Angel and Upper Street: From riches to rags, and back again

Photo by Niall McDonald

The history of Angel and Upper Street is intriguing. Despite Islington not being a borough until 1965, the history of the area goes far further back. It was mentioned in the Doomsday book, and the high street was built sometime around the late 1700’s.

The 1900’s have seen the area of Angel and Upper Street in many guises. It was extensively rebuilt after the Second World War, and in recent times has seen an upsurge in newer buildings, replacing the older, Victorian style. This has led the area to become more modern, chic and upmarket, with houses being sold for as much as one million pounds.

Mark Aston is the local history manager at Islington’s local history museum. He explains the change in the area.

“Upper Street is a place that we all seem to think of as a place where we go for entertainment, and it is not surprising. It has always been one of London’s major thoroughfares, due to the A1 road which leads out of London.”

“It has always been popular. From Tudor times it has been known as ‘Merry Islington.’ Henry VIII used to come and shoot ducks in the local pond, and Sir Walter Raleigh had a house there.”

Like most of London, Islington was rebuilt aster the second World war, and once again pushed new buildings into the old area. However, the place fell into disrepair and never fully recovered until the 1980’s.

Mark Aston picks up the story. “The regeneration of the area in the 1980’s was very much in the politics of the time. You hear the term “yuppies” and so forth, and they bought into what was quite a run down and seedy Islington.”

“This new lease of life has changed the area, there is no doubt that the area has improved in the last thirty years. There is Camden passage, with its nice antiques market and of course Upper Street, which has always been the main street in the area.

Angel and Upper Street have changed from prosperous to destitute many times, over the years, but right now it can certainly be seen as the former, with even London Mayor Boris Johnston living just off The Angel.

To hear the full interview with Mark Aston, listen here:

Upper st interview

Niall McDonald

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Published in: on November 2, 2010 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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