Review of the year 2019: Nedim Bilgin killing, beheaded elephant ‘resurrected’, a tale of two taverns and Highbury Corner revamp

Nedim Bilgin, who went to the Copenhagen Youth Project, was stabbed to death in Holloway Road on Tue

Nedim Bilgin, who went to the Copenhagen Youth Project, was stabbed to death in Holloway Road on Tuesday. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Archant

That was the year that was...

Architect and topiatrist Tim Bushe stand at the junction of Romilly Road and Ambler Road, posing in

Architect and topiatrist Tim Bushe stand at the junction of Romilly Road and Ambler Road, posing in front of his hedge art creations. Picture: Naomi Shillinger - Credit: Archant


Former St Mary Magdalene Academy pupil Nedim Bilgin, 17, was stabbed to death in Caledonian Road on January 29.

Pedestrian Kenan Araz died after he was hit by a car in Parkhurst Road on January 23.

Bella Haile O'Neill, three, died suddenly of unconfirmed causes in April.

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Erik San-Fillipo died of a drugs overdose in May and his body was found in a wheelie bin in Tollington Road.

Peter O'Loughlin was attacked in Camden Road on June 4 and died of head injuries on June 26.

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A HGV killed a man in his 70s in Seven Sisters Road in September - and a motorcyclist died on the same road in July. Another motorcyclist died after a collision in Holloway Road in June.

Alciveadis Mauredis died from head injuries on July 31 after he was attacked outside the Royal Oak pub in the Elthorne Estate on Juy 12.

Former Islington Council leader Steve Hitchins, 68, died of a heart attack on September 24.

Archway Tavern. Picture: Dieter Perry

Archway Tavern. Picture: Dieter Perry - Credit: Archant

Beatrice Yankson died in a fire at her flat in Mingard Walk in October.

Beheaded elephant resurrected

A Finsbury Park neighbour threatened to cut down the beloved topiary elephants outside his home in August because people were hiding behind them to take drugs.

The famous hedge-carved elephants have been brightening up the junction of Ambler Road and Romilly Road for years - but faced extinction when a beleaguered neighbour decided to design out antisocial behaviour. The flat beneath him made the news in the summer of 2018, after police raided it and found a drugs den with the words "smoke crack worship satan" scrawled on the wall.

Tim Bushe, the architect and topiarist, who first carved the elephants seven years ago and continues to maintain them, told the Gazette: "I don't think napalming the garden and the hedges is the answer." Tim and the Blackstock Triangle Gardeners group managed to convince the neighbour to leave the hedges intact. But later that week, in a bizarre coincidence, someone crashed their car into the garden wall and beheaded one of the elephants. Tim feared his creation was done for but, luckily, he managed to "resurrect" the elephant.

A tale of two taverns

It's been another year of huge frustration regarding the ongoing closure of The Archway Tavern pub.

Its imminent reopening was announced in April by Sokol Toska, the man behind Nightclub Kolis at the back of the building in Navigator Square.

But the agonising wait continued until last month, when pints were poured for the first time in five years at the famous boozer.

Clerkenwell Fire Station

Clerkenwell Fire Station - Credit: Archant

That should have been that. But its reopening was short lived and it has since closed again as licensing issues are ironed out.

The bottles of spirits have been removed from behind the bar, which doesn't' look good.

Famous matchday pub The Arsenal Tavern in Blackstock Road also closed in the summer, to the despair of Gooners.

The landlord, Enterprise Inns, which also owns the Archway Tavern, has promised it will reopen soon, will remain a community pub and will be run by a someone from the local area.


The Ministry of Justice put the breaks on talks to lease 29 three and four-bed flats in Roman Way, which are mostly empty, to Islington Council in February.

The council was forced to shelve its proposed ban on rough sleeping and begging under Stroud Green Bridge. The council wanted an area based injunction to protect "extremely vulnerable and seriously at risk" people.

Sadiq Khan gave Peabody a £42 million loan to buy the former Holloway Prison site so it can build 1,000 homes, of which 60 per cent will be "genuinely affordable."

Queer charity The Outside Project opened a temporary LGBTQ+ shelter in the former Clerkenwell Fire Station, which former mayor of London Boris Johnson closed in 2014.

The new pedestrianised Highbury Corner. Picture: TfL

The new pedestrianised Highbury Corner. Picture: TfL - Credit: Archant

Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association pledged not to demolish any homes on St Mary's Path Estate following a consultation.

We revealed JLIF, a private firm registered in Guernsey, made at least £9million out of Islington Council's two outsourced housing contracts with Partners between 2012 and 2018.

Highbury Corner

The long-awaited overhaul of a dangerous gyratory was completed - and drivers soon began to complain it created more traffic.

After a decade of discussions and a year of construction work, the notorious 1960s roundabout - clockwise-only since 1958 - finally opened to anticlockwise traffic in April.

The joint venture between Islington Council, the mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) includes a new public space in the wooded area at the centre of the roundabout, segregated cycle lanes and more crossings for pedestrians. Clear signals, road markings and signs were introduced. But teething problems included queuing traffic in St Paul's Road and Canonbury Road - and the excess pollution this creates. People are concerned about the pedestrian crossing in Canonbury Road, near where a child leaving school was hit by a van in May. The revamp was intended to make the junction safer for pedestrians and cyclists.


The people of Islington voted in a general election and what looks set to be our last EU Parliamentary election - and those living in St George's ward also elected a new councillor.

Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry held their seats with large, albeit slightly reduced, majorities in the general election on December 12, even as Labour crumbled nationally. Mr Corbyn was elected Islington North MP for the 10th time with 34,603 votes, down slightly from 40,086 ballots in 2017. Ms Thornberry was re-elected in Islington South & Finsbury with 26,897 votes, reduced from 30,188.

In Islington, more people voted for the Lib Dems than Labour in the EU polls. The Lib Dems won 29 per cent of the local vote while Labour was second with 28pc and the Greens came third on about 20pc. A by-election in St George's ward prompted by the resignation of Kat Fletcher saw Gulcin Ozdemir hold it for Labour.

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