other venues too which can be found with the already mentioned venues on a link listed at the foot of this article.
Cinema: There is a multi-screen Vue cinema at the Angel and the very popular Everyman Screen on the Green in Upper Street. The Everyman is a single screen cinema with comfortable seats, a bar, very good snacks and it gets excellent reviews.
Business Design Centre: With 6000 square metres of floor space and room for conferences for up to 2000 delegates the Islington Design Centre is one of London’s major venues where they host events such as the Aviation Festival where airline CEOs from all over the world will be able to come together; London Edge -a B2B fashion exposition, a toy soldier exhibition, recruitment fairs and the Country Living Christmas Fair.
Culpeper Community Garden: If you are green fingered and like to be outdoors you could join the Culpeper Community Garden Group – they look after a green space in the heart of Islington which gives pleasure to many Islington residents. The garden has a lawn, ponds, a rose pergola, vegetable plot and wildlife area – over the years it has won awards and been highly commended.
Restaurants: You really are spoilt for choice in Islington and can choose anything from fast food to more formal dining and enjoy cuisines from all over the world. Here are a few suggestions: there’s the Almeida, just across the road from the theatre of the same name – it features in the Telegraph’s list of the best 150 restaurants in London, their head chef is Tommy Boland (previously head chef at Tom Aikens). You could try Smokehouse on Canonbury Road where they do what the name implies and smoke their own meat, or the Pig and Butcher where they do a cracking Sunday roast. Both of these restaurants are part of the same, family run chain of five establishments where they concentrate on top quality ingredients with known provenance and they also do all their own butchery. Ottolenghi is on Upper Street where you can eat delicious Mediterranean inspired food or buy a feast to take home from the deli. If you want to have fun don your sombrero and head for Desperados on Upper Street where they serve great Mexican food and are happy for you to let your hair down and party.
Drinks: If you are a fan of cocktails you must go to 69 Colebrooke Row where they are the masters of mixed drinks or ……………………………………………………
Sports and Leisure: Highbury Pool and Gym: two pools and a gym where there are numerous exercise classes, they also have facilities for disabled swimmers. Finsbury Leisure Centre has football and squash courts as well as six multi-sport courts, exercise studios and activity rooms, Islington Tennis Centre has six indoor courts, two outdoor courts, exercise facilities and a sauna and steam room suite. A website link with a list of sports and leisure facilities in Islington can be found at the foot of this article.
SCHOOLS AND COLLEGES
Islington has a good selection of schools from nursery through to 6th form colleges plus two university campuses. There are several private schools in nearby Hampstead and Highbury. Links to websites with information on schools and universities in Islington can be found at the foot of the page.
AND FINALLY, DID YOU KNOW ... Arsenal football club has been in Islington for over a 100 years, first at their Highbury ground which was previously a training college for non-conformist priests and now at the Emirates stadium.
Islington was the very first London borough to receive fresh water via a forty mile canal from Hertfordshire to the New River Head reservoir in Amwell Street in Clerkenwell.
It was in Islington (either at the Pied Bull on Upper Street or the Old Queen’s Head on Essex Road) that Sir Walter Raleigh was drenched by his servant who threw a tankard of ale over him when, seeing smoke coming from his mouth, he thought he was on fire. Sir Walter was using ‘Virginia Weed’ or as we know it, tobacco, which he’d brought back from the New World.
On the Almeida Post Office site a gruesome method of avoiding paying wages was common. In January 1876, the bodies of eight former employees were discovered in a pit under the Collinwood’s steam saw. They had been beheaded on the power saw when their contracts had ended!
FOR INFORMATON ON ISLINGTON CLICK ON THIS LINK