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’

Hidden London: Bathurst Mansions, 1 Seven Sisters Road, Nags Head

The local­i­ty is named after a pub­lic house that oper­at­ed here for around 200 years.

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 soon became a focus for retail­ers serv­ing the expand­ing mid­dle-class com­mu­ni­ty of Hol­loway and the pub was rebuilt in Ital­ianate style.

Shown in the pho­to above, the shops, offices – and per­haps also orig­i­nal­ly flats – of Bathurst Man­sions were built in 1891 on the north side of Hol­loway Road­’s junc­tion with Sev­en Sis­ters Road. The build­ing is grade II list­ed and is par­tic­u­lar­ly notable for the wealth of dec­o­ra­tive detail­ing on the light buff ter­ra­cot­ta walls of the upper floors.

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 Nag’s Head cov­ered mar­ket opened on Sev­en Sis­ters Road in the mid-1970s. The small Nag’s Head shop­ping mall opened in 1992, anchored at the time by a Safe­way super­mar­ket, now a Mor­risons. The neigh­bour­ing sec­tion of Hol­loway Road nowa­days has rel­a­tive­ly few stores that might attract shop­pers from fur­ther afield, with the notable excep­tion of Sel­bys, Islington’s only remain­ing depart­ment store.

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, and now an Odeon. The Nag’s Head itself spent its lat­ter years as an Irish theme pub and has since become a ‘licensed fam­i­ly enter­tain­ment cen­tre’.

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.

Postal district: N7


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* The picture of Bathurst Mansions, 1 Seven Sisters Road, Nags Head, at the top of this page is slightly modified from an original photograph, copyright Julian Osley, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.