After 15 months of traffic and pedestrian chaos the finishing line is in sight for Archway, the north London neighbourhood which is emerging from a £12.8 million facelift.
The hated gyratory roundabout has been swept away and a new public square has been created at the bottom of Highgate Hill in front of the Archway Tavern, the pub that famously featured on the cover of The Kinks’ 1971 album, Muswell Hillbillies.
Sitting astride the A1 at the bottom of the steep hill leading to Highgate, Archway used to be one of those London districts that people either passed through on their way to somewhere else, or rushed to when they needed Whittington Hospital A&E department. Now it is becoming a destination in its own right.
Local estate agent Shaun Cunningham, of Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward, is pleased to report that the area’s leafy roads of Victorian houses, well-rated primary schools, Zone 2 location and good transport links are attracting an increasing number of first-time buyers and young families.
Over the last couple of years, change has come thick and fast to the centre of Archway. The area’s tallest building, 17-storey Vantage Point, has been converted into 118 flats for rent by developer Essential Living, while eight-storey Hamlyn House has been converted into a Premier Inn hotel with a ground-floor restaurant.
Meanwhile, developer Bode is about to launch another office-to-residential conversion at nearby Hill House and revamp the Archway shopping mall.
Folklore has it that Archway is where Dick Whittington and his cat heard the Bow bells ring out: “Turn again, Dick Whittington, thrice Lord Mayor of London”.
The spot is marked with a monument featuring a small stone cat in Highgate Hill near the junction with Magdala Avenue. There is another Whittington cat — a floral one — at the entrance to Whittington Park in Holloway Road, along with a new mural depicting the plucky Whittington, his meagre possessions tied up in a scarf carried on a stick.
The story is largely mythical of course. There was a Richard Whittington who was Mayor of London three times between 1397 and 1419 but far from being a penniless traveller he was the son of a wealthy merchant who apprenticed him to a City mercer.
As for the cat, the theory is that Whittington, who was essentially a city commodity trader, did have a cat but rather than being of the feline variety, it was a type of coal barge.
Still, there’s no denying Whittington left his mark on Archway. As well as a hospital and a park, there is Pauntley Street, named after the village in Gloucestershire where he grew up, and Fitzwarren Gardens — a reference to the family he married into.
Archway is on the A1, the Great North Road out of London. Four-and-a-half miles north of central London, it has Highgate to the north, Highbury to the east, Islington and Camden Town to the south and Tufnell Park and Kentish Town to the west.
The property scene
Leafy roads of mainly Victorian properties in Archway include family houses and period conversions. The most expensive house currently for sale is a four-bedroom remodelled home in Hornsey Lane with spectacular views over central London, priced £2.5 million.
The most expensive house in the popular Whitehall Park conservation area is a five-bedroom property, for £1.75 million. The Whittington Estate off Dartmouth Park Hill is a brutalist development of Seventies flats designed by Peter Tabori from the golden age of Camden council housing design.
KFH agent Shaun Cunningham says the estate is popular with architects and he gets specific requests for flats there.
Hill House in the centre of Archway is a development of 156 studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments which is being launched on June 18. Prices start from £300,000 and the penthouses are likely to be priced from £1 million.
The first residents are due to move into Hill House during October. For more information, call Savills on 020 7016 3700 or Goldschmidt & Howland on 020 8347 2600.
Housing association Peabody acquired the former Holborn and Finsbury Union workhouse infirmary buildings from UCL three years ago. The planning application for what is likely to be a mixed-use scheme will include the restoration and conversion of the main Victorian buildings.
It has yet to be formally submitted but there will be affordable homes in the mix. A new round of public consultation will take place before the application goes to council planners. The architect is award-winning Haworth Tompkins.
Bianca Marchini, lettings negotiator at Kinleigh Folkard & Hayward says Archway is becoming increasingly popular with renters, who are mainly couples, sharers and young families.
“Archway used to be a much cheaper place to rent than Highgate but the differential is narrowing as the area regenerates. It also has the advantage of being in Zone 2 rather than Zone 3, so commuting is less expensive.”
Some Archway families leave the district in search of better secondary schools, while others find that trading up from a two-bedroom flat to a four-bedroom house is too expensive.
Postcode: most of Archway falls into the N19 Upper Holloway postcode, although to the north it merges with the N6 Highgate code and N8, the Hornsey code.
Any of the roads in the Whitehall Park conservation area and St John’s Grove, St John’s Villas and Fairbridge Road. Between Highgate Hill and Archway Road, Waterlow Road has four- and five-bedroom homes that sell for about £1.25 million.
