The Cloudesley Association Local History Research Project - Introduction

Jenny Tatton 4Following a Herculean research effort by Cloudesley Road resident Jenny Tatton, pictured, we have amassed a huge amount of data about past residents of the Cloudesley Estate, mainly those linked in one way or another with Holy Trinity Church in Cloudesley Square.  This section of the website is devoted to this local Cloudesley history.

The research is a work in progress.  Currently the data covers the 19th and early 20th century, from when building the church started in 1829 to the last available church data in 1932.  Census data is also available every 10 years from 1841 to 1911.  The intention is to extend the data on residents throughout the 20th century to the present day.  We also intend to drill down in much more detail into the histories of particularly interesting residents or families in order to get valuable insights into what it was like in this fascinating part of London in times past.

All members of the Cloudesley Association are encouraged to participate in this research effort by contributing relevant information or stories about the area which will help us improve and enrich our understanding of its history.  This might be information about the houses you live in and the people who lived there before, or information about relations if your family has lived in the area for a long time, any exterior or interior images of the area, insights into the changing social, economic and commercial characteristics of the estate, and of course anything about Holy Trinity Church.  We hope that the data already collected will prompt memories of past times and perhaps encourage you to conduct your own research into your own houses or family histories.

In parallel with the Association's research efforts, it is hoped that the Diocese will carry out its own "Our Heritage" research project beginning with a focus on the burials in the crypt of Holy Trinity.  As reported in our last Newsletter, the Diocese has applied for a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to support this work, and all being well, it should start in March 2019.  The data which Jenny has collected, particularly the burial records from 1829 to 1854, should provide an excellent base from which to start.

Very recently, we have also been contacted by an organisation called "Layers of London", also supported by an HLF grant, and we are sharing our data with them.  You can check out what they're doing at and if you search for the "Cloudesley Estate" Collection, you can see what has already been uploaded.

Our current data is organised in five main groups below:

Holy Trinity Church Burials, 1829 to 1854

Holy Trinity Church Baptisms and Births, 1829 to 1899

Holy Trinity Church Marriages, 1899 to 1932

Cloudesley Square Census data, for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1991, 1901 and 1911

Stonefield Street Census data, for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1991, 1901 and 1911

Stories Behind the Records

In each case, Jenny has transcribed the handwritten records available through her subscription to the "Ancestry" genealogical site and organised the results in Word files.  This has involved many, many hours of painstaking work on Jenny's part, but don't worry, she enjoys it!  Note that, for the church data, only records relating to individuals living in the Cloudesley Association area has been transcribed, to date.  Quite often the records are difficult to decipher or information is missing or may be misleading.  We have tried to correct any obvious anomalies, but errors are bound to creep in so please take care in interpreting the results and do please let us know if you spot any mistakes.  Once again, this is a work in progress and hopefully we can improve the accuracy and consistency of the data over time.  We have then converted each Word file into an Excel spreadsheet in a form which enables it to be analysed in various ingenious ways in order to identify social trends and other interesting insights (this is primarily the work of your Web Manager, Nick Collin!).  You can download and view both the Word files with the original "raw" records, or the more processed Excel files.  Note that each Excel file consists of one "worksheet" with the base data, then various additional worksheets with analyses of the data in one form or another.  These additional analyses can be accessed by clicking on the appropriately labelled tabs at the bottom of each Excel file.  Finally we have prepared a number of additional Excel files with higher level analyses, usually with trends expressed in the form of graphs.  Those of you who know how to use Excel are welcome to carry out additional analyses - please share your results!


Emmett Records 2

Census Records - Illustration.  By 1861, John T Emmett, Architect aged 37, and son of John Emmett, responsible for building Cloudesley Square as a speculative development, had moved into No 1 , together with his widowed mother, his sister, and two servants.  The transcribed data is shown below.

Cloudesley Square

House No

Name Relation to Head of Family Condition Age Profession, Trade, Employment or Independent Means Where Born


(If any)

1 Mary Emmett Head Wd 65 Proprietress of Houses Middx Islington
John T Emmett Son U 37 Architect Middx Clerkenwell
Mary Ann Emmett Daughter U 34 Proprietress of Houses Middx Clerkenwell
Eliza Ashdown Servant U 40 Housemaid Kent Shoreham
Lucy Ruffold Servant 38 General Servant Surrey Ash


Holy Trinity Church Burials, 1829 to 1854

Word Download Icon


Download Word File: Burials


Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Burials

Starting in 1829, some 178 souls have been buried in the crypt of Holy Trinity (only the records of those resident in the Cloudesley Association area have been transcribed to date).  We do not yet know why burials stopped in 1854 - perhaps the crypt was full.  We do know that many of the coffins were vandalised over the year - see "Tales From the Crypt".

In the Excel file the records are colour coded to indicate the records of individuals which have also turned up in the other Baptism and Burials records.  One such is Charles Mason Sharpe.  We have a photograph of Charles' coffin and Jenny took it upon herself to research him and his family, who all lived locally (his father Joseph was also buried in the crypt).  You can read Jenny's fascinating story about the Sharpe family here


Holy Trinity Church Baptisms and Births, 1829 to 1917

Word Download IconDownload Word File: Baptisms & Births

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Baptisms & Births

In this case, Jenny has transcribed a massive 1081 records!  Each baptism records the name, address, baptism date and birth date (frequently missing), as well as the names and occupations of the parents.  The Excel file shows the records sorted by date, name and street.  Records are also counted by year, street and occupation of parents.  Finally there is an analysis of changes in "social class" over the years.  This is a bit subjective - I have grouped parents' occupations into a variety of arbitrary categories - but the picture which emerges is of a distinct "degentrification" over the period.  The same pattern is seen in other data sets, below.  The street names are interesting.  Today's names make up the majority of entries but some names, such as Upper Islington Terrace, or Cloudesley Terrace, have changed.  You can see where the old streets were on old maps of the area here.


Holy Trinity Church Marriages, 1899 to 1932

Word Download IconDownload Word File: Marriages

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Marriages

Some 586 marriages of residents of the Cloudesley Estate took place over the period.  We don't know why there are no records for years before 1899.  Perhaps the Diocese will be able to find out.  Each record shows the names of the bride and the groom, their addresses, occupations, date of the marriage, names and occupations of fathers, and names of witnesses.  The Excel file shows analyses in terms of marriages per year, counts of residence, age at marriage by sex (quite young, with the grooms slightly older than the brides, but not as they get older!), job counts by sex, and fathers' job counts.  There is a wealth of interesting insights to be gleaned from this data.  For example almost all of the "Bachelors" had jobs at the time of marriage, but very few of the "Spinsters"!  Also, they appear to be a remarkably parochial lot.  In the vast majority of cases the happy couple lived prior to marriage in the same small Cloudesley area, often in the same street, and in many cases in the same house!  Is this a case of lodgers falling in love with the landlord's daughter?  Or is it some sort of artefact of the data?  

On June 12, 1910, there was a double marriage between Albert Brazell and Ellen Stockton, and George Brazell (brothers presumably) and Rose Clemens, all giving their address as 16 Cloudesley Square (my address - Nick!).  Oddly, none of these people feature in the 1911 census records for 16 Cloudesley Square (when there were no less than 15 residents across 4 families!) and in the 1901 census it is "uninhabited". 

Multiple occupancy is the norm during this period as we will see below.  Both the job count of bachelors and the job count of fathers reveal a fairly lowly level of occupation at this time - a preponderence of clerks, artisans, labourers and the like, with increasing numbers of soldiers from 1914.  Note the spike in the number of marriages in 1915 as our brave lads married their sweethearts before going off to war!  There's an even bigger spike in 1923 - who knows why?


Cloudesley Square Census Data, 1841 to 1911

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Census Data

This is the largest and arguably the most interesting data set, especially if you happen to live in Cloudesley Square!  UK census data is available starting in 1841 and every ten years after this up to 1911 after which it is restricted by a "100 year rule", presumably for data privacy purposes.  For the time being only the Excel combined worksheets file for each ten year period starting in 1841 and ending in 1911 is downloadable above.  We also have separate Word and Excel files for each census year which will be added to the website later.  Note however, that even on the combined spreadsheet we have used Excel routines to calculate a number of key statistics at the bottom of each worksheet, such as occupants per house, families per house and individuals per family.

The census data collected changes slightly over the years but always includes the house number, names of residents, their ages and occupations.  One of the most interesting things to do is to take a particular house (ideally your own!) and see how the occupants change over the years.  Once again, the most striking picture to emerge is a steady "degentrification" over the period.  In 1829, when the houses were first built they tended to be occupied by single families, typically middle class with professional type occupations and in almost all cases one or more servants.  Starting in the 1880s and even more so in 1891, 1901 and 1911, multiple occupancy is the norm, with 2, 3, 4, or 5 families per house, and some instances of 15 or more indiviuduals sharing the same dwelling, presumably with just just two rooms on each of four floors.  How this actually worked in practice would be fascinating to find out.  Where did they sleep?  Where did they eat?  What about washing, bathing, going to the toilet?  Does anyone know?

Here are a couple of interesting analyses of this census data.

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: "Household Trends by Census Year"

 This clearly shows how the number of individuals and families per house increased markedly over the period.

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: "Employment Trends by Census Year"

And this confirms what we saw earlier.  Using the somewhat arbitrary and subjective categories referred to earlier, residents tend to be professional or have other middle class jobs or independent means earlier on, but by the end of the period they are mostly workers or fairly lowly tradespeople.  Servants are by far the most numerous category initially but are almost unknown by 1911.

It will be extremely interesting to find out what happens to Cloudesley Square as we progress throughout the 20th century.  We know that rapid gentrification took place starting around the 1970s, but what happened between 1911 and then?

Watch this space!


New: Stonefield Street Census Data, 1841 to 1911

Jenny has now also transcribed the census records for all the houses in Stonefield Street.  Once again, you can download the combined Excel spreadsheet showing details for each 10 year period from 1841 to 1911 here below.

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Census Data, Stonefield St

The data tell a similar story to the Cloudesley Square records, but more so!  The decline in the fortunes of Stonefield Street were really spectacular, especially after the turn of the century.  This can be seen clearly in the downloadable analyses below.

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Household Trends, Stonefield St

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Employment Trends, Stonefield St

Stonefields Occupants

Metrics such as Total Individuals and Families in the street climb steadily through the 18th century then jump dramatically from 1901 to 1911.  This is even more the case with average Occupants and Families per House.  By 1911 every house in the street is multi-occupancy, most with four families per house, presumably one family per floor.  The number of people living in a single house in 1911 is astounding - there are two instances of 27 occupants, and several with over 20!  And the Employment trends show a steady deterioration from professional middle class occupants with their servants in 1841 to much more lowly occupations (plus many schoolchildren!) in 1911.

Reasons for the gradual deterioration of the area, as mentioned elsewhere, include the presence nearby of Kings Cross, from the 1840s onwards, as well as noxious industries in areas such as Belle Isle, and the opportunity for the better off to move to new housing developments further out of London, from where they could commute into the city on the new railways.  But the dramatic deterioration from 1901 to 1911 may well have been exacerbated by another factor.  It seems that the Richard Cloudesley Trust, which still owned most or all of the freehold in the Cloudesley Estate, originally granted leaseholds to speculative builders in or around 1829, typically with 81 year leases.  These would have been renewed at or around the turn of the century and they may then have been taken up by what were, effectively "slum landlords" who converted the majority of the house in Stonefield Street to multi-occupancy, usually with a family per floor (this certainly seems to be what happened at 16 Cloudesley Square, at the hands of one Stanley Conway - see here).

Whatever the reasons, by 1911 Stonefield Street appears to have been, by any reasonable criteria, a slum - and seems to have remained as such throughout most of the twentieth century, until gentrification started in the 1960s.  What this meant in practice was levels of deprivation which are difficult to imagine by modern standards.  The final analysis below takes advantage of the fact that the 1911 census show for each mother living in Stonefield Street, the numbers of years married, and the number of children born, broken down by numbers still living and numbers who have died.  This reveals an average child mortality rate of some 25%!  Individual cases are even more heartbreaking.  Consider, for example, Jane Mary Ann Snelling, of No. 24, a boarder, now widowed with occupation "Washing Casual - (Own A/C)", who had been married for 33 years, giving birth to 13 children, 7 of whom had died by 1911!  Poor woman!

Excel Download IconDownload Excel File: Child Births and Deaths, Stonefield St


Stories Behind the Records: Interesting People, Places, Events etc


Famous Footballer

In 1909 William ("Billy") Edwin Barnes married Elsie Smith in Holy Trinity Church.


Jul 24 1909 William Edwin Barnes 32 Bachelor Professional Footballer 86 Upperton Rd, Plaistow
Jul 24 1909 Elsie Annie Smith 22 Spinster - 18 Cloudesley Mansions

 According to Wikipedia:  

Son of a dockworker, William Edwin Barnes was born in West Ham on 20th May 1879.

His football career began at Thames Ironworks at the age of sixteen. He later played for the likes of Leyton, Sheffield United and West Ham United.

Rangers signed him in 1907 from Luton Town and he made his debut against Tottenham Hotspur at Park Royal on 2nd September.

After making 234 appearances, and scoring 37 goals, Billy was transferred to Southend United in 1913. He was to manage Athletic Bilbao in two spells, 1914-1916 and 1920-1921.

Billy passed away in 1962.

Taddy & Co. also featured him in their Prominent Footballer series in 1907.”

Here are two rather splendid images of Billy from around the time of his marriage:


William Barnes

IMG 1319 William Barnes




















Interesting Jobs and Crafts


Prosser Racquet

Sporting Goods

Trawling through the records reveals the following makers of sporting goods living in the Cloudesley Estate in the early 20th century:

  • Billiard Maker, Frank Williams, 25 Cloudesley Square, 1901
  • Tennis Bat Maker, George Watkins Capel, 347 Liverpool Rd, 1902
  • Billiard Maker, James Beazley, 6 Cloudesley Place, 1902
  • Cricket Bat Maker, William James Shaw, 17 Cloudesley Square, 1910
  • Lawn Tennis Bat Stringer, Edward Sheppard, 33 Cloudesley Square, 1910
  • Tennis Racquet Maker, John Thomas Berry, 32 Cloudesley Place, 1910
  • Tennis Racquet Maker, Albert Baker, 7 Cloudesley Square, 1923

A quick Google search suggests that these residents, at least the Tennis Racquet or "Bat" Makers, may have been employed by T.H. Prosser & Sons on Pentonville Rd.  According to British History Online:

"A notable manufacturer based here from the 1880s into the early 1900s was T. H. Prosser & Sons, at Nos 198–200, the leading makers of rackets, lawn tennis and athletic equipment.  Established in Pentonville in the 1850s, Prossers supplied universities and schools, and were official makers to Princes Club in Knightsbridge and Queen's Club in West Kensington. They were also the first to make lawn tennis rackets, under the direction of Major Wingfield, inventor of the game."

More speculatively, it is tempting to make an association between the Cricket Bat Maker and the Cricket Ground at White Conduit Fields, predecessor of The MCC


Piano Making

A surpring number of residents were involved with manufacturing pianos and related occupations:

  • Piano Forte Key Maker, Alfred Charles Lowe, 12 Cloudesley Place, 1885Piano Factory
  • Harmonium Maker, William Graham, 144 Cloudesley Road, 1887
  • Piano Forte Maker, Alexander Linton, 10 Cloudesley Place, 1909
  • Pianoforte Maker, Thomas Marden (Deceased), 103 Cloudesley Rd, 1910
  • Organ Builder, Ernest Mason, 20 Cloudesley St, 1911
  • Pianoforte Maker, Harry Erwin Stuart Hinks, 17 Clarendon Square, Somers Town, 1917
  • Piano Manufacturer, Arthur Charles Cons, 46 Hamden Rd, 1917
  • Piano Maker, Walter Sidney Roberts, 18 Cloudesley Rd, 1920

It turns out that Camden and Islington were a world centre for piano manufacturing in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Some of this activity took place in large firms such as Collard & Collard based in the famous circular building on Oval Road in Camden (see image).  But hundreds of smaller firms were part of the industry, some no more than "small assembly shops in back kitchens, with parts bought in ready made" (see "Piano Manufacture in Camden").  These firms were, in turn supported by a host of related trades including veneering, fretworking, woodturning, glue boiling, stringing shops, key loading, case making, timber and ivory work, hammer work, and marquetry.  Sure enough, all these crafts figure in our records.  Here, for example, are a father and son both employed as veneerers from the Marriages data:

Married 25.12.1930:  Robert Mathew Clark-Ward, Bachelor, Veneerer, 2 Cloudesley Square. Father: Charles Clerk-Ward, Veneerer

One reason the area was suitable for Piano Making was the presence of the Regents Canal and the emerging Kings Cross rail network for transporting the bulky pianos.  Another might be the nearby "Belle Isle" site which hosted a variety of noxious commercial activities, mostly involving the boiling down of dead animals to yield, for example, varnish, glue, and bones!  More on Belle Isle later.


Walking Sticks

Walking Sticks 1Several makers of walking sticks and umbrellas appear in the records, variously described as Walking Stick Makers, Walking Stick Manufacturers, Stick Dressers and Stick Mounters (this refers to "decorated walking sticks with silver, gold, bone or ivory mountings") and, possibly, "Stickers".  This in itself is probably not peculiar to Islington - walking sticks were big business in the 19th century and were made all over the country in ever more fantastic shapes and sizes (see here for a description).  Walking Sticks 2

In the Cloudesley Estate it seems to have been a family business.  In the 1881 census, for example, we find John Crossley at 28 Cloudesley Square describing himself proudly as a "Walking Stick Maker employing 6 men + boys", the boys presumably including his sons John and Alfred, then aged 11 and 9 respectively.  Ten years later in the 1891 census he is still there, but the sons, now 21 and 19, now each merit a description under Occupation as "Walking Stick Manufacturers"!

In the Births and Baptism records we come across Edward John Long, a Walking Stick Maker living at 6 Islington Terrace (the forerunner of Cloudesley Road), presiding over a double baptism on May 3 1887 at Holy Trinity Church, of his daughter Sarah Ann Emma Long, and his son, also called Edward John Long.  Turning now to the Marriages records, the son Edward John Long, now aged 28, is shown as marrying Lilian Amelia Braithwaite at Holy Trinity on Boxing Day, 26 December 1909, with both father and son described as "Stick Mounters".  The next year his sister, Alice Rachel Long, aged 20, marries one Henry James Willis, a compositor from nearby Barnsbury Street.  Alice's Father Edward is now described as merely a "Stick Maker"!  Note that this sister is different from the sister Sarah who was baptised in 1887.  This highlights an issue with the Baptism and Birth records, which frequently show the Baptism Date without the birth date, and often feature two or more siblings being baptised on the same day, in a job lot as it were.  In the case of the Longs we can surmise that Edward was baptised at the age of 6 when his sister Sarah was born and that poor Alice was probably not baptised at all.

Other Artisans

The Cloudesley Estate was home to many other artisans and craftmen, particularly towards the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  From the Baptisms and Births data, 1829-1917, we can identify the following parental occupations.








Cabinet Maker or Related


Silversmith or Related




Bookbinder or Related


Watch, Clock or Escapement Maker




Walking Stick Maker or Related


French Polisher


Goldsmith or Related


Jewel Case Maker


Artificial Florist




Vellum Binder






Mathematical Instrument Maker




Pianoforte Maker




Slate Mason


Brass Finisher


Diamond Setter




Glass Blower


Zinc Worker


Harmonium Maker 


Surgical Instrument Maker




Portmanteau Maker


Tinplate Worker


Bicycle Maker


Fancy Paper Manufacturer


Church Organ Builder








Cinematograph Operator


Sign Writer






Straw Hat Manufacturer


Electro-plater and Gilder


Instrument Maker


Piano Forte Key Maker




Leather Case Maker


Copper Plate Printer


Marble Mason


Cycle Maker


Basket Maker








Watch Case Polisher


Braid Maker




Finally, from the Marriages data, we have the following entry for 1921!

183 Barnsbury Rd William Henry Gambier Rocking Horse Maker

Some of these artisans may have been employed at local factories or workshops (see Belle Isle below), but many were no doubt self-employed and working from their homes in the Cloudesley area.


Medical Folk

See under "About the Area", Medical History.


The Magnificent Hume Family

The 1891 census shows Henry Hume, aged 62, a wholesale milliner, living at 34 Cloudesley Square with his wife Jane and no less than thirteen children!  The table reveals that from the ages of 21 to 44 Mrs Hume gave birth to a new child more or less continually every two years, with only one servant to help her!


