White Conduit Fields

Sports field in/near Islington, existed between 1718 and 1831

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Sports field · Islington · N1 · Contributed by The Underground Map
MARCH
8
2017
White Conduit House, and the conduit head from which it was named, 1827
Credit: Robert Chambers (1832)

White Conduit Fields in Islington was an early venue for cricket and several major matches are known to have been played there in the 18th century.

It was the original home of the White Conduit Club, forerunner of Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The cricket field was adjacent to the former White Conduit House, immediately south of the modern junction between Dewey Street and Barnsbury Road.

The earliest match known to have been played at White Conduit Fields was the controversial encounter on Monday, 1 September 1718 between London Cricket Club and the Rochester Punch Club. This game provoked a legal case when the Rochester players walked off in an attempt to save their stake money, London clearly winning at the time. The case focused on the terms of the wager rather than the rules of the sport and the judge ordered the game to be played out. It was concluded in July 1719 at the same venue and London won by 21 runs. London’s 21-run victory is the earliest known definite result of any cricket match.

The next known match was on Wednesday, 19 August 1719 between London and Kent. Kent won and the contemporary report concludes with: "The Kentish men won the wager" (i.e., the wager was more important than the match). London and Kent met again on Saturday, 9 July 1720 and this time London won. There was no definite use of White Conduit Fields again until 1773.

White Conduit Fields fell into disuse after 1720 because the London cricketers preferred to play at Kennington Common and the Artillery Ground. Apart from a solitary match in 1773 between a London XI and a team called "England", the venue remained unrecorded until the formation of the White Conduit Club (WCC) around 1780. It became a major venue again from 1784 to 1786 when at least four matches involving the WCC were played there. It is believed that the club members were dissatisfied with the venue because it was "too open" and so they sought a more private location. They authorised Thomas Lord, one of the ground staff bowlers, to do the necessaries and find another venue.

Before the 1787 season, the club moved to what is now called Lord’s Old Ground in Marylebone and White Conduit Fields was abandoned.

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VIEW THE ISLINGTON AREA IN THE 1750s
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Islington

Islington grew as a sprawling Middlesex village along the line of the Great North Road, and has provided the name of the modern borough.

Some roads on the edge of the area, including Essex Road, were known as streets by the medieval period, possibly indicating a Roman origin, but little physical evidence remains. What is known is that the Great North Road from Aldersgate came into use in the 14th century, connecting with a new turnpike (toll road) up Highgate Hill. This was along the line of modern Upper Street, with a toll gate at The Angel defining the extent of the village. The Back Road, the modern Liverpool Road, was primarily a drovers’ road where cattle would be rested before the final leg of their journey to Smithfield. Pens and sheds were erected along this road to accommodate the animals.

The first recorded church, St Mary’s, was erected in the twelfth century and was replaced in the fifteenth century. Islington lay on the estates of the Bishop of London and the Dean and Chapter of St Pauls. There were substantial medieval moated manor houses in the area, principally at Canonbury and Highbury. In 1548, there were 440 communicants listed and the rural atmosphere, with access to the City and Westminster, made it a popular residence for the rich and eminent. The local inns, however, harboured many fugitives and recusants.

In the 17th and 18th centuries the availability of water made Islington a good place for growing vegetables to feed London. The manor became a popular excursion destination for Londoners, attracted to the area by its rural feel. Many public houses were therefore built to serve the needs of both the excursionists and travellers on the turnpike. By 1716, there were 56 ale-house keepers in Upper Street, also offering pleasure and tea gardens, and activities such as archery, skittle alleys and bowling. By the 18th century, music and dancing were offered, together with billiards, firework displays and balloon ascents. The King’s Head Tavern, now a Victorian building with a theatre, has remained on the same site, opposite the parish church, since 1543. The founder of the theatre, Dan Crawford, who died in 2005, disagreed with the introduction of decimal coinage. For twenty-plus years after decimalisation (on 15 February 1971), the bar continued to show prices and charge for drinks in pre-decimalisation currency.

By the 19th century many music halls and theatres were established around Islington Green. One such was Collins’ Music Hall, the remains of which are now partly incorporated into a bookshop. The remainder of the Hall has been redeveloped into a new theatre, with its entrance at the bottom of Essex Road. It stood on the site of the Landsdowne Tavern, where the landlord had built an entertainment room for customers who wanted to sing (and later for professional entertainers). It was founded in 1862 by Samuel Thomas Collins Vagg and by 1897 had become a 1,800-seat theatre with 10 bars. The theatre suffered damage in a fire in 1958 and has not reopened.

