Until about 1990, the district was a lively commercial quarter, but suddenly it fell almost silent as the former trades and crafts died away, leaving a sad streetscape of abandoned commercial buildings. Now City University, with its growing campus radiating out from Georgian Northampton Square, is one of the enduring institutions and helps set the tone of an area that still feels like a well-kept secret.
In recent years, a revival has been under way, fuelled by the rise of neighbouring Shoreditch, with mainly small-scale developments of loft-style offices and flats.
A live-work village of sorts has emerged in Central Street, where a courtyard complex of buildings includes an agency for opera singers, young people’s charity Catch 22, a Montessori nursery school, architects, and the Contemporary Art Society. The village revives the spirit of Clerkenwell’s 19th-century industrial heyday when it was stuffed with small craft-working businesses.
They included bookbinders, watchmakers and jewellers alongside big gaslight and solid fuel companies. East Central, a slick scheme of 35 apartments squeezed between playing fields and upgraded St Luke’s Community Centre, has arrived on this patch. Flats have floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the City and beyond. Plus there are ground and basement duplexes as well as penthouses.
Prices from £690,000. Call Stirling Ackroyd on 020 7749 3810.