A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 8, Islington and Stoke Newington Parishes. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1985.
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Islington was well provided with springs, which supplied water for London and Clerkenwell in the 15th century. A conduict in Cowlese, called conduit field in 1650, (fn. 96) north-east of Canonbury House, had supplied St. Bartholomew's hospital for some time by 1433 and in 1538 and 1544. (fn. 97) A conduit nearby in Highbury, probably the one in conduit field opposite no. 14 Highbury Place, fed a reservoir in St. Giles, Cripplegate, built in the early 15th century, and in 1546 springs between Islington and Hoxton supplied a conduit at St. Mary Lothbury. (fn. 98) From 1430 the London Charterhouse had a piped supply from the place in Barnsbury. (fn. 99) where the White Conduit House became a popular resort, (fn. 1) and its aqueduct was mentioned in 1545 and 1553. (fn. 2) Similar springs presumably served much of the parish until the 19th century: one near Upper Street supplied a cold bath used by Mr. Flower's school in 1810. (fn. 3)
The New River, passing through the most populous parts, was of great benefit to Islington's inhabitants, who were probably among those accused of cutting the banks to let out the water, contaminating it, and carrying it away. (fn. 4) Nude bathing was a continual problem in the 18th century and in 1804 police officers were called on to stop it, because of indecency rather than pollution. (fn. 5) In the mid 18th century only householders in the very southern end of the parish, around the Angel, had water piped by the New River Co., others having to buy water taken from the stream at 1/2d. a pail. Piped supplies seem to have been extended in the town by 1809, but Holloway, Canonbury, and beyond relied on a pump in the river at Hopping Lane, for which the owner paid 20s. a year to the company. (fn. 6) The company refused to pipe a supply to Holloway, and George Pocock, who had built several houses there, dug a 172-ft. well near George Place. An Act of 1810 formed a company for Pocock's Holloway waterworks and a steam engine was used to pump supplies. The New River Co. immediately laid pipes to Holloway and closed the Hopping Lane pump, but householders preferred Pocock's water. Eventually his undercapitalized waterworks was forced out of business and by 1823 houses in Holloway were connected to the New River Co.'s pipes. (fn. 7)
In 1846 a committee was appointed to look into ways of obtaining a constant water supply to improve sanitation in the poorer districts. (fn. 8) Several courts and alleys in the town were supplied for only a short period three times a week by standpipes shared by as many as 21 houses. (fn. 9) Since wells were expensive and uncertain, the New River Co. was approached to service tanks for pumps, in order that 53 of the worst streets and courts could receive additional cleansing. (fn. 10) By the 1880s a pumping station had been built in Hornsey Lane, with two engines and a covered reservoir, and another on the east side of Dartmouth Park Hill, with two covered reservoirs. (fn. 11) Water was turned on for only a few hours each day until 1889, when some parts of Islington received a continuous supply. (fn. 12)
Cholera in the 1840s led to organized attempts to improve sanitation in accord with the Metropolitan Commission of 1848-9, which was attempting to abolish cesspools. (fn. 13) Five district sanitary committees were set up in 1848, each with its own inspector who reported weekly on health hazards, nuisances, and roads. (fn. 14) In 1853 there were still areas with filthy privies, cesspool drainage, and no water supply. (fn. 15) The Metropolitan Commissioners of Sewers were undertaking a scheme which included Islington when they were superseded by the M.B.W. in 1856, (fn. 16) and the Caledonian Road sewer was completed that year. (fn. 17) Drainage in the northern part of the parish was improved by the Northern High Level sewer, completed in 1861, from Hampstead to the river Lea, replacing Hackney brook which the medical officer saw as a major nuisance. (fn. 18) Between 1855 and 1870 the M.B.W. constructed 9 miles of sewers in Islington as part of the general scheme for the metropolis, and a further 32 miles of sewers and 208 miles of pipe-drains were constructed privately under the vestry's supervision. Several open sewers were covered and outlet sewers constructed by the vestry; 20 urinals were also built. From 1856 parish drainage was the responsibility of three inspectors and a superintendent under the sanitary committee and medical officer of health. (fn. 19)
