N7 The Hollow Way

N7 is Holloway. A bit of  strange name and one that turns out to mean exactly what it implies. It was a road in a hollow (well that’s what Brewer’s “Dictionary of London Phrase and Fable” says on page 239)

We start our walk at the Post Office at 20 Brecknock Road. Turn left out of the Post Office and go to the corner where you should turn left into Camden Road.

Our first stop is in the turning which is the first on the left.

Stop 1: Site of 39 Hilldrop Crescent


Now I did not expect to find Number 39 still standing given its history. This was the house that Dr Crippen and his wife moved into in 1905.

Dr Crippen is one of those names you have heard of but probably do not know much of the story.

Hawley Harvey Crippen (1862 – 1910) was an American homeopath. He was convicted of murdering his wife Cora Henrietta Crippen here at Hilldrop Crescent and was the first criminal to be captured with the aid of wireless telegraphy. He was fleeing back across the Atlantic with his lover at the time.

Here an article from the Daily Mail in 2014 which gives an insight into his colourful life and includes a picture of the cellar of 39 Hilldrop Crescent where he is supposed to have buried his wife:


Most of the street has been redeveloped but some of the original houses still stand. However number 39 no longer exists. It would have been here, where a block of flats called Margaret Bondfield House now stands.


But I guess it would have looked like this (which is number 37)


And now, as they say, for something completely different…

Stop 2: The Kindness Offensive

Having walked along the Crescent turn left at the end back into Camden Road and our next stop is on the next corner.


This looks like an old pub but is in fact home to something called The Kindness Offensive (or TKO for short). According to their website, they are not a religion, company, charity or official group of any sort, but are a group of friends and like-minded people. In 2008 the three founding members of TKO headed out of their front door to see what they, as ordinary people, could do to make the world a better place. Their aims are to have fun, be kind and inspire as many people as possible to do the same. Performing both small and large-scale Random Acts of Kindness is what they do. And they have an old Routemaster bus to transport people and stuff about.


More about this strange and wonderful place and what it does at: http://thekindnessoffensive.com/

Now from kindness back to something rather less kind. As you continue along Camden Road you will see this on your left.

Stop 3: Holloway Prison

This looks like an industrial estate which has turned its back on you.



But it is in fact Holloway Prison. There has been a prison here since 1852. But it was completely rebuilt between 1971 and 1985 and not even the distinctive turreted gateway to the prison survived. Originally a mixed prison, it became a women’s prison in 1903 and was where many of the suffragettes were held.

Keep walking along Camden Road.

Stop 4: Two interesting manhole covers

Now along this road like so often in London, there are some old manhole covers. But if you stop just by Moriaty Close, you will see two which are almost certainly there in relation to street lighting and predate the nationalisation of electricity supply in 1948.


Here before 1948 the local borough council clearly provided the service, as the manhole cover says Islington Borough Council Electricity Department


But the other one is even older, as it says Vestry of St Mary Islington Electric Light. The Vestry of St Mary was one of the predecessor bodies to Islington Borough Council, which was created in 1900. So that suggests this particular manhole cover is at least 115 years old.


Here is a fascinating piece on the National Archives site about the records held by the London Metropolitan Archives on the electricity undertakings that went to form the new nationalised London Electricity Board in 1948.


This is what it says about this area:

“Islington Metropolitan Borough Council Electricity Undertaking was authorised by an Electric Lighting Order of 1893 and commenced supply in 1896. The Borough’s predecessor, the Vestry of Saint Mary, Islington, had appointed an Electric Lighting Committee and built a Central Electric Lighting Station at 50 Eden Grove, Holloway. In October 1936 the Electricity Department’s Showroom and Offices were opened at 341/343 Holloway Road. At this time the Borough’s aim was to develop the Undertaking ‘by making uses of electricity familiar to all classes of community and providing a comprehensive service of installation and maintenance which will place the many types of domestic electrical appliances within the reach of every ratepayer’. Major post-war activities included the supply and fitting up with electrical appliances of the new housing estate. In 1947 there were 70 staff.”

Now go the end of the street and turn left into Holloway Road. Our next stop is just ahead on the left.

Stop 5: Odeon cinema


This cinema was developed by a duo called Hyams & Gale who sold out to Gaumont British Theatres as the building was being completed. It was originally intended to be a sister theater to the Gaumont State Theatre, Kilburn although it only had around 3000 seats as opposed to Kilburn’s 4,004 seats.

