Frederica Street: Sweet Old Lady in £60,000 bank robbery!

5 Dec

 More than ten years ago, a few months after landing on the shores of Dorset, the landlady I was renting a room from, recommended me to join her family for the evening. By then, I had spent quite a few hours with them talking movies and cinema. She knew I was keen on the subject. That evening, she said, I had to watch that movie, a “British classic” starring Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers amongst others. Indeed she was right.

Watching The Ladykillers (1955) I could see how this Ealing Studios black comedy had grown to be cherished and become a national treasure, and is still regarded today as one of the best British film of all time. In many ways, it reminded me of some movies I had grown up with, and my parents before me. Post war films that year after year TV channels keep scheduling and that, invariably, get top viewing figures. Everyone in the family has their favourite characters, their preferred scene, and know the dialogues inside out. A certain melancholy, nostalgia for a bygone era hangs around such films.

I doubt there is any point in summarising the story nor should I want to spoil it should you not – really? – have seen it. Make sure you do, you won’t regret it. I am as honest as Mrs Wilberforce here…

With all this in mind, I was surprised and excited to found out that Mrs Wilberforce’s house was in Frederica Street, Islington. Although the views from her house are actually Argyle Street with St Pancras in the background, her house had been built specially for the movie on an empty plot at the end of Frederica Street with the railway line leading to King’s Cross just behind it.

The LadyKillers - Federica Street - House and Bridge - FILM

Sadly, but understandably considering the year the movie was made, Frederica Street as it was then is no more. In the following years the area underwent a major redevelopment to give way to the Nailour Estate and only a very short part of it remains.

The LadyKillers - Federica Street - MRX 02

Nearly 60 years have passed and I wonder how many locals know about this. Maybe someone out there remembers…

CALL OUT: In an interview available online Tom Pevsner, Assistant Director on The Ladykillers, recalls that in Frederica Street, the crew “used rooms in various houses as dressing rooms, rest rooms for the artists, make-up, hair and all that fitted in and we were there for quite a long time.” (…)  I should think probably 3 or 4 weeks and the people got quite used to us and enjoyed it (…) I think all the people in Frederica Street or a lot of them knew each other (…).

Pictures found online show a tea party organised by the producers and attended by the cast for the schoolchildren of Frederica Street as a thank you for their co-operation during the many weeks of location shooting.

Frederica Street - The Ladykillers - Tea Party

Do you know anyone who lived in Frederica Street or the area back then? Anyone who may have opened their doors to the crew? Attended the tea party? We would LOVE to hear from them!

Fade Out

Enjoyed this post? Feel free to comment, share it with your friends and come to Islington to discover our locations! Don’t forget to send me your pictures.

And if you do know any Islington location used for Film, TV, photo shoot or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at TheUnbelievableMrX(at)gmail.com or via Twitter

How to get there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Frederica Street N7

Caledonian Road Tube Station (Zone 2)

Caledonian Road & Barnsbury Overground (Zone 2)

Many buses to Caledonian Road

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26 Responses to “Frederica Street: Sweet Old Lady in £60,000 bank robbery!”

  1. James January 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

    I lived on Frederica street between 1966 and late 1969 (when most houses by that time were in really bad condition. I lived on the top floor of number 101, which was closer to the Cal then it was to the film location. I played with my cousin (trespassing on the railway!) on the grass bank by the famous gantry were the gangsters fell into the goods wagon’s. Many of the houses were seriously run down, our house was structurally unsound by 1969, and we were instructed to put heavy furniture on the ground floor. We shared with my aunt and her family, we had only cold running water, and I washed in a bowl in the back room (sounds like Monty Python “in my day”) We used to talk to our friend next door whilst he was sitting on an old Victorian outside toilet (lovely…) Eventually they pulled everything down around our ears, urchins set fire to the timbers every night which was risky seeing as we had a lot of cracked gas pipes, and the area looked like a bomb site by the summer of 1969. Hundred’s were moved out, we eventually left for the famous (infamous?) Alton estate in SW London. I looked back at our house, it was standing on it’s own as the men put the steel cables around it to pull it to the ground, lost to history. I believe they were all built in the 1860s, imagine if they could have been saved…….

    • The Unbelievable Mr X January 16, 2014 at 12:33 am #

      Dear James, Thank you so (so) much for taking the time to write and share with us your memories of Frederica Street. I really appreciate it. Do you know if most families like yours moved out to Alton estate or, if they went their separate ways based on their own circumstances? In any case, thanks again and keep an eye on the blog…you may soon recognise ‘a famous gantry’!

      • James January 19, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

        Dear Mr X
        Sorry for my late reply! Many families moved out of Frederica street and went to the various suburb’s north of London, but not to the Alton. I never saw anyone I recognised from the old neighbourhood. There were some people who owned their own home’s, I can not imagine what they would have got when they sold, I assume the council would have compensated them in some way. Some people sold up before the mid sixties, I assume they got “full value”………..
        Certain scenes in the film recreate the feel of the place for me, especially the evening scene from the gantry looking back up to the end houses. The curtain’s blowing in the evening breeze, I’m back there!! Will watch the blog, best of luck.
        James

      • The Unbelievable Mr X January 21, 2014 at 8:48 am #

        Dear James – no worries at all, on the contrary, thanks for getting back with all those new details. As it happens, this week I have been invited to present a cinema memories project before a Film Night hosted by a local organisation nearby Caledonian road. Who knows,I may bumped into one of your neighbours!Best, X

  2. Steve December 27, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    just came across your interesting blog on Frederica Street whilst looking for the film locations as i am currently watching the film & i live in the area. I recognised Frederica Street (i passed driven & cycled down many times to & from work & the Cally Road swimming pool) as being the new name for Frederick Street opposite Pentonville Prison where my 2nd Great Grandparents & my great grandfather (Frost) moved to, from Lowestoft & lived between 1871-1910 (both 2nd great grandparents died in next door Nailer Street). Great to see what their houses would have looked like.

