It is a sad fact of local community history, that lack of attention from private landlords to
much of the predominant Victorian housing, bomb damage from the second world war, and
a strong sense of a 'new broom' for the new civilised post-war society Britain was trying
to build, eventually led to Islington Council, like many metropolitan councils, largely
'clearing' and completely reconstructing much of the local area of N19. These days
regeneration is far more sensitive to trying to renovate existing buildings and going to
greater lengths to preserve heritage and original community spirit.
In the 1960s, on the south side of St John's Way, new modern estates - the Elthorne Estate and
its sister estates - were built. The demolition of the workhouse in 1970 by the Greater London Council (GLC) was to make way for Caxton House Community Centre, to replace the old Caxton House Settlement of Andover Road, with more social housing next to it and a small adjoining public park. The Caxton Community Centre building, completed in 1976, evolved from the old Settlement, was now firmly led by local people, not the council or the Church. Moreover, local people have more say over local planning. It stands at 129 St John's Way and constituted itself an independent charity in 1976.
Caxton House Community Centre, then, has its roots in the Caxton Settlement Movement, and does its best to help local residents, particularly those living in social housing in the area try to manage their environment and community through ongoing committees, groups and other initiatives. The N19 area has an even longer tradition, however, of providing help to the poor and needy, not just to inhabitants in the immediate area, but also to the whole of Islington. Today, as the standard of living is undeniably much higher, ordinary people can work together for continued self-empowerment. We may have lost many of our Victorian terraces on the south side of St Johns Way - particularly to the less aesthetically pleasing buildings of the 1960s, but there is far greater public involvement with the future of our environment, our schools, and local health and social care facilities than ever before with constant consultation. With the redevelopment of the Archway area the N19 area is positioned for a positive future.
This Report was compiled by Claire Hardiman, local historian
Resources: Caxton House website; Local History Education Trust contribution to Elthorne Community News, 2003; English Heritage Report, Paper 8 by Susie Barton 1999; 'Our Street' pamphlet, on behalf of Caxton Settlement, 1952.