It opened on 5 September 1938 but it did not have a long life in its orginal form as the auditorium was destroyed by a V1 Rocket bomb in November 1944. The main walls and foyer survived but it took a while for the rebuild eventually reopening in July 1958.

It was renamed Odeon in November 1962. It was first divided into three screens in 1973 and later there were more subdivisions so now there are eight screens. But it is still going strong today.

As only the facade and the foyer remain in anything like their original 1938 condition, these are the only bits of the building that are Listed (Grade II).

Now return along Holloway Road and our next stop is just beyond Camden Road on the same side as the Odeon.

Stop 6: The Marlborough Building, Number 383 Holloway Road



You may be wondering why we have stopped at this rather undistinguished block which now houses City & Islington College.

The clue is in the name because this was the site of a theatre called the Marlborough which was designed by the prolific theatre architect Frank Matcham.

It opened in October 1903. Initially it presented plays and musical comedies but from May 1918 it became a full time cinema, known as the Marlborough Picture Theatre. It became part of the Provincial Cinematograph Theatres circuit in 1925 which in turn was taken over by Gaumont British Theatres in February 1929.

Gaumont closed the Marlborough Picture Theatre in September 1940, due to wartime conditions. It was taken over by Odeon Theatres Ltd. in February 1942 and they reopened it on 9th March 1942.

The Marlborough Theatre did not really stand a chance what with the huge Gaumont Holloway just along the way, plus the Odeon/Gaumont group also had two other big cinemas not too far away in Finsbury Park (Astoria and Gaumont). So the Marlborough Picture Theatre closed on 31 August 1957 and was demolished in 1962.

Continue walking along Holloway Road and our next stop is on the other side

Stop 7: Selby’s, Numbers 383 – 400 Holloway road

James Selby opened in 1896 as a Milliners and General Draper and amazingly it is still going.


It is one of a group of independent stores which include Morleys in Brixton and Tooting and Elys in Wimbledon. And it is reminder that this street was once a major shopping street.

Our next stop is at the corner of Holloway Road and Tollington Road

Stop 8: Site of Beales

Today at the corner of Tollington Road, you see a modern block housing an Argos store. But for over 70 years this was the location of a Holloway institution, called Beale’s.


Beales started off as a bakers in 1769 and the firm was incorporated as Beale’s Ltd in 1895. In 1889 Beale’s opened a five storey building here containing a restaurant, grill room, banqueting suites and departments selling a complete range of groceries and provisions.

By the second world ward the grocery, meat and provisions departments had been closed as being uneconomical, but the bakery business developed under a sixth generation Beale called John, becoming the largest independent bakers in North London with 12 shops. The restaurant and banqueting side of the business continued until 1969, when the Holloway premises were sold and the bakery closed down after exactly 200 years.

The company concentrated on their hotels in Hertfordshire and are still going, with the eighth generation now at the helm. Here is a fascinating piece about the Beale’s store on Holloway Road


Our next stop is at the other corner of Tollington Road. (Now might be a good time to cross over Holloway road if you have not done so already)

Stop 9: former Jones Brothers Department store, (nos. 348 –366)


Today we can see a Waitrose store and a little further along a rather grand building. But prior to 1990, this was the location of the Jones Brothers Department store.




Jones Brothers’ was founded in 1869 by William and John Jones. William had come to London in 1867 and worked as a draper’s apprentice until he and his brother opened a small shop in Holloway.

In 1899 they were able to build larger premises with an entrance to the south under a tower.

In 1927 the store became one of the Selfridge Provincial Stores, and in 1940, like a number of others including Bon Marche in Brixton, it was bought by the John Lewis Partnership.

Following closure of the store in 1990 part of the building became a conference centre. But over the door there is a little reminder of the origins of the building.


Clearly Holloway Road was an important shopping street from the late 19th century, rather like Brixton. But does not seemed to have fared so well today.

Our next stop is right next door.

Stop 10: Coronet Cinema 338 Holloway Road.

Today this building proudly proclaims itself as “The Coronet”.


It is now a Wetherspoons pub but was obviously once a cinema. The name is a bit misleading because it was only called the Coronet cinema for 4 years out of its 43 years life as a cinema.

It opened as the Savoy Cinema by Associated British Cinemas (ABC) on 5th February 1940. It had been virtually completed as war broke out in September 1939 and so was allowed to open as planned. It was re-named the ABC in 1962 and in 1979 the independent Coronet Cinemas chain leased  it and renamed it the Coronet Cinema.

