New River Village

New River Village, Haringey

A high-density, high-price housing estate in north-east Hornsey, built on the 15-acre site of a former waterworks in the early years of the 21st century

New River Avenue sculpture - geograph-3326251-by-David-Anstiss

The New Riv­er is an arti­fi­cial water­way con­struct­ed in the ear­ly 17th cen­tu­ry to bring potable water from Hert­ford­shire to Lon­don. Fol­low­ing alter­ations to the river’s course – erad­i­cat­ing what had been known as the Hornsey loop – and the intro­duc­tion of laws requir­ing Lon­don water com­pa­nies to fil­ter their out­put, the New Riv­er Com­pa­ny estab­lished the Hornsey water­works in the late 1850s.

The site was recon­fig­ured from the 1880s onwards, and the sur­viv­ing red-brick build­ings dot­ted around the perime­ter of what is now New Riv­er Vil­lage were the last to be con­struct­ed by the New Riv­er Com­pa­ny before the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Water Board took over in 1904.

At the end of the 20th cen­tu­ry Thames Water built a new water treat­ment plant beside the reser­voir (locat­ed just beyond the top of the map below), vacat­ing the south­ern half of the site and free­ing it up for rede­vel­op­ment.

Designed by the trendy urban archi­tects Stock Wool­s­ten­croft (now Stock­wool), New Riv­er Vil­lage is one of sev­er­al Lon­don projects under­tak­en by St James, a joint ven­ture between Thames Water and pri­vate devel­op­ers the Berke­ley Group exploit­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ties offered by dis­used util­i­ties sites. When the ‘vil­lage’ was com­plet­ed in 2008 it con­sist­ed of 622 stu­dios and apart­ments in nine blocks with under­ground car park­ing.

Hidden London: New River Village pump house
The Pump House, seen in 2014

A (nar­row) lin­ear park bor­ders the New Riv­er and the Vic­to­ri­an pump house at the entrance to the estate was con­vert­ed into a restau­rant – which has since changed hands two or three times.

The scheme’s high­ly pub­li­cised USP was an arrange­ment spon­sored by St James and facil­i­tat­ed by ‘cul­tur­al bro­kers’ Futurecity allo­cat­ing the pump house annex to Roy­al Acad­e­my of Arts schools’ stu­dents as a gallery and stu­dio com­plex. This didn’t last long and in 2011 St James sold the gallery to Jeho­vah’s Wit­ness­es for con­ver­sion to a King­dom Hall. The “ground­break­ing cul­tur­al part­ner­ship” has since been air­brushed from the his­to­ry of all involved, though at the time of writ­ing it still appears on Futurecity’s aban­doned Pin­ter­est page.

New Riv­er Vil­lage’s archi­tec­ture won sev­er­al awards. Some crit­ics expressed fears that its “brash appear­ance” might not date well but it has at least stood the test of the decade that has passed since its cre­ation.

Postal district: N8

 

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* The picture of New River Avenue (sculpture and Amazon Apartments) at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph, copyright David Anstiss, and the picture of the Pump House is adapted from an original photograph, copyright Julian Osley, both 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.