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Farewell to Islington Music: Hidden shop between Upper Street and Essex Road closing after 30 years

PUBLISHED: 08:57 05 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:15 05 September 2017

Islington Music owner Tricia Cottle and assistant Bronwen Taylor. Picture: Polly Hancock

Islington Music owner Tricia Cottle and assistant Bronwen Taylor. Picture: Polly Hancock

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One of Islington’s hidden shopping gems is closing next month after 30 years.

Assistant Bronwen Taylor with Islington Music owner Tricia Cottle. Picture: Polly HancockAssistant Bronwen Taylor with Islington Music owner Tricia Cottle. Picture: Polly Hancock

Islington Music is tucked away in Shillingford Street, which is sandwiched by the busy Upper Street and Essex Road.

It will have been missed by thousands of newcomers to Islington over the years. Yet for those in the know, Tricia Cottle’s shop has been the go-to place for mums and dads to buy their child’s first instrument, or for experienced musicians to replace a broken guitar string.

But Tricia, who has lived off Essex Road for 40 years, is shutting on October 15.

After three decades of six-day working weeks, she’s looking forward to more leisure time.

It all started after she had her three children, and wanted something new for her life.

“I didn’t want to go back to my secretary job,” she said. “I like music, so I wanted to open a music shop. My husband, a pianist, thought I was bonkers, but it worked.

“It was difficult then, and I’m still learning things now. At the start, I didn’t know what people wanted! I wanted to make it as general a music shop as I could, and managed to get the right stuff in.”

Assistant Bronwen Taylor with Islington Music owner Tricia Cottle. Picture: Polly HancockAssistant Bronwen Taylor with Islington Music owner Tricia Cottle. Picture: Polly Hancock

She’s not necessarily sad to be leaving: “The internet has caused a bit of a problem for shops like this, but I just wanted to do something else.

“There’s lots of things for me to do. I shall become a London tourist, for a start. I’ve spent an amazing amount of time in this shop, more than most other people work.

“I could never afford a full-time member of staff, so I’ve only ever had a part-time colleague. It means there have been a lot of six-day working weeks.”

Tricia added: “I’ll miss the people. You know what Islington is like – it’s an enormous mix. I’ve met some wonderful people, and I really enjoy helping customers.

“But I’ve also met some painful people, too. In that respect, I think the only thing worse than working in a shop is working in a restaurant. There are times when it hasn’t been easy.

“The shop is tucked away from the main footfall of Upper Street and Essex Road, but if I had been on one of those streets, I would have had to employ more staff anyway.

“I haven’t made a fortune out of the shop, but at least I made a living out of something I enjoyed.”

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