Holloway is an attractive alternative for those priced out of Islington and Highgate — especially with the prison shutting.
Away from its noisy main road, Holloway has streets of fine Victorian houses that attract young couples and families priced out of areas such as Islington and Highgate.
Meanwhile, London Metropolitan University is bringing in wealthy overseas students who can afford to rent the new purpose-built flats in this north London neighbourhood.
This is the Holloway where Charles Pooter, the social-climbing clerk and hero of George and Weedon Grossmith’s The Diary of a Nobody lived so comically. His Holloway home, The Laurels, Brickfield Terrace has possibly been identified as number one Pemberton Gardens, a road of large Victorian houses in Upper Holloway, where today the residents are more likely to be top City bankers than humble clerks.
This summer, nearby Holloway Prison is closing down and the site is likely to be earmarked for housing. The removal of the grim, fortress-like jail building in Parkhurst Road will transform the area — just a short distance from the town centre at the Nag’s Head crossroads in Holloway Road.
The 10-acre site, which could be worth £200 million, could provide as many as 5,000 new homes. This is why estate agent Steve Barron from local firm Drivers & Norris says the district still hasn’t reached its full potential.
Holloway stretches out on either side of Holloway Road, the Great North Road or the A1, starting close to the Highbury and Islington roundabout and ending two miles further north close to Archway. The Nag’s Head, at Holloway’s heart, is sadly no longer a pub but an amusement arcade.
Only four miles from central London, Holloway has Highgate to the north, Highbury and Stoke Newington to the east, Islington to the south and Tufnell Park to the west.
Holloway has a mix of large, mainly three- and four-storey Victorian houses — most of which have been converted into flats — and estates of social housing. There are two main conservation areas: the Hillmarton conservation area covers the roads around Hillmarton Road, while the Mercers Road/Tavistock Terrace conservation area is in Upper Holloway.
The Beaux Arts Building in Manor Gardens, a former Post Office in the elaborate Beaux Arts architectural style, was converted into 162 flats 20 years ago.
As part of the redevelopment of the Arsenal football stadium, about 2,000 new homes have been built in Holloway over the past 10 years.
The stadium conversion yielded 650 flats, while some 1,000 new affordable homes are scattered around the neighbourhood, most notably around Hornsey Street. There is also a large Barratt Homes development of more than 300 properties opposite the new stadium.
However, only smaller-scale developments are currently for sale, including 44 new-build two-bedroom flats in Tufnell Park Road. These are ready to move into, with prices starting at £425,000. Call Foxtons on 020 7973 2020.
Eight three-bedroom new-build mews houses are on the market at Lotus Mews, off Sussex Way. Also move-in ready, prices for these homes start at £849,950, through Mulholland (020 7272 7705).
On the corner of Holloway Road and Fortnam Road, Mulholland is also selling off-plan, for completion in summer next year, 12 new build two- and three-bedroom flats with prices starting at £585,000. Again, call 020 7272 7705.
No new shared-ownership homes are currently available locally, but Newlon Housing Trust, the main housing association in the area, often has second-hand shared-ownership homes for resale. Call 020 7613 7480.
Rental manager Josh Mills at Drivers & Norris says nine out of 10 tenants are young professionals while the rest are students. Rents in Holloway are at least 20 per cent cheaper than Islington, yet the attractions of Islington’s Upper Street are still a bus ride or walk away.
This district is well connected but the choice of how to get around depends on where along the Holloway Road you happen to live.
On the Tube, Caledonian Road, Holloway Road, Arsenal and Upper Holloway stations are on the Piccadilly line; Archway is on the Northern line and Highbury & Islington is on the Victoria line.
There are Overground trains from Upper Holloway to Barking and from Highbury & Islington to Dalston Junction and Stratford. Drayton Park and Highbury & Islington have trains to Moorgate. All stations are in Zone 2 and an annual travelcard to Zone 1 costs £1,296.
There are bus services to destinations including London Bridge, Moorgate, Waterloo, Trafalgar Square and Euston.
