Crouch Hill

Crouch Hill, Islington/Haringey

The hill is part of the Northern Heights that extend eastward from Hampstead and Highgate, while the road of that name links Stroud Green with Crouch End

A man walks past the distinctive sgraffito panels on the Old Dairy

The farm­land here was sprin­kled with supe­ri­or vil­las in the first half of the 19th cen­tu­ry, of which a cou­ple sur­vive in altered form – at num­bers 118 and 120 Crouch Hill. A few yards to the north, on the oppo­site side of the road, Park Chapel was built in 1854–5. The Goth­ic rag­stone struc­ture was extend­ed in sev­er­al stages as the dis­tric­t’s Con­gre­ga­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty expand­ed.

Crouch Hill sta­tion opened in July 1868 on a very cir­cuitous route that closed after 18 months. The sta­tion reopened in Octo­ber 1870 on a line that ran here from Moor­gate, via Ken­tish Town. Although this was far from being Lon­don’s most suc­cess­ful rail­way, it was use­ful enough to prompt sub­ur­ban house­build­ing along Crouch Hill and in new streets branch­ing off it. To the east, John Far­rer was respon­si­ble for Cecile Park in the 1880s and 1890s. To the west and along the upper sec­tion of Crouch Hill are hous­es by local builder WJ Collins, influ­enced by the work of R Nor­man Shaw. No.113 Crouch Hill is espe­cial­ly elab­o­rate and may have been a show house for the estate.

In the late 19th cen­tu­ry the Friern Manor Dairy Com­pa­ny ran sev­er­al farms in north Lon­don, owned more than two dozen retail out­lets for its pro­duce and had a head office in Hat­ton Gar­den. The dairy com­pa­ny’s ornate shop at the foot of Crouch Hill dates from around 1890 and is espe­cial­ly notable for its sev­en dis­tinc­tive sgraf­fi­to pan­els, five of which are shown in the pho­to­graph above. The illus­tra­tions depict very tra­di­tion­al meth­ods of milk and but­ter pro­duc­tion and deliv­ery but the com­pa­ny was actu­al­ly a pio­neer of new tech­nol­o­gy, so the pan­els were just an adver­tis­ing gim­mick – an exer­cise in nos­tal­gia.

Parkland Walk
A con­nect­ing path on the Park­land Walk

Dur­ing the inter­war years Crouch Hill saw exten­sive rebuild­ing along its south­ern half, and the bor­ough of Isling­ton lat­er added some coun­cil hous­ing, notably the Hol­ly Park estate’s 17-storey Ilex House, com­plet­ed in 1972. Many of the area’s larg­er hous­es have been sub­di­vid­ed into flats.

In 1981 the poor­ly served sta­tion at Crouch Hill became a stop on the new­ly cre­at­ed Gospel Oak to Bark­ing ser­vice, now part of the Lon­don Over­ground net­work. Halfway up Crouch Hill the road cross­es the Park­land Walk, which opened in 1984 in place of a rail­way line that used to run from Fins­bury Park through Stroud Green, Crouch End, High­gate, Cran­ley Gar­dens and Muswell Hill to Alexan­dra Palace.

There are shops, pubs and a mixed bag of ser­vice providers at each end of Crouch Hill, form­ing a con­tin­u­a­tion of the ameni­ties of Crouch End Broad­way in the north and of Stroud Green Road in the south. The ‘old dairy’ was con­vert­ed into a bar and restau­rant in 1997.

The redundant Park Chapel served as a recording studio until permission was granted in 2012 to convert the building into flats. Bob Dylan, Radiohead and Depeche Mode are among those to have used the studio.

Postal districts: N4, N8 and N19
Station: London Overground (zone 3)