The Islington Literary and Scientific Society was established in 1833 and first met in Mr Edgeworth’s Academy on Upper Street. Its goal was to spread knowledge through lectures, discussions, and experiments - politics and theology being forbidden. A building, the Literary and Scientific Institution, was erected in 1837 in Wellington (later Almeida) Street, designed by Roumieu and Gough in a stuccoed Grecian style. It included a library (containing 3,300 volumes in 1839), reading room, museum, laboratory, and lecture theatre seating 500.

The Royal Agricultural Hall was built in 1862 on the Liverpool Road site of William Dixon’s Cattle Layers. It was built for the annual Smithfield Show in December of that year but was popular for other purposes, including recitals and the Royal Tournament. It was the primary exhibition site for London until the 20th century and the largest building of its kind, holding up to 50,000 people. It was requisitioned for use by the Mount Pleasant sorting office during World War II and never re-opened. The main hall has now been incorporated into the Business Design Centre.

The aerial bombing of World War II caused much damage to Islington’s housing stock, with 3,200 dwellings destroyed. Before the war a number of 1930s council housing blocks had been added to the stock. After the war, partly as a result of bomb site redevelopment, the council housing boom got into its stride, reaching its peak in the 1960s: several extensive estates were constructed, by both the Metropolitan Borough of Islington and the London County Council. Clearance of the worst terraced housing was undertaken, but Islington continued to be very densely populated, with a high level of overcrowding. The district has many council blocks, and the local authority has begun to replace some of them.

From the 1960s, the remaining Georgian terraces were rediscovered by middle-class families. Many of the houses were rehabilitated, and the area became newly fashionable. This displacement of the poor by the aspirational has become known as gentrification. Among the new residents were a number of figures who became central in the New Labour movement, including Tony Blair before his victory in the 1997 general election. According to The Guardian in 2006, "Islington is widely regarded as the spiritual home of Britain’s left-wing intelligentsia." The Granita Pact between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair is said to have been made at a now defunct restaurant on Upper Street.

The completion of the Victoria line and redevelopment of Angel tube station created the conditions for developers to renovate many of the early Victorian and Georgian townhouses. They also built new developments. Islington remains a district with diverse inhabitants, with its private houses and apartments not far from social housing in immediately neighbouring wards such as Finsbury and Clerkenwell to the south, Bloomsbury and King’s Cross to the west, and Highbury to the north west, and also the Hackney districts of De Beauvoir and Old Street to the north east.


LOCATIONS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
Angel:   Angel tube station is a London Underground station in The Angel, Islington. It is on the Bank branch of the Northern Line.
Islington:   Islington grew as a sprawling Middlesex village along the line of the Great North Road, and has provided the name of the modern borough.
Pentonville:   Pentonville developed in the northwestern edge of the ancient parish of Clerkenwell on the New Road.


PHOTOS OF THE AREA
The Grand Theatre (1903):   The new Grand Theatre - the fourth theatre on the site - was opened on 26 December 1900 with a production of the pantomime 'Robinson Crusoe'.
White Conduit Street (1950s):   A line of children hold hands as they walk along the middle of White Conduit Street towards the junction with Chapel Market in Islington in the 1950s.