In the same area, Despard Road and Lidyard Road are also sought after. Bickerton Road and Tremlett Grove occupy the hilly slopes close to Dartmouth Park.
Up and coming
KFH estate agent Shaun Cunningham recommends roads south of the Overground line, including Marlborough Road, Hatchard Road and Davenant Road.
He is also a fan of Marlborough Yard, an unusual mews where the houses are arranged with the living rooms on the upper floors attached to large roof terraces.
Archway station is on the High Barnet branch of the Northern line Tube with trains to the City and the West End. Upper Holloway is on the Gospel Oak to Barking Overground line. Both stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,296.
There are plenty of commuter buses including the No 17 to London Bridge via St Paul’s; the No 43, also to London Bridge but via Islington; the No 134 to Tottenham Court Road; the No 271 to Moorgate and the No 390 to Notting Hill via Oxford Street.
Islington council is Labour controlled. Band D council tax for 2017/2018 is £1,351.08.
Shops and restaurants
Shopping in Archway is along Junction Road and Holloway Road, and to a lesser extent along Archway Road.
In Junction Road, Bread and Bean is a popular coffee shop, Stagnells Bakehouse is a long-established bakery, and Shinobi Sushi is a Japanese restaurant. St John’s Tavern is marked out by its two large exterior lanterns and its interesting gastropub menu, while Theatre of Wine, a small chain with other branches in Leytonstone and Greenwich, holds regular wine tastings, and there is a fishmonger.
Holloway Road has branches of Sainsbury’s Local and Tesco Express; The Spoke is an all-day eatery run by the Bread and Bean folk, with the strapline “coffee, burgers & cycling”, and 500 Restaurant, with an Italian menu, is named after the Fiat 500 car.
In Archway Road, falling into N6, the Highgate postcode, there is Selvedge, the shop run by the magazine of the same name, which features beautiful textiles; Leaping Lizards for interesting children’s clothes, and Japanese restaurant and deli, Cocoro.
Tucked way in Dartmouth Park Hill, Cricks Corner is an independent coffee shop.
For such an urban area, Archway has a surprising number of parks and green spaces.
The largest is Waterlow Park, a hillside park in Highgate Hill with views over central London. It is home to Lauderdale House, an arts and education centre with a café.
There’s some fine new planting and Dick Whittington’s topiary cat at the Holloway Road entrance to Whittington Park, which has an outdoor gym and a café run by the local community association.
Elthorne Park in Hazellville Road has the Philip Noel-Baker Peace Garden; Dartmouth Park in Dartmouth Park Hill boasts good views over central London, and Girdlestone Park is in Vorley Road.
Leisure and the arts
Jacksons Lane, in a converted church in Archway Road in nearby Highgate, describes itself as north London’s creative space. It specialises in contemporary theatre and circus and runs arts-based classes.
The Odeon Holloway cinema is in Holloway Road, and the local council swimming pool is at Archway Leisure Centre in Macdonald Road.
Archway is generally an area where families rely on state education.
All the local state primaries are rated “good” or better by the Ofsted education watchdog, the most sought-after being “outstanding” Yerbury Primary School in Foxham Road, on the boundary with Tufnell Park.
The other “outstanding” primary school is St Joseph’s RC in Highgate Hill. Whitehall Park is a new primary Free School in Ashmount Road which opened in September 2014 and has yet to be inspected by Ofsted.
The “outstanding” state comprehensive school is St Aloysius RC (boys, ages 11 to18) in Hornsey Lane. With the exception of Acland Burghley (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Burghley Road, which “requires improvement”, all the others are rated “good”.
They are: Mount Carmel Catholic College for Girls (ages 11 to 16) in Holland Walk; La Sainte Union RC (girls, ages 11 to 18) in Highgate Road; Parliament Hill (girls, ages 11 to 18) also in Highgate Road; William Ellis (boys, ages 11 to 18) next door in Highgate Road, and Arts & Media School Islington (co-ed, ages 11 to 16) in Turle Road. LaSWAP is a sixth-form consortium of four schools: La Sainte Union, William Ellis, Acland Burghley and Parliament Hill.
City and Islington College (co-ed, 16+) is an FE college with a campus in Holloway Road, and Ofsted rates it “good”.
There are two top private schools in nearby Highgate: Channing School (girls, ages 11 to 18) in The Bank, off Highgate Hill and Highgate School (co-ed, ages three to 18) in North Road.