All 50 plaques on new Islington LGBTQ+ heritage trail

The unveiling of Islington Heritage Trail's first plaque honouring Bob Crossman. 

The unveiling of Islington Heritage Trail's first plaque honouring Bob Crossman. - Credit: Islington council

A new heritage trail in Islington is celebrating LGBTQ+ history with 50 plaques installed across the borough.

To mark the beginning of Pride month in June, the council’s heritage team, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, are celebrating Islington as a champion of LGBTQ+ rights in Britain.

The first plaque placed honours former Islington mayor Bob Crossman, who became the UK's first openly gay mayor in 1986.

Cllr Troy Gallagher, current Mayor of Islington, said: “The Heritage Trail is a great opportunity for all of Islington to learn more about the important LGBTQ+ history that is part of our identity as a borough."

The project aims to tell people about the venues, individuals and organisations integral to the borough's LGBT history such as Club Kali, pubs and clubs like the Carved Red Lion and Trade at Turnmills and London's first trans councillor Osh Gantly.

A plaque celebrating Bob Crossman, the first openly gay Mayor in the UK.

A plaque celebrating Bob Crossman, the first openly gay Mayor in the UK, is unveiled by his consort, Martin McCloghry, and current Islington Mayor Cllr Gallagher. - Credit: Islington council

The home of campaigning group Stonewall will also feature on plaques installed in the coming weeks.    

DJ Ritu of LGBTQ+ event Club Kali, who began her career in the borough in 1986, believes recognising LGBTQ+ communities' "rainbow contribution" to the borough is "vital".

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She said: ”For decades the London borough of Islington was an essential epicentre for queer life, from Essex Road to Clerkenwell, and Newington Green to Kings Cross."

Islington Heritage Trails are set to show off the borough's rich LGBTQ+ history. 

Islington Heritage Trails are set to show off the borough's rich LGBTQ+ history. - Credit: Islington council

The event, which has ran for 26 years out of The Dome venue near Tufnell Park station, will be honoured with a plaque. 

The LGBTQ+ Heritage Trail can be accessed as an interactive map on a mobile device when coming across a plaque, or viewable at home on a computer. 

It will show all 50 plaques and their locations around the borough, as well as 150+ points of LGBTQ+ heritage.

Plaque recipient Cllr Osh Gantly said she was proud to of the borough's rich LGBTQ+ heritage: "Islington residents will be amazed to find out that so much of the rights people fought for, and the community spirit we’ve built, all began here in Islington. 

"London Friend support services, Switchboard’s invaluable helpline, clubs, pubs and community organisations – one borough really has made a huge impact.”

Seán McGovern, Islington’s Pride Project Manager, added: “You’ll be inspired by the people you’ve heard of, but especially by the ones you haven’t.

"We celebrate our heritage by shining a light on the unsung heroes of Islington.”

Here is the full list of individuals, places and organisations celebrated in the project.

Aloysius Ssali

Aloysius Ssali is a Ugandan gay rights activist who created the Say it Loud Club, a charity for LGBTQ+ refugees in the UK.

Amelia Edwards

Amelia Edwards was a lesbian writer and Egyptologist whose work in Egypt had a huge impact on modern archaeology.

Benjamin Britten & Peter Pears

Benjamin Britten was a renowned British composer, and his relationship with Peter Pears endured at a time when homosexuality was still illegal.

Sadler’s Wells

Among its rich LGBTQ+ history, Sadler’s Wells hosted the Black, Queer, Fierce! Festival in 1993, celebrating the contributions of gay black men in the arts.

Gaywaves and Phil Cox

Phil Cox was the host of Gaywaves, a radio show on the pirate station Our Radio. It was recorded from his flat in Godfrey House.

Central Station

Central Station, one of the last dedicated LGBTQ+ bars in Islington, has been open since 1992 and is an integral part of the community.

Charlie Kiss

Charlie Kiss, an anti-nuclear activist, was the first trans man to run for Parliament, standing in the Islington South and Finsbury constituency.

