Nag’s Head

Nag’s Head, Islington

A bustling commercial zone situated around the junction of Seven Sisters Road with Holloway Road, regarded by Islington council as one of the borough’s two most important ‘town centres’

Holloway Road, Nag's Head
Outside the the compact Nag’s Head shopping mall on Holloway Road

The locality is named after a public house that has stood here for around 200 years. The poet and painter Edward Lear, best known for his nonsense verse, was born at Bowman’s Lodge in 1812 and lived here until the age of 16. The lodge was named after an Elizabethan archery house and its site is now occupied by Bowman’s Mews.

For much of the 19th century, the Nag’s Head marked the edge of Islington’s northward spread and was the terminus for its first tramway in 1871. The vicinity became a focus for retailers serving the expanding middle-class community of Holloway, while the pub was rebuilt in Italianate style.

Despite the neighbourhood’s demographic trans­form­ation during the 20th century the Nag’s Head remained the borough’s largest shopping area until the 1990s, when it was overtaken by the Angel, which was more successful in attracting new investment and drawing visitors from outside its immediate hinterland. The small Nag’s Head shopping mall opened in 1992, anchored at the time by a Safeway super­market. The neigh­bouring section of Holloway Road has good enough stores to attract shoppers from a little further afield, in particular Selbys, Islington’s only department store.

The Nag’s Head covered market on Seven Sisters Road is open every day. The Nag’s Head ‘Weekend Market’ consists of a diverse Saturday market and a Sunday boot market, held at Grafton Primary School on Eburne Road.

The west side of Holloway Road has a hall of residence for London Metropolitan University students and a lavish art deco cinema, opened as the Gaumont in 1938, but now an Odeon. The Nag’s Head itself spent its latter years as an Irish theme pub and has since converted to downmarket retail use. There are ambitious plans for a new, mixed-use devel­opment at Nag’s Head, but these may take some while to come to fruition.

Postal district: N7