Under the Act of 1824 the parish trustees could contract out the cleansing of roads and sale of dust, (fn. 20) and tenders were sought, to let the dust for a year. (fn. 21) The contractor was criticized in 1865, when in many poor localities the dust was left for several weeks. (fn. 22) By the 1930s the borough had its own disposal works in Ashburton Grove, Hornsey Road, whence the refuse was taken away by rail. In 1937 the works was modernized; refuse from Stoke Newington was also handled there. (fn. 23)
Sixty street lamps were to be supplied and maintained at 3s. 4d. each a month in 1761 and were lit from Michaelmas to Lady Day in 1763. (fn. 24) The Local Act of 1772 empowered trustees to raise a lighting and watching rate and supervise the lamps and watchmen. (fn. 25) By the winter of 1811-12 there were 455 lamps maintained by a contractor. (fn. 26) In 1823 the lamp and watch committee arranged for part of the parish to be lit by the Imperial Gas Co., which had laid some pipes in Upper Street and Essex Road, c. 80 lamps being required to replace c. 170 oil lamps. In 1824 the Imperial Gas Co., agreed to light the rest of the parish, laying a main from the Back Road to the Crown at Holloway. The part of City Road that lay in the parish was lit by the Gas Light Co. of Brick Lane. (fn. 27) By 1870 there were 2,939 lamps, all lit by Imperial except for 12 in City Road lit by Chartered Gas Co. (fn. 28)
Islington vestry started its own electricity undertaking in 1894 with a generating station at Eden Grove, (fn. 29) which began the supply in 1896, (fn. 30) and new streets were to be lit with electricity instead of gas in 1906. (fn. 31) In 1936 offices and showrooms were built at the corner of Holloway and Camden roads, (fn. 32) which become London Electricity Board showrooms after nationalization.
The fire engine shed on the north side of the church porch was rebuilt in 1716. (fn. 33) In 1747 the two decayed fire engines were to be replaced by a large and a small one, with 40 feet of leather pipe. (fn. 34) The engineer received 40s. a year in 1717 (fn. 35) and John Ashley succeeded his father at the same salary in 1753. (fn. 36) The engine house was moved near the watch house, probably on Islington green in 1751 when the old church was demolished, and was rebuilt there in 1767. (fn. 37) In 1770 the vestry decided to sell the engines and buy a large new one. (fn. 38) There were two engines by 1821, when one was to be kept at Holloway. (fn. 39) In 1861 the parish paid £304 for fire engines, £400 to the Royal Society for the Protection of Life for fire-escape ladders, and £152 in rewards; payments were made out of the churchwardens' rate. (fn. 40)
Under the Metropolis Fire Brigade Act, 1865, the M.B.W. asked the parishes to maintain stations for four districts until the brigade could make permanent arrangements. Islington was the only parish that refused, (fn. 41) but may have agreed later. (fn. 42) The parish had temporary stations in 1866 at Florence Street, off Upper Street, and at Holloway Road. The first was replaced by a permanent station at Astey's Row, Essex Road, completed in 1868. (fn. 43) A station at Seven Sisters Road, Holloway, was opened in 1872 (fn. 44) and enlarged in 1882. (fn. 45) Behind it no. 84 Mayton Street was bought in 1899 to take more firemen. (fn. 46) and nos. 80 and 82 were bought in 1900. (fn. 47) The station was extended on the Mayton Street site in 1908. (fn. 48) In 1935 the Holloway station had 26 men. A new station was built next to Hornsey Road baths c. 1970. (fn. 49) A central station was opened in Upper Street in 1900, with accommodation for 19 firemen, two coachmen, and four horses, (fn. 50) and had 25 men in 1935. (fn. 51) It was extended on part of the site of the former Unity church after the Second World War. (fn. 52)