It finally closed as a cinema in June 1983 and was never subdivided. After a couple of years as a snooker hall, by 1987, the building was vacant and unused. J.D. Wetherspoon purchased the building and it was converted into a pub, reopening as The Coronet in March 1996, with many of the features of the cinema restored.



The refurbishment and restoration of this former cinema won awards for the Wetherpoons. There are lots of informative panels around the building about the golden age of cinema and the local area, including one related to our next stop.


Continue walking along this side of Holloway Road and in the next block stop at Number 304

Stop 11: Number 304 Holloway Road

Joe Meek, record producer, lived, worked and died in his flat in 304 Holloway Road.



He was one of the important record producers of the early 1960s and he did much of his work here at this flat, where he created a studio. His best remembered hit is the Tornados’ “Telstar” in 1962, which was apparently the first record by a British group to reach number one in the US pop charts. But his commercial success as a producer was short lived, and he gradually sank into debt and depression, and believed his flat was haunted or was being bugged. On 3 February 1967, after a dispute with his landlady Violet Shenton, he shot her and then turned the gun on himself.

He was quite a character as can be seen from this piece on Islington Council’s site.


Fascinating stuff and we even get another old picture of Beale’s. And who would have thought we would have two murderers in one walk!

Now keep walking along Holloway Road and just after going under the railway bridge, look down the side street and you can see the new Arsenal Emirates Stadium


Sadly we do not have time to visit!

Nor do we have time to pop into Holloway Road tube station just by the railway bridge – another of the Leslie Green designed tube station.


By the way it has a strange claim to fame as the place where the first escalator was installed on the Underground. The station was was built with two lift shafts, but only one was ever used for lifts. The second shaft was the site of an experimental spiral escalator which was built in 1906 by the American inventor of escalators, Jesse W. Reno. The experiment was not successful and it was never used by the public. The remains of this escalator are apparently now in the London Transport Museum’s depot in Acton.

Our next stop is just along the road but you will get a better view if you cross over.

Stop 12 London Metropolitan University, 166-220 Holloway Road

London Metropolitan University was formed on 1 August 2002 by the merger of London Guildhall University and the University of North London, but can trace it roots back to 1848 when one of its predecessor bodies, the City of London Polytechnic, was formed.

But we are at the University of North London’s site, previously the Polytechnic of North London.


But amongst the rather dull buildings, a rather special creation was added in 2004 – the 10,000 sq ft Graduate Student Centre by renowned architect Daniel Libeskind.


It comprises three intersecting volumes, clad with embossed stainless steel panels. The Graduate Center houses a lecture theatre, seminar rooms, staff offices and a café for the university’s graduate students.

Jonathan Glancey wrote in the Guardian in February 2004: “At £3m all in, this is not an expensive building. What it has that distinguishes it from what a client might ordinarily expect for that money is great presence… When you visit the area, you immediately realise that Libeskind’s explosive building acts not only as a junction box for the university but as a landmark for the entire street.”


But this site also once housed a cinema at numbers 194-196 Holloway Road.

This had opened as the Holloway Grand Pictures on 8th January 1913. It was taken over by the Ben Jay circuit and became the Regent Cinema in 1935. In 1950 it was renamed Century Cinema and in 1955 it was purchased by the Essoldo Circuit and renamed Essoldo Cinema.

However a Compulsory Purchase Order was served on it (presumably to allow for the building of an extension to the Polytechnic of North London). The cinema closed on 29 April 1961 and was demolished leaving no trace.


Now if you have a moment, do take a detour down Eden Grove, the street opposite the Libeskind building. At the end as the road does a sharp left, you will see this.


A closer inspection reveals that this is the “Electric Lighting station” of the Vestry of St Mary Islington we heard about in stop 4.



So this is what an Victorian power station looked like!

We are now at the end of our N7 walk. we have heard about some interesting characters (including two very different murderers) and we have seen how Holloway was once quite a centre for shopping and for entertainment, though sadly it has not got much in either department these days.

If you retrace your steps back to Holloway Road and turn left you will soon be at Holloway Road tube station.. And of course there are numerous buses along the Holloway Road.



N6 You say Hi-git and I say Hi-Gayt

N6 is Highgate but how to pronounce it? Do you pronounce it as it looks – ie Hi-gayt? Or do you clip it and say Hi-git. London Underground thinks the latter according to the trains on the Northern line. But the local buses say the name more like “Hi-gayt”, which I think sounds more “normal”.