NEARBY STREETS AND BUILDINGS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
Allingham Street, N1 · Angel Arcade, N1 · Angel Mews, N1 · Angel Square, EC1V · Arlington Way, EC1R · Barford Street, N1 · Barnsbury Road, N1 · Baron Street, N1 · Batchelor Street, N1 · Berners House, N1 · Bishop Street, N1 · Boxworth Grove, N1 · Bradleys Close, N1 · Britannia Row, N1 · Bromfield Street, N1 · Business Design Centre, N1 · Camden Passage, N1 · Carnegie Street, N1 · Chadwell Street, EC1R · Chadwell Street, EC1V · Chapel Market, N1 · Chapel Place, N1 · Charlotte Terrace, N1 · Charlton Place, N1 · City Garden Row, EC1V · City Garden Row, N1 · Claremont Close, EC1R · Claremont Close, N1 · Claremont Square, N1 · Cloudesley Place, N1 · Cloudesley Road, N1 · Cloudesley Square, N1 · Cloudesley Street, N1 · Colebrooke Place, N1 · Colebrooke Row, N1 · Collins Yard, N1 · Copenhagen Tunnel, N7 · Copford Walk, N1 · Cruden Street, N1 · Cruikshank Street, WC1X · Cynthia Street, N1 · Danbury Street, N1 · Denmark Grove, N1 · Devonia Road, N1 · Dibden Street, N1 · Donegal Street, N1 · Doves Yard, N1 · Draper Place, N1 · Duncan Street, N1 · Duncan Terrace, N1 · Eckford Street, N1 · Elia Mews, N1 · Elia Street, N1 · Everilda Street, N1 · Frome Street, N1 · Gaskin Street, N1 · Georgian Village Camden Passage, N1 · Gerrard Road, N1 · Gibson Square, N1 · Graham Street, N1 · Grantbridge Street, N1 · Great Percy Street, WC1X · Greenman Street, N1 · Half Moon Crescent, N1 · Hanover Yard, N1 · Haverstock Street, N1 · Hawkwell Walk, N1 · Hermes Street, N1 · Holford Mews, WC1X · Holford Street, WC1X · Holford Yard, N1 · Holford Yard, WC1X · Inglebert Street, EC1R · Inworth Walk, N1 · Islington High Street, N1 · Leirum Street, N1 · Liverpool Road, N1 · London Loop, CR6 · Malvern Terrace, N1 · Maygood Street, N1 · Melville Place, N1 · Milner Place, N1 · Myddelton Square, EC1R · Noel Road, N1 · North West Road, E9 · Oakley Crescent, EC1V · Old Royal Free Square, N1 · Owen Street, EC1V · Packington Street, N1 · Parkfield Street, N1 · Peabody Square, N1 · Penton Grove, N1 · Penton Rise, WC1X · Penton Street, N1 · Pentonville Road, N1 · Pentonville Road, WC1X · Pierrepoint Arcade, N1 · Pierrepoint Row, N1 · Popham Road, N1 · Popham Street, N1 · Prebend Street, N1 · Pride Court, N1 · Provence Street, N1 · Providence Court, N1 · Queens Head Street, N1 · Quick Street, N1 · Raleigh Street, N1 · Remington Street, N1 · Rheidol Mews, N1 · Rheidol Terrace, N1 · Richmond Avenue, N1 · Richmond Avenue, NW2 · Risinghill Street, N1 · Ritchie Street, N1 · Rocliffe Street, N1 · Roding House, N1 · Rodney Street, N1 · Shalford Court, N1 · Sheen Grove, N1 · Spellbrook Walk, N1 · St Peters Street, N1 · St. Mary’s Path, N1 · St. Peter’s Street, N1 · Stonefield Street, N1 · Sudeley Street, N1 · The Mall Camden Passage, N1 · The Mall, N1 · Theseus Walk, N1 · Tolpuddle Street, N1 · Torrens Street, EC1V · Torrens Street, N1 · Vernon Rise, WC1X · White Conduit Street, N1 · White Lion Street, N1 · Windsor Street, N1 ·


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Central London, north east (1901) FREE DOWNLOAD
Central London, north east.
Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)

Cruchley's New Plan of London (1848) FREE DOWNLOAD
Cruchley's New Plan of London Shewing all the new and intended improvements to the Present Time. - Cruchley's Superior Map of London, with references to upwards of 500 Streets, Squares, Public Places & C. improved to 1848: with a compendium of all Place of Public Amusements also shewing the Railways & Stations.
G. F. Cruchley

John Rocque Map of London (1762) FREE DOWNLOAD
John Rocque (c. 1709–1762) was a surveyor, cartographer, engraver, map-seller and the son of Huguenot émigrés. Roque is now mainly remembered for his maps of London. This map dates from the second edition produced in 1762. London and his other maps brought him an appointment as cartographer to the Prince of Wales in 1751. His widow continued the business after his death. The map covers central London at a reduced level of detail compared with his 1745-6 map.
John Rocque, The Strand, London

Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1843) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured.
Chapman and Hall, London

Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1836) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured. Insets: A view of the Tower from London Bridge -- A view of London from Copenhagen Fields. Includes views of facades of 25 structures "A comparison of the principal buildings of London."
Chapman and Hall, London

Environs of London (1832) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured. Relief shown by hachures. A circle shows "Extent of the twopenny post delivery."
Chapman and Hall, London

London Underground Map (1921).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1921.
London Transport

The Environs of London (1865).  FREE DOWNLOAD
Prime meridian replaced with "Miles from the General Post Office." Relief shown by hachures. Map printed in black and white.
Published By J. H. Colton. No. 172 William St. New York

London Underground Map (1908).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1908.
London Transport

Ordnance Survey of the London region (1939) FREE DOWNLOAD
Ordnance Survey colour map of the environs of London 1:10,560 scale
Ordnance Survey. Crown Copyright 1939.

Outer London (1901) FREE DOWNLOAD
Outer London shown in red, City of London in yellow. Relief shown by hachures.
Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)
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