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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east of High Street and Essex Road, in the 17th century was open land: in the northern part large freehold fields, and in the southern mainly copyhold land of tenements which lined High Street and Lower Street, as the part of Essex Road between Islington green and Cross Street was then known. (fn. 22) Frog Lane crossed the southern part from the boundary with St. Luke's to join the continuation of Lower Street north of the town, known as Lower Road, and, as the town grew, lanes and footpaths were made from Lower Street to Frog Lane. In 1735 they were River or Water Lane (later St. Peter's Street), also mentioned in 1717, (fn. 23) Boons, Almshouse, or Queen's Head Lane, Elder Walk, and Gunter's, Curriers, or Greenman's Lane. (fn. 24) Midway along the north side of Queen's Head Lane stood ten almshouses of the Clothworkers' Company of London, built c. 1658 with funds from John Heath (d. 1641). (fn. 25) Away from the town, the only building known to have existed in the early 18th century was the Rosemary Branch inn, at the parish boundary by 1716. (fn. 26)
In the early 18th century a pair of two-storeyed cottages (later nos. 56-7 Colebrooke Row) with attics and linked doorways was built on the south side of the New River near River Lane, probably c. 1717 when the site with the surrounding Hattersfield (fn. 27) was sold to Walter Burton, who built a brewhouse and brick kilns there. Another pair (later nos. 58-9 and much altered), possibly of the same date, stood at right angles facing south. Bricks and tiles were made there in the 1730s and the field became known as Tile kiln field. (fn. 28) In 1725 there were three inns in Frog Lane: the Chequer, Flower Pot, and Fox and Cub. (fn. 29) Frog Hall, an inn recorded in 1735 and 1746 which had a sign of a plough drawn by frogs, (fn. 30) was not licensed by that name, which may have been a local nickname. In 1765 the inns in the Lane were the Rose, Barley Mow, Plough, and Angel (the last possibly the Angler). (fn. 31) A few other buildings stood near Frog Lane in 1735, in the lanes off Lower Street. Greenman's Lane had buildings at the Lower Street end, and others stood at the east end of Elder Walk and near the almshouses in Queen's Head Lane. (fn. 32) The Rosemary Branch inn seems to have closed between 1730 and 1751, and a white lead factory with two large windmills occupied the site by 1786, but a new Rosemary Branch was also built there in 1783. (fn. 33)
Domestic building increased from the 1760s. Bird's Buildings (later nos. 60-5 Colebrooke Row) were built on the north side of River Lane in 1767, and the houses originally called Colebrooke Row were said to have been built in 1768, becoming nos. 55 to 41, although nos. 54-5, much altered, may have been older. They are three-storeyed with attics, and had pedimented Doric doorcases; three were given an extra storey. Nos. 40 to 37 (later demolished) may have been built at the same time or c. 1775 with nos. 36 to 34, and the row ended on the south where the junction with the later Gerrard Road lies. (fn. 34) The last house at the southern end, then no. 1 Colebrooke Row, was originally the Colebrooke Arms but became a girls' and by 1828 a boys' school. A white plaster house behind the row was occupied for some years by William Woodfall (1746-1803), parliamentary reporter. At the north end of the row one of the houses facing south was the Revd. John Rule's school in the 1760s and 1770s and next to it were the Castle inn and tea-gardens. (fn. 35) The land on the east side of Colebrooke Row was let to William and James Watson as a nursery garden in 1770. (fn. 36)
In 1770 the Clothworkers' Company built eight almshouses on the south side of Frog Lane opposite Elder Walk, to replace those at White-friars founded by Margaret, countess of Kent, c. 1538 for widows of freemen of the company. (fn. 37) Building between Frog Lane and Lower Street increased in the later 18th century. Britannia Row had been constructed between the two roads by 1773 (fn. 38) and was well built up by the 1790s. (fn. 39) Two houses were built in Queen's Head Lane c. 1786, (fn. 40) and the Davis almshouses on the south side in 1794. (fn. 41) Anglers Gardens and Paradise Place, which had at least 31 small houses in 1798, ran from Frog Lane between Elder Walk and Greenman's Lane. (fn. 42) In the early 19th century Greenman's Lane contained