London Photographs

Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park is an area of North London, about 5km north of the City of London. It gets its name from Finsbury, the area just outside the city wall at the north. Formerly it was known as Stroud Green. When part of Hornsey Wood or Hornsey Park was bought as a public park in 1869, the park was called Finsbury Park to suggest it was an open space for the people of the City ward of Finsbury. At the same time the small railway station at the junction of Stroud Green Road and Seven Sisters Road was renamed Finsbury Park.

Finsbury Park station grew, as branch lines extended to East Finchley and and Alexandra Park, followed by two underground lines in 1904 and 1906. The area grew up around the station, and around the new stations of Crouch Hill and Stroud Green, mainly between 1870 and 1900. The area is still dominated by these victorian developments. Although the line to Alexandra Park has closed, the station is still a major interchange in North London.

Finsbury Park, as well as providing a pleasant area to stroll or sit, also has a small boating lake, children's play areas and sports facilities. It is also the venue for rock concerts and festivals. The New River, which runs through the northern corner of the park, was built following Acts of Parliament in 1606 and 1607 to bring fresh water from Chadwell and Amwell in Hertfordshire to London. It still does so, although it now ends at the water treatment works in neighbouring Stoke Newington.

Finsbury Park is now split between three London boroughs, Islington, Haringey and Hackney. It is a vibrant multi-racial area, with cafes and shops which reflect this, and many small specialised retailers not found in large modern shopping centres. Green Lanes is a centre for Greek and Turkish Cypriots, and the Mosque is a major landmark in the centre of the area. African, Carribean and other cultures from around the world are also represented in the area.

There are many small and medium size workshops and factories in Finsbury Park. Fonthill Road, near to Finsbury Park station, has over 200 small fashion shops, both retail and wholesale, and the Florentia Clothing Village in Vale Road is a maze of small workshops open to the public at weekends.

Perhaps the best known site in the area is at the extreme south, Highbury Stadium, the home ground of Arsenal Football club since 1913 (they were originally founded in Woolwich in south east London.) Just a few metres from the roar of the stadium and you can be in the tranquility of the Gillespie Park Nature reserve, a wildlife area on the site of former rail sidings. Parkland Walk, which runs 7km along the route of the now closed rail link to Alexandra Palace, is another nature reserve in the area.

Finsbury Park is probably best known to photographers as the place where Don McCullin grew up, living close to the Astoria, which probably provided much of his visual training. The break that took him into photography was when a gang of young men from the area hit the news - and he took the pictures he had previously taken of them to the papers.

I first photographed Finsbury Park seriously in 1989 and 1990, concentrating on the buildings, and have returned occasionally since, mainly for events in the park, such as the 'Respect' festival. This set of pictures was taken in 2002 using a Hassleblad X-Pan, mainly with a 30mm lens which produces a roughly 56x24mm image on a Friday at the end of May and a Sunday morning in June.

Peter Marshall
June 2002

Finsbury Park


London Borough of Islington
London Borough of Harringey
London Borough of Hackney
London Boroughs covering Finsbury Park, with links to facilities, events etc in the area.

Finsbury Park Partnership
A project running from 1999 to 2006 with 25 million from the Government's Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) to regenerate the Finsbury Park area.

Finsbury Park Community Forum
Represents residents interests, particularly to the FPP (see above).

The Astoria, Finsbury Park
This former cinema opened in 1930, seating 3000 and was decsribed as the finest in the country. Frank Sinatra and the Beatles are among many famous acts who performed there.

Stroud Green .Net
A local site with some interesting information and links.

Northern Heights
Photographs along the route, some of which is now the Parkland Walk.

Don McCullin
Born in Finsbury Park, a picture of his friends who were members of a local gang launched the career of the best known war photographer of the 1970s-90s. This New Statesman article has some information on him and where he grew up.

The Buildings of London
My main web site for my own pictures, with sections on buildings and various events in London and some other work. There is at least one picture from Finsbury Park.

Somewhere to quickly put up pictures I take in London. Arranged month by month. Started in Jan 2001. Always a lot of pictures waiting to be put up, but there is usually some very recent work too. Concentrates on events.

All images on this site are copyright: © Peter Marshall, 2002.

See last page for details of how to use and buy these pictures.


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finsbury park

Peter Marshall       may/june 2002
01784 456474