If you were to travel West along Pentonville Road towards Kings Cross Station you might notice a long, high brick wall on your left with grass and shrubs just visible behind. We often had and Mike knew that it was a reservoir, but we had never stopped to look at it. Having decided to explore closer to home for a while, the reservoir and area surrounding it seemed a good place to start.
Heading down Claremont Street, to the left of the reservoir, we were distracted by a short turning to the left at the end of which we found Claremont Close. Our original intention for a series of walks had been to follow the course of the New River which was built by the New River Company established in the 17th century to bring fresh water in to the Capital from Hertfordshire, but events overtook us. Claremont Close is a group of 8 blocks of housing built around a central green in 1935/6 and was the last housing built by the New River Company. Read more about New River and the company here: http://www.londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.php?ID=ISL019
Back on track, we walked past the reservoir, a large grassy mound taken over by wild flowers and other local plants. It was built in 1853 following the cholera epidemic of 1846 and subsequent Metropolis Water Act of 1852. The Act enforced the covering of all open reservoirs including Upper Pond which had been on the site since 1709 and was connected to New River. It is now a header tank supplying Islington and the West End. Read more about its history and construction here: http://londongardensonline.org.uk/gardens-online-record.php?ID=ISL020
From the corner of Claremont Square you can see the British Telecom Tower in the distance. Turning left takes you down Amwell Street (see link for history of the area and info about the ghost dairy shop front) https://alondoninheritance.com/tag/amwell-street/ whilst crossing over Amwell Street takes you on to Cruikshank Street with its mix of architectural styles. From the row of 19th century housing influenced by pre Arts and Crafts to the big post war, three-armed Bevin Court block of flats and, on a small bomb damage infill site opposite, 12 small flats built in 1957-8 designed by a group of architects including Lubetkin, designer of the iconic London Zoo penguin house.
Heading up Great Percy Street we detoured in to Soley Mews, following the hand sign to a chapel which was used as a studio by Mike Owens, photographer of celebrities in the 1980s: https://www.gasholder.london/2016/04/06/mike-owen-interview-kings-cross/
Wandering further we found ourselves on the very beautiful Lloyd Square, the houses around which were completed in the 1840s as part of the extensive Baker-Lloyd estate (history in the link below). On the corner of the square is a large building which is now a women’s hostel, formerly a YWCA hostel and was originally built as a House of Retreat by the Sisters of Bethany. It seems that the chapel mentioned above was used by the Sisters from the House of Retreat. Leaving the square behind it was only a short walk crossing Percy Circus on to Acton Street and up to Kings Cross.