a factory belonging to Thomas Wontner & Sons, hatters, employing 40-50 people, and in 1808 Wontner built a family house on the north side of the lane. (fn. 43) Farther north in the angle between Frog Lane and Lower Road stood a dairy farm bought in 1774 by Thomas Scott, who in 1791 also bought a large tract between Frog Lane and the Rosemary Branch, on which he began building from the Lower Street end. (fn. 44) By 1806 the terraced houses of Scotts Place fronted Lower Street and the land as far as Frog Lane was filled by Norfolk, King, and Queen streets. (fn. 45) By 1817 the streets had been extended a little way south-east of Frog Lane and some building had begun, while Popham Street, between Elder Walk and Britannia Row, had been built with small terraced houses and Popham Terrace fronted Frog Lane. (fn. 46) In the 1820s the small houses off Frog Lane near Elder Walk were occupied by artisans, many of them in watch-making and similar trades, while Britannia Row had factories for cut glass and watch-springs. (fn. 47) In Lower Road a little north-east of the junction with Frog Lane a floor-cloth factory had been built between 1806 and 1817, with a few detached and terraced houses just beyond it, including Barossa Lodge, with a verandah, and a pair of stuccoed villas (later nos. 296-8 Essex Road). The factory, probably of 1812, was a stuccoed three- or four-storeyed building, in a plain Grecian style on the ground floor with Ionic pilasters from the first floor up. (fn. 48)
Farther south, near the New River building also increased after 1760. Campden or Camden Street was made between Islington green and the New River and houses were being built there in 1768. (fn. 49) By the 1790s a small farmyard stood at the New River end (fn. 50) and possibly one or two houses, which may have included the detached six-roomed stuccoed cottage occupied by Charles Lamb in 1823. More building by the New River began when the architect James Taylor (c. 1765- 1846) built New Terrace (later nos. 50-8 Duncan Terrace) on the west bank in 1791, extending it (as the later nos. 46-9 Duncan Terrace) south of Charlton Place and completing it by 1794. (fn. 51) The terrace was also called Colebrooke Terrace c. 1830. (fn. 52) Taylor built Charlton Place, between Cumberland Row in High Street and the river, from 1790 to 1795, with a curved south side called Charlton Crescent. (fn. 53)
City Road crossed the southern tip of the parish from 1761, (fn. 54) and by the late 18th century an area on the boundary called City Gardens contained several small houses with some ground attached, many let to Londoners as country cottages or retirement homes. (fn. 55) Later, however, the area deteriorated and in 1846 it had a very 'degraded' population. (fn. 56) From c. 1800 speculative building began in and near City Road. Nelson Terrace between the road and City Gardens was completed by 1802, (fn. 57) while City Road itself acquired two imposing terraces. Dalby Terrace on the south was built in 1803 by Mr. Dalby, a manufacturer, on a common formerly used for executions and prize fighting; the house at its west end faced west to the New River with a double bowwindowed front, and was occupied by Dalby, who sought to move a footpath to the farther side of the river. (fn. 58) York Place, opposite Dalby Terrace between the New River and Nelson Terrace, may have been built slightly earlier. Building also began along the New River from City Road northward. The first houses in Duncan Terrace (probably nos. 1-10) had been built by 1817, as had River Terrace on the opposite side, where the later nos. 1-3 Colebrooke Row and the corner house were built first. (fn. 59) The rest of the district was still open, and the field behind the original Colebrooke Row had become Watson's nursery. (fn. 60)