Henry Hume 62 Wholesale Milliner
Jane Hume 48
Thomas G Hume 27 Draper’s Assistant
Robert James Hume 25 Commercial Traveller
Jane C Hume 23 Teacher of Music
Jessie M Hume 20 Milliner
Edith L E Hume 18 Milliner
Louisa M Hume 15 Scholar
Lilian H Hume 14 Scholar
Frank L Hume 13 Scholar
Edgar O Hume 11 Scholar
Arthur W Hume 10 Scholar
Catherine G Hume 8 Scholar
Fred K Hume 7 Scholar
Mable J Hume 4
Susannah Whitebread 53 General Servant Domestic

None of the children appear to have been baptised or married in Holy Trinity.  Ten years later in 1901, the eldest son, Thomas is still living at No 34, and still a Draper's Assistant, married to Ada from Essex, but the rest of the Humes have vanished.  Where did they go?


Schoolmasters and the Trinity School at 16 Cloudesley Street

The Burials and Births data list no less than 19 parents with the occupation of Schoolmaster (no schoolmistresses, but see below).  This is a little misleading, however, since there are separate records for each new baptism and several of the schoolmasters had quite a lot of children.  In fact, it turns out there are a total of 8 schoolmasters in the baptism records, as follows:

  • James Nunn, Infant School Trinity District.  6 children baptised: 1832, 1833, 1835, 1837, 1839, 1841, 1844!

(Later Note: Mr Nunn is mentioned in grandiloquent terms in the 1850 Annual Report of the Committee responsible for the Holy Trinity Schools, thus:

In the inscrutable but unerring ordering of Divine Providence, your long-tried and much-valued master, Mr. Nunn, was laid upon the bed of lingering and dangerous sickness, and for a length of time your Committee were in painful suspense as to the result. But the prayers of the friends of riper years, and of the loving children under his training, were heard, and it pleased God to give him and all who were deeply interested in his or their own welfare, “an happy issue out of their affliction.”

You can download the full report, entirely written in such flowery language, here. )

  • Richard Clarke, 20 Cloudesley Terrace.  4 children baptised: 1839, 1842, 1848.
  • William Cornish, 1 Stonefield Street.  1 child baptised: 1839.

(Later Note: the Cornish family included one son, also called William, who became a professor of music, and another, Alfred, who is listed in the 1851 census as a merchant's clerk.  Alfred's son, Albert, became a sergeant in the South Wales Borderers and died of dysentry in Basra, Iraq in 1916 - download his war record here)

  • Thomas MacDougal, 27 Lower Islington Terrace.  1 child baptised: 1849.
  • Edward Stevens, 14 Cloudesley Square.  2 children baptised: 1860, 1862.
  • Robert Sturman, 11A Stonefield Street.  1 child baptised: 1864.
  • Lawrence Major, School House Cloudesley Street.  4 children baptised: 1870, 1872, 1874, 1878.
  • Arthur Gibbard, 1 Cloudesley Square.  1 child baptised: 1889.

Note that at least two of these families actually lived in the school variously described as "Infant School Trinity District", "Infant School House", and "School House Cloudesley Street".  It seems likely that the others also taught there.  Another source - the Post Office London Directory for 1860 - confirms that James Nunn and Edward Stevens were teachers at "Trinity Church National and Infant Schools" as "Infant Master" and "Master" respectively, and lists Mrs Isabella Hannah Stevens as "Mistress".  From a later Directory for 1900 we can identify two more teachers at the school as the following entry makes clear:

  • In 1900 (see image below):

- "Cloudesley National Schools"

- Lawrence Major, Master (see above)

- Mrs Major, Mistress (Jane Ann - Mr Major's wife!)

- "Cloudesley Infants Schools"

- Miss Ebbels, Mistress

Trinity School Record 1900










Trinity school, now a building at 16A Cloudesley Street, on the corner with Cloudesley Square, has an interesting history, as the following extract from "Cloudesley: 500 Years in Islington" by Cathy Ross describes:

"... in December 1829 a new project was conceived - building an infant school. Following a search for a suitable site the feoffees agreed to lease a plot to the enterprise and a ‘neat edifice in the pointed style’ was erected, designed by local architect George Legg and built by William Webb of Clerkenwell. The feoffees granted an 81 year lease on the site at a ground rent of £15 and the building cost largely came from donations, including £52 raised by the sale of tickets to ‘an interesting lecture on pneumatic chemistry’.

The little school opened in 1830. This was a private school where donors or subscribers bought the right to nominate children – two children for every donation of 10 guineas. By 1835 240 children were enrolled in the infant school and 263 in the Sunday school which was held in the same building. In 1839 the building was enlarged to become a ‘National School’ accommodating 133 older boys as well as 224 infants."

The school was taken over by the London County Council (LCC) in 1905, closed down as "unfit for purpose", re-opened in 1908 as the "Cloudesley Street Temporary Council School" then closed down again in 1915 (at this time, the LCC also established the school on Dowry Street between Stonefield Street and Cloudesley Road, which remains to this day).  The building on Cloudesley Street was then let to the "Elizabeth Whitelaw Reid Club".  Cathy Ross again:

Jean Templeton Ward"In 1910 the Elizabeth Whitelaw Reid Club had opened on the school premises, bringing an American connection to the Stonefield Estate. Elizabeth Whitelaw Reid was the wife of the American ambassador and an energetic philanthropist. The Holy Trinity club was one of a network she had established in American cities and were designed to provide improving activities for young people in deprived communities. Both Whitelaw Reid and her daughter Lady Jean Templeton Ward, a great beauty of her day [see image], took a personal interest in the Islington club. Lady Ward continued her connection into the 1950s, paying much of the rebuilding costs after a fire in 1958. The youth club continued to run, under the auspices of the Mary Ward Settlement, and in 1958 Cloudesley sold the fire-damaged building outright to the Elizabeth Whitelaw Reid Clubs for Young People Ltd, for £2,200110. The building was extensively renovated with grant support from Islington Metropolitan Borough and the City Parochial Foundation. When the Whitelaw Reid youth club closed in the 1960s the building was sold on to a related organisation, the Grubb Institute."

In Holy Trinity Church there is a plaque commemorating Elizabeth Whitelaw Reid and two others devoted to Kate Gallwey and Maud Alice Bartlett, respectively leader and deputy leader of the club for 30 years.

In the 1970s, 16A Cloudesley Street was redeveloped, retaining its quirky but rather attractive exterior, and was occupied by the Grubb Institute, which "builds on a history of more than 50-years at the intersection of organisational dynamics, systems thinking and integral psychology" (!).  Finally, in 2018, it became the home of the Barnsbury Housing Association, of which more here



Infant School Cloudesley Square 18

 Grubb Institute












There was also a school (“the South Islington and British Schools, later used as a cardboard manufacturer”) built in 1841 on Denmark Terrace, later renamed as 1-23 Copenhagen St, so presumably at the South-West corner of the Cloudesley Estate.  There is no trace of the building there today, and little information about the school is available, but we do have these charming images of schoolchildren there, in 1899.  

london board school denmark terrace islington 1london board school denmark terrace islington waiting for soup at dinner time

Belle Isle

“Belle Isle” (the name is ironic!) refers to an area to the east of York Way (previously known as Maiden Lane – see maps below) as it crosses Brewery Road, which throughout the 19th century was notorious for the noxious industries and trades which were carried on there. It is relevant to our history in two ways. Firstly, it seems reasonable to assume that a number of the residents of the Cloudesley Estate were employed there, and the Occupations revealed in the records tend to confirm this. Secondly, the toxic presence of Belle Isle has been cited as a major reason for the decline in the area, particularly west of Caledonian Road, as those who could afford it fled to more salubrious and sweeter-smelling localities further North.


Belle Isle Map Large

Belle Isle Map 1830













The following extracts from the highly entertaining “In Strange Company”, by James Greenwood, 1874gives a flavour of the place:

“The spot that holds the horse slaughter houses is modestly called "The Vale;" the first turning beyond is, with goblin like humour, designated "Pleasant Grove." It is hardly too much to say, that almost every trade banished from the haunts of men, on account of the villanous smells and the dangerous atmosphere which it engenders is represented in Pleasant Grove. There are bone boilers, fat-melters, "chemical works," firework makers, lucifer-match factories, and several most extensive and flourishing dust yards, where - at this delightful season so excellent for ripening corn - scores of women and young girls find employment in sifting the refuse of dust-bins, standing knee-high in what they sift.”


Greenwood also describes the "London Necropolis Company" where bodies were stored before being transported by rail to out of town cemeteries!  Just across York Way is Agar Town, known locally as "Ague Town" or "the worst slum in London", now the fairly pleasant looking Elm Village estate.


Agar TownLondon Necropolis








According to British History Onlinethe enterprises located at Belle Isle include the following:

Tilekilns (Adams, later Tylor’s)
Coach and Cart Grease Factory (Warner’s)
Chemical Laboratory (Margett’s)
Varnish Factory (Wallis & Sons, also Schweizer’s, Turner’s and others
Soap-Boiling (Adams again)
Enamel Black and Japanning
Blood Manure (Fretwell’s)
Fat Melting
Gut-Scraping (Sausage Skins)
Condemned Meat Processing

Many of these trades were associated with the many slaughterhouses located in Belle Isle or nearby, of which the most important belonged to John Atchelor. According to one account:

“The Granddaddy of London horse slaughterers was Jack Atcheler. He held the royal warrant and, as 'Knacker to the Queen' and something of a sporting man, he was a minor mid-Victorian celebrity... A sign on the wall outside Atcheler's office at 186, York Road read:

John AtchelerJack Atchelor 
Horse Slaughterer To Her Majesty
Horse Grease Harness Oils
Patent Grease For Axles
Orders Promptly Attended To
Commit No Nuisance"

As time went on the factories at Belle Isle appear to have become a little more respectable. By 1970, Adams’ tilekilns had been taken over by John Tylor & Sons, an instrument manufacturer. Tylor built a large tower for delivering constant water pressures to test the instruments. The firm also appears to have expanded into engine manufacturing (see image). Later on the works was taken over by a plastic manufacturer which emblazoned it with the logo “Ebonite” and as such it remained a conspicuous landmark until 1983 when it was demolished. For a more detailed account see here, page 10.

Tylor Ebonite Tower 2Tylor Engine












Recently. I visited present-day Belle Isle as part of a self-guided walk - "Wrong Side of the Tracks" - starting in King's Cross.  There are few remaining signs of past glories but the area is still a hive of entrepreneurial activity, with small factories, workshops and a host of design studios and small media firms in extremely smart offices.  How times change!


Old WarehouseBelle Isle Tileyard














George Gissing

Gissing ImageGeorge Gissing, 1857-1903, was a victorian novelist, now somewhat neglected, but at one time regarded as one of the leading novelists in Britain for his gloomy, social realist novels about working class London.  He lived for a time at 62 Noel Road in Islington (previously Hanover Street) and several of his works give us a unique insight into conditions there in the later 19th century, the more so since he tended to use real place names.  Here, for example are extracts from his description of Caledonian Road taken from his novel "Thyrza", 1887:

"Caledonian Road is a great channel of traffic running directly north from King's Cross to Holloway.  It is doubtful whether London can show any thoroughfare of importance more offensive to eye, ear and nostril. ... Journey on the top of a tramcar from King's Cross to Holloway, and civilization has taught you its ultimate achievement in ignoble hideousness. You look off into narrow side-channels where unconscious degradation has made its inexpugnable home and sits veiled with refuse. ... All this northward bearing tract, between Camden Town on the one hand and Islington on the other, is the valley of the shadow of the vilest servitude."  Wow!

Gissing's novel "Nether Worlds", 1889, is perhaps the most illuminating for our purposes.  Set in Clerkenwell and Islington it is unremittingly grim.  Its working class characters are almost all poor, mean and doomed in one way or another.  Their occupations are familiar to us from the Cloudesley Estate records.  Stanley Kirkway, the main protagonist, earns a modest living from jewelery working.  His friend John Hewett is successively a lath-renderer, then cabinet-maker, then jobbing carpentry, and is now reduced to making packing-cases.  His daughter Clara works in a disreputable bar off Upper Street owned by the sinister Mrs Tubbs.  His son Bob is a die-caster who then turns his hand to counterfeit coins - unsuccessfully.  Samuel Byass is "employed in some clerkly capacity at a wholesale stationer's in City Road".  Of Charles Scawthorne: "His father had a small business as a dyer is Islington, and the boy, leaving school at fourteen, was sent to become a copying-clerk in a solicitor's office".  Clem Peckover works at an artificial flower factory and her scheming mother is relatively wealthy as a landlady.  Jane Snowden, the heroine, after suffering grievously as a servant, more a slave, at the hands of Clem, is rescued by Stanley and spends her time on good works such as working in soup kitchens.


Almost all the characters live in lodgings in multi-occupied dwellings, exactly as we have seen in the Cloudesley Estate records for this time.  The condition of the lodgings vary from mean to downright appalling, as in the case of the infamous Shooter's Gardens, scheduled for demolition, where the alcoholic Mrs Candy and her hapless daughter Pennyloaf reside: "Meanwhile the Gardens looked their surliest; the walls stood in a perpetual black sweat; a mouldy reek came from the open doorways; the beings that passed in and out seemed soaked with grimy moisture, puffed into distortions, hung about with rotting garments.  One such was Mrs Candy, Pennyloaf's mother.  .....  An interesting house, this in which Mrs Candy resided.  It contained in all seven rooms, and each room was the home of a family; under the roof slept twenty-five persons, men, women and children; the lowest rent paid by one of these domestic groups was four-and-sixpence."


And so it goes on.  The Cloudesley Estate of the late 19th century was perhaps not as desperate as Gissing's most gloomy descriptions, but it was certainly much, much less pleasant than it is today.  For that we give thanks!


