New River Walk, (no.2)

Arlington Way is a delightful small street leading away from the New River Head site and originally a path across the fields.The line of the footpath, and the New River, are clear on the extract from Bowles’ map of 1775.  

Owen Street is marked as a private road (?) and at the end is Owen’s Fields, a public garden named after Dame Alice Owen. Only the gate posts remain from the school which she founded, adjacent to this park.

Signposting isn’t always clear on this walk and I recommend a map or the A-Z, or both. The signpost at the top of the post below points clearly towards Owen Street on the right, and vaguely towards two possibilities on the left. At other decision points on the walk there are no signs. From Owen Street the New River flowed under Duncan Terrace Gardens and Colebrooke Row, both clearly visible in Cary’s map of 1795, and in the middle the gardens cross over the Regent’s Canal, protected by the Islington Tunnel.

Duncan Terrace is an attractive row of houses which are raised above Colebrooke Row – why? In the centre is the Church of St John the Evangelist, opened in 1843, and at the end of the terrace is the house in which Charles Lamb lived between 1823-27. This end of the road started building c.1791, while maps as late as 1820 show the area around the church as open land.

The New River is buried under Essex Road but wanders off again at Astey’s Row where a rock garden was developed and reopened in 2003, over the line of the New River. This leads to Canonbury Gardens.

The path crosses Canonbury Road into Canonbury Grove and leads via Douglas Road to St Paul’s Road. This is an extraordinary section of the walk, almost surreal. The only original New River is in Canonbury Grove, which was developed in the 1950s as public gardens.

Watchman's hut, 1820

Watchman’s hut, 1820

Ducklings

Ducklings

At St Paul's Road, looking back at Canonbury Grove

You may be interested in
Paul Neagu and Edgerunner
A history of building in Duncan Terrace & Colebrooke Row
The New River Walk