Islington Gazette letters: Holloway Prison site, Barnsbury Boys School and King’s Cross old pics

The abandoned Holloway Prison site two years ago. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK

The abandoned Holloway Prison site two years ago. Picture: POLLY HANCOCK - Credit: Archant

In summer we witnessed the debacle of prisons minister Rory Stewart telling us a preferred bidder for the Holloway prison site would be ready by the end of the year, then a Ministry of Justice spokesperson saying a buyer would be announced by the end of summer writes Glyn Robbins, Community Plan for Holloway.

It’s now nearly the end of October and we’ve heard nothing.

The government had already missed its original deadline of spring 2018 for the sale. It is three years since its closure was announced and now more than two years since Holloway Prison closed, in which time the Visitors Centre, a building that could have been put to community use, has scandalously remained empty.

Local campaigners have demanded maximum council housing and have called on the mayor to take actions to ensure the site remains in public ownership. Islington Council has made it clear it expects any future development on the site to include at least 50 per cent genuinely affordable housing, public open space, community facilities, and services for women.

The Ministry of Justice needs to tell us who is buying the site and start building the genuinely affordable housing Islington desperately needs.

Regarding the article in the October 4 edition of the Gazette by Barry J Page from Ontario on the history of Barnsbury Boys School, writes Mr J E Kirby, Clissold Crescent, Stoke Newington.

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I attended Barnsbury Boys from 11 to 15, leaving in the summer of 1962. The photos of both the lower school in Eden Grove/Geary Street and the upper school in Camden Road brought back memories.

If I remember rightly, I spent only my fourth year at the upper school, the other three years being at the lower school. I also noticed a reference to a group of former Barnsbury Boys on a website called As I am unable to access the website is there any other way I could contact them having attended the school? Although I left school without taking any O-level, I still feel I had a good secondary education that has stood me in good stead throughout my adult life.

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I didn’t actually know Barry as there were quite a lot of pupils at the school during my time there. It’s interesting to find out the school was originally mixed and that the Offord Road site became our sister school for Barnsbury Girls.

I think that the lower school became an infants’ school after Barnsbury/Laycock and Highbury Grammar schools amalgamated to form the comprehensive.

As they say, you learn something new every day. When I took early retirement at the age of 60, I was the workshop technician of my local secondary school in Stoke Newington. One thing I always said to students was: make the most of your days at school as it is a lot harder to catch up if you have to go to college.

Another thing I used to say to students was that you don’t stop learning when you leave school. I believe this still holds true today even though I am now 71. For instance, Barry’s letter tells me things about the school I didn’t know till now.

I work at global charity Muslim Aid. When the Indonesian tsunami hit, I was deployed with my team to the epicentre, Palu, writes Khaled Gamal, Duncombe Road, Archway.

We slept on the tiled floor of a university repurposed to accommodate around 200 people from search and rescue teams, aid workers and families of IDPs.

My wife, my two-year-old daughter Maryam and I live in Duncombe Road, Archway. It is always so challenging emotionally to leave them.

I saw entire villages decimated. Families sifted through the rubble where their homes once stood collecting keepsakes from their former lives.

In one day I saw around 35 bodies being excavated and I met a father waiting for news of his son feared buried in the rubble below his feet.

I tried not to think about my family back in London and how I would feel.

At least we were doing something useful. As well as delivering food, our partner agency distributed water filtration units to treat water for drinking contaminated by electric cables and the rubbish from devastated communities. Muslim Aid is also delivering hygiene kits – hopefully these will prevent the spread of disease – and shelter kits, as thousands were made homeless by the wave.

I’m so grateful to return to Islington. I keep thinking about how life can change in minutes, and I pray a lot for the people I met. If any readers want to donate, please visit or call 020 7377 4200.

Regarding your article on the King’s Cross story (October 18), writes June Gibson, Chandos Way, Hampstead.

In seeing articles and photos of King’s Cross, or any area come to that, the photos shown are never of the post-war period to very recent times. Did no one photograph scenes of areas in 1945 to 1995?

Although truly historical pictures are interesting, later photos are relevant to those alive today who enjoy seeing scenes from their younger days.

Not many people had cameras at one time so they could not record their environment.

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