Living over the Hackney Brook

A river, the Hackney Brook, runs below Northview.

Below is a geological map from 1920. It shows the brook running under the length of where the southeastern arm of Northview's rear block and the block's apex are today. Maps from 1740 and 1848 shows a similar course.

Its route has been confirmed through communication with an engineer who worked on watercourse diversion for the recent King’s Cross St Pancras station redevelopment.

The river is believed to have been the cause of a collapse of Holloway Road outside Barclays Bank (which is a few yards from the river course) some years ago, and has been blamed for movement in the buildings at Northview.

Hackney BrookRiver course

The Hackney Brook rises in more than one place. One, shown on the 1920 and 1740 maps, is Mercers Road, and this is fairly well documented.

The 1920 map shows it rising east of Tabley Road, probably near Moriatry Close and the tennis courts.

Local anecdotal evidence also points to a spring at the rear of 6 Dalmeny Road in Tufnell Park.

The open area behind 6 Dalmeny Road used to be part of a farm, and was often waterlogged. When the area was used as open space, the council had to take care over the water when they installed children’s swings. Number 6’s basement was always damp.

The brook feeds the lakes in Clissold Park before flowing into the River Lea.


A moat, a fountain and underground water

Other signs that water was nearby include a 19th century map showing fountains near the site of back block, and the well-documented moated medieval manor house, which was approximately where the Holloway Odeon is now. Romans settled by rivers, and it is believed that there was a Roman settlement where Barclays Bank is.

Old maps show Northview’s rear garden was once part of a Victorian formal park with fountains. At least one tree in the back garden is believed to date back to the mid-19th century. It’s protected.

So, local history here extends below ground.

Pump in the OdeonA recent survey, carried out before building at neighbouring Holbrooke Court, has said it is likely there is perched water in the area. A pump in the Odeon's basement (pictured) keeps it dry. In the north of Islington, the London blue clay is very close to the surface; the council has said that that “ground conditions in this area [next to the Odeon] are sensitive”.

The presence of all this underground water and the sensitive ground conditions mean that Northview might not be able to carry additional weight.

Back to top


Home: Northview – a rare survivor of its time

Northview news

Fifth threat to deco heritage

Northview’s architecture – an enclave with deco features

Living in a flat, 1930s style

A 1930s corner of Holloway – group value

Living over the Hackney Brook

Buildings at risk – neglect at Northview

Archive: New threat to 1930s oasis

Archive: It started with a Nissen hut … stop architectural vandalism

Contact, links, sources and acknowledgements