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Islington People's Plaques

Islington People's Plaques 2014

Islington People's Plaque scheme is back for 2014!

The scheme gives you the chance to nominate your favourite Islington person, place or historic event. All nominations will then be shortlisted and you will then be able to vote for your favourite. The top three choices will get a commemorative green plaque.

Ten nominations for plaques have been shortlisted. The three nominations that receive the most votes will be awarded an Islington People’s Plaque.

Choose one nominee from the ten nominations below and cast your

vote online

or pick up a voting card from any Islington Library and send it to:

Islington Local History Centre
245 St John Street
London, EC1N 4NB

Please note: only one vote per person.

Voting commences Monday 16 June to midnight Thursday 31 July 2014.

The ten nominees are:

Nina Bawden (1925-2012)
Author and Campaigner for Railway Safety
Noel Road (lived there 1976-2012)

Nina was born and grew up in London and lived at 22 Noel Road from 1976 until her death in 2012. She was the author of many books for adults and children, some drawing on her life in Islington. Her most famous book was Carrie's War, a moving and entertaining story based on her experience of being evacuated from London to South Wales at the start of the Second World War. Nina was seriously injured in the Potters Bar train crash in 2002 in which her husband, Austen, and 6 other people were killed. She campaigned tirelessly to make the railways safer and to hold those responsible for the accident to account. Success came when it was recognised that poor maintenance in the private sector had been the cause of the accident, and routine maintenance of the railways is now the responsibility of Network Rail.

Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther (1809-1891)
Sutton Dwellings, Liverpool Road  (site of St Mary’s Parochial School)

In 1864, Crowther was ordained as the first African bishop of the Anglican Church.  Samuel Ajayi Crowther was the hero of the Christian missionary movement in 19th century West Africa. Working with the newly established Church Missionary Society he successfully delivered the Christian anti-slavery and civilization message to the remotest parts of his home country. In 1842 Crowther studied at St Mary’s Parochial School on Liverpool Road, and was ordained at St Mary’s Church in Upper Street before returning to Africa to begin his missionary work. In 1864 he was also given a Doctorate of Divinity by the University of Oxford.

Lieutenant-Commander Roy Sheldrake Kerridge (1903-1940)
Royal Naval Reservist 
Kerridge Court, Balls Pond Road 

Lieutenant-Commander Roy Sheldrake Kerridge lost his life in attempting to make safe a parachute mine which fell in Balls Pond Road, Islington on 21 September 1940. He saved the life of his colleague by warning him that the bomb was going to explode but continued to try to defuse the bomb himself, losing his own life in the process. The site was later rebuilt as flats and named in his honour as Kerridge Court.

Mary Kingsley (1862-1900)
Writer and Explorer
Tavistock Terrace, N19 

Mary Henrietta Kingsley was born in Islington in 1862. She was an English ethnographic and scientific writer and explorer whose travels throughout West Africa, and resulting work, helped shape European perceptions of African cultures and British imperialism. After returning to England in 1895, Kingsley wrote the controversial book "Travels in West Africa", where she wrote of her opposition to many of the common European practices in Africa and of her sympathy for African people. She was also the niece of novelists Henry and Charles Kingsley.

Finsbury Park Empire
Music Hall
Vaudeville Court, St Thomas’s Road, N4 (which now stands on the former site of the Empire)

The Finsbury Park Empire was one of the most famous music halls and variety theatres in London. The Finsbury Park Empire Theatre opened on the 5th of September 1910 with a capacity of around 2000 and was 2nd in line to the London Palladium Theatre. Shows came direct from the London Palladium to the Empire before setting off on their nationwide tour. Some of the major stars to appear on at the theatre included Lily Langtree, Marie Lloyd, Houdini, Sophie Tucker, George Burns & Gracie Allen, The Duncan Sisters, W.C. Fields, Gracie Fields, Larry Adler, Laurel & Hardy, Tony Hancock and Cliff Richard & The Drifters. The theatre closed on the 7th of May 1960 and was demolished in 1965.

The New River (completed 1613)
New River Walk, N1

 The construction of the New River, which turned 400 years old in 2013, had an important role to play in Islington and London’s development. The building of the New River to supply the capital with a new, fresh water source from Hertfordshire to North London was started in 1600 by Edmund Colthurst and eventually completed in 1613 by Hugh Myddelton. The fresh drinking water was taken from the River Lea and from Chadwell Springs and Amwell Springs and other springs and wells along its course to the New River Head situated near Sadler’s Wels Theatre.

North London Synagogue 
Banes Court, Lofting Road, N1

During the 18th, 19th and early 20th century Islington had one of the largest Jewish communities of England. In 1868 the North London Synagogue was built for the community on Lofting Road (formally John Street West). Due to bomb damage in the 2nd World War and the dwindling community's lack of funds the synagogue was demolished with a council estate built in its place. The Jewish community was the first significant migrant community to live in Islington and there is no notable display of this important historical community currently in the Borough. 

