Stroud Green struts its stuff

Fast playing catch-up, Stroud Green is cheaper and greener than its neighbour Crouch End
Stroud Green is a neighbourhood of quiet Victorian streets in a triangle of roads north-west of Finsbury Park. It is bounded by Crouch Hill and Stroud Green Road to the west, the railway to the east and the hilly heights of Mount View Road to the north.

Once considered the poor relation of hippy and hip Crouch End, Stroud Green is an area fast playing catch-up. It is popular with actors such as Shaun of the Dead’s Simon Pegg and up-and-coming Hollywood star James McAvoy, star of The Last King of Scotland and Atonement, who has often been spotted out shopping or eating in local pubs and restaurants with his actress wife Anne-Marie Duff.

This is an area where houses, once converted into shabby bedsits, are being turned back into family houses, or are being reconfigured into well-proportioned flats with large airy rooms.

Stroud Green has the advantage of being better served by public transport than its more fashionable neighbour Crouch End. There are overground trains to the City from Harringay and Finsbury Park stations.

Finsbury Park is in Zone 2 and a monthly season ticket into central London costs £93. The Victoria and Piccadilly Tube lines run through it to the West End.

Residents of the N4 postcode taking the Tube reckon on a door-to-door journey into work of about 40 minutes. There is also a bus interchange where you can choose from a dozen routes.

The Old Dairy on Crouch Hill is a landmark
The Old Dairy on Crouch Hill is a landmark
Crouch Hill station is on the Gospel Oak to Barking overground line and connects with the North London line two stops away at Gospel Oak station. Stroud Green is also close to the M1 and the A1, so getting out of London by car is fairly straightforward.

Five years ago, the area was looking a bit tired but in the run-up to the opening of the new Arsenal Emirates football stadium in nearby Holloway in 2006, local council Haringey invested heavily in the infrastructure of Stroud Green and neighbouring areas. It has already transformed the large open space of Finsbury Park into a vibrant and enjoyable place to visit.

The revamp of the park, with its tennis courts, skate park, boating lake, café, gym and running track, came thanks to a recent £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and since its facelift it has been awarded Green Flag status.

During the summer the park plays host to a number of music events, with this year’s Rise anti-racism festival taking place on Sunday.

The Parkway Walk runs like a wild green finger through the neighbourhood. This elevated walkway, which at points runs on bridges across some of Stroud Green’s main thoroughfares, was created from an old railway line that once ran between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace. At the weekend, this almost rural pathway is teeming with joggers, dog walkers and families out walking and cycling.

Young families are also happy with the two local primary schools. St Aidan’s in Albany Road is judged outstanding by Ofsted; while Stroud Green in Perth Street is classed as good with outstanding features.

‘Most of Stroud Green falls within a conservation area, which has saved it from ruin’

Stroud Green Road is the main shopping street. Although this can’t compete with Crouch End or Islington, there are Asian and African shops, and plenty of places to eat and drink.

The Old Dairy, a bar and restaurant on the corner of Hanley Road and Crouch Hill, is one of Stroud Green’s landmark buildings, a former dairy decorated with a series of bucolic tableaux on the Crouch Hill frontage.

Stroud Green Road has cafés where locals meet to chat
Stroud Green Road has cafés where locals meet to chat
The Noble is a popular gastro pub opposite Crouch Hill station. The Faltering Fullback, tucked away on Perth Road, is a much loved local pub serving Thai food. In summer it all but disappears under a tumbling riot of greenery and colourful window boxes. The two local pizzerias, both on Stroud Green Road, Pappagone and La Porchetta, vie for the affections of locals.

At the Finsbury Park end of Stroud Green, in Morris Place, John Jones, one of the country’s leading picture framers, now has a large modern art collection, which is displayed in its own gallery space. And in nearby Fonthill Road – known locally as Fashion Street – there is a concentration of wholesale fashion shops, which stay open to serve members of the public on Saturdays.

Most of Stroud Green falls within a conservation area, which has saved it from being ruined by unsympathetic plastic replacement windows and front gardens turned into parking spaces. The roads south of Stapleton Hall Road were built mainly in the 1870s in a Gothic style with pointed widows and decorative gables and barge boards.

The northern section was developed later in the 1880s in the red brick Queen Anne style. Here the houses along Mount View Road have views over London, while those in the adjacent Ridge Road look out over Alexandra Palace.

The quiet enclave of solid Victorian villas and little flat-fronted artisan houses in Mount Pleasant Villas and Mount Pleasant Crescent is particularly attractive. Kelly Kirkham of estate agents Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says that Stroud Green still offers better value for money than Islington or Crouch End.

She adds: “Double-fronted houses opposite the green spaces of the covered reservoir in Mount View Road now sell for more than £1 million. However, it is still possible to buy a five-bedroom, three-storey family house for between £700,000 and £750,000, and spacious two-bedroom flats start at about £300,000.

“But someone coveting one of the cottages in Mount Pleasant Crescent will pay £500,000 for two bedrooms and £600,000 for one with three bedrooms.”

Pictures by Barry Phillips

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