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Call to restore Highbury station to former glory

Highbury Station's 1872 facade Highbury Station's 1872 facade

Thursday, January 16, 2014
9:37 AM

Resident mounts campaign to reinstate ‘spectacular’ Victorian façade

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Highbury and Islington Station today. Pic: Anna BruceHighbury and Islington Station today. Pic: Anna Bruce

An ambitious bid to restore a “dirty and neglected” transport hub to its former Victorian glory was unleashed this week.

Built in 1872, Highbury and Islington station was considered to have a ‘spectacular’ Gothic façade, crowned by pinnacled roofs and spire-like chimneys.

The station was damaged by a V1 flying bomb in 1944, towards the end of the Second World War, but survived the blast and it wasn’t until the 1960s that it was pulled down as part of work on the then new Victoria line.

Now Highbury New Park resident Neil Bowdler has launched a petition calling on Islington Council, the government and Transport for London to get round the table and restore the “rightful splendour” of the venerable old station.

He said: “I’m not the only one who thinks Highbury Corner is a bit of a shabby part of Islington. When I came across the old photos I was blown away by how stunning it used to be.

“It was damaged by the bomb, but the façade survived, and then someone 
obviously made an executive decision not to build round it.

“I want it to be restored to the thing of beauty it was for so many years. It would really improve the area if it was something imaginative and bold, rather than yet another glass box, like so many others in London.

“It could be something all the people living here and 
using the station could love and be proud of.”

More than 52,000 people use the station every day and the town hall recognised its “poor external appearance” in a 2004 document. Since then, while the rear of the station and platforms have been rebuilt as the Overground extension, the front of the building remains largely unchanged.

But if the petition wins 100,000 signatures, it could force a debate in Parliament.

“I don’t know if it’s realistic,” said Mr Bowdler. “I wanted to start the debate and see how many people are interested.

“Hopefully, a lot of people will sign, but even if just gets people talking and thinking about it, it will have been worth doing.”

He added: “The site has been robbed of an architectural jewel and replaced with a ramshackle collection of cheap buildings which are a blight on the borough.”

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