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This month, we started from the Angel Plaza, walked along Liverpool Road, then passed through the Old Royal Free Place back to Upper Street. Well, we didn’t really go chasing cattle, but Angel’s former Islington High Street was really an agricultural hot spot and the current Business Design Centre was the Royal Agricultural Hall (see side notes at the end of the post for more fun facts).
Let’s focus on the people in the space. Do you see the transition in this set of photos?
We found the transition between public and private spaces quite interesting. In this short walk, we started off at the Angel Plaza where a shopping centre was located. This pedestrian-only plaza was packed with people.
Looking to the left, someone just fiddled around with their mobile’s camera functions. Looking to the right, the shopping centre’s security guard appeared out of nowhere and told us to buzz off because we were taking photographs “professionally.” When we explained that the photos were not for commercial use, he then retracted his words and said no photographs were allowed due to it being a private premises. Ironically, this space has more of a public feel to us than he stated. What do you think?
So, without getting a proper shot of the “private plaza” we moved onto Liverpool Road where the crowds started to disperse away. Leaving the busy commercial area, shops and restaurants were replaced by residential blocks. The gigantic former Agricultural Hall’s entrance / current Business Design Centre’s backdoor was along the way. Pedestrian motions started to fade. We entered the eerie Old Royal Free Place (Gray Fox said, “Look, one light broken.” Red Fox said, “Woo~ Spooky~”).
The Old Royal Free Place projected many boundaries to outsiders and certainly created an unwelcoming atmosphere. It felt like we accidentally walked into a frozen parallel universe. No movements. Everything was quiet in this residential establishment. A dim and narrow back alley led us to the luminous Upper Street. People were walking and cars were passing. We ended our journey and back to the busy and familiar world.
Find out more interesting facts we learned about the buildings on the route in our side notes below. If you enjoy this walk, you can check out other Foxy’s Walks here!
FOXY’S SIDE NOTE:
- Royal Agricultural Hall, also known as “The Aggie” (now Business Design Centre):Designed by Frederick Peck in 1861, the Royal Agricultural Hall was once one of the largest exhibition halls in the world when built. In fact, its clear span was greater than Crystal Palace and Alexandra Palace at the time. Originally used as a venue for Royal Smithfield Club’s Smithfield Show (an annual livestock exhibition), the Hall soon became popular for holding different types of shows and circuses until the WWII. After some years of neglect and nearly facing demolition the Hall was restored and converted to the current Business Design Centre in 1986.
- Old Royal Free Place:Former London Fever Hospital, which later became the Liverpool Road branch of Royal Free Hospital in 1849. In 1989, the site was converted into 178 flats and houses and the building is Grade II Listed.
- Collin’s Music Hall (now Waterstones):Collins Music Hall was opened in 1863 and burnt down in 1958. Nothing much has left after the fire except its frontage and side walls, but you can still get a hint of its past time glamour from the facade.View here to see some great old photos of the Collin’s Music Hall!