diamond geezer

 Sunday, May 30, 2010

THE LOST RIVERS OF LONDON
Hackney Brook
1) Holloway/Highbury


Did I ever mention how hard it is to track down a river that isn't there? Take the headwaters of the Hackney Brook as a case in point. They're not in Hackney, they're in Islington, but precisely where is a bit of mystery. I Googled for maps, and visited the local library, and scrawled a line on an A-Z which I thought best fitted the information I'd found. Then I headed up to Holloway to wander the modern landscape with my camera, and confirmed that the contours below Mercers Road sloped in an appropriate direction. But since then I've Googled again and found a map which suggests the top of the river was to the west of Finsbury Park station, somewhere around Tollington Place. Might be, might not, but no amount of field trips to the area will ever confirm one way or the other. So all I can say is that there used to be a tiny stream parallel to the Holloway and Hornsey Roads, on one side or the other, probably, near enough. And there most definitely isn't any more. [photo]

The river's path becomes a little clearer somewhere rather famous, around Arsenal's Highbury stadia. If you've ever streamed out of the front of the Emirates and seen a railway bridge off to your left, know that the Hackney Brook used to flow on the other side of that. Then to the north of the stadium proper [photo], approximately underneath the northern tip of the Ashburton Triangle flats [photo]. More railways to cross [photo], and then round the back of Arsenal tube station [photo] through the nature reserve at Gillespie Park. This is a delightful green backwater, lorded over by an ecology centre, created on the site of former railway sidings. The larger pond is artificial, not brook-filled, and a very peaceful place to sit and watch the reed-loving wildlife. [photo]

Go back a few centuries and the land to the south of the stream was pasture known as Long Mead. Today it's better known as the site of Highbury Stadium. Arsenal's North Stand was the closest to the old riverbanks, although that's now been replaced by characterless newbuild flats (and the only local water feature is a series of bubble tanks on the shared lawn where the pitch used to be). The rest of Long Mead disappeared under Victorian housing, with the Hackney Brook culverted and Gillespie Road laid in its place. The stream crossed the Blackstock Road at the dogleg where the Arsenal Tavern stands [photo] - a location still obviously at the foot of a valley slope. And then along Mountgrove Road (home to all your Sylvanian Family needs), where the Hackney Brook finally passed from Islington into the borough after which it was named.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream