Thanks to Gilvrie from  Cloudesley Street for the postcard below of an atmospheric photo by Don McCullin entitled "Sheep going to the Slaughterhouse.  Early Morning, near Caledonian Road, London 1965" (© Don McCullin, courtesy Hamiltons Gallery).  Don McCullin is one of Britain's most famous photographers.  He was born in Finsbury Park and you can read about his early life and see more of his photos here.  Gilvrie actually worked with him on the Sunday Times magazine.

McCullin Sheep 1965


The sheep are in fact on Market Road, which at the time ran through the Metropolitan Cattle Market (later Caledonian Market).  The market itself, now Caledonian Park, was on the right and the slaughterhouses, now tennis courts, were on the left.  The market was established in 1855 by the City of London Corporation on what was previously Copenhagen Fields and was at the time the largest cattle market in London, possibly the world!  You can read all about it here on a marvellous site called "A London Inheritance".  Here below is a drawing of the market in its early days courtesy of the Islington Local History Centre.  To the West of the market was the notorious Belle Isle, home to various noxious trades associated with the slaughterhouses!


Metropolitan Cattle Market


The market began declining around the first world war, becoming a flea market and eventually closing in the mid 1960s.  Don McCullin's photo must record one of the last times sheep were herded through the area.  Today, all that remains is the iconic clock tower, now in the middle of Caledonian Park, close to where the old Copenhagen House once stood.


Additional Note:  Ken Stevens has pointed out that, interestingly, there had been a previous attempt to establish a cattle market in Islington in competition with Smithfields.  This New Islington Market was the initiative of a Mr Perkins and was opened in 1836 on land bordered by Balls Pond Road and Southgate Road.  Sadly, the vested interests of Smithfields and its friends in the City meant that the new venture was never really successful and it closed in 1852, shortly before the Metropolitan Market opened.  You can read more about the new market here.   Shown below is a nice contemporary print from the 1849 London Illustrated News.

Islington New Market 1849