So you say Hi-git and I say Hi-gayt. Tomayto, Tomarto, Potayto, Potarto. Ah well, let’s call the whole thing off. But no, wait we can’t, we haven’t done N6 yet!

We start at the Post Office at 361 Archway Road.  Turn left out of the  Post Office. Cross over and go up the hill. Soon you will come to our first stop which is on the right.

Stop 1: Highgate Wood

Here there is a nice little gate which leads you into Highgate Wood.


This wood is owned and managed by the City of London Corporation.


According to their website, this was originally part of the Bishop of London’s Hunting Park. It is 28 hectares of ancient woodland predominantly made up of hornbeam coppice and oak standard trees. This has been a working woodland for many hundreds of years, with the hornbeams being cut on a rotational basis and used predominantly for firewood, charcoal making and tool handles. The oak standards were grown as single stem trees and used for house building, ship building and other purposes.

The City took over the land in 1886  from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners at no charge on condition that it was “maintained in perpetuity for the benefit of Londoners”

Don’t worry I am not taking you for a walk in the woods. Just go a little way into the woods and look to your left through the trees.

Down below you is a railway line.


This is the line that went from Finsbury Park to East Finchley and beyond and was going to be converted to become an Underground line under the Northern Heights project which we have heard about in Mill Hill and Finchley. The lines here peter out just below you and I understand are used by London Underground for storage. The track bed though goes under your feet in a tunnel and continues via Highgate station to Finsbury Park – much of which is now a walking and  cycle route.

Now retrace your steps back along Archway road and turn left at the traffic lights and then take the right hand road. You will see a path signed for Highgate Station, go down this.

Stop 2: Highgate Station

I guess many people who use Highgate station do not know that the first station here was built on the surface and now lies abandoned. As you go down this path you can see the old station.


There has been a station here since 1867 when the Great Northern Railway opened a line between Finsbury Park and Edgware. This is the line we saw the remains of just now.

The London Underground Northern Line was extended to here and started serving the station in 1941, using new platforms in tunnels below the original station.

The platforms on the original railway line were to have been used as part of the aborted Northern Heights project. One of the original 1867 station buildings still exists, and is in use as a private house. And we approach the modern day station entrance, we can see this.


Today’s station contains two tube tunnel platforms which are accessed from a concourse situated immediately below the disused surface platforms. Go in the entrance ahead of you and walk though to come out the Archway Road exit.


Do not use the escalator exit as this will take you back where you started. And there is only an up escalator so you would have to walk back down Archway Road.

Fascinating fact: The platforms are longer than elsewhere on the Northern line. They were built to accommodate nine-car trains, in anticipation of longer trains on the line (which never happened)


The unfulfilled plans would have given us a much substantial station than what was eventually built. The way Highgate station ended up is all rather unsatisfactory.

More info on this station (including some pictures of the abandoned platforms) at:


Now go up the access road from the station and at the junction cross over Archway Road and go down Highgate Avenue. Turn right into Southwood Avenue and our next stop is a little way on the left

Stop 3: Number 25 Southwood Avenue


This was the home of William Heath Robinson (1872-1944). He was an artist, illustrator and cartoonist.


The plaque says he was known as ‘the Gadget King’. His illustrations showed mad but logical contraptions and often have that make do and mend philosophy which is so beloved of many people.

Even today he has a following. There is even a Heath Robinson Trust which is aiming to open a museum next year in Pinner – see their site: http://heathrobinson.org/index.htm

Continue along Southwood Avenue. It becomes Southwood Lawn Road. At the end cross over and go down a little path called Park Walk (take the left path). At the end of this you will find “The Wrestlers” pub. Turn left along the main road and our next stop is a couple of doors along on the same side of the road as the pub.

Stop 4: Number 92 North Road


This is one of numerous plaques to Charles Dickens (The wonderful Open Plaques site says there are 52 dedicated to Dickens or mentioning his name! Not all in London of course)


Dickens stayed here in 1832 when he was just 20, so this was before he was famous. It was not until 1833 that he submitted his first story “A Dinner at Poplar Walk”, to the London periodical Monthly Magazine and his literary success only really began in 1836 with the serial publication of The Pickwick Papers.

Now cross the road.

Stop 5: Highpoint One and Two

At first glance these two blocks of flats do not look very special but they are. The one we come to first is Highpoint One. It was built in 1935 to a design by Russian-born architect Berthold Lubetkin with the structural design by the Danish engineer Ove Arup. This is what is known as early International style architecture and was very innovative in its day.


