Famous 150-year-old Cally Park clock tower set to re-open as history centre

Cllr Rakhia Ismail in front of Cally Park Clock Tower

Cllr Rakhia Ismail in front of Cally Park Clock Tower - Credit: Archant

An audacious plan to renovate a historic clock tower and re-open it as a visitor attraction moved a step closer thanks to a grant for more than £125,000.

The scheme to save and conserve the Grade-II listed Caledonian Park Clock Tower, off Market Road, Holloway – a hidden gem of the city’s industrial heritage, which has stood empty for 75 years – can progress thanks to the cash from the Heritage Lottery fund.

First opened in 1855 as the centrepiece of the former Metropolitan Cattle Market, the seven storey Clock Tower offers magnificent views over London and both the tower and the market’s railings – built to withstand a bull stampede – are on English Heritage’s list of at risk structures.

Cllr Rakhia Ismail, Islington Council’s executive member for sustainability said: “Residents, enthusiasts and fellow councillors have shared a wish to do this for a very long time – so, I’m absolutely delighted the Cally Clock Tower will take its rightful place in London’s rediscovered history and heritage.

“Local communities will be heavily involved in the process of bringing the clock tower and park back to life, putting it back on the cultural map of Islington.”

The tower is set in the middle of the 18 acre park and the new visitors centre – which the council want everyone from school children, volunteers and businesses to get involved in – would describe the fascinating history of the surrounding area.

Known as Copenhagen Fields in the 17th century, the park has a long history of political dissent, with 100,000 people gathering there to march on Parliament the Tolpuddle Martyrs in 1834.

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Smithfield livestock market transferred there in 1855 following complaints about the old site from Clerkenwell residents and in search of a site to cope with freight-borne animals arriving at nearby Kings Cross – Metropolitan Cattle Market was born.

Following the Second World War, the livestock market closed. An abattoir stood on the site until the 1950s, but this was demolished and the area transformed into social housing (The Market Estate) and a park in the 1960s.

Sylvia Tunstall, chairman of Caledonian Park Friends Group said: “The historic clock tower provides the splendid centre piece to our park. With the grant, there is the opportunity to realise our long cherished hopes for enhancements to the clock tower and to the park’s facilities to create a truly special place to visit.”

Sue Bowers, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund London, said: “This structure has witnessed many developments in the life of the borough. We look forward to receiving the detailed plans for its conservation and future use.”