In 1887 the New River Co. provided 59 fire hydrants for Islington. (fn. 53) A substation in Blackstock Road opened in 1902. (fn. 54) In 1903 the L.C.C. purchased nos. 158-64 (even) Copenhagen Street for a substation, which had closed by 1927, and in 1905 nos. 45-51 (odd) Calverley Grove, Upper Holloway, for a similar purpose. (fn. 55)
A watch house, cage, and whipping post were to be set up in 1675, and permission was received from the justices in 1680. The beadle was allowed one watchman to assist him from July to September 1706, and after that the constables were to ask each inhabitant whether he would pay the rate for a watch, or to watch himself; the following month six men were appointed to watch each night until Lady Day. (fn. 56) A reward was instituted in 1739 for apprehending any of the footpads and highwaymen infesting the parish. (fn. 57) The justices ordered the rebuilding of the watch house, whipping post, stocks, and cage in 1763, and in 1767 a new watch house and cage were built on the site of the old. (fn. 58) The Local Act of 1772 enabled the trustees to use the rate for a watch and to appoint personnel. Two supervisors from sunset to midnight and two from midnight till 7 a.m. were to oversee the watchmen, inspect the lamps, and prevent civil nuisances. (fn. 59) Despite a regular watch, the Islington Reward Society was formed in 1781, meeting at the King's Head tavern, to encourage the apprehending of thieves. In 1830 the fund was in arrears and a further subscription was called for to wind up the society. (fn. 60)
The watch house which stood in the middle of Islington green was decayed again in 1797 and a new one was to be built at the corner of the green in 1798. (fn. 61) In 1828 the parish employed 14 officers to prevent nuisances and for other duties by day, including the salaried streetkeeper and his deputy, and the 6 constables and 6 headboroughs. At night there were a paid constable, 4 supervisors, and 160 watchmen operating in two shifts, besides 10 watchmen employed privately. Foot patrols covered c. 20 miles of the Parish roads at night, leaving c. 16 miles not covered; the cost of the parish's policing was c. £4,000 on average. (fn. 62) Islington came within the new metropolitan police area from 1829. (fn. 63) The police took over the old watch house in 1831, and leased premises in Bird's Buildings in 1853. A freehold site was bought in Upper Street in 1857 and the station there opened in 1864. (fn. 64) In 1863 the parish was divided between Finsbury, Islington, and Hampstead divisions. (fn. 65) In 1982 Islington had stations at nos. 277 Upper Street, 284 Hornsey Road, and 211 Blackstock Road, (fn. 66) the latter opened in 1910. Clerkenwell Country Court stood in Duncan Street by c. 1853. (fn. 67)
There were leper hospitals at Kingsland Green, founded in 1280, and at the foot of Highgate Hill, founded in 1473. (fn. 68)
In 1732 four apothecaries, one a woman, were to treat the poor for one year each, and from 1735-an agreement was made annually with an apothe-cary to treat the poor and attend the workhouse. (fn. 69) A house in the possession of Dr. Robert Poole from 1740 served as a smallpox hospital, which the parish tried to get removed in 1748, although it was still there in 1749. (fn. 70) The vestry arranged in 1772 that the smallpox hospital in Clerkenwell should admit their cases for 5 gn. a year. (fn. 71) The hospital moved to Battle Bridge in St. Pancras in 1793 and to a site between Dartmouth Park Hill and Highgate Hill in 1850. (fn. 72) In 1867 the hospital had about 100 beds and was supported mainly by voluntary contributions, being intended for paying patients but taking paupers if beds were available. Until the Metropolitan Asylums Board made provision from c. 1869 it was one of only two isolation hospitals in London, the other being the London Fever hospital in Liverpool Road. (fn. 73) Although the smallpox hospital was apparently not taken over directly by the board, (fn. 74) it was the board which sold it with its 9-a. site to the Islington guardians in 1896 as a new workhouse infirmary. (fn. 75) By 1920 five linked blocks had been added south of the original