First plaques map streets where Islington’s war dead lived
17:21 01 August 2014
An ambitious four-year project to honour soldiers from Islington who died in the Great War began today.
Two plaques were attached to road signs in George’s Road and Geary Street in Holloway, displaying the names of 13 men who would have lived on top of each other in the packed Victorian houses when the war began on August 4 1914.
These were just the first of about 400 plaques that will crop up in the borough for the Streets Where They Lived Project during the centenary of the First World War, in which 9,400 army personnel who were born in Islington died.
Volunteers will be hard at work screwing 80 lists of names on road signs over the weekend and the rest are set to follow, in the hope that residents can choose their own way to honour and remember individuals.
Cllr Richard Watts, who helped fasten the first plaque to the George’s Street sign, said: “Almost 10,000 from Islington were killed during the Great War.
“And these were, overwhelmingly, ordinary men who lived and worked in this area, and raised families in this area, and we’re enormously grateful that they gave their lives.
“Narrowing it down to individuals and the streets where they lived really brings home to people that fact that these were just ordinary people like me and you that gave their lives.
“It brings the whole thing to life.”
George’s street is visibly transformed since 1914, having been bombed heavily during the Second World War, but St James’ School where many of the men may have been taught still remains.
John Shepherd, a local historian who is leading the project, said it would create a great starting point for those wanting to learn more about people from the area who died in the war.
“We really want this to grow,” said Mr Shepherd.
“The last thing we want to do is tell the community how to remember these people.
“We want to communities to take it on themselves now and we will have the resources at the history centre to help them fund out more about these individuals.
“Hopefully the school children can look at the names and make up stories about what the lives of these men were like.”
A list of Islington’s war dead is available on a new online book of remembrance which can be found at islington.gov.uk/ww1centenary