Readers' Letters

Readers' Letters

Gazette letters: Royal Free fountain, cycling, Newlon Housing and Highbury station.

PUBLISHED: 08:30 03 February 2018

The Royal Free fountain, left, in 1976. Picture: ISLINGTON LOCAL HISTORY CENTRE

The Royal Free fountain, left, in 1976. Picture: ISLINGTON LOCAL HISTORY CENTRE


I thoroughly enjoyed reading James Morris’s account of “the lost hospital” in Liverpool Road, writes Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes, representative Deputy Lieutenant for Islington.

However, I was somewhat bemused that there was no mention of its time as the City of London Maternity Hospital. It was certainly called that when I was born there in 1945!

When I came later to live in Islington (by a strange chance our house in Theberton Street backed on to the hospital site) I enquired about the whereabouts of the handsome fountain pictured in the 1976 photograph, which used to stand in front of the main building.

It was tracked down lying in the Royal Free car park in many pieces.

Protracted negotiations led to the satisfactory result of it being re-erected in the courtyard of the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital in Gray’s Inn Road.

I hope that it continues to give pleasure to patients, staff and visitors.

I was walking home from Morrisons on Saturday with a backpack full of groceries, writes Nick Kocharhook, Islington, full address supplied.

Outside of Waitrose I turned my head – and a man barrelled into me on a bicycle. I was shaken but miraculously unhurt. The stuffed backpack had broken my fall.

I didn’t catch the man’s name, but let’s call him Brian. To his credit, Brian was very apologetic. He stayed to make sure I was OK, and I asked him to please not cycle on the pavement.

In truth, though, I understand why he did. Holloway Road is tremendously intimidating for someone cycling. It’s six lanes wide with a dividing fence. Six lanes for speeding cars and lorries, but no safe space for cycling.

In 2014, TfL scrapped plans for an A1 cycle superhighway. That would have meant a track for Brian, protected from HGVs and separate from pedestrians. A consultation showed overwhelming support for protected cycle tracks at Nag’s Head, but instead TfL tweaked the southbound cycle lane. Today the thousands of people cycling here legally every day must either risk aggravating drivers by “taking the lane” – or risk death by riding too close to parked cars. The risk is real: Samuel Harding was tragically killed by a bus here in 2011 after a door knocked him off his bike.

Islington and TfL must add protected cycle tracks on Holloway Road. As my lucky escape proves, it will benefit both people walking and cycling. It will improve air quality by reducing motor traffic. And Nag’s Head will be more attractive, benefiting merchants.

Brian wasn’t a hardened commuter, getting a thrill out of racing traffic. He was just a man going about his day who wanted to get to the shops quickly and safely. He chose to ride on the pavement so he didn’t endanger himself. This isn’t a choice anyone should have to make.

Newlon Housing Trust proudly displays pictures of shiny new homes on its website but the reality for residents of the Newlon run Barnsbury Estate is quite different, writes Alain Desmier, chairman of Islington Liberal Democrats.

Overflowing bins, fly-tipping, dangerous stairwells, mice, exposed electrical wires and untreated damp and mould are common across the estate.

Long-term residents complained bitterly to me that their views are simply ignored by this Labour-run Islington Council and local councillors who simply refer them back to Newlon – who in turn ignore them.

The conditions these residents are forced to live in are a scandal and it shames the borough. We all owe it to them to pressure Newlon Housing trust to come and fix the mess that their neglect has created.

Following up JE Kirby’s supportive letter about my suggestion that money earmarked for pedestrianising the west part of Highbury Corner would be better spent on rebuilding Highbury station, I conducted a quick survey of friends and neighbours, writes Tim Sayer MBE, of Battledean Road in Highbury.

All were against the changes at the roundabout but in favour of improving the station.

The plans that have been published by TfL clearly show the roads on the remaining three sides of Highbury Corner wouldn’t be wide enough for the volume of traffic.

It was bad enough during the extended roadworks at Christmas, when there were far fewer vehicles. The absurd plans also involve making Corsica Street pedestrian and cyclist only, meaning that getting into Highbury Fields would be even more difficult.

Highbury Station becomes dangerously overcrowded during the rush hour when trains arrive from Richmond, Stratford and Crystal Palace within five minutes of each other. The down escalator to the Victoria and Northern City lines cannot cope.

And aesthetically speaking, Highbury Station is a dump, resembling a large shack, rather than an important interchange station. As I’ve pointed out before, the pedestrian tunnels and the tube and national rail platforms are a disgrace.

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