hospital. (fn. 76) By 1944 it had been taken over by the L.C.C. and formed the St. Mary, Islington, hospital in the Archway group, with 836 beds and more modern premises than the other two hospitals in the group. Those were Highgate, on the St. Pancras side of Dartmouth Park Hill, formerly St. Pancras infirmary, with 545 beds, and Archway, facing Archway Road, formerly Holborn workhouse infirmary, with 564 beds. (fn. 77) In 1977 the three formed the three wings of Whittington hospital under the North London Group Hospital Management Committee. (fn. 78) By 1980 new buildings on the St. Mary's site included a six-storeyed psychiatric wing. Whittington was principally an acute-case hospital with 804 beds, within the Camden and Islington Area Health Authority. (fn. 79)
The London Fever hospital, founded in 1802 beside the smallpox hospital at Battle Bridge, moved to Liverpool Road in 1850, despite much local opposition. (fn. 80) During 1850 it admitted 562 patients and had 49 at the end of the year. (fn. 81) It too depended on voluntary contributions and took mainly paying patients, having 182 beds in 1867. (fn. 82) The hospital was still a voluntary one in 1944 when it had 209 beds including 52 for pulmonary tuberculosis, mainly in old buildings with a new cubicle block. Its use as a fever hospital had declined with the increase in municipal facilities and from 1948 it was amalgamated with the Royal Free hospital, Holborn, as a general hospital. In 1973 it housed women's wards and a private wing. (fn. 83) In 1980 it was managed by the Camden and Islington Area Health Authority, and was the temporary headquarters of the area's Community Health Council. (fn. 84)
The old workhouse in Liverpool Road was taken over by the Metropolitan Asylums Board in 1871 as a temporary smallpox convalescent annexe to Hampstead isolation hospital, with 300 beds. A division was made in the building to seal it of from the part used for employment of outdoor poor. (fn. 85)
Islington dispensary was founded in 1821, and financed by subscriptions, dividends, and collections. In the 1850s the staff consisted of 3 physicians, 3 surgeons, a surgeon-dentist, and a paid resident medical officer. (fn. 86) Over 6,000 patients were treated in 1850-1. (fn. 87) The dispensary was in Upper Street near the parish church by 1886, when it was sold for road-widening, and it was rebuilt further back. (fn. 88) It was closed in 1946, and Islington Medical Centre (formerly Medical Mission) took over the building in 1949. (fn. 89)
A dispensary was opened in 1840 to serve Highbury and Upper and Lower Holloway. The staff in the 1850s were 2 consulting physicians, a consulting surgeon, 6 honorary local medical officers, and a paid resident medical officer and a dispenser. Besides the principal dispensary house in Francis Place, Lower Holloway, there were branches at Upper Holloway and Highbury Vale. In 1852-3 the dispensary treated 5,104 patients and was financed by subscriptions, collections, and dividends. A new dispensary house was about to be built c. 1854. (fn. 90) In 1886 it was in Palmer Place. (fn. 91)
The Royal Northern hospital was founded in 1856 as the Great Northern hospital at no. 11 York Road (later Way), facing the side of King's Cross station. (fn. 92) Sherard Freeman Statham established it at his own expense to provide medical attendance for the poor of north London for two hours each day and to receive as many as it could treat, regardless of preference or recommendations. Urgent cases would be taken at all hours. A maternal charity was established for married women at home. In the first six months 11,718 patients were treated, including 262 dental cases and 46 in-patients; there were 16,337 repeated attendances. Sometimes 300 people attended in one day, and patients included 1,800 children under two. The staff was expanded to 20 doctors, surgeons, and dentists in 1857, when the acquisition of nos. 9 and 10 York Road with adjoining yards and workshops increased the number of beds from 16 to 50. Financial difficulties at first often prevented full use of the beds; the medical staff gave support when donations were not adequate. In 1859-60 there were 19,000 new out-patients and 240 in-patients.