Local estate agent Steve Barron says there are many families who have lived in Holloway all their lives but newer residents tend to move out of the area once they want to trade up to a house.
N7, the Holloway postcode, also takes in parts of Barnsbury, Islington and Tufnell Park. N19 is the Upper Holloway postcode which also covers Archway.
In the Hillmarton conservation area the best roads are Beacon Hill, Cardoza Road, Freegrove Road and Penn Road, and in the Mercers Road/Tavistock Terrace conservation area they are Mercers Road, Tavistock Terrace, Beversbrook Road and Yerbury Road.
Up and coming
The roads to the east of Holloway Road are generally cheaper than those to the west.
Islington council is Labour controlled and Band D council tax for the 2016/2017 year is £1,296.15.
Shops and restaurants
Holloway town centre is based around the Nag’s Head crossroads, where the road meets Parkhurst Road and Seven Sisters Road.
There is a large Waitrose and Holloway’s own department store, Selbys. The Nag’s Head shopping centre has branches of Morrisons, Boots, Iceland and M&S. Around the corner the Nag’s Head market has fishmongers and a shop full of lovely dressmakers’ trimmings. Keen dressmakers then head over the road to Rolls & Rems for a good selection of fabric.
Holloway’s café and restaurant scene is improving. Starting at Highbury and Islington Vagabond is an independent coffee shop, part of a small chain; EZ & Moss is a vegetarian and vegan café; Oh My Dog cooks hot dogs and burgers at the Horatia pub; Provisions is a wine and cheese shop; the owners of Piebury Corner started out selling pies to Arsenal fans on match days from their front garden; Miki’s Paradise has crepes and milkshakes; and Soho House has opened a branch of Dirty Burger.
On Hercules Street Chicks on Fire is a fried chicken restaurant; back on Holloway Road the Outpost is a gift shop run by a supported housing charity and The Spoke is a pub that welcomes cyclists and specialises in burgers.
Finsbury Park at the north end of Holloway and Highbury Fields at the south end are the two nearest parks. Gillespie Park, entrance on Drayton Park, is the local nature reserve and home to the Islington Ecology Centre.
Leisure and the arts
The Odeon at the Nag’s Head is a landmark building and the local multiplex cinema. The Pleasance on North Road is the local fringe theatre; it specialises in comedy and is currently previewing shows destined for Edinburgh.
The Sobell Leisure Centre in Hornsey Road has an indoor ice skating rink and there are three council-owned swimming pools: Highbury Pool and Gym in Highbury Crescent; Archway Leisure Centre in MacDonald Road and Cally Pool on Caledonian Road and the swimming pool at Holloway School is used by a number of swimming clubs.
Holloway only has state schools. Most are rated either “good” or better by the government’s education watchdog Ofsted. The “outstanding” primary schools are: Grafton in Eburne Road; St John’s Highbury Vale CofE in Conewood Street; Yerbury in Foxham Road and Gillespie in Gillespie Road.
The following state comprehensives are rated “good” by Ofsted: Holloway School (co-ed, ages 11 to 16) in Hilldrop Road; St Mary Magdalene Academy CofE (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Liverpool Road; Highbury Fields (girls, ages 11 to 18 with boys in the sixth form) in Highbury Hill; Arts & Media (co-ed, ages 11 to 16) in Turle Road; and Mount Carmel Catholic College for Girls (ages 11 to 16) in Holland Walk. A new comprehensive school City of London Academy in Highgate Hill opens in September 2017.
The following comprehensives in nearby areas also get an “outstanding” rating: Highbury Grove (co-ed, ages 11 to 18) in Highbury Grove; The Camden School for Girls (girls, ages 11 to 18 with boys in the sixth form) in Sandall Road in Kentish Town and St Aloysius’ College RC (boys, ages 11 to 18) in Hornsey Lane.
Collège Francais Bilingue de Londres (co-ed, ages five to 16) is a private bilingual French school in Holmes Road, Kentish Town. There is a wide choice of private schools in nearby Hampstead and Highgate.