Highpoint One was built for Sigmund Gestetner who father David invented a duplicating machine which revolutionised office life. David Gestetner was born in Hungary but came to England where he made his name. He filed his first copying patent in 1879. The company was hugely successful and opened on works in Tottenham in 1906. And this block of flats was originally intended as housing for Gestetner company staff. But this never happened.

The second Lubetkin building in the same style, Highpoint Two, was completed on an adjoining site in 1938. Both are Grade I Listed Buildings


Highpoint Two has a strange quirk at the front, which comes as a bit of a shock in a building of clean lines and smooth finishes.



Architectural reference book Pevsner says: “The idea of using reproductions of two … caryatids is significant. It is a case of surrealism in architecture, that is of the familiar made fantastic by surprise setting.”

The trouble is that the currency of this kind of surprise is now overvalued. Today it just looks like a bit of Las Vegas dropped into Highgate, but when it was first done it must have been at once shocking and intriguing.

Continue along this road which mutates from North Hill to North Road. Our next stop is on the right.

Stop 5: Number 17 North Road


Set back off the road with a nice little garden is the house where classics scholar A.E. Housman (1859-1936) lived and where he wrote his most famous work “A Shropshire Lad”


A Shropshire Lad is a cycle of 63 poems. After several publishers had turned it down, he published it at his own expense in 1896 and apparently it has never been out of print since.  The poems have themes such as the loss of youth, violent death, the parting of friends and are set in a half-imaginary Shropshire, a nostalgic ‘land of lost content’.

Housman wrote most of them while living here before ever visiting that part of Shropshire (even though it was only about thirty miles from his boyhood home). During the First World War, Housman’s poems became popular given their themes and the fact that some were addressed to, or spoken by, a soldier. More at: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poet/e-housman#sthash.kEgzcvZQ.dpuf

Continue along North Road and ahead on the other side of the roundabout is our next stop.

Stop 6: Gatehouse pub

According to Wikipedia, Highgate adjoined the Bishop of London’s hunting estate. The bishop kept a toll-house where one of the main northward roads out of London entered his land. A number of pubs sprang up along the route, one of which, the Gatehouse, commemorates the toll-house.


Now it is a Wetherspoon’s pub with a theatre attached. There is a great little history of this site at this link:


It makes the great claim of being London’s Top Theatre. That is because it is 446 feet above Sea Level.

Now go round the front of the pub and follow the road (which is Highgate West Hill). There is a green area to your right. At the end of this a road comes in at an angle go back along this and almost immediately you will see our next stop.

Stop 7: Number 3 The Grove

This house has a double literary connection.


First in 1817, the writer Samuel Taylor Coleridge (who we came across in W14) came to live here. This was the Highgate home of Dr James Gillman who sought to address Coleridge’s opium addiction. Dr Gillman built a special wing for the poet and Coleridge lived there for the rest of his life, becoming known as the sage of Highgate. Some of his most famous poems, though written years earlier, were first published when he was living here. He died here on 25 July 1834 and is buried in the crypt of the local parish church of St Michael’s.

The writer J. B. Priestley (1894 – 1984) subsequently lived in the same house. Both are commemorated by plaques on the front of the house.


Keep going down Highgate West Hill. It is quite steep and the houses are spread quite far apart. We are headed for number 31 and it seems to take forever to come up. Just keep going. It is just after the vast estate now occupied by the Russian Trade Delegation, with its wide drive and security gates. I was going to take a photograph of this but thought maybe that was not a great idea.

Stop 8: Number 31 Highgate West Hill

This was the childhood home of John Betjeman (1906 – 1984). He lived here from 1908 to 1917.


As his family moved out when he was 11, I am not sure what more there is to say. Except perhaps that he said High-git!

Now retrace your steps slightly and across the road you will see a gated road, called Oakeshott Avenue. It may be gated but it is possible to walk through the pedestrian gates on either side

Stop 9: Holly Lodge Estate



This is a fascinating estate, built on the grounds of a house called Holly Lodge which from 1849 was the country retreat of Angela Burdett-Coutts (1814 – 1906) one of the most remarkable women of the 19th century. She was well known for her philanthropy. Indeed we came across her in Lime Grove W12 where she set up a home for fallen women with Charles Dickens.

The estate was put up for sale after her death, but it was not until the 1920s that it was all sold off and developed.

There is a fascinating site all about the estate and how it developed:


So as we walk along Oakeshott Avenue, we are at first surrounded by detached mock Tudor houses, dating from the 1920s.


