Streets with a story

  • 24
  • May

First published in 1986, ‘Streets with a story: the book of Islington’, is an A-Z of Islington’s roads, streets, buildings and open spaces – both old and new.

An invaluable resource for all those discovering the fascinating history of Islington’s past, it was researched and complied by former Islington librarian, the late Eric A Willats.

A digitised version of ‘Streets with a story’ is now available to view online and download free of charge. Heritage staff are also asking for local people to help update its contents.

Set out in alphabetical order under the name of a street, square, place, terrace, block of flats or tenement, followed by the date of first occupancy, if known, ‘Streets with a story’ was dated using rate books and other items in the local history collections now found at Islington Local History Centre.

Not only have present day streets been included, but also the courts, alleyways, terraces, and vanished backwaters of the past – some with intriguing names like Frog Lane, The Land of Nod and Cupid’s Alley.

Architectural features, buildings of interest, and residents worthy of mention in that street have also been included, so that an overview of the street is ‘at a glance’.

It has now been over 30 years since Mr Willats produced his work, yet rarely a day passes when it is not opened by staff or researchers and its contents recommended as the starting point for a journey of discovery. Staff at Islington Heritage Service are indebted to Mr Willats for producing such a valuable resource.

However, since publication, many developments have taken place in the borough, with new roads and thoroughfares added to the 1,100 plus streets recorded by the author and, as a result, his pioneering work is in need of updating.

Mark Aston, local history manager, said: “New buildings have appeared while others have been consigned to history to make way for new developments and schemes. It is hoped that, with help from researchers and the general public, ‘Streets with a story’ will also continue to develop, like the streets of Islington themselves.

“To build upon Eric’s original work and to continue to tell the story of Islington’s development, we invite people to submit information to be added to the text – facts both new and old that have yet to be recorded. Heritage staff will verify submitted data and, on a regular basis, an updated version will be published online.

“So please send in your historical facts, figures, events and incidents for any Islington street, park and open space etc. that you and others find may interesting or are important to that location, and help build an ongoing history of your borough – Islington and its streets and stories!”

Send your information to: with the subject: ‘Streets with a story’

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