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Town hall flag remains a mystery

PUBLISHED: 18:28 07 May 2008 | UPDATED: 10:16 22 July 2010

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IT FLIES proudly on top of the town hall and is passed by tens of thousands of commuters every day – yet to politicians and historians alike, the Flag of Islington remains a mystery.

IT FLIES proudly on top of the town hall and is passed by tens of thousands of commuters every day - yet to politicians and historians alike, the Flag of Islington remains a mystery.

Islington Council may have flown the English national flag for St George's Day on April 23 but it seems a little less pride is taken in the borough's own civic emblem, which flies next to the Union Jack and European Flag on Islington Town Hall in Upper Street.

The emblem features blue waves on a white background with a central image of a castle and can also be seen as a mural on the platforms at Highbury and Islington Tube station - yet there are no official records on the history or significance of the flag.

Catherine Brightly, of Islington Archaeology and History Society, said: "I think it's odd. If you're going to have a civic flag there is generally a lot of thought and debate as to what goes on to it. It's a serious enterprise, apart from the cost of making it which is considerable. The colours of any flag are very significant and usually have to be approved to avoid clashes with other flags. I'm very surprised it's not documented anywhere."

Investigations by the Gazette have established that the flag is partly based on Islington's coat of arms which hangs in the council chambers. It is thought the blue waves represent Islington's association with water and wells such as New River, Sadler's Wells and Clerkenwell, while the central image represents Jack Straw's Castle where Wat Tyler's army prepared to march on London in the Peasant's Revolt of 1380.

Pat Haynes, an amateur historian and former Labour councillor from 1971 to 2001, said: "The flag was devised when the boroughs of Finsbury and Islington merged in 1965 but I couldn't tell you any more than that. It shows that perhaps we're not into all this flag flying. I'm all in favour of civic pride because Londoners are an untidy lot and they won't look after the place - but we just not very good at it."

Neither Islington Council, Islington Archaeology and History Society, Islington Local History Centre or Transport for London have an image of the flag.

l Do you have any information about the flag of Islington? Contact the Gazette on 020 8342 5777 or e-mail nlnews@archant.co.uk


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