Peerless Pool 
Peerless Street, EC1

In 1743 William Kemp converted a dangerous pond (Perilous Pond) into London’s first public open air swimming pool called Peerless Pool. Perilous Pond, so named on account of the many youths that drowned there, was formed from the overflowing waters of an ancient spring near Old Street. The ponds attracted ducks and wildlife and, in the 17th century, it was a popular hunting spot. In 1743 the site was acquired by a local Jeweller, William Kemp, who converted the pond into the UK’s first purpose built open air swimming pool renaming it Peerless Pool. The pool was surrounded by a screen of trees and an arcade that shielded bathers from the sun at noon and the prying eyes of ‘vulgar’ onlookers. Swimmers descended into the water down marble steps and the bottom of the pool was covered in ‘fine gravel’, through which the spring that fed it bubbled up. The pool eventually closed in 1850.

Alan Plater (1935-2010)
Playwright and Screenwriter
Yerbury Road N19 (lived there 1997-2010)

Alan Plater was an English playwright and screenwriter, who worked extensively in British television from the 1960s to the 2000s. He loved Islington for its mixture of people and lack of snobbery and lived there for the last 13 years of his life. As a writer, particularly for television, he touched millions with his work that was warm and witty and gently forgiving in classic adaptations as well as much-loved originals like The Stars Look Down and the Beiderbecke Trilogy. He was a respected President of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and a recipient of a CBE for his services to drama.

Mary Tealby (1801-1865)
Founder of ‘The Home for Lost and Starving Dogs’ (later becoming as ‘Battersea Cats and Dogs Home’)
Freightliners Farm, Sheringham Road, London, N7 (nearest buildings to original site of 15/16 Hollingsworth Street)

Mary Tealby had been a supporter of the RSPCA for some years and decided she wanted to do something positive about the number of lost, stray and abandoned dogs in London.  Helped by celebrity supporters such as Lady Millicent Barber, Charles Dickens and the RSPCA, the ‘Home for Lost and Starving Dogs’ opened in November 1860 in stables behind 15 and 16 Hollingsworth Street. By 1865 Mary’s health was failing and she went to live with relatives in Biggleswade. She died there on 3 October 1865. The Home continued to operate in Holloway until larger premises in south London were found. It opened in 1871, accepted cats from 1883 and continues to operate to this day as Battersea Cats and Dogs Home.


Choose one nominee from the ten nominations above and cast your

vote online


Islington People's Plaque 2013

Last year over 4,700 people voted for their favourite nomination. The winners were Betty Knight - champion for the rights of Islington tenants, Dr Gordon Signy - pioneering pathologist & Olympic fencer and Len Harvey - champion boxer.

    To view 2013's winners and nominees see below  

For a full list of Islington’s plaques, blue, green and others look at our A-Z list of plaques

The 2013 winners were:

Betty Knight, champion for the rights of Islington tenants (Spa Green, EC1)

Betty Knight was a campaigner for better living conditions in council homes. She was the driving force behind Spa Green Tenants’ Management Organisation, in St John Street, which was established in 1995. Charming but forceful, she battled to make things better for people in Spa Green Estate and Clerkenwell. In 1996, Betty received a civic award for her work and dedication to the community. Never one to sit back when action was needed Betty challenged the Prime Minister at the House of Commons on the matter of rent robbery. In April 2010 Betty was awarded an Islington Special Mayoral Award for her lifetime achievements. The plaque was unveiled in May 2014.

Dr Gordon Signy, pioneering pathologist & Olympic fencer (Alwyne Road, N1)

A pioneer in medicine, Dr Signy made outstanding advances in all branches of pathology and contributed to the founding of the study of Haematology. He was instrumental in developing the investigation and successful treatment for blood diseases, some of which had often previously been virtually untreatable. In the 1940s he founded the prestigious “Journal of Clinical Pathology”. Signy was a lifelong sportsman and captained the British fencing team at both the 1964 and 1968 Olympics. The World Association of Pathology Societies created a fellowship in his honour to enable young pathologists to visit another country to learn skills which would be of value to them upon their return home and this has benefited many overseas doctors.

Len Harvey, champion boxer (Upper Street, N1)

Len Harvey was by common consent one of Britain’s finest boxers of the 20th century. He was unique in that he boxed at every weight from flyweight to heavyweight and won British titles at three different weights: middle, light-heavy and heavy. He was also the British Empire champion at light-heavy and heavy. Harvey’s incredible career embraced a total of 133 recorded fights, of which he won 111, with 9 draws and just thirteen defeats. After retiring Len became licensee of the Star and Garter pub at 44 Upper Street in Islington. In 1973 the pub was renamed The Champion in his honour (it is now called the Steam Passage Tavern).