DISCOVERING ISLINGTON & NEARBY

Anne WeymanGilbert VieriThe Discovering Islington and Nearby on Foot group’s walks enable members to get to know the nooks and crannies of Islington and neighbouring boroughs through a 1-1½ hour walk.

 

Group Coordinators: Anne Weyman & Gilbert Vieri (click to contact)
When

Generally the morning of the second or third Wednesday in the month.
Where

Mostly in Islington and neighbouring boroughs, with the occasional visit being a bit further afield.


Walks usually start at 10am and last for up to an hour and a half and finish at a café for refreshments and the opportunity to talk about what we’ve seen. Most walks are led by an iU3A member who is knowledgeable about the area being visited but sometimes the leader is from another organisation.

If you would like to become a member of this group please use the email link above to contact the Coordinator.

The next section shows the visits planned and if it is open for sign-up yet.

Booking for each visit will open at the beginning of the month.

 

Our Spring and Summer Programme
Wednesday 15 May — Repeat of the very popular visit to Canary Wharf led by Elizabeth Mansbridge
Wednesday 12 June — Hyde Park
led by Elizabeth Mansbridge
Wednesday 10 July —
our annual exploration of how the King’s Cross Development is progressing

Full details on 'Beacon' here.

Recent Visits
On a lovely sunny day in May iU3A member EliCanary Wharf May 2019zabeth Mansbridge led a fascinating visit to Canary Wharf and London’s Docklands. We started at West India Dock, the first enclosed dock built. It replaced the previous arrangement where boats had to wait for weeks to unload their cargoes and theft was widespread. Surrounded by high walls with security guards and a tidal lock system to control entry its two (and later three) docks provided a speedy and efficient system for unloading and loading of hundreds of boats.

Canary Wharf’s name originates from the berth for the Canary Islands fruit trade. The Spanish called the islands the Canaries because of the large dogs they found there, and this is also the source for the Isle of Dogs. Canary has one of the UK’s largest collections of public art. As we walked around we enjoyed seeing the various sculptures, including Henry Moore’s Draped Seated Women 1957 and Konstantin Grcic’s Six Public Clocks, which is based on the Swiss railway clock but with each of 12 faces showing a single and different number. In the lower floor of the enormous shopping centre we admired Emma Brigg’s Wharf Walk with floor tiles depicting the trades passing through the dockyards in the past, including python skins as well as wool, the largest import.

Finally we were stunned by the beautiful greenery, including the lovely park by Canary Wharf Underground station and Crossrail Place’s magnificent evocation of ships laden with plants from across the world, the Japanese Maples and the ferns being particularly spectacular.


In April, on a bright sunny morning (but not too Bloomsbury Apr 2019hot for walking) we assembled in the garden of the Friends Meeting House, Euston Road, to start our walk in the gardens and squares of Bloomsbury, led by Lesley, who began by telling us about the garden where we were: the Friends’ Garden had been re-modelled to be an eco-garden, and also to reflect the theme of peace.

Next we visited Tavistock Square, designed in 1806 by Thomas Cubitt, and now in the heart of the university area. It is home to a number of monuments: a most beautiful flowering cherry is the memorial for those killed in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and there is also a large memorial to commemorate the people killed in the bus which was blown up very nearby on 7 July 2005. We went on to Gordon Square, also by Cubitt, the native habitat of members of the Bloomsbury Group, and nowadays of birds, insects, and small mammals, having been designed to be wildlife-friendly. Back in the day, J.M.Keynes and Lytton Strachey lived here, but the most impressive and poignant thing was the bust of Noor Inayat Khan, G.C., M.B.E, Croix de Guerre, executed in Dachau after working behind enemy lines in the S.O.E. Then we visited Woburn Square, another of Cubitt’s, and Bedford Square, which we admired from afar as it is open only to residents. Finally Russell Square, very large and recently restored according to Humphry Repton’s original plan. T.S. Eliot worked nearby. Russell Square is also notable for containing a Cabman’s Shelter, an idea conceived by a Victorian philanthropist and still operational today, where taxi drivers can find warmth and shelter, and non-alcoholic refreshment.

This was the end of the guided walk. Many of us marvelled that the lovely places we had visited have been hiding in plain sight, and even though we might have visited the area before, we had no idea that there were so many beautiful tree-filled squares within such a small area. Many thanks to Lesley.


In March, Barry took us on a fascinating Clerkenwell and Islington Mar 2019whistle-stop tour of Clerkenwell and Islington, focussing on the impact of WW1 on Finsbury and Islington. First stop was a building in Farringdon Road destroyed by bombs dropped by a Zeppelin. Then into historic Clerkenwell Green, for a variety of interesting buildings including the Marx Memorial Library. The Saffron Hill area had many Italian residents; about 100 of them are commemorated in an ornate structure in the porch of the Italian Church in Clerkenwell Road. Another monument outside the GPO’s Mount Pleasant sorting office commemorated all those postal workers who joined up and lost their lives in the conflict. Barry told us how women replaced the male workers — women wielding the whips. The War Memorial in Spa Green Gardens commemorates the Army, the Royal Flying Corps, and the Royal Navy. A small plaque mentioned the disastrous British attack on Zeebrugge in April 1918 — the subject of Barry’s MA dissertation.
 