Chris Smith

As the first MP to publicly come out as gay, Chris Smith had a huge impact locally in Islington and nationally across Britain for the LGBTQ+ community.

Club Kali

DJ Ritu and DJ Dilz are the creative forces behind Club Kali, an LGBTQ+ nightclub that uniquely blends Eastern sounds and Western styles.

Del La Grace Volcano

A pioneer of queer photography, Volcano lived in Islington for over 20 years. Their work has appeared in TV, film and academic works on visual arts.

Edith Craig

An actress, women’s suffrage campaigner and an openly queer woman, Edith Craig had a fascinating and colourful life.

The Edward IV Pub

‘The Eddy’ was the oldest gay pub in Islington, a staple of the LGBTQ+ community for over 50 years.

The Fallen Angel

More than just a pub – the Fallen Angel was a hub of activism, art and queer community spirit.

GALOP

Since 1982, GALOP has worked to support LGBTQ+ people who suffer discrimination based on their sexuality.

Gay Gooners

Formed in 2013 for LGBTQ+ Arsenal fans, the Gay Gooners are the biggest queer football supporters club in the UK.

Gay Liberation Front at Highbury Fields

A pivotal moment in British history, the first gay rights protest in the UK took place here in 1970, motivated by the police entrapment of Louis Eaks.

Sonia Burgess

A trans woman and tireless human rights lawyer, Sonia Burgess’s many victories included a landmark case that led to the 2003 Gender Recognition Bill.

London Metropolitan University

A university with a distinguished LGBTQ+ history, the after-party of the first Gay Pride parade was hosted here in July 1972.

Mary Wollstonecraft

The trailblazing feminist writer had passionate relationships of various types with both men and women, and left a bold, inspiring queer legacy. 

Hannah Snell aka James Gray

Disguised as their brother-in-law and assuming his identity, Hannah Snell had a fascinating career in the British army in the 1740s.

Housmans Bookshop

London’s premier radical bookshop since 1945, Housmans has been home to many LGBTQ+ organisations throughout its existence, including Switchboard.

The Hemingford Arms

Home to the hugely popular Icebreakers Friday night disco, ‘the Hemi’ was a fixture of Islington’s gay and lesbian nightlife in the 1970s and 80s.

Islington Green

The former public toilets on Islington Green were a well-known spot for cottaging throughout the 20th century.

Fay Presto

Born in Holloway, Fay Presto is an acclaimed magician and an important figure in Britain’s trans history.

Naomi Jacob

Jewish actress, author and educator, Naomi Jacob was active within the women’s suffrage movement. Her sexuality was an open secret.

Kate Charlesworth

Acclaimed cartoonist and illustrator Kate Charlesworth lived in this house while she created comic strips about lesbian life in 1980s London.

Lisa Power

One of the UK’s most prominent LGBTQ+ activists since the 1970s, Lisa Power has been involved in many of Islington’s queer organisations.

London Friend

The UK’s oldest LGBTQ+ charity has been based in Islington since its creation in 1972, providing essential support for the community.

London Gay Teenage Group

The first officially registered gay youth group in Britain, the LGTG played an instrumental role in the lives of young gay and lesbian people from the mid-1970s to early 2000s.

London Lesbian and Gay Centre

A huge social and event space for London’s LGBTQ+ community, the Centre generated widespread controversy when it opened in 1984.

Food Chain

Working since 1988 to provide food to people living with HIV, the Food Chain was based at 345 City Road until 2019.

Osh Gantly

Osh Gantly is Labour’s first transgender councillor and has been part of Islington’s LGBTQ+ community for over 20 years.

Olumide Popoola

A successful poet and author, Popoola leads the programme ‘The Future is Back’ supporting emerging LGBTQ+ writers, especially writers of colour.

Pat Arrowsmith

A woman with an extraordinary life as a political activist, Arrowsmith was the first ever ‘prisoner of conscience’ in Britain.

Peter Wildeblood

Imprisoned for being gay, Peter Wildeblood and his book Against the Law played a crucial role in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England.