In 1862 the premises were bought by the Metropolitan Railway Co. and the hospital amalgamated with the Spinal hospital, no. 84 Portland Road, which became the orthopaedic department of the Great Northern, temporarily housing in-patients. Out-patients moved to no. 286 Pentonville Road, provided by the railway company, and in 1863 to no. 294. The lease of Pembroke Villa, Caledonian Road, at the corner of Twyford Street, was acquired and the in-patients moved there in 1864. Nos. 229, 231, and 233 Caledonian Road were bought in 1866, and by 1868 the hospital occupied the whole block between Stanmore and Twyford Streets, later the site of the public baths. Assistance came with some large legacies from 1865 and more donations, including regular contributions from the Midland, Great Northern, and Metropolitan Railway Cos., whose employees often received treatment. In 1883, having failed to buy the freehold to permit rebuilding, the hospital amalgamated with a committee whose projected central hospital for Highbury, Holloway, and Stoke Newington, on a different system combining free treatment with graduated payments, would duplicate the Great Northern's work.
The combined hospital was called the Great Northern Central and was a general and free hospital with pay wards. The committee bought the 1 1/4-a. Grove House site, Holloway Road, in 1884, and the first block, designed by Keith Young and Henry Hall, was opened in 1888 with 68 beds out of the 150 planned and out-patients' and administration units. Islington parish partially endowed one ward to commemorate the Golden Jubilee and thereafter the vicar, senior churchwarden, and vestry clerk sat on the management committee. In 1895 the hospital was officially recognized as a place of instruction for medical students. The Prince Albert Victor wing was opened, with 19 pay-beds fronting Holloway Road and a circular block of three wards for 65 patients; further wards in the block were opened 1898. In 1902 funds from the Stonefield charity estate were given to the hospital and a ward named Richard Cloudesley was set aside for the sick poor of Islington; the charity was also used to found a convalescent home at Clacton-on-Sea (Essex), opened in 1909. An electrical department was opened in 1908, and a separate X-ray department in 1918. The freehold of nos. 4 and 5 Manor Gardens was bought in 1917 for a new nurses' home, and adjacent property was acquired at about that time. A casuality department, funded by the Islington War Memorial Fund, and a nurses' home, designed by H. Percy Adams, were started in 1922. From 1921 the hospital was amalgamated with the Royal Chest hospital, City Road, whose in-patients had a special wing at Holloway until the chest hospital closed in 1954. A home of recovery in Hornsey Lane in 1918 was continued in Fortis Green Road from 1919 to 1921 when a permanent home was opened at Grovelands, Southgate. (fn. 93)
From 1921 the hospital was called the Royal Northern hospital. The Royal Northern Group consisted of 200 beds at Holloway, the Royal Chest hospital, Grovelands(60 beds), and Reckitt Convalescent Home (30 beds). The threestoreyed St. David's wing, designed by L. G. Pearson, was started in 1929, for patients of moderate means, especially residents of north London. The wing, on the Manor Gardens side, had 55 single and 5 double rooms; it was built with £57,000 from Sir Howell J. Williams, representative for South Islington on the L.C.C. and the hospital's greatest benefactor with gifts totalling over £158,000, and was to be selfsupporting. In 1944 there were 307 beds at Holloway, including 22 maternity, and 60 beds at Grovelands; 85 beds at the Royal Chest had been destroyed by bombing. (fn. 94) In 1948 the hospital ceased to be voluntary and became a state hospital in the North-West Metropolitan Region. On the closure of the Royal Chest hospital the South Islington chest clinic moved from there, together with the North Islington chest clinic from Holloway Road, to the Whittington hospital. Nos. 11 and 12 Highbury Crescent housed the nurses' preliminary training school from 1952. The Ingleby Arms, Tollington Way, became the occupational therapy department in 1955. More than 20 houses in Ingleby Road had been bought in the 1930s for nurses and most of the block between Tollington Way and Manor Gardens was bought for future development. In 1980 the hospital had 262 beds, including 23 private, and took mainly acute cases. (fn. 95)
Mildmay Memorial hospital originated as a small cottage hospital near Mildmay Road run by the nursing branch of the Mildmay Deaconess Institution, started 1866. It was replaced by the Tudor-style Memorial Cottage hospital, opened in 1883 in the centre of the Mildmay compound and provided by Lady Hay in memory of the Revd. William Pennefather and her son Duncan Hay. (fn. 96a) In 1944 it treated mainly private patients, with 26 children's and general beds and 21 pay beds, 12 of them added since 1938 for special cases. (fn. 97a) It had closed by 1980.