Hunting Ghosts - Cloudesley Road - Past and Present

Ghost SignShe’s done it again! The indefatigable Jenny Tatton has been researching the many shops and other commercial premises which used to be a prominent feature of Cloudesley Road. You can download the fascinating results of this research here:

Download: “Hunting Ghosts – Cloudesley Road – Past and Present (Part I)”

Download: “Hunting Ghosts – Cloudesley Road – Past and Present (Part II)”

Part I is essentially a guided walk up and down Cloudesley Road (not forgetting Culpepper Park) with photos and short descriptions of all the “ghost” shops, studios, and pubs which used to ply their trade in days gone by. The map below show the main premises covered.




Part II is a detailed database of all the proprietors of the premises described in Part I, and more, with names, occupations, dates and cross references. The data in this case comes from commercial Directories.

What emerges clearly from this research is that in the past and up until quite recently Cloudesley Road was a “bustling village full of industrious residents” engaged in a wide range of commercial activities.  Jenny has already spoken with some of our older residents who can remember these times and we hope that more will come forward to share their priceless memories.

Your walks down Cloudesley Road will never be the same again!


Gold Dust - Born and Bred in Cloudesley Road

And there's more!  Doreen Brooks, neé Lampshire, was born and bred in Cloudesley Road and married husband Charlie at Holy Trinity Church in March 1954.

Wedding Holy Trinity


Doreen has kindly shared her memories with Jenny, who has compiled a fascinating chronicle of Doreen's life and times which you can download here:

Download: "Gold Dust - Born and Bred in Cloudesley Road"

We learn about Doreen's marriage, the family's life as stallholders in Chapel Market, trips to Margate and more.  What emerges, just as with "Hunting Ghosts" above, is an enchanting insight into the vibrant community around Cloudesley Road in the mid to late 20th century.  We have also added Doreen's priceless photos to the Gallery, here

In the Holy Trinity Marriages database we also have a record of the marriage of Doreen's parents at Holy Trinity in 1928, below:

Married Name + Surname Age Condition Profession St No Street Name Residence at time of Marriage Father’s Names and Surname Profession of Father In the Presence of
05/08/1928 Robert Lampshire 23 Bachelor Greengrocer 1 Warren St 1 Warren St William Lampshire Greengrocer William Hollister
05/08/1928 Rosina Hollister 22 Spinster   32 Cloudesley Rd 32 Cloudesley Rd William Hollister Boot Repairer Henry Hollister

And to complete the story, the Hollister family of bootmakers at 31 and 32 Cloudesley Road feature in "Hunting Ghosts Part II" above, as does Mrs Eliza Lampshire, draper, another relation, at 1 Cloudesley Road.


Families buried at Holy Trinity

Francis Benedict KreisaAnd yet more still!  Jenny has taken three families buried in Holy Trinity Church, two Ward families (not related) and one Kreisa family (married into one of the Ward families), and researched their histories in extraordinary detail, here:

Download: "Tale of the two Ward Families of the Cloudesley Estate, a marriage with the Kreisa family, a pair of stolen trousers and a flight to India".

The Kreisa family is particularly interesting.  Benedict James Kreisa, a tailor, is convicted of stealing a pair of trousers, and later emigrates to Gwalior, India, presumably in disgrace.  His father Francis Benedict Kreisa, cuts him out of his will.  His son, another Francis Benedict, pictured, stays behind in London as a tailor's assistant.



The Regent’s Canal, eastern entrance to the Islington Tunnel Thomas H. Shepherd 1823. Later addition: Jenny has now researched another family appearing in the Holy Trinity burial records.  Edmund and Frederick Snee were father and son and both worked for many years for the Regent's Canal Company.  Edmund was Secretary for 52 years and Frederick was Clerk for 45 years.  It was while Frederick and his wife Elizabeth were living in the 1830s at 26 Cloudesley Square that two infant daughters, Eleanora, aged 2, and Caroline, aged 1, were buried in the crypt at Holy Trinity.  But other children survived and by 1901 we find three of them living "on private means" with two servants in Chiswick.  It seem that the loyal service of this Islington family to the Regent's Canal has enabled them all to live in some comfort!  Jenny's account of the family is valuable both as an insight into the family and also the Regent's Canal, which was a major commercial feature of the area at the time and is currently undergoing something of a renaissance.

Download: "The Motorway of the Past" - The Snee Family of Islington.



War Dead

War Memorial 2

In Thornhill Gardens, the little park at the top of Cloudesley Road where it joins Richmond Road, there is a war memorial, pictured, with the following transcription:


Let those who come after see to it that their names are not forgotten

On the reverse are the words


Sure enough, within Holy Trinity Church there is an attractive carved wooden war shrine with the men's names.  These are transcribed below (thanks Jenny!):



















R. B.






Lon. Rgt.


Lon. Regt.


R. E.


R.W. Kents




Lon. Regt.


E. Surreys




R. F.


Lon. Regt.


Lon. Regt.





Pte. H.F. COOK




Pte. W.E. COOK




Pte. W.C. COOK


Lon. Regt.





Rfn. H.W. EAST



E. Yorks




R. Berks.


Lon. Regt.

Mech. W.H. SMITH













Lon Regt.
















Lon. Regt.






L/Cpl. H.P. WILD





Lon. Rgt.




R. Welsh






1939-1945 WAR



Perhaps surprisingly, none of these names appear in our Cloudesley Estate records, despite there being many soldiers listed, especially in the Marriages records for the 1914-1918 period.  However, several, though not all, appear in a useful site at giving details such as where they lived and where they died.  Other names, though again not all, are plotted on a rather good site called "The Streets They Left Behind: Finsbury and Islington 1914-1919at which features an interactive map - a screenshot of our area is shown below.  From these sources we can confirm that the men did indeed live locally within Barnsbury.  Those identified to date are all from the First World War, suggesting that the "1939-1945" inscription on the war shrine was added as an afterthought.

War Dead Map 2

















 Of the poppy icons shown above in the Cloudesley Estate area, just one man, JJ Sills, living at 6 Cloudesley Mansions, on the corner of Cloudesley Place and Cloudesley Road, appears on the war shrine in the church.  Fortunately, his entry in the "Book of Remembrance" is unusually informative, and from this we learn the following:


John James Sills

Born in

Islington, London

Resident of

6 Cloudesley Mansions, Islington, London.





Cause of Death

Killed in action

Cemetery or memorial

Connaught Cemetery, Thiepval, Somme, France



Service Number



17th Battalion


King's Royal Rifle Corps



Enlisted in

Marylebone - Middlesex

Rifleman John James Sills (1881-1916)

CWGC Commemorative Certificate

Son of David and Elizabeth Sills, of London; husband of Susannah Fisher Sills, of 6, Cloudesley Mansions, Cloudesley Place, Islington, London. 

We even have photographs, not just of John Sills himself, but of his grave in the Somme.  The grave photo appears in another fine website called "Find a Grave":  Touchingly, this includes a tribute from his great niece Marian.

