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This is a 2-mile wander round an area full of contrasts.


The most impressive building is, of course, Pentonville Prison (for obvious reasons tricky to photograph) with its cream-stuccoed classical facade(1840). To see it, turn right out of the red-tiled Tube station and go down the Caledonian Road. Behind the arch-windowed facade of an 1874 warehouse lurks student accommodation: a not entirely successful attempt to retain some of the character of 'The Cally'. At the corner of Market Road you will pass a Methodist Church with arcaded windows (1870).

Continue along the Caledonian Road until the prison - a daunting sight. You may be amused at the name of one of the cafes opposite (corner of Blundell Street) whose owner clearly has a robust sense of humour.  A few metres down Blundell Street are some attractive office premises, formerly part of Crosse & Blackwell's vinegar brewery. The combination of smells from this and from the cattle market must have been fairly pungent! Return to The Cally and go on for while, then cross at the zebra near Frederica Street.

At the railway bridge to the right is a very small building which was once the ticket office for Caledonian Road & Barnsbury station. Almost immediately go into the first turning (Offord Road). This is a peaceful area of large early Victorian terraces. Right at Crescent Street, cross Huntingdon Street and continue straight ahead to get to Thornhill Crescent/Square and St. Andrew's Church (1850's) which is situated on an island site. Glance to the right to see a remarkable public library - a mixture of stripped classical and Art Nouveau styles (1906). In the centre of the square is a public park with gardens and a children’s playground. 

 Cut through the park (gate a bit further on from the library) and turn left to Bridgeman Road (ex Lofting Road) at the east end of the church. At the junction with Hemingford Road a couple of things to notice; the old shop window on the left and the plaster relief high on the wall of what was originally the Huntingdon Arms. 

Walk left down Hemingford Street, which has much decorative ironwork. When you come to the junction with Huntingdon Road have a look at the handsome houses at each corner - each has bay windows on three floors. Continue down Hemingford Road until Offord Road, then turn left for the Caledonian Road.
On the way back to the Tube station, explore the site of the old Metropolitan Cattle Market, reached via Market Road (mentioned above). Opened by Prince Albert in 1855, it was then on the edge of the metropolis. The market finally closed in 1963. Walk down the road, keeping a small park on your left, until coming to what was once an huge Italianate pub on the right. 

Originally there were four of these, one on each corner of the market, providing accommodation as well as refreshment. Of these four, three remain - in varying states of repair. Sturdy iron railings mark the boundaries of the old site, which you can access through gates near the old pub. Of the market itself only the impressive clock tower (more Italian architectural influence) remains. The area in front of the tower is now an informal park, behind which is residential housing. Return to the Caledonian Road, then right to get back to the Underground.

Photos:(to enlarge, click on image)
Thornhill Crescent

Pentonville Prison
The Breakout Cafe
Public Library, Bridgewater Road

Relief on old Huntingdon Arms pub
Window box in Hemingford Road
Old Market Clock Tower

*This street has been re-named, it still shows as 'Lofting Road' on some maps.

This is just one route from the many to be found at London Tube Rambles. There are architectural gems, beautiful country views, historic places and quirky buildings to be found, even in the most unpromising areas covered by the Greater London Underground stations. Usually the places listed are within a mile of the Tube - often only five minutes walk away. If you reached this as an individual page via a search engine, you might like to click on the above link and see the other destinations explored. It's amazing what's out there!
© DR