North Islington Infant Welfare Centre and School for Mothers, nos. 6-9 Manor Gardens, was founded in 1913 by some local women concerned at the very high infant mortality rate. (fn. 98a) It started in a Presbyterian mission hall, Elthorne Road, one afternoon a week with a voluntary doctor treating 12-15 mothers and babies, aiming to educate mothers in the correct care of their children. It leased no. 9 Manor Gardens in 1915 and started a scheme of home helps, taking over the adjoining house in 1916 and nos. 6 and 7 in 1918. It had 18 hospital beds for children and an out-patients' department in 1944, when amalgamation with the Royal Northern was suggested, (fn. 99a) but maintained its voluntary status in 1973 while also carrying out social work for the council. The centre was still active in 1981.
The City of London Maternity hospital moved its in-patients to no. 65 Hanley Road, Tollington Park, c. 1956, having agreed in 1947 to amalgamate with the gynaecological and obstetric departments of the Royal Northern. (fn. 1a) In 1980 it was a maternity hospital under the Camden and Islington Area Health Authority, with 86 beds. (fn. 2a)
Islington Medical mission met in Britannia Row in 1932, one of two missions run by Highbury Quadrant Congregational church, and provided basic medical attention for the poor. Its premises were destroyed in the Second World War and it moved to Islington chapel, Upper Street, for a few years. The committee decided to move to Clerkenwell, but the superintendent and some staff remained as Islington Medical Centre, moving in 1949 to the former Islington dispensary at no. 303 Upper Street next to the parish church. Both medical treatment under the National Health scheme and missionary work were carried out. In 1969 the centre moved to no. 28 Cross Street, returning to the renovated no. 303 Upper Street in 1971. (fn. 3a) In 1981 there were health centres, at Goodinge Road, Highbury Grange, and River Place, Essex Road. (fn. 4a)
Islington burial board, appointed under the Burial Act of 1852, (fn. 5a) in 1853 bought 30 a. of the land in East Finchley sold to St. Pancras burial board, sharing the cost of chapels and roads with St. Pancras. (fn. 6a) By 1867 there were 3,000 burials a year and in 1876 the cemetery was enlarged. (fn. 7a) A crematorium was added and in 1970 modernized. (fn. 8a) Trent Park cemetery at Cockfosters in Southgate, a lawn-type cemetery of 1.3 a., was consecrated in 1960. (fn. 9a)
Several lending libraries were provided by churches in the 19th century, besides those attached to the parochial schools and the Union chapel and Wesleyan Sunday schools. (fn. 10a) The library connected with St. Peter's district had 390 titles in 1849, comprising religious, natural history, travel, and children's books, and the subscription was 2d. a month. (fn. 11a) The Unitarian chapel, Highgate Hill, provided a free reading room and lending library open five nights a week, with some 7,000 volumes lent to 1,500 families of all classes, of whom only 11 were Unitarian; it also provided religious, ladies', and literary periodicals, in addition to the daily papers. (fn. 12a) The reading room was used as a temporary public library in 1904. (fn. 13a) Efforts were made from 1855 to adopt the Act to levy a rate for a library, but it was not until 1904 that the Public Library Acts were adopted. Andrew Carnegie offered to provide a central library and four branches, of which the North branch was the first to be opened, in 1906, on the site of nos. 14-19 Manor Gardens, Holloway. It was designed by Henry T. Hare who also won the competition for the Central library, part of which opened in 1907. The West branch, Lofting Road, Thornhill Square, designed by A. Beresford Pite, also opened in 1907. The reference section of the Central library opened in 1908. The South-East branch was built during the First World