SPOTLIGHT ON ARCHWAY
First-time buyers and young families are creating a fresh community buzz in this regenerated Zone 2 neighbourhood. By Anthea Masey
AFTER 15 months of traffic and pedestrian chaos the finishing line is in sight for Archway, the north London neighbourhood which is emerging from a £12.8 million facelift. The hated gyratory roundabout has been swept away and a new public square has been created at the bottom of Highgate Hill in front of the Archway Tavern, the pub that famously featured on the cover of The Kinks’ 1971 album, Muswell Hillbillies.
Sitting astride the A1 at the bottom of the steep hill leading to Highgate, Archway used to be one of those London districts that people either passed through on their way to somewhere else, or rushed to when they needed Whittington Hospital A&E department. Now it is becoming a destination in its own right.
Local estate agent Shaun Cunningham, of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, is pleased to report that the area’s leafy roads of Victorian houses, well-rated primary schools, Zone 2 location and good transport links are attracting an increasing number of first-time buyers and young families.
Over the last couple of years, change has come thick and fast to the centre of Archway. The area’s tallest building, 17- storey Vantage Point, has been reclad and converted into 118 flats for rent by developer Essential Living, while eight-storey Hamlyn House has been converted into a Premier Inn hotel with a ground-floor restaurant. Meanwhile, developer Bode is about to launch another office-to-residential conversion at nearby Hill House and revamp the Archway shopping mall.
Folklore has it that Archway is where Dick Whittington and his cat heard the Bow bells ring out: “Turn again, Dick Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London”. The spot is marked with a monument featuring a small stone cat in Highgate Hill near the junction with Magdala Avenue. There is another Whittington cat — a floral one — at the entrance to Whittington Park in Holloway Road, along with a new mural depicting the plucky Whittington, his meagre possessions tied up in a scarf carried on a stick.
The story is largely mythical of course. There was a Richard Whittington who was Mayor of London three times between 1397 and 1419 but far from being a penniless traveller he was the son of a wealthy merchant who apprenticed him to a City mercer. As for the cat, the theory is that Whittington, who was essentially a city commodity trader, did have a cat but rather than being of the feline variety, it was a type of coal barge.
Still, there’s no denying Whittington left his mark on Archway. As well as a hospital and a park, there is Pauntley Street, named after the village in Gloucestershire where he grew up, and Fitzwarren Gardens — a reference to the family he married into.
Archway is on the A1, the Great North Road out of London. Four-and-a-half miles north of central London, it has Highgate to the north, Highbury to the east, Islington and Camden Town to the south and Tufnell Park and Kentish Town to the west.
Green space matters: right, Whittington Park, has football pitches and a community café Walk this way: left, smart new pedestrianised space is key to the area’s radical makeover
Regeneration: the gyratory roundabout has gone and a new public square has been created in a £12.8 million 15-month project
Child’s play: Whittington Park play area’s a family favourite
Popular pit stop: Bread and Bean café in Junction Road