    • Xavier Gomez January 1, 2015 at 11:41 am #

      Thank you for your comment and I am glad you enjoyed the post Steve. Thanks as well for sharing part of your family history!

  3. thedreamlimos July 30, 2015 at 8:55 am #

    I contend with my relation (trespassing on the railway!) on the grass bank by the famed framing were the gangsters fell into the products wagon’s. several of the homes were seriously run down, our house was structurally unsand we have a tendency to were taught to place serious furnishings on the bottom floor.

    • Mr X January 24, 2016 at 10:05 pm #

      Thank you much for taking the time to read the post and to comment on it. Apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I have recently left Islington and the UK and have spent the last few months moving abroad, new home, new job, new everything and not looking too much after my blog… Apologies and thanks again!

  4. Graham HUll October 12, 2015 at 7:22 pm #

    Re. The Ladykillers street party. As a boy I watched a BBC early afternoon news film about this street party presumably in 1955. The cast were there helping out. I remember the BBC describing that the house had been built for the film. This news item started my huge respect for The Ladykillers. Maybe the stills are from the BBC feature, perhaps a dusty old box containing the reel still exists in some vault…

    • Xavier Gomez January 24, 2016 at 9:57 pm #

      Dear Graham, Thank you much for taking the time to read the post and to comment on it. Apologies for not getting back to you sooner. I have recently left Islington and the UK and have spent the last few months moving abroad, new home, new job, new everything and not looking too much after my blog… Apologies and thanks again Graham!

    • Mr X March 4, 2017 at 9:39 pm #

      Dear Graham,
      I hope this message finds you well.
      Someone from Islington who followed the blog, sent me a link to an article from the Camden New Journal of November 2015 with quite a few pictures…of better quality than those I had inserted in the post so…I remembered your comment 🙂
      http://archive.camdennewjournal.com/ladykillersat60
      All the best,
      Xavier

  5. frankbaugh February 4, 2017 at 7:39 pm #

    Hi
    Just came across this site, I Lived at Number 72 Frederica Street, next door to the Victoria Pub (the Vic). I was sitting at one of those tables at the party that was given by the Film Company at the end of filming in the street I spent my whole childhood in the street Leaving the street when I was seventeen, which was very close to the complete Demise of Frederica Street.
    I cant magnify the party picture to a size where I can make anybody out, which is a shame.

    • Mr X March 4, 2017 at 9:26 pm #

      Dear Frank, Thank you very much for taking the time to share with us your very own memories. I did not have access to the original pictures and found those online… In November 2015, the Camden New Journal published another article about this, here is the link for you. Hopefully, you may be able to recognise a few faces! http://archive.camdennewjournal.com/ladykillersat60
      Thanks again, Xavier

  6. frankbaugh February 5, 2017 at 10:55 pm #

    amend my post above.
    The Pub in Frederica Street was NOT as I stated the Victoria, but was called the Volunteer.
    I mixed it up with a pub in Kentish Town I used to know.

  7. frankbaugh February 5, 2017 at 10:58 pm #

    Frederick Street is in Kings Cross not off Caledonian Road.

    • Mr X March 4, 2017 at 9:29 pm #

      Yes that is correct Frank – FrederiCA Street is the one off Caledonian Road 🙂

      • frankbaugh March 4, 2017 at 10:01 pm #

        Mr X
        You are not by any chance John Mundy are you?

      • Mr X March 4, 2017 at 10:28 pm #

        No I am afraid I am not Frank, X is for Xavier. Is this someone you used to live in Frederica Street? I am asking because a few of the latest comments are from people who lived there at around the same time… including Steve, James, John (Shroff)…they may be able to help you track down this person? Good luck and let me know!

  8. JOHN SHROFF February 23, 2017 at 8:19 pm #

    Hi me and my brothers attended what we called the ladykillers party, we all lived in Frederick Street number 26 my Nan and Grandad by the name of Stone lived downstairs Mum, Dad Joan and Ted Shroff, and me John second eldest
    and brothers Steve the oldest Pete and Roger.

    • Mr X March 4, 2017 at 9:35 pm #

      Dear John, Thank you so much for dropping by and taking the time to share with us your family memories. Apologies for not answering sooner but I no longer live in Islington nor the UK and now only check the blog from time to time. I am glad to see that people still find it interesting. A few week ago – see previous comments – another gentleman (frankbaugh) stated he was at the street party so… you may wish to get in touch!
      Here is an article from the Camden New Journal dated November 2015, where they mentioned the party and included a few pictures http://archive.camdennewjournal.com/ladykillersat60
      Thanks again John and all the best!
      Xavier

  9. frankbaugh March 8, 2017 at 12:40 am #

    Hi Mr X
    Yes John was the young Brother of a friend from Frederica Street Fred Mundy who I recently learned (5yrs ago) had moved out to one of our old far flung colonies it was either Canada or Australia.
    We made contact via Friends Reunited, alas the site has gone,

    • Mr X March 8, 2017 at 9:09 pm #

      I see. Maybe through one of the other person who lived there and who made a comment on this page? Maybe you could try via another social platform (e.g. Facebook? ) – all the best, X

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