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A Straight Line Walk Across London
by Paul K Lyons
63 - York Way for a rubber factory, astro-turf, night-time flashers and a meat market
At the very east end of Agar Grove, just before it reaches York Way, I finally meet up with the 300 easting again, the first time since leaving the British Library. There's a characterless junction here, with a couple of pubs (Rose Mc Cann's and the Newmarket Ale House) a couple of auto shops, a bookie and the Villa Cafe where I stop for tea and an eccles cake. On one corner of York Way and Brewery Road there's an old industrial brick building advertising 'Pentonville Rubber', a company which sells foam, rubber, latex and bean bags. In the third-storey windows, though, there's a sign for 'Gospel Light International Church'. This is a church led by a character in Ghana called Bishop Addae-Mensah. A few years ago he predicted that Ghana would find large quantities of oil. In March 2004, he was accused of committing adultery with a female pastor of the Church - an allegation he strenuously denied. On the other corner of York Way and Brewery Road stands a mid-19th century building, long known as the Butcher's Arms, but no longer.
On York Way (the A5200) I am confronted by a giant advertising billboard: 'If you top up twice a month, you'd be better off with Three Pay. Pay as you go just got better.' Terraces of three-storey 19th century houses, all with parapets hiding their flat roofs, line the west side of the road (which is in the London Borough of Camden). For one block on the east side (which is in Islington), York Way is taken up with warehouse buildings: Norval, a printing company; Hewitt, a stationery manufacturer; and GWB. The latter is an acronym of the charity General Welfare of the Blind. It provides sheltered workshops for the blind, runs a blind persons employment agency, called Clarity. It also runs a commercial venture, to make money, producing toiletry and household liquid products for UK and overseas marketing companies. Market Road runs off York Way to the east. There's a sport's ground here, where, in 1980, the England manager Ron Greenwood officially opened an astro-turf football pitch. It's very busy this morning with different teams warming up and training.
North of Market road and along York Way is the York Way Estate, run by the Corporation of London. It comprises 275 flats, in four blocks, ranging in size from bedsits (weekly rent around £57) to three bedroom flats (weekly rent around £84). Alternatively you could buy a one bedroom flat, with a 110 year lease, for £150,000. This estate seems to be a favourite locale for prostitutes, with residents complaining about them to the police and estate managers. A common complaint is of screams in the night, but 'flashing' to passing motorists has also been reported.
At the next junction, looking east along North Road, I can see the famous
Caledonian clock tower which is all that's left of the Caledonian cattle
and meat market. Before the 1850s, an inn called Copenhagen House stood
where the tower is today; and a building with the same name had been there
certainly since the 17th century, and, possibly, since the King of Denmark
came to visit his brother-in-law James I. The fields nearby were known as
the Copenhagen Fields. In 1834, a mass gathering of trade unionists marched
from these fields to Parliament to present a petition against the savage
treatment of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. In 1852, the Corporation of London purchased
the land, demolished Copenhagen House, and built the Metropolitan Cattle
Market (opened in 1855 by Prince Albert). Nearby, other buildings were constructed:
drovers' lodgings, public houses (such as the Butcher's Arms), hotels and
a block of working-class dwellings. In the 20th century, the market became
dominated by junk and antique dealers. It closed down during World War Two,
and, subsequently, the land was utilised for the York Way Estate and for
open spaces. The meat market, though, survived until the late 1960s.
A Straight Line Walk Across London - along the 300 easting
by Paul K Lyons
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