As you approach the junction with Hillway, look out for a glimpse of Canary Wharf. Now I did not expect that!


At the cross roads with Hillway, look down that street and you get another unexpected view. This time of the London Eye.


And then along Oakeshot Avenue, you can now see what architectural historian Pevsner calls “Tudor cliffs”


These mansion blocks were designed from the outset as bed-sitting rooms, sometimes with bedroom or kitchen alcoves, and were considered an acceptable way for single women to live near to London on their own!

Go out the gates at the end of the street and turn left into Swain’s Lane. You can see Highgate Cemetery. As we walk down the street look out for this monument.


A closer looks reveals this is the grave, amongst others,  of William Freise Greene, a pioneer of cinema, who we came across in W9. Or rather as the monument puts it “The inventor of kinematography”


Stop 10: Highgate Cemetery

You cannot really come to Highgate without mentioning the cemetery.

The cemetery is in two halves. The original part is on the west (left side as you are walking) of Swain’s Lane and opened in 1839. It was as part of a plan to provide cemeteries to replace the graveyards attached to individual churches which had long been unable to cope with the number of burials and had become a hazard to health. There were seven of these and so they became known as the Magnificent Seven and we have already seen another one – Brompton Cemetery in SW10.

Here is the entrance to the West Cemetery


You have to go on a tour of this part of the cemetery, but you can go in the East Cemetery every day, via this gate, which is to your right and opposite the entrance to the West Cemetery.



There is much to see in the cemetery and we could linger here much longer to hear about some of the famous people who are buried here. But sadly we do not have time just now, as we must complete our walk through N6.

Continue along Swain’s Lane and go into Waterlow Park (which is on your right)

Stop 11 Waterlow Park

Sir Sidney Waterlow was a 19th century politician and philanthropist. He was Lord Mayor of London in 1872/73 and was made a baronet in 1873.

In 1889 gave this land to the London County Council as “a garden for the gardenless”.

Once in the park take the path on the left and go up the hill and as you get near the top take the right hand path.

Today Waterlow is commemorated by a statue, which you will see on your left along with lots of benches.


I am told by fellow guide Jen this is the only statue in London with an umbrella!


The positioning is great. Waterlow gets what may well be one of the best views of London a statue could have. Not sure exactly what he can see. But here is what I saw from the grass just below the statue.



Frustratingly you cannot see the whole skyline from one point. Maybe you have to come back when there are no leaves on the trees.

Follow the path round and you will come to the gardens of a house with tables and chairs outside.


Go in but don’t miss the little sundial (or what left of it) on your left.


And it says this sundial plate is on a level with the top of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, which is an unexpected comparison.


Now exit the park into Highgate High Street and turn right. This road becomes Highgate Hill.

Stop 11a: Highgate Hill


I thought I would stop and mention something here, although there is nothing actually to see to remind us of it.

Highgate Hill was in fact the location of the first passenger cable car service in Europe which opened in 1884 (San Francisco and Duendin, New Zealand (!) had earlier systems). The route ran between Archway and Highgate and used a continuous cable and grip system on the 1 in 11 climb of Highgate Hill.


The method of haulage was not reliable and was replaced by electric trams in 1909

Now turn down Hornsey Lane and a little way along just after St Aloysius College is a famous bridge, our final stop.

Stop 12: Archway Bridge

Although the place known as Archway is in N19, the bridge which gives its name to the locality is actually just in N6, so I am including it here.

The original main road north went up the very steep Highgate Hill and through the village of Highgate, passing by the Gatehouse we saw earlier. By the early 19th century, this was proving unsuitable for increasingly heavy traffic and so a bypass with a shallower gradient was proposed cutting through the hill in a tunnel.

This was also a toll road. Work started in 1810 but the tunnel collapsed during construction in April 1812. So a bridge, designed by John Nash, was built to carry Hornsey Lane over what was now a cutting. The new Archway Road opened in 1813 and it remained a toll road until 1876.

In the late 1890s, Nash’s bridge was replaced with the present cast-iron bridge slightly further north, designed by Sir Alexander Binnie. So the modern day bridge is not quite the archway it used to be.

It is impressive. Way below the bridge is the Archway Road – the modern day A1 – and you have a good view north.


And a great view south towards the City.


That brings us to the end of the N6 walk in which we saw some fascinating buildings and heard about some interesting literary connections. Though I still am not sure just how to pronounce the name!

For onward travel either take the W5 bus from Hornsey lane to Archway. Or you can go down the steep flight of steps to Archway Road and walk along the main road to Archway.