Walk along Holloway Road from the Seven Sisters Junction to Manor Gardens Contact Centre.
Possibly the most famous Holloway Road resident was record producer Joe Meek who lived and worked at 304b where he produced a million pound selling album, Telstar. His life has been captured on stage and as a film – but if you missed these (and the 1960s), he’s the guy who pioneered experimental pop music. Unfortunately in 1967 he shot his landlady dead and then killed himself.
Today Holloway Road still boasts a wealth of useful shops. You may even spot Islington’s mountaineer, Gary Kenward, pounding up towards the steep slopes of Highgate Hill training for his next assault (despite two hip replacements) on the 21,719ft unclimbed Mt Kande Hiunchuli in Nepal.
Because the Holloway Road is allegedly the longest numbered road in the UK – running 410 miles from London to Edinburgh this is a short tour from the junction at Seven Sisters heading towards Manor Gardens Contact Centre. Nearby there’s a plaque in Bowman’s Mews where Edward Lear, who wrote The Owl & the Pussycat, was born. Then head towards the Odeon cinema and turn right so you’re going up Holloway Road to find:
Lotus Leaf – perfect for end-of-line discounts on women’s wear, conveniently sited by the bus stop.
Percy Ingle is an old-fashioned bakery that sells rolls and cakes with sensible price tags (take away coffee starts at £1). Or pick up some bread – a healthy oat and barley loaf is just £1.62.
A1 meat supplies, is still known by locals as the “Irish butcher”. It’s a friendly place, so enjoy a chat if you don’t wish to stand in a supermarket queue to pick up a bit of meat for dinner. This bit of Holloway used to be full of the Irish – you may still meet them at Tommy Flynn’s sport and music pub on the corner.
Just off Hercules Street you can find the Swimmer at the Grafton Arms (13 Eburne Road). It’s an atmospheric Victorian pub ideal for a treat dinner. Or go there on a Tuesday Quiz evening to test your knowledge of current events and trivia.
On this section of Holloway Road there’s a motorbike accessories shop, City Leathers; Mister Sam Dry Cleaners and even Persian and Afghan carpets at the joss-stick scented Treasure Land.
Look out for Outpost, a shop, gallery and community hub run by Peter Bedford Housing Association set up to support local people wanting to lead independent lives. All that is very worthy – and worth supporting – but the shop’s contemporary crafts and homeware ooze creativity. They also run courses.
The Manor Gardens turning is close by – home to the Manor Garden Contact Centre. Here on one day in July it’s transformed by a street party that takes over one of Islington’s newest parks.
All year round book lovers should visit the elegantly curved lending room of the elegant red-brick North Library, opened in 1906 and then during WW1 used as an annex for the neighbouring Royal Northern Hospital. If you look around the little park opposite you’ll find a memorial arch, dating from 1923, for the 1,300 Islingtonians who lost their lives in that war. This is all that is left of the borough’s original war memorial, a new ward at the hospital. From the park you can enjoy the dome and weather vane on top of the North Library and admire the iconic Beaux Arts building, built in 1932 by the Post Office to process Money Orders but converted into luxury flats in 1994.
Manor Gardens has a very special atmosphere, quite different to the hustle of Holloway Road. Enjoy exploring.
The Ballad of Me & My Friends – by singer-songwriter and Holloway Road resident Frank Turner
A long way down by Nick Hornby
Telstar: the Joe Meek story (2008) film
Holloway by Robert Macfarlane is more a hymn to nature but explains our road’s original name.