By 1829 both the Regent's canal and New North Road had been completed through the district, the latter along King Street, with Shepperton Street crossing it diagonally to the Rosemary Branch. In Lower Road, Annett's Crescent (later nos. 246-90 Essex Road) was built in 1819 between Frog Lane and the floor-cloth factory, with three-storeyed stuccoed houses with attics, basements, and unusual balconies, designed by William Burnell Hué. (fn. 61) Thomas Scott built terraces between King and Rotherfield streets, while at the south-east end of Rotherfield Street at the junction with Sherborne Street the later nos. 22-38 (even) Rotherfield Street formed an ornate stuccoed terrace: its Corinthian pilasters and other decorations were unrelated to those on later building nearby, which was mainly two-storeyed linked pairs, and were more in keeping with Annett's Crescent in Essex Road with which it may have formed part of an earlier building scheme. (fn. 62) Farther south the new Windsor Street between Lower Street and Frog Lane was built up, (fn. 63) and Thomas Wontner built the 24 houses of Tibberton Square on his own garden between 1823 and 1828. (fn. 64) At the northern end of the district, by Ball's Pond Road, the glebe estate was built over c. 1822 by Philip Dorset Goepel, with Strahan Place facing Ball's Pond Road, Glebe Terrace facing the Lower Road, and Dorset (later Dove), Orchard (later Wakeham), and Henshall streets. (fn. 65) Islington cattle market was built between 1833 and 1836 south of the glebe estate (fn. 66) and by 1841 Northchurch Road had been laid along its south side, with a small row, Prospect Place, at the south-east corner. By the same date, more building had gone up in Shepperton Street, almost completed on the north side of South (later Basire) Street, and on adjoining parts of New North Road. (fn. 67)
In the southern part of the district, Duncan Terrace was extended in the 1830s, probably in two stages, nos. 11-21 and 22-32, reaching Duncan Street by 1839. Duncan Street was laid from Pullins Row in High Street to the New River c. 1834, when the Catholic Apostolic church was built on the north side, and by 1839 the South Islington Proprietary school stood at the street's north-east corner. (fn. 68) The Roman Catholic church in Duncan Terrace was completed in 1843 and the houses on either side, nos. 33-9 and 40-5, were under way in 1841 and completed by 1851. (fn. 69) In River Terrace the Presbyterian church was built 1834, (fn. 70) when the land behind was still brickfields, but James Rhodes had laid out Sudeley and Alfred (later Elia) streets and Vincent Terrace by 1837 and Gordon (later Quick) Street in 1838. A few houses in Elia Street, which ran to the river beside the Scotch church, had been completed by 1838, 22 by 1839, and the rest in 1841. Four and seven houses were completed in Vincent Terrace and Sudeley Street respectively in 1839, Sudeley Street being completed in 1842. Rhodes used at least three builders, William Beckingham, John Wilson, and Thomas Allen, (fn. 71) and probably also built the short terrace facing the river between Elia Street and Vincent Terrace (later nos. 13-19 Colebrooke Row), completed by 1841. (fn. 72) Gerrard Street was formed in 1841 by agreement between Rhodes and Thomas Cubitt, (fn. 73) who owned the former Watson's nursery which he had used for brickmaking from the 1820s. Cubitt gave the site for St. Peter's church and schools, built in 1834 and 1839 respectively, and between 1837 and 1841 built six houses fronting River Lane (later nos. 18-28 St. Peter's Street), between the later Danbury and Grantbridge streets. (fn. 74) By 1841 River Lane, renamed St. Peter's Street, had been extended from Frog Lane across the canal, and a small row of houses stood in the fields by the canal. In the 1840s both sides of St. Peter's Street were being built up, as were the small streets leading off near the canal: Clarence and Hanover streets (later Burgh Street and the lower end of Noel Road), the south-east side of Danbury Street, most of which were built on James Rhode's land, (fn. 75) and the short streets between Rheidol Terrace and the canal as far as the Clothworkers' land. (fn. 76)
Cubitt sold the three pieces of land fronting Gerrard Road to Rhodes in 1843, and that road's three-storeyed terraced houses, with basements and stuccoed ground floors, had been completed by 1848. (fn. 77) The rest of Cubitt's land between Gerrard Road and St. Peter's Street was let to local builders. William Timewell took a block at the north end of Devonia Road opposite St. Peter's church in 1845 and the rest of the west side and the equivalent sites on the east side in a small grant of 1847 and a larger one of 1850. In 1850 he also received the west side of part of Frog Lane (later Danbury Street). The west and east sides of Grantbridge Street, originally called Oxford and Cambridge terraces, were let in 1852 to Joseph Berdoe, who sublet to William Quilter in 1856 and 1857, except a small parcel on the east side let directly to Quilter in 1857. (fn. 78) By the early 1850s, Noel Road had also been laid out and terraced houses built on the canal side. (fn. 79)
