15th September 2023
New chippings in wild garden

Thanks to Irvin’s Fun Fair for their kind donation to the HFA which helped towards the cost of new chippings on the paths of the wild garden in Highbury Fields.

And of course, thanks to the hard working volunteers who keep this space looking beautiful!

14th August 2023
George Irvin fair

The George Irvin fair is visiting Highbury Fields between 18th and 28th August and Zoah Hedges-Stocks, one of the descendents of George Irvin, kindly shared some of their history with us.

The Irvin family association with fairs has a long history, dating back to the 19th century when Ben Phelps, a classmate of Benjamin Disraeli, abandoned his family to run dancing booths at travelling fairs. Ben’s daughter married William Irvin, a wheelwright from South London, who was making a living working with travelling fairs fixing their vehicles. William had four brothers, all involved in fairground business and travelling the country. Zoah's great-great-great grandfather George Irvin was born while his father James Irvin was working at a fair at Highbury Fields.

Birth of George Irvin, 13th August 1850

The fields that had sat between Islington and the City were only just beginning to be built upon, and George was born in a caravan in Britannia Fields in August 1850. Britannia Fields is now lost to the sprawl of streets but a Britannia Fields Methodist Chapel was built in 1854 near the Regent's canal at the bottom of Packington Street.

Fields near Britannia Row, 1830

More details can be found at

4th June 2023
Highbury Fields Association Summer Party
Council approval has now been granted, so all plans are confirmed! We will hold the Summer Party from 4-7pm on Sunday 25th June 2023.
All are welcome - do tell your friends. We will put up our marquee on the enclosed field next to the closed-off road across the Fields.
4th June 2023
Holloway road works update
The committee has received an update from TfL on the Holloway road works, accessible here.
27th April 2023
Letter from Chris Milne

I live in New Zealand and will be visiting London in early to mid-July this year.

I thought I would let you know that right now there are two New Zealand kowhai trees in full bloom on Highbury Fields - beautiful yellow flowers. These are located either side of the northern entrance to the playground next to the indoor pool, so only 3 mins walk from the Islington Council building. Below is a picture taken by my daughter just two days ago.

The What Three Words address is grades.bright.spend

There is a bit of history here.

Back in 1988 when I was living in London my father passed away in NZ. After his funeral, my sister Alex Dempster and I brought some kowhai seeds from our parents’ garden back to London, which we germinated on the window sill. We thought they would grow well in London’s clay soils.

When they got too big we planted them at the newly established children's playground on Highbury Fields (about 100m from Highbury& Islington tube station), and about 100m from my flat on Highbury Place.

It wasn't all plain sailing. In 1993 I visited London and went to have a look. The Islington Council had planted a whole row of conifers which would eventually crowd out the kowhai. Lacking suitable 'tools of trade' to deal with the problem myself I decided to write to the Islington Council to fess up to the situation and ask for their help.

When living on Highbury Fields I’d been a member of The Highbury Fields Association. It was comprised a potpourri of talented people with far too much time on their hands – curators from the British Museum, script writers for the BBC and so on. Collectively they made sure the fields were protected from the ravages of the Council, which dare not so much as sweep the leaves in the park without consulting the Association.

The luckless council officer tasked with liaising with the Association was Mr Peter Bonsall. I remembered him well. So in 1993 I wrote a letter explaining what we had done and asking if the conifers around the kowhai could please be removed. It was all I could do and I was fully expecting a terse reply of indignation with the news that the offending trees had been removed and how naughty I’d been.

To my great surprise Peter Bonsall replied saying “I am happy to remove the adjacent vegetation in order to allow the Kowhai trees to develop”

Why? It turns out that...

“The subject of New Zealand plants is one about which I am rapidly learning a little as the Mayor of Islington, Ann Gilman, is from New Zealand and keen to have more of her native plants in the borough.”

Thus were the conifers sacrificed for the greater good.

The postscript to this story came in 2014 when the Hutt City Council (adjacent to Wellington, NZ) was engaging with the community about the future of the Town Hall. The Council was proposing to demolish it, but a furious campaign was put together under the moniker Heart of the Community. This was led by a formidable woman and Eastbourne resident, Jenny Sands and her husband Charlie.

At a public meeting I attended, which she chaired, she said “This should not be allowed, and I can tell you that when I was Mayor of Islington this would never have happened.”

So it turns out that the Borough of Islington has had two New Zealand mayors, both woman. And yes, Jenny did remember the kowhai.

Of course, Jenny prevailed, and both the Highbury kowhai trees and the Lower Hutt Town Hall were saved.

26th April 2023
Holloway road works
Some of you may be aware of road works affecting several junctions on the Holloway Road (e.g. Liverpool Road and Drayton Park) - but for those who haven't seen them, diagrams of the plans are here.
There are no details yet available regarding road closures and any related changes to LTN camera filters during the works.
We have written to the Council to ask for relevant camera filters to be suspended for periods during the works and for more clarity on the timing of road closures.
15th March 2023
Talk at AGM
Following the AGM, where Leyla Boulton gave a fascinating presentation on how changes in planning guidelines could help encourage retrofitting of listed properties, here are a number of helpful links:
31st Jan 2023
Highbury Fields Association Annual General Meeting
Please save the date for the Highbury Fields Association Annual General Meeting at 7.00pm on Wednesday, 15th March 2023. An agenda and other papers will follow in due course.
I am delighted to say that this will be a face-to-face meeting at the newly reopened Highbury Roundhouse, 71 Ronalds Road, N5.
The official business of the AGM will be followed by refreshments and an opportunity to chat to other members.
Please do join us and meet other people who have an interest in Highbury Fields and its locality. Your comments and suggestions will be most welcome.