Historic Pump House is saved from developers

PUBLISHED: 08:09 06 May 2012

Hugh Myddleton

Hugh Myddleton


A 400-year-old building that was pivotal in Islington’s history has been saved from developers.

History of the New River

The New River, which stretches from Hertfordshire to Islington, was built by Welsh goldsmith Hugh Myddelton.

In 1609, he got permission form the common council to build the 38 mile waterway to bring clean drinking water to the denizens of London.

He faces many problems, not least greedy landowners in Middlesex and Hertfordshire, and eventually had to petition the CIity for an extension of the four year contract to build the river.

By the time he had reached Enfield, Myddelton was completely drained and had to apply to the City for cash. They refused, so he went to the King who paid half the expenses.

Things then progressed fast and on the September 29 1613, the water was at last let into the New River Head - the Pump House.

The Pump House, a Grade II listed building between Rosebury Avenue and Amwell Street, will not be turned into flats following a planning committee meeting last week.

The historic property marks the end of the New River – created by Hugh Myddelton in the 1600s to bring fresh water to the people of London.

And an ancestor of the 17th century philanthropist, also called Hugh Myddelton, was on hand to hear the decision.

In 1997 Thames Water, which owned the Pump House, agreed to hand over £50,000 to turn it into a heritage centre, providing that his was done before 2005.

But it was never done and in 2010 the water company sold it to developers with no objection from the council.

Turnhold, which bought the building, applied for planning permission to turn it into flats and offices last November.

The council was set to agree until it remembered the heritage centre agreement and halted the process.

Now a slightly amended application has been refused by the council.

Cllr George Allan, who represents Clerkenwell ward, where the Pump House is, thinks Turnhold will contest the decision.

He said: “I am sure they will appeal but I am equally confident they will not be successful.

“This is a very welcome decision. It was the only principled decision the committee could make to safeguard the integrity of Islington’s planning process.”

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