War, but was used as a recreation hall by the unemployed, who had to be evicted in 1920, and it was opened as a library only in 1921. In 1946 the first sub-branch was opened in two converted shops at Archway next to the Methodist central hall; it became a full branch library in 1947 and moved to the new shopping precinct near Archway station c. 1980. Lewis Carroll children's library, Copenhagen Street, was opened in 1952; Mildmay, nos. 19-23 Mildmay Park, in 1954; Arthur Simpson library, Hanley Road, Crouch Hill, in 1960; and the Dick Whittington junior library, Giesbach Road, Upper Holloway, in 1962, closing in 1982 when its services were transferred to the enlarged Archway library. The latest new library was the John Barnes, no.275 Camden Road, Holloway, in 1974. (fn. 14a)
Public baths were started in 1892 in Caledonian Road, on the site of the old Great Northern hospital. Baths in Hornsey Road on the site of Devonshire House (fn. 15a) were completed in 1895 with four swimming and 125 slipper baths, a laundry, and a washhouse. Part of the building was bombed in 1941 and part of the original main building was rebuilt, the whole being reopened in 1964. (fn. 16a) Caledonian Road had three swimming baths, one of which was used as a hall seating 800 in winter, besides slipper baths and washhouses. It was rebuilt on the same site after the Second World War. Tibberton Square, later Essex Road, baths, Greenman's Lane, were opened c. 1897. (fn. 17a) All three buildings were in use in 1982.
Copyhold known as Islington green was held of the manor of Canonbury by trustees for the parish from 1777 at 2s. 6d. a year. (fn. 18a) Rails around it were to be rebuilt and repainted in 1781. (fn. 19a) The green covered 1/2 a. in 1865, when it had been recently planted and furnished with seats. (fn. 20a) Islington's need for open spaces was recognized early: its inhabitants were among those who initiated the scheme to create Finsbury park, which the M.B.W. pursued from 1856, (fn. 21a) and Islington's medical officer in 1861 urged that the park was much needed for the health of the poor. (fn. 22a) The park, a small part of which lay in Islington, was opened in 1869. (fn. 23a) Islington also contributed towards the cost of Clissold park, in Stoke Newington, opened in 1889. (fn. 24a) Newington green, which lay in Islington, was fenced and laid out as a garden by the M.B.W. and transferred to Islington vestry to maintain in perpetuity. (fn. 25a) The M.B.W. bought the 25-a. Highbury Fields in 1885 for £60,000, of which Islington paid half, drained and levelled the ground, planted trees, and provided seats. (fn. 26a)
In 1906 Newington and Islington greens were among several open areas to be preserved under the London Squares and Enclosures Act. Other areas included Canonbury, Thornhill, and Edward's squares, and Thornhill Gardens and Crescent. (fn. 27a) Despite those and other pieces of land which gradually passed into municipal ownership, Islington's open space was still relatively meagre and the council incorporated more in its redevelopment schemes after the Second World War. The New River Walk was opened from St. Paul's Road to Astey's Row in 1954 (fn. 28a) and extended in the 1970s. By 1977 the council was responsible for 130 a. of open spaces and, as part of a 20-year plan, proposed to provide another 119 a. during rebuilding, particularly as play areas for children. (fn. 29a) Among the areas thus created are the large park on the north side of Copenhagen Street, Bingfield park with the Crumbles play castle, small areas beside the Regent's canal, Paradise park between Sheringham and Mackenzie roads which in 1981 included the Freightliner farm moved from the west side of York Way, Wray Crescent off Tollington Park, and parks formed between Cressida Road and St. John's Way on part of the former workhouse site and at Archway roundabout.