Archway, London

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Archway is an area of north London, corresponding approximately to the area of Junction Ward in the London Borough of Islington. Template:Commons category



The name derives from the Archway bridge built between Highgate and Hornsey in 1896, which was later replaced by Hornsey Lane Bridge. A tunnel was originally planned for the Highgate bypass (to join the Great North Road by avoiding the steep Highgate Hill road and narrow roads of Highgate village) but this failed due to repeated collapses. Instead, a large cutting was recommended by John Rennie and a high, multi-arched road bridge constructed across this. The first bridge, constructed in the early nineteenth century, was designed by John Nash. The original 1813 bridge was demolished in 1901; the current bridge, known locally as "Suicide bridge", dates from 1897. The road over the bridge is Hornsey Lane, which connects Highgate and Crouch End.

Until quite recently, Archway did not designate a specific area. Most people referred either to Highgate, Islington or Upper Holloway, a name that is now used for little besides the nearby railway station and the post office. The term Archway became popularised as a result of Londoners' tendency to indicate their local area by reference to the nearest Underground Station, even though the latter was called Highgate station until 1939 (and subsequently Highgate (Archway) and Archway (Highgate)).


The Archway Road is part of the A1 or Great North Road, one of the original toll roads. From 1813 – 1864, Archway was the site of a toll gate, where travellers had to pay for the next stage of their journey. A plaque on the block of flats at 1 Pauntley Street commemorates the gate.

Highgate Hill, the road from Archway to Highgate village, was the route of the first cable car to be built in Europe. It operated between 1884 and 1909.

It was at Archway that Dick Whittington heard the Bow Bells ringing and returned to London. There is a statue on Highgate Hill to commemorate this (see below).

Nearby Pauntley Street takes its name from the village of Pauntley in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, traditionally regarded as Dick Whittington’s birthplace.

Sites of interest

Prominent buildings in the area include the Whittington hospital, at Highgate Hill, named after Richard Whittington; the Archway Tavern, a notable music venue, where the photograph for the cover of The Kinks' 1971 album Muswell Hillbillies was taken; and the Archway Tower, which forms the most visible landmark in the area. Outside the Archway Tavern is a small statue of Whittington's Cat.

Although considered a built-up urban area, Archway has a number of parks and green spaces, no fewer than nine within a mile of the tube station: Archway Park, Hillrise Park, Dartmouth Park, Elthorne Park, Sunnyside Gardens, Crouch Hill Park, Waterlow Park, Whittington Park, Foxham Gardens, and Tufnell Park Playing Fields. The Parkland Walk is on the Northern Border of the Archway area. Various green spaces are also afforded by the Girdlestone, Miranda, Cardinals Way and Elthorne Estates.

Notable residents

James Harrington, author of 'Oceania' lived on Highgate Hill, as did the poet and M.P. for Hull Andrew Marvell. Historian E.H. Carr lived on Gladsmuir Road as a child. Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer and Claudia Jones are buried up the road at Highgate cemetery. Other noted residents include Arabella Weir, Alan Plater, James Heartfield and, formerly, the sculptor Rachel Whiteread, whose most famous work 'Ghost' - now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC - consists of a plaster cast of a room in the house at 486 Archway Road. Actor and author Bill Bailey (the narrator in Mel Brooks's Haunted Honeymoon) lives in Archway, as does actor, historian and True Crime author, Geoffrey Howse. Members of The Jesus and Mary Chain also lived in Archway, as did The Boo Radleys.

  • Reggie Yates - Radio & Television personality
  • Niomi Mclean Dailey, AKA Ms Dynamite - UK Rapper and Singer

References in culture and fiction

Several songs namecheck the area: The Boo Radleys's cult song Blue Room in Archway, Saint Etienne's Archway People and New Model Army's Archway Towers.

The film version of Zoë Heller's novel Notes on a Scandal was filmed around Archway, as were some scenes in Shaun of the Dead.

The novel The Diary of a Nobody, by Weedon Grossmith and George Grossmith was set in and around Archway and Holloway. Topper's House in Nick Hornby's 2005 novel A Long Way Down is said to have been indirectly inspired by Archway Tower, but also by the eponymous Archway over Archway Road, and the area features in an earlier novel by the same author, How to Be Good.

Writer Iain Sinclair's epic poem Suicide Bridge takes its title from a local nickname for the Archway Bridge. It also may echo the title of a John Betjeman poem set at the other end of Archway 'Suicide at Junction Road Station'.


File:The original Archway Bridge.jpg
John Nash's original bridge over Archway Road


Nearby places

  • Dartmouth Park
  • Highgate
  • Kentish Town
  • Muswell Hill
  • Tufnell Park
  • Holloway
  • Archway Road
  • Junction Road
  • Crouch End
  • Hornsey



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Nearest stations

The nearest London Underground station is Archway tube station on the Northern line.

The nearest London Overground station is Upper Holloway.

See also



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