JJ Sills

JJ Sills Grave



















Reverend Fell

Holy Holy HolyThe Reverend Hunter Francis Fell was the first vicar of Holy Trinity Church

Cloudesley Parsonage

 from when it was first consecrated in 1829.  He and his wife Rachel lived at "Cloudesley Parsonage", 47 Thornhill Road, pictured.  Tragically, at least four and probably five of their children died and three were buried at Holy Trinity as our records show Jenny has researched Reverend Fell and his family in some detail here:

Download: "The Controversial Rev. Hunter Francis Fell M.A." 

As Jenny describes, he appears to be a somewhat controversial figure, known for his "Hellfire and Damnation" sermons!



Alf Hutt

Memories of Alf Hutt

Local resident Anne has kindly contributed this charming piece about her neighbour Alf Hutt, who had lived in Cloudesley Road since 1935.

Download: "Alf's Cloudesley Road War Memories"

Alf loved cars and motorbikes and he remembered the shops described in "Hunting Ghosts" above.  His war memories include finding a German airman hanging alive from his parachute in a tree in the gardens on the corner!  Does anyone else remember this?







Islington Workhouses

Just to the North of the Cloudesley Estate, at the junction of Liverpool Road and what is now Barnsbury Street (see old maps), was St Mary's Workhouse.  The workhouse was a grim but important feature of Georgian and Victorian life, especially after the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834.  The history of workhouses is well documented in a remarkable website compiled by Peter Higginbotham, here.  Of particular interest to Cloudesley residents is his section on Islington Workshops, here, from which much of the following, including images, has been taken.

The building of St Mary's Workhouse started in 1776 and by 1814, according to Higginbotham, "there were 407 inmates, 95 men, 186 women, 64 boys, 48 girls, and 11 lunatics [sic] with room for about 50 more".  In other words, a huge establishment.  In 1869 a new, larger workhouse was built on St John's Road near Archway.

St Mary's, Liverpool Road WorkhouseSt Johns Road Workhouse

Life in the workhouses was of course grim.  Inmates were kept in spartan conditions and were assigned hard labour such as the mindless task of preparing "oakum" - tarred fibre used for caulking - by unravelling old ropes.  On the other hand, there was probably a huge variation in conditions from workhouse to workhouse, and at St Mary's the staff at least appeared to have meant well and attempted to do the best for their charges with the limited resources available to them.  Higginbotham includes an extract from a review by The Lancet in 1865 which paints quite a cheery picture - see below:

Extract From Lancet Review of St Mary's 1865oakumpickingwomen 2Workhouse Meal

Perhaps a better impression of the reality of workhouse life can be glimpsed by studying the records of individual inmates.  It is possible via Ancestry to access workhouse admission and discharge records and the St Mary's Liverpool Road entries for 1866 are available here and offer a horrifying insight into the appalling and shattered lives of many islington residents at the time, as the following screenshots show.  The admission records reveal that inmates came from neighbourhoods all round the Cloudesley Estate, particularly from Caledonian Road (see the George Gissing description, here) and Copenhagen Street, often whole families at a time, and hint at the underlying tragedies involved.  The discharge records are scarcely less dismaying, with common destinations including "Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum", "Infant Poor House", "Fever Hospital", and of course "Died".

Download Records

 As the last image in the download starkly reveals, between April 27 and May 5, 1866, Mary Ann Jones, Charwoman and widow, aged 78, was admitted from No 2 Cloudesley Street.  "Cause of Seeking Relief" is, as usual, listed as "Distress".  Apart from this, however, cursory examination of the records reveals no other instances of Cloudesley Estate residents being admitted to the workhouse in 1866.  This might suggest that the area was relatively well off compared to neighbouring streets such as Caledonian Road.  Similarly, although there are several instances of inmates being discharged into "the service of [name and local address]..." no such examples involving households in the Cloudesley Estate have been found, although no doubt a steady traffic both out of and into the area would have occured over the years.

Finally, to end on a slightly more uplifting note, from other sources entirely we learn of one Charles Arthur Holland-Goodwin who was born as an illegitimate child to his mother Elizabeth in 1902 in the St John's Road workhouse.  But by 1961, he has married Rose Juliff, enjoys presumably steady employment as a Stationery Checker, and is living at ...  16 Cloudesley Square! (My house - Nick).  More on this redemptive story later!


No history of Islington would be complete without reference to the remarkable phenomenon of “Gentrification”. The term was first used by sociologist Ruth Glass in 1964 to refer to the displacement of indigenous working class residents of run-down areas such as Barnsbury in the 1950s by more affluent middle class incomers. The “gentrifiers” refurbished the dilapidated late Georgian and early Victorian houses in a largely unplanned process which led, eventually, to the astronomical rise in property values evident today. This process was linked to distinctive styles, not just of house renovation and interior design, but also of culture, gastronomy, entertaining, politics and life-styles, which have had a huge influence on London, the UK as a whole, and indeed worldwide. The Cloudesley Estate was at the centre of this phenomenon.

Bare floorboards and Farrow and Ball paint ...Islington interior with knock-through, stripped pine flooring, period fireplace ...Georgian front door with refurbished fanlight and fittings ...

Telltale signs of gentrification - hover the cursor over images to see captions


Gentrified Barnsbury Kitchen

A gentrified Barnsbury kitchen!


Gentrification has been intensely documented and analysed. The following all contain excellent accounts:

Joe Moran: “Early Cultures of Gentrification in London, 1955-1980”, 2007
Gavin Weightman and Steve Humphries: “The Making of Modern London”, 2007
Jonathan Raban: “Soft City”, 2008
Cathy Ross: “Cloudesley: 500 Years in Islington”, 2018

The first gentrifiers to move into Barnsbury were typically media professionals, architects and artists such as Glynn Boyd Harte at No 28 Cloudesley Square. They tended to have a bohemian, left-of-centre outlook and were attracted to the elegant housing and layout of the area, the proximity to the City and the West End without the need of a long commute, the edgy, “authentic” atmosphere compared to the staid middle class suburbs of their parents, and of course the low house prices at the time (the “Value Gap” – Hamnett and Randolph, 1986). These “pioneers” or “frontiersmen” (Raban, 2008) rapidly organised themselves into highly effective groups such as the Barnsbury Association, co-founded by architect Kenneth Pring, who later also co-founded the Barnsbury Housing Association.  By 1965 they had succeeded in getting Barnsbury designated as a conservation area with tree planting, attractive “Victorian” cast-iron railings and street lighting and a new traffic scheme, still evident today in the blocking off of three of the streets into Cloudesley Square and the one-way, cobblestone and granite sett layout of Cloudesley Road. Housing Acts of 1957 and 1969 accelerated this process through decontrolling rents and awarding grants for self-improvement (which, by requiring matched funding by the householder, favoured the middle classes).

Of course there was a dark side to gentrification. The rising property values attracted the attention of unscrupulous landlords who conspired with developers and estate agents to persuade or force existing working class tenants to move out of their rented properties so that they could be “done up” and sold to a new generation of gentrifiers at a huge profit, in a process known as “winkling” or “Rachmanism”. One estate agent is on record as describing Barnsbury as “a chicken ripe for plucking”. A particularly unpleasant incident in September 1973 involved the Murphy family of 16 Stonefield Street who came back one evening to find that developers had knocked down the front wall of their house! Not surprisingly, this type of activity led to a great deal of bad feeling and an atmosphere of “class war”. A Barnsbury Action Group was set up and also a Tenants Association, chaired first by Ray Spreadbury, a baker from Stonefield Street and later Danny Doolan, a grocer in Cloudesley Road.

