Copenhagen, Islington

A designation formerly applied to the area encompassing Islington’s Barnsbury and Thornhill (now Caledonian) wards, north and east of King’s Cross

Hidden London: Caledonian clock tower CGI by Islington council

The local­i­ty’s name derives from Copen­hagen House, a 17th-cen­tu­ry res­i­dence of the Dan­ish ambas­sador.

In the late 18th cen­tu­ry Copen­hagen Fields became a pop­u­lar venue for rad­i­cal demon­stra­tions. In 1795 two such protests were attend­ed by crowds of over 100,000, and one was fol­lowed by riot­ing in cen­tral Lon­don.

On 21 April 1834 thou­sands marched from Copen­hagen Fields in sup­port of the Tolpud­dle Mar­tyrs, who had been sen­tenced to trans­porta­tion to Aus­tralia for form­ing a trade union.

Copen­hagen House was demol­ished in 1852, when the mar­ket for live ani­mals trans­ferred here from Smith­field. This was not a great suc­cess and was replaced for the first half of the 20th-cen­tu­ry by the Cale­don­ian mar­ket, at which sec­ond-hand goods were sold.

Much of the site is now occu­pied by coun­cil-built hous­ing, and Barnard Park on Copen­hagen Street and Cale­don­ian Park on Mar­ket Road are the area’s largest remain­ing open spaces.

The once-cen­tral mar­ket clock tow­er sur­vives in what is now a cor­ner of Cale­don­ian Park. Its base was orig­i­nal­ly sur­round­ed by the mar­ket’s bank­ing and tele­graph offices but only the tow­er’s but­tress­es now remain. The clock tow­er is locat­ed near the top of the map below.

In Decem­ber 2016 the Her­itage Lot­tery Fund con­firmed a grant award of near­ly £2m, which has enabled the restora­tion of the clock tow­er, the cre­ation of a vis­i­tor cen­tre and gen­er­al improve­ments to Cale­don­ian Park. Since June 2019 the clock tow­er has opened to the pub­lic on a reg­u­lar basis, giv­ing free access for peo­ple to climb it and enjoy the panoram­ic views across Lon­don.

Copenhagen Fields’ is the name of a magnificent 2mm-to-the-foot scale layout by the Model Railway Club. The model is set in the 1920–1930 period, in the area near the MRC headquarters in Calshot Street, and includes Copenhagen Fields and the approaches to King’s Cross, as well as the cattle market, Caledonian Road and its station, with working underground line.

Postal district: N1
Web page: Caledonian Clock Tower project
* Caledonian clock tower CGI by Islington council.