Up through Myddelton Square for the house of Fenner Brockway, jailed for being a conscientious objector and later MP for Leyton East. Into Cloudesley Place to see where aircraft propellers were made in Dove Brothers yard & workshop (with other aircraft parts made in Highgate). The walk finished with memorials in Islington Green.

Kentish Town BathsFebruary — Curious Kentish Town
. I would like to thank Martin Plaut for guiding us in the discovery of “Curious Kentish Town” and sharing his expert knowledge of this area. If you could not join us or indeed did and want to learn more I would suggest you read his book on this subject.

The walk started in his own garden, which still has one of the Anderson raid shelters. We went on to see what has become of the famous piano factories and learnt about the rent battle D.Cook and A. Rowe fought with the Borough of St Pancras, and the plaque showing where they barricaded themselves in their flat in 1960. One particularly interesting building is the Public baths, which has a swimming pool designed to be emptied so it becomes a public hall. We saw the plaque marking where Boris lived from 1986-1996.  No, not that Boris, but the cat! We passed a few famous historic pubs like the “Oxford Tavern” and “The Assembly House” and saw Leverton Street and its pastel painted houses. We found ourselves in a most unexpected lane where you could not have imagined you were in the middle of London but somewhere else in a little quiet village in the country.

And as a bonus we enjoyed the Spring-like weather. The walk ended in a local bakery.


Canary WharfJanuary
— On a dry but rather cold Wednesday, the group ventured to Canary Wharf, guided by Elizabeth, who had cleverly planned a couple of indoors moments to allow us to warm up. She met us at Angel station, Islington and took us to West Ferry road. That was good news for me as I knew I wouldn’t get lost at Bank as I usually do. From the creation of West India Company to the buzzing financial, commercial and residential centre it has become, Elizabeth’s fascinating commentary gave us a good picture of what life was like for workers in the docks, bringing alive the development of the area with many references to social history. She also pointed to us the variety of that area which we often consider just as one of high rise buildings referring to the extensive public — and very much admired — art collection and showing us the unexpected gardens and greenhouse. We also invaded the shop of Canary Wharf residential to see a model of the whole area. I think the salesman realised we were not prospective buyers but he nevertheless made us feel welcome. The walk ended outside the Museum of London, which some of us decided to visit. Altogether a most interesting walk, many thanks Elizabeth. It attracted a lot of interest and many members only made it to the waiting list. But Elizabeth has offered to repeat the exercise later on this year, so watch this space!

Gem Christmas 2018Christmas lunch —  Several members of the group met at the "Gem", a Kurdish restaurant on Upper Street which seems to have become popular with iU3A, as there were two groups there. It was a happy event, with generous portions of very good food. We started with a selection of cold and hot meze, then there was a main dish we could choose from their specialities and a selection of sweets to end the meal. We enjoyed a relaxed time and I am not sure we could have gone on to further discovery of Islington ON FOOT. To everybody present and those who could not make it I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Sculpture in the CityNovemberSculpture in the City: We were just so lucky with the weather. After heavy rains on the day before that were forecast to continue on the day, the sky cleared in time for our 10.00am start and we were gratified with sunshine. OK, it was rather cold but we still enjoyed our walk about the square mile and discovered the installations (twenty in all) of internationally famous artists dotted around the City’s public spaces. My favourite ones were the “Bridging Home” where this Asian wooden house balanced on the bridge in Wormwood makes clear reference to the impact of migration and contrasts with the steel architecture of the area. Another favourite is Marina Abramovic’s tree outside 99 Bishopsgate complete with singing birds (a recording) which could be heard in spite of the heavy traffic. Nancy Rubins’s “Crocodylius Philodendrus” was also very impressive. I can only describe it as an explosion of a variety of metal animals. The picture above will give you a better idea. One item was not part of the exhibition but can be found in that place called “The Garden” where the ceiling of the courtyard inside the building is used to project video clips from nature: trees, water, etc. Fascinating!

To my mind the most striking effect of this open air exhibition is the constant contrasting interaction between the art works, the highrise glass and steel buildings and the little churches and other ancient buildings still standing in the city. There is still time for you to see this exhibition on your own. Just go online to sculptureinthecity.org.uk or visit the tourist office in St Paul’s Yard to pick up a map and more information.

October — Brockwell Park:
The group spent a happy two hBrockwell Park Oct2018ours visiting the Grade II* listed park and historic landscape of Brockwell Park in spite of the continuous drizzle. Our guide Ann Kingsbury, Chair of the Park's Stakeholder Forum, explained that the park’s land had belonged to the mediaeval hospital of St Thomas Southwark until it was appropriated and then sold by Henry VIII. John Blades, an early 19th century glass manufacturer, bought it and built the park’s Brockwell Hall and the Lodge on Norwood Road between 1811 and 1813. 

Norwood’s first MP, Thomas Lynn Bristowe, masterminded the purchase of the estate to become a public park and it was laid out between 1892 and 1910. We admired the magnificent walled garden that he created and the nearby pond and were impressed by the fortitude of the swimmers in the 1930s Brockwell Lido.

Stretching ‘nearness’ to Brockley Park was well worth it. Several of us are looking forward to visiting again in the spring or summer to enjoy the wonderful landscape and the walled garden again and to see the wildflower meadow in bloom. 

Previous Visits
To see our archive for our previous visits have a look by following the links below.
For October 2017 to September 2018 look here.
For September 2016 to September 2017 look here.


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