The Clothworkers' Company, with c. 60 a. between New North Road and St. Peter's Street, laid out its estate for building from 1846, together with the Church Commissioners, who owned a small adjoining estate. (fn. 80) A small area north-east of New North Road near the canal was the first to be leased by the company, in 1846 to Richard Field, a printer and commission agent, but only the part fronting the main road was built on at that time. Nos. 138-76 (even) New North Road were built for Field by Messrs. Robson & Estall and William Bear, and the carcases were completed in 1846 and 1847. Land farther north along the road was taken by Richard Elcom, a victualler, and in 1846-7 Bear built nos. 180-90, originally called Elcom Terrace, and nos. 192- 202, Bear Place. Field also took the block bounded by Prebend Street, Coleman Fields, and Basire Street, where terraced houses built by Charles Haswell and Elias Treby were ready in 1848, and he assigned the adjoining block bounded by Prebend Street, Coleman Fields, and Bishop Street to Richard Noakes Field, who built it up in the 1850s. On the other side of the estate, the block bounded by St. Peter's Street, Rheidol Terrace, and Cruden Street as far as the backs of houses in Queen's Head Lane, with provision for 14 semi-detached and 74 terraced houses, (fn. 81) was taken by James and Thomas Ward and built up by James Ward and sublessees. Leases for nos. 7-21 St. Peter's Street, pairs of stuccoed villas originally called Angell Terrace after the Clothworkers' surveyor, Samuel Angell, who probably laid out the estate, were granted in 1848 and for the rest of the block from 1848 to 1852.
Most of the Clothworkers' estate was taken by Henry Rydon, probably in 1847 when he agreed for the Church Commissioners' estate bounded by Linton Street, Arlington Square, New North Road, and the canal. Building began on the south-west side of New North Road but proceeded fairly evenly between 1847 and 1852 over the whole area, which was bounded by New North Road, the canal, St. Paul's Street, Union Square, and Bevan Street. Work also proceeded on the adjoining block bounded by St. Paul's, Prebend, Canon, and Rector streets, and on a plot originally taken by R.N. Field and sublet to Rydon in 1850, bounded by St. Paul's and Prebend streets and Coleman Fields. In all Rydon built 95 houses on the Church Commissioners' land and 240 on the Clothworkers'. Few of his builders were responsible for more than a handful of contiguous houses: W. T. Catling built half the west side of Arlington Square and John Hill most of the east side.
Other builders included Edward Rowland, Thomas Evans, Job Palmer, and John Hebb, who also took land on their own account. In 1851-2 Rowland and Evans took leases direct from the Clothworkers for houses which they had built in Wilton Square and Wilton Villas, and John Hebb took part of the block between Coleman Fields, Prebend, Basire, and St. Paul's streets, building all the houses north-eastward from no. 84 Prebend Street and no. 26 St. Paul's Street. Job Palmer and John Morgan took separate leases of houses in the block bounded by Coleman Fields and St. Paul's, Canon, and Prebend streets. St. Philip's church and schools were built in Arlington Square in 1855, on land reserved by the Church Commissioners, and the Clothworkers' almshouses in Frog Lane, on an island site between Popham Road and Bishop Street, may have been rebuilt at about that date or c. 1872, when part of the site was used for St. James's church; they were rebuilt as two-storeyed blocks in Jacobean style with a gabled first storey. (fn. 82) The last part of the estate to be built up was the Packington charity land. James Rhodes agreed for brickmaking and building over 15 years, and only one lease was made before 1859, although the south-eastern end of the estate was built up or under construction by the mid 1850s. Five houses in Essex Road were demolished after 1856, when John Hebb took over the building, to make way for the north-western end of Packington Street, and more houses were completed in 1859 after the agreement had been assigned to John Jay. Jay assigned the land in 1859 to Hebb, who built up most of the estate, comprising Packington, Dame, and the south-west side of Ann streets, and Arlington Street was extended south-westward. Hebb acted as contractor for several builders, who ceremonially thanked him on completion of the work in 1861.
