diamond geezer

 Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Local History Month

August is Local History Month on diamond geezer. Over the years I've explored my immediate E3 neighbourhood, walked the entire length of the river Lea and crossed the capital on a line of latitude, to name but a few of my zealous quests. This year I thought I'd visit the places where London boroughs meet, in a series I'm calling Triple Points.

There are approximately 50 places in London where three boroughs meet. Some are at road junctions, some are in woodland, some match ancient landmarks and several are in the middle of the Thames. I don't intend to visit them all, but I have noticed that if I pick carefully I can visit all of London's 33 boroughs in just eleven stops. So let's start in the middle of town between Moorgate and Bishopsgate, specifically where Sun Street crosses Wilson Street.

S u n S t r e e t

City of London

Welcome to Broadgate, or rather not welcome because this private developmental enclave is notoriously sniffy about public access byelaws. We're not over beside the main pedestrianised 'circus' behind Liverpool Street station (where Broad Street station used to be). Instead we're over in the northwesternmost corner where the estate's very first offices were erected in 1987 - that's 1, 2 & 3 Finsbury Avenue. They call them 1FA, 2FA and 3FA these days, because branding has spoken. It's 2FA which overlooks the street corner we're interested in, a graphite grey lattice with recessed revolving doors and external cylindrical liftshafts. Peer in through the ground floor windows and you can see architects from Bjarke Ingels engaging in "programmatic alchemy" and "hitting the fertile overlap". One room is entirely full of bikes.

Number 1 Finsbury Avenue was Grade II* listed a few years ago, so that's safe. But numbers 2 and 3 weren't, so are scheduled to be demolished and replaced by something less attractively modern. Planning permission was awarded last year for a much taller set of buildings including a 32-storey tower, increasing the total commercial space by a factor of 3, because what use is City land if you can't make a thumping rental profit out of it? Part of the plan is to drive a diagonal alleyway through from the corner of Sun Street to the streetfood Airstreams in Finsbury Avenue Square, and another scheme is to add a publicly accessible roof terrace on the 13th floor because that's how you get planning applications passed these days.

n.b. Until 25 years ago this block of land was actually in Hackney. The borough boundary was shifted northwards in 1994 to bring the entire Broadgate development within the City of London's remit, before which the Triple Point would have been at the end of Eldon Street.


If you were told that only one corner of this crossroads was in Hackney, you'd easily guess which one - it's the one with the pub. The Flying Horse dates back to 1812, which is a proper rarity in these parts, although the facade was remodelled in 1865 and the bar area is alas 1980s plywood. Nevertheless this was enough to get the place listed, in a citation celebrating stuccoed rusticated quoins and bobbin-turned balusters, and is the only reason the pub survives to pull pints. It revels as a traditional boozer with dartboard, cask ales and bigscreen Sky Sports, thereby acting as a rare magnet for cabbies, builders and vanmen, but dig beneath the surface and all their sandwiches are on rosemary foccacia so the financial set are also courted. Nextdoor is the Wilson Street Chapel, a gorgeous peaky Gothic hideaway where non-conformists still meet on Sundays and Wednesday lunchtimes.

The pub and chapel have been luckier than the adjacent Georgian stock brick terrace along Sun Street. I remember how rundown the shopfronts used to look, each either boarded-up or selling something lowly like buttered sandwiches, in sharp contrast to the City bling across the road. Today all their insides have been hollowed out and a windowless facade retained, as the One Crown Place development absorbs the entire remainder of the block. Two prismatic residential skyscrapers rise behind, destroying any heritage ambience this conservation area once had, sold off-plan in Hong Kong to investors who fancy making a tidy profit out of £5000pcm rentals. The brochure's strapline is "See the City in a new light", which only the astute will realise means you're actually buying in Hackney. How swiftly the character of the borderlands is consumed.

n.b. The Georgian terrace on Sun Street gets to become One Crown Place's boutique hotel, clubhouse and destination restaurant, because of course it does.


The western side of Wilson Street is entirely in Islington, and somewhat dull. The office blocks on both corners are unremarkable six-storey affairs in inoffensive grey or beige. The estate agents at Strettons ply their trade on the ground floor of Davies House in semi-public view. Across the road are Etec Associates, a building consultancy, revelling in the prestigous anonymity of a City fringe base. A few doors up Sun Street everything opens out into Finsbury Square, which is a hugely more interesting space but alas falls outside the remit of my Triple Point analysis. Don't look this way, look back at Hackney and the City, because that's where the story is.

Update: Except that, by picking City/Hackney/Islington as my first triple point, it's not going to be possible to find 10 others which fully tick off every London borough. Indeed I've tried numerous different configurations and I reckon it's impossible to divvy up the capital no matter where you start. Havering's very restrictive, and Kingston often messes things up, and Kensington & Chelsea causes a lot of trouble, and essentially I don't think this Triple Points feature can be completed.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
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