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Highbury and Islington station in the 1920s   

Copyright: Lens of Sutton Association    

It's time for the Station Square, and plans for Highbury Corner

Upgrade for Highbury and Islington Victoria line

Evicted Highbury and Islington forecourt traders cry foul

New trains for North London line as Overground takes shape

Highbury and Islington station forecourt to be restored as Post Office goes on the move

Whatever happened to Highbury and Islington? - the Flikr debate rages

  Give us back our station forecourt, Post Office warned
Plans for Highbury Station Square, and Highbury Corner
September 2012

No doubt about it: our new railways are a triumph. The extended East London line, the upgraded North London line, and the renewed Victoria line each make a massive difference to life in this part of London, and the Overground in particular opens up all kinds of new journey possibilities which just weren't there before.  More people come into Highbury and Islington too - most noticably from the Overground to catch the Victoria line.  The more frequent Victoria line trains mean the tube platforms cope with the extra traffic, but this has created congestion between the two, only partly helped by the vast new entrance and exit hall.  But this is a minor issue on a project which has transformed travel in north and east London.

So now that's all done, what about those plans to transform the spaces outside the station - restoring the station forecourt, and joining it up with a pedestrianised Highbury Corner and improved interchange with the buses?  Well, it seems that there is a blockage - the Post Office is refusing to move its crumby portacabin-style monstrosity which has sat 'temporarily' in the middle of the station forecourt since the 1970s and is just in everyone's way.  And plans for Highbury Corner are about to go out for consultation - again... 

Click here for our handy summary of all the recent plans for the area of Highbury Corner and the station:

Download: A recent history of plans for Highbury Corner (LARP, September 2012)

  Whatever happened to Highbury and Islington?  The station in the early 20th century
June 2011

Our Flickr posting of the picture of the original North London Railway station at Highbury and Islington has certainly generated some excitement.  We've had a series of comments on the history of the station and Highbury Corner from local residents and historians - and even posts from the great-grandnephew of Edwin Henry Horne, the architect of the 1870s Highbury and Islington and several other stations on the North London Railway including Camden Road, the only original station still standing today. 

Link:  If you're interested in the remarkable history of the station, take a look and feel free to contribute to the discussion. Click here to follow the link to Flickr - Highbury and Islington Station, early 20th century

  East London line extension opens to Highbury and Islington
February 2011

The connection between Highbury and Islington and Dalston Junction was opened by Boris Johnson this month, with trains running on the route for the first time since the line to Borad Street was closed in 1986.  But this is no simple restoration of an old train service - this is a completely new bit of infrastructure opening up East London as never before.  Journeys from Highbury to Hoxton, Shoreditch, Whitechapel and Docklands, once tortuous, are now easy.  And travel beyond, down to South London destinations such as Crystal Palace, Croydon and New Cross - is now possible with out having to go to some ghastly terminus like Victoria. The service and stations are really outstanding. Congratulations Transport for London for having the vision and drive to make this happen.
 East London line trains
Image: The Londonist

  Upgrade for Highbury and Islington Victoria line
October 2009

Work is proceeding on improvements to the Victoria line platforms.  Signage is being upgraded to make it more legible, though on the southbound platform new ceiling-mounted signs briefly blocked passengers' view of the more useful 'next train' display before being moved.  The old Victoria-blue station name bands along the platform have also been replaced.

Tiling is being repaired at Highbury and Islington rather than replaced. This is probably a good thing - at Victoria and King's Cross the new tiles have taken a long time to install and look like bathroom tiles.  The plan for Highbury and Islington - and perhaps other stations outside the central area - seems to be the Euston model (see picture here). At Euston, tiling was repaired, cleaned and selectively replaced to restore the station to something like its original condition. Combined with better lighting, the effect is an uncompromisingly modernist station with a much less 'brutal' atmosphere.

The Victoria line stations were designed in the 1960s by the Design Research Unit consultancy. Praised at the time on the quality of the below-surface areas, they represented a marked change from the haphazard design of much of the rest of the Underground network. The standard platform designs throughout the line are differentiated by picture tiles which relate to the location or history of each station.

Evicted Highbury and Islington forecourt traders cry foul
September 2009

The first stage of the improvements to the station forecourt have completed, but not without controversy as long-standing retailers were moved on by Network Rail (NR). In a move greeted by a public outcry,  NR evicted its existing retail tenants at the start of August, and the works completed in October include electrical works behind the Post Office to allow new higher-paying retail outlets to be installed.  The Islington Tribune reports:

'Newsagent Harendra Bhatt has set up a tiny stall on the pavement less than a metre from the spot where his kiosk once stood, in defiance of Network Rail, which evicted the four businesses at the end of last month. He said: “My customers are here. My stand now is a metre by two metres. The council is powerless to act. Staying here, I’ll be breathing right down Network Rail’s necks."'

The existing traders claim that NR's tendering process for the new retail pitches, and the conditions attached, impose onerous burdens on small businesses which make them unable to compete. Sanders Florists have found premises on Holloway Road 50 yards from the station, but other traders including Mr Bhatt and Caffe''' Mobile have not been so lucky.  Caffe Mobile's distinctive coffee stands are locked away in a garage while the owners work with Islington Council to locate a new site. 

Highbury and Islington Station forecourt
  New trains for North London line as Overground takes shape
August 2009

New trains for the North London line have started to enter service, alongside their 30-year-old predecessors.  The new trains are more reliable and have better acceleration, though timetables have not been changed, and have high-density metro-style seating, which allows fewer passengers to sit but means that there is more room to stand in relative comfort compared with the older coaches.

The seating has drawn some criticism. More standing capacity is good news for passengers making short journeys - relieving the crush routinely experienced on the line.  But the smaller number of passengers using the line to traverse London risk a long wait before finding a seat.  The 'traverse seating' plan also means that it is harder to enjoy the view from the window - which is spectacular as the line climbs across the main lines behind King's Cross and Saint Pancras.

London Overground plans to operate the service with 4-coach trains from 2011, but between now and the lengthy closure of the line from the end of 2009, both new and old trains will run with just 3 coaches. The eastern part of the line closes in December 2009 for work to complete the extension of the East London line to its new northern terminus at Highbury and Islington.

New Class 378 trains on the North London line. Copyright TfL.

  Highbury and Islington station forecourt to be restored as Post Office goes on the move
October 2008

Plans to upgrade the station forecourt -  a squalid backyard to the equally miserable Post Office - have been unveiled by Islington Council and owners Network Rail.  Subject to funding from the Greater London Assembly, the plans would go some way to making the transport hub into something befitting the area around it. The plan would see the fulfillment of a longstanding campaign to relocate the Post Office, a temporary building erected in the 1960s, to an empty site opposite Barclays Bank on the other side of Holloway Road. 

The original station forecourt - complete with covered driveway and Italianate archways - was destroyed in the 1960s as part of the construction work for the Victoria line.  The original Post Office stood on what is now the green space in the middle of Highbury Corner, and was destroyed in the V1 bomb attack on Highbury Corner in 1944.  

Highbury and Islington Station forecourt in 1967, shortly before demolition.
Copyright: Lens of Sutton Association

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