The northern part of the district was the last to be completed. Rotherfield Street was built up between 1841 and 1848, and the streets up to the south-west side of Halliford Street and south side of Downham Road had also been built up by 1848, together with the land along Essex Road as far as the market. The remaining land on either side of the market was building ground and brickfields. (fn. 83) By the mid 1850s the market had closed, (fn. 84) and a terrace called Lansdown Cottages bordered Essex Road between Northchurch Road and Wakeham Street. All the space between Halliford Street and Wakeham Street was built over by 1865, except the east end of Baxter and Mitchison roads, (fn. 85) mainly with houses of three storeys and basements in terraces, fours, or pairs, but with houses of two storeys and basements in Baxter, Mitchison, and part of the north side of Ockendon roads.
The parts of south-east Islington adjoining the town suffered, like the town, from overcrowding. (fn. 86) Elsewhere the area was mixed, although with the rest of Islington it suffered a social decline from the late 19th century. In 1929 there were two patches of the severest overcrowding, over 1.75 persons to a room, north and south of Popham Street, with three of 1.50 to 1.75 persons to a room, between Shepperton Road and Downham Road, between Tibberton Square and Windsor Street, and between St. Peter's and Dame streets near the canal. The blocks between Packington Street and Queen's Head Lane, and between Devonia Road, Rheidol Terrace, and the canal, had a middle density of 1.25 to 1.50 persons, and the area between Ockendon and Northchurch roads had the lowest, with less than one person to a room; the remainder had a density of 1 to 1.25 persons. (fn. 87)
War-time bombing and the need to relieve overcrowding led to the clearance of several large sites. Bentham Court, designed by E. C. P. Monson, (fn. 88) was built in 1949 between Rotherfield Street and New North Road, with 134 flats in 3 four-storeyed blocks, the one facing Essex Road having shops on the ground floor, and included a new public house on the corner of Ecclesbourne Road. Farther east Rotherfield Court and Southgate Court had 52 and 26 flats respectively, and McIndoe Court nearby had 40 flats. On the south-west side of New North Road Parke Court was built with 39 dwellings between Shepperton Road and Basire Street, while Baring Court and Arbon Court with 30 and 22 flats were built near the canal. Farther south Cluse Court with 156 flats was built near where St. Peter's Street crosses the canal, and Hermitage House with 24 flats replaced part of the 18thcentury Colebrooke Row at the corner of Gerrard Road. (fn. 89) Among private post-war building, the London Parochial Charities trustees in 1949 completed Isleden House, on c. 1 a. of the Packington charity land in Prebend Street. Intended to show how old people could live in a populous district, it provided 74 flats for 211, with an administration block and with medical and other services. (fn. 90)
From the late 1960s further housing schemes were undertaken. The G.L.C. built Widford House fronting Colebrooke Row and running back along the south side of Elia Street. The borough council in 1967 had begun 153 new dwellings in Popham Street, (fn. 91) and in the 1970s cleared a large area in Popham Road adjoining Parker Court. Rebuilding around Rotherfield Street was also extended along the north side of New North Road c. 1980. The largest and most controversial scheme was on the Packington estate, where 12 a. at the south end of Packington Street were cleared for 538 flats in large blocks, after a long fight to have the original houses renovated. (fn. 92)
Renovation by the council became more common in the 1970s and, with a high demand by owner-occupiers, the 19th-century housing stock was gradually being rehabilitated in 1983. At the northern end of the district the former glebe estate, whose shallow terraces had been far below standard in 1936, (fn. 93) had largely been rebuilt with factories after the Second World War, and St. Paul's school was replaced with private housing c. 1980. In 1983 the streets between Ball's Pond and New North roads were largely unaltered, except by the council housing mentioned above, but the white lead mills at the Rosemary Branch and some small streets behind had been cleared for a park, almost the only open space for children in the district. In New North Road most of the houses had become small shops and were decayed in 1983, owing mainly to heavy traffic, although some renovation was under way and several houses remained. Both sides of the road between Shepperton and Essex roads had been replaced by council housing. South-west of New North Road the part of the Clothworkers' estate developed by Henry Rydon was largely unchanged, with its spacious streets. Most of the area north-west of Popham Road had been rebuilt, however, and few original houses remained. South-west of St. Peter's Street was also largely unaltered, with houses among the most expensive in Islington, particularly along the canal. Many had been converted into maisonettes, either privately or by the council, while the large terraces along City Road were almost entirely in commercial use.