A busy Saturday in sunny Clerkenwell

We had a great action day in Clerkenwell today.

Eleven helpers variously did delivery in the morning, then calling on supporters, a pub lunch, then more delivery and surveying in the afternoon. Residents discussed everything from a European refendum to the perennial problem of tree roots in city streets. One of our supporters has sponsored new trees for her street – luckily not the ones whose roots are causing the problems. We had good weather, good spirits, and a good day all round.

One big issue on Wharton Street was the failure to collect the recycling as usual last week. Having helped pioneer the borough-wide recycling scheme when I was a local councillor, it drives me mad when residents take the trouble to put out their recycling, and the council fails to collect it. On this occasion it appears that there is a minor industrial dispute affecting the collections; I phoned Contact Islington from the street, and they promised to do an extra collection on Monday. The irony is that the union convenor who is calling the binmen out is Gary Doolan (aka ‘Dirty Gary’ ), himself a Labour councillor in St Peter’s ward (where I now live). Call me old-fashioned, but I’m guessing most voters expect their councillors to improve services, not disrupt them….

I popped into the shops on Amwell Street to get a card & gift for Mum’s birthday – after all, the best way to support local small shops is to use them.

Mum’s grandparents ran a small shop – and never had a shared family holiday as a result. Grandma went away for a week with her mother; then when they came back, her dad would have a holiday on his own. Someone had to keep the shop open; the margins were too tight and threat of lost business were too great to afford to close for even a week. So I understand the anxiety that any change causes to a small business.

Amwell Street has seen congestion charge come in, traffic schemes, and changes of landlord, each bringing fears of businesses closing; but in fact they are all still flourishing. The only shop that’s closed is the sub-Post Office; a victim of the Labour Government’s ‘network renewal’ programme.

Lunchtime saw a sudden change of plan, as the Easton where we’d intended to eat was closed. So we crossed Rosebery Avenue to Exmouth Market where we ended up in Medcalfs. My salmon was served with overly-peppery veg, but lunch was redeemed by an excellent and good value Rioja.

After the last of the delivery was done, Clerkenwell councillor George Allan and I took a look at the former courthouse on Kings Cross Road. It had been closed up for years but has now reopened as an independent travellers’ hostel, Clink Hostel, complete with funky reception, internet cafe, etc – but combined with the old courtroom fittings. So there are still wood-panelled courtrooms with plaques saying Usher, Witnesses, etc. A memorable place to stay for some lucky back-packers.

We also looked at the carvings on the brick wall along Myddleton Passage, between Myddleton Square and Sadler’s Wells. These letters and numbers were apparently carved by newly enrolled police officers as part of their initiation. Before the days of on the spot fines for graffiti, of course.

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2 Comments »

  1. Idetrorce said

    very interesting, but I don’t agree with you
    Idetrorce

  2. bridgetfox said

    Thank you for your comment! Which bit do you disagree with?

    Bridget

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