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Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Islington group visit to Islington Archives and Lizzie's last day

Project Officer Lizzie Edwards writes no her last day in the Building Exploratory office: 

Today is my final day at the Building Exploratory, and after two and a half years of being involved in fantastic projects exploring the built environment with a wonderful array of people and groups, what better way to finish than with a fascinating session with a brand new group for the Building Exploratory, which is going to grow and develop in the months to come!

The Building Exploratory have set up a new group to explore Islington’s history and architecture, with older people who live in the borough. Today we visited the Islington Local History Centre, which is in the Finsbury Library on St John Street, to get an overview of the history of the borough, which will frame our future building visits and talks. 

We were lucky to have a talk from Ben Smith, the Heritage Officer at the Local History Centre, who had opened the centre just for our visit and shared many fascinating insights onto the history of the borough. We were amazed to learn that the Local History Centre holds over twenty thousand images, and 1200 maps! We saw some really interesting examples of the archive, including many photos of St John Street through the years, maps from 1500, to Booth’s poverty maps, to bomb damage maps of the borough. We also saw the bomb damage record cards, which chart the streets and buildings that were affected during the war. 

I particularly enjoyed looking at the Vestry minute books, in thick leather and lock bound volumes, and hand written, detailing for example the days and times that cattle weren’t allowed to be driven through the streets, because they were disturbing the residents.

We hope to visit the archives again after we have had a chance to see a bit more of the architecture of the borough in person, so that we can learn more about the archival record of the buildings we visit. We’d also love to have a better chance to look at some of the amazing special collections at the archives, such at the Dove Brothers archive, who were prolific developers in the borough, and responsible for many of the buildings that characterize Islington today.

All at TBE wish Lizzie all the best in her new job - we will miss you! 

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