Pink Paper

Between 1987 and 2009, the Pink Paper helped spread news and activism to the LGBTQ+ community all over the UK. Scan the QR Code to find out more.

Roger Casement

A slavery abolitionist and a prominent figure in Ireland’s fight for independence, Casement was executed for treason in Pentonville Prison in 1916.

Robert ‘Bob’ Crossman

As the UK’s first openly gay mayor, Bob Crossman did great work for the LGBTQ+ population in Islington, while facing many challenges along the way.

Spare Rib

As the largest circulated feminist magazine of the 1970s and 1980s, Spare Rib worked to change the perception of women’s magazines.

Simeon Solomon

Pre-Raphaelite artist Simeon Solomon was imprisoned here at the Middlesex House of Detention for being homosexual.

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a religious order of drag queens, have campaigned for LGBTQ+ rights and better sex education since 1979.

Sisterwrite Bookshop

The historic and much-remembered feminist bookshop, Sisterwrite brought public attention to women’s writing and feminist publishing.

Sodomite’s Walk

In the early 18th Century, this path between Upper and Middle Moorfields was known as Sodomite’s Walk, as it was a popular cruising spot for gay men. Scan the QR Code for more information.

Stonewall

Since its foundation in 1989, Stonewall has been a major LGBTQ+ foundation with an impressive history, campaigning for gender and sexual equality in the UK.

The Bell

The Bell was a much loved venue for the LGBTQ+ community in the 1980s and 90s. It is fondly remembered and greatly missed.

The Crown and Woolpack

This former pub has the distinction of being home to Islington’s first lesbian disco, as well as meetings attended by Vladimir Lenin.

Trade at Turnmills

From 1990 to 2002, Turnmills played host to the legendary club night, Trade, London’s first gay after-hours club.

Revd Jide Macaulay

A Christian minister, pastor and HIV+ activist, Revd Macaulay is a community leader for LGBTQ+ people of faith.

Gilli Salvat

A youth worker, a lesbian feminist and an artist, Gilli Salvat has been involved in several of Islington’s LGBTQ+ youth groups.

Yvonne Sinclair

Yvonne Sinclair was a well-known trans activist who ran the TV/TS Support Group at 274 Upper Street, three nights a week, every week, for 14 years. Scan the QR Code to find out more.

The Outside Project

Located at the former Clerkenwell Fire Station, the Outside Project is the UK’s first dedicated homeless shelter for LGBTQ+ people. Scan the QR code to find out more.

The North London Line

Beginning in 1987, the North London Line was an LGBTQ+ youth service with high engagement from young LGBTQ+ people of colour. Scan the QR Code to find out more.

Section 28

A reactionary and damaging law that existed from 1988 – 2003, Section 28 was created to prevent the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ in schools. Scan the QR Code to find out more.

The Carved Red Lion

A women’s club that was open every evening, the Carved Red Lion was a beloved pub for Islington’s lesbian community. Scan the QR Code to find out more.

Firdaus Kanga

A gay journalist, writer, actor and disability activist, Kanga is the author of Trying to Grow, which was adapted into an award-winning film. Scan the QR Code to find out more.

Gay Sweatshop Theatre Company

This queer theatre company toured the UK and Europe with award-winning performances and controversial productions. Scan the QR Code to find out more.

245 St John Street

Home to Islington Museum and Islington Local History Centre, LGBTQ+ heritage has been an integral part of their collections since opening in 2008. Scan the QR Code to find out more.

Dream City Cinema

In 1994, 11 men died when a fire burned through the Dream City Cinema, a members-only venue that was routinely frequented by gay customers. Scan the QR Code to find out more.

Rose Collis

A lesbian-feminist performer, activist and journalist, Collis was co-editor of the Gay and Lesbian pages of City Limits, the only mainstream publication with a dedicated section for the community. Scan the QR Code to find out more.

Terrence Higgins Trust

Created in 1982, THT was the UK’s first charity set up to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. They have been at the forefront ever since. Scan the QR Code to find out more.

Click here to access the Heritage Trails map. 

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