Our Future's Orange: Highbury and Islington

Photo: Highbury Clock, from the Highbury Fields Association

Monday's opening of the East London Line extension to Canonbury and Highbury & Islington is an opportunity for us to dust off and update our series of reviews of stops along the line.

Highbury & Islington tube station exits on to the opposite end of the Upper Street from Angel, where the theme bars and shopping enclaves give way to a more diffuse, varied set of attractions.

That’s not to say that the station’s not handy for many of Upper Street’s more popular venues, like The Grand Union (153 Upper Street), The Hope and Anchor (207 Upper Street – the reviews for which read like a BC debate – no-one can agree whether it’s too down-market, too upmarket, full of genuine geezers or been irredeemably gentrified) or the mother ship of the wonderful Ottolenghi empire (287 Upper Street). It’s also the right end of Upper Street for its mini-theatre district, including the Almeida (Almeida Street), “London’s Little Opera House” at the Kings Head Theatre (115 Upper Street) and the beautiful, tiny Little Angel Theatre (14 Dagmar Passage), which specialises in productions for children.

But from Highbury & Islington station, the interesting stuff fans out in all directions. The handsome nearby streets are home to some great places to eat and drink: Just the other side of the roundabout from Highbury & Islington station is the legendary comedy pub, The Hen and Chickens Theatre Bar (109 St Paul’s Road) or go west up Barnsbury Street for The Drapers Arms (44 Barnsbury Street), down Liverpool Road for the outstanding French restaurant Morgan M (489 Liverpool Road) or Compton Avenue for the uniquely beautiful music venue, the Union Chapel. Someday, all churches will be like that.

To the north lies Highbury Fields, the biggest green space in Islington. It’s broad, flat, beautifully-maintained, lined with Georgian and Victorian terraces and all set about with London Plane trees. Beyond that lies London Met University and Arsenal’s home, the Emirates Stadium, which is a stadium which almost any other Club would envy, not least of all, Spurs.

More East London Line destinations:


Forest Hill

Crystal Palace

Shoreditch High Street

Rotherhithe, Canada Water, Surrey Quays




Headhunter said...

Aaah, H&I..... Before Brockley I lived in a flat along Upper Street and then moved to another on Essex Rd.... I still go running with the Highbury Gym Running Club on Monday nights sometimes.

Other pubs in the area include the Canonbury Tavern which used to be a bit more shabby chic but the last time I went in it had been painted up a bit and now has a fancy restaurant bit. I used to see Alan Davies (actor) in there all the time. Nice garden in summer.

Also there's the Marquess Tavern which was also glammed/painted up a bit. It used to be full of old geezers from the local council estate, now it's got a restaurant too and has tried to go up market. Still a nice little place though.

The Albion was also a good place with a nice enclosed garden. It had an interesting interior - a mix of furnishings from right across the 19th and 20th centuries with creaky floorboards. It's not far from The Drapers Arms. Last I heard though it had been bought by some celeb chef and turned into a restaurant who ripped the interior out and started again... Not sure if there's still a pub there.

The Drapers Arms was nice. They used to have the most deeeeelishus chips. Or perhaps I was just a bit p!ssed...

The Island Queen is also a great place but it's further down towards Angel Tube. Also The Narrow Boat which sits by the canal, is lovely, but I think I heard that it was closing which would be a great shame, you used to be able to sit by the canal sipping on a beer in the summer and I remember seeing ukelele and banjo bands there...

There are loads of other decent little pubs on the side streets around Angel and H&I stations, the ones on Upper Street itself tend to be full of local office workers and p!ssed up teenagers at the weekend.

Places like Islington in N London have not suffered anywhere near the number of pubs closing (and converted to flats) as in SE London, there is still literally almost 1 on every corner in Barnsbury and Canonbury... Don't really understand why SE London pubs close all the time...

Len said...

I'm coming from Highbury to visit the toilet block at Hilly Fields.

HardliaNotion said...

I miss Highbury and Stoke Newington. Don't miss Dalston much though.

Josh said...

Great! now all the moaning north Londoner's can come to Brockley.

Brockley Dogging Society said...

Wherever I lay my helmet, that is my home.

Anonymous said...

The train boards at Brockley were still saying Dalston Junction this morning. Have you got to change to get to H&I?

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