The politics of gentrification were complex and convoluted.  The GLC, no less, were involved in a contentious scheme to modernise houses on Cloudesley Place and Cloudesley Road.  According to author Loretta Lees (2008): "the Greater London Council (GLC) eventually jumped on the improvement bandwagon, too, and developed its own brand of 'welfare winkling'".  But, conversely, according to the Civic Trust, an organisation dedicated to make better places for people to live, "This is a scheme of conservation which should set a standard for other authorities."  Jenny Tatton has recently found and transcribed press cuttings from the time which present both sides of this intriguing argument:

Download: "The Ups and Downs of Restoration and Modernisation"

This heady mix of class conflict, rocketing house prices and convoluted politics attracted a great deal of media attention and satirical humour from the likes of Mark Boxer (the “Stringalongs” Cartoon), Private Eye (“It’s Grim Up North London”), Posy Simmonds (“Mrs Weber’s Diary”), and Alexei Sayle (“It’s like f****** Norway” – referring to the gentrifiers’ predeliction for stripped pine!). In addition, a whole raft of evocative, mostly mocking, phrases were coined such as: “Conspicuous Thrift”, (Nicholas Tomalin, 1963), “the Chattering Classes” (Frank Johnson, 1980), Barnsbury as “the Spiritual Heart of New Labour” (Tony Blair moved to 1 Richmond Crescent in 1993).

Mark BoxerSociety City Country Cartoons Punch 1992 01 15 28 2 SnailsChattering ClassesSociety City Country Cartoons Punch 1978 06 07 927 1 1976

Gentrification remains a contentious subject. To quote Joe Moran: “Richard Crossman, Labour’s Housing Minister, referred to these pressure groups [eg the Barnsbury Association] when he spoke in favour of the demolition of Islington’s Packington Estate in 1965: “These rat-infested slums must be demolished. Old terraced houses may have a certain snob-appeal to members of the middle class but they are not suitable accommodation for working-class tenants.” Crossman’s comment shows how much the process of gentrification relied on contested meanings: one’s class position determined whether the same houses should be condemned as slums or admired for their “snob appeal”.

But today, Barnsbury, and the Cloudesley Estate in particular, seems to have settled down into a fairly peaceful and pleasant community. Council tenants rub along quite well with their “Servantless Middle Class” owner-occupying neighbours in what is actually quite close to the “Urban Village” dream of the original Barnsbury Association. In fact the “Battle of Barnsbury” in the 1970s may have been exaggerated. A 1972 article from The Journal on the “Middle Class Colony” in Cloudesley Road, has this to say:

“But, behind the crisis lives a very definite community spirit. The road has its own shops – much frequented by all the residents – and its own pub.  I was told by teacher Simon Watson, who only moved into the road with his wife a year ago, of one evening when an elderly woman from across the road took the trouble to come over and tell him he had left the lights of his car on.

That’s the type of thing you would think could only happen in a village-type atmosphere, and it shows you that you cannot dismiss Cloudesley Road as being ‘socially divisive.’”

Download Full Article Here

In many ways things have come full circle. The late Georgian terraces of the Cloudesley Estate are once again supporting more or less the same sort of genteel community for which they were built 200 years ago!

Postscript: "Supergentrification"

John Scholes has drawn my attention to a 2006 article by Tim Butler and Loretta Lees entitled "Super-Gentrification in Barnsbury, London: Globalization and Gentrifying Global Elites at the Neighbourhood Level" This is what they have to say in the article abstract:

"A new group of super wealthy professionals working in the City of London is slowly imposing its mark on this inner London housing market in a way that differentiates it and them both from traditional gentrifiers and from the traditional urban upper classes. We suggest that there is a close interaction between work in the newly globalizing industries of the financial services economy, elite forms of education, particularly Oxbridge, and residence in Barnsbury which is very different from other areas of gentrified inner London"

It's a well-written and detailed article but personally, I'm not convinced.  Firstly, Loretta Lees has an agenda - she works from the premise that gentrification is a "bad thing" and has written extensively on how to prevent it.  Secondly, there is still plenty of council housing in the Cloudesley Estate and Barnsbury generally to ensure a healthy social mix.  Thirdly, where are these "super wealthy professionals"?  I don't know any of them (although maybe that's the point!).  Anyway, I thought most hedge fund managers lived and worked in Mayfair.

Nevertheless it remains the case that most of us currently living in the area would no longer be able to afford to buy a property now at today's prices which raises the interesting question as to what will happen as we all die off - some of us sooner rather than later :-(?

Comments anyone?



Cloudesley PH School

Around 1909, the back gardens between Stonefield Street and Cloudesley Road were redeveloped into Dowrey Street and a new school was built there - Cloudesley Physically Handicapped (PH) School.  You can see the school buildings marked on an OS map of the time, below.

OS Map

It has proved curiously difficult to find any records about this school.  The only photos we have are these rather blurred aerial RAF images which Florence has hunted down (use the church to orient yourself).

Aerial School 2

Aerial School 1










We are fortunate, however, to have been contacted by Peter Lambert, who attended the school during the 1940s and he has kindly shared his memories of this time in this charming account:

Download: "Memories of Cloudesley PH School", by Peter Lambert

You will learn here about the authoritarian Mr Gush, evacuation during the blitz, christmas parties in Caledonian Road, trips to the theatre and to the seaside in Kent, and many other anecdotes from this distant period during and immediately after the Second World War.  Despite the hardships, Peter ends his memories with this:

"I hope these notes will assist you in building a record of the history of the Cloudesley school - a school which I know helped many young handicapped people overcome their disabilities and set them up for life.

I for one feel blessed for having spent those important years in the company of such dedicated staff and of course my fellow students."


Here are before and after pictures of Peter, aged about 13, and as he is today.  Also a picture of a Dennis Bus of the type which he refers to in his account.

Peter Lambert Today 1

Peter Lambert 1


 Dennis Bus


Does anyone else have information about Cloudesley PH School?  Peter would love to hear from you and so would we all.


Stonefield Street Residents linked to Holy Trinity

Jenny has now followed up transcribing all the census data for residents of Stonefield Street by researching in some detail the histories of two families living there with family members buried in the Holy Trinity Church crypt (this was as part of the Diocese's Tales from the Crypt research project).  You can download their stories below:

Download "Crossing Continents" - Thomas Fair of 19 Stonelield St died as an infant in 1836 and was buried in the crypt but his family have a rich history with links to South Africa.

Download "Two wives and a mystery child who lived for 1 hour" -  Susannah, the first wife of Thomas Julians of 12 Stonefield St died aged 60 and was buried in the crypt.  The title of this piece says it all! 



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