Tag Archives: Local History

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!

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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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Islington Green: The Screen on the Green “In Cinemas NOW”

28 Nov

This week, The Screen on the Green cinema in Islington is celebrating a very, very special birthday. It is 100 years since the Pesaresi brothers opened this purpose-built cinema after having acquired and demolished a few old shops. The Screen on the Green has changed hands a few times along the way, seen a few refurbishments, in particular to its auditorium, but its peculiar façade outlined in red neon has survived the years and become a local landmark.

To join in the celebrations, I wanted to find out if the cinema has had its 15 minutes of glory. Surely, in its 100 years, and with all the movies filmed in London and Islington, it must have featured in one way or another in a movie. It took some time to go through all my film locations books and usual resources to find one on time for this week’s celebrations but I eventually did.

Just Ask for Diamond (1988) is a teenage comedy based on The Falcon’s Malteser, the first book of The Diamond Brothers series published by British novelist and screenwriter Anthony Horowitz. Hopeless Herbert, who goes by the pseudonym of Tim Diamond (Dursely McLinden) works as a private investigator and, thank God for him, lives with his younger and smarter brother Nick (Colin Dale).

The movie opens with our heroes in a desperate situation: cold, starving, no money left and waiting for that ever-elusive first client. Out of nowhere comes the mysterious Johnny Naples (José René Ruiz) to leave a package. They must not open it and must take care of it for 2 to 3 days in return for… £200!

With things looking up, the two brothers decide to go to the movies and head off to…The Screen on the Green!

Just ask for Diamond - Screen on the Green - FILM

Once the movie has ended, they can be seen leaving the cinema and crossing Upper Street towards Islington Green with the familiar façade all lit up behind them.

Just ask for Diamond - Screen on the Green - MRX

If you do know of any other film featuring the cinema please do get in touch! In the meantime, let’s all raise our glasses to The Screen on The Green and to the next 100 years!

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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

Islington Green N1 0NP

Angel Tube Station (Zone 1)

Highbury & Islington Station (Zone 2)

Many buses to Angel, Islington Green

Clerkenwell Green: Fishy Wanda on the Run

21 Nov

A heist-comedy co-written by, and starring John Cleese, fellow Monty Python’s star Michael Palin, Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis looked to have all the ingredients for success when it was premiered. Indeed, within weeks A Fish Called Wanda (1988) became an enormous critical and commercial success, scooping numerous awards along the way.

In London, George (Tom Georgeson) has a plan. Together with Ken (Michael Palin), Otto (Kevin Kline) and Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis) they join forces to commit a multi-million pound jewellery heist. After their success, they all try to double cross each other for the loot, as you would. In her quest, Wanda needs to seduce George’s lawyer, Archie Leach (John Cleese).

We can spot our culprits in Islington when, having carried out their heist in nearby Hatton Garden, they arrive Clerkenwell Green walking to meet Wanda, waiting for them in their getaway car.

A Fish Called Wanda - Waiting Car - FILM

The car is parked on the south side of the Green with the Crown Tavern pub in the distance.

Pause for a second. Although Hatton Garden is fairly close to Clerkenwell Green I am not sure, should I ever consider carrying out a similar robbery, that I might want to walk all the way to Clerkenwell Green before getting into a car…Having said that, it suits us perfectly since, in doing so, they leave behind Camden to enter Islington!

A Fish Called Wanda - Waiting Car - MRX

They jump on the car and here they go – not without nearly running over an old lady and her three Yorkshire Terriers.

Where are they heading? Will they stay in Islington? To be continued…

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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

Clerkenwell Green EC1R 0DU ‎

Farringdon Station (Zone 1)

Many buses to Clerkenwell Road, Farringdon Road, Mount Pleasant and St John’s Street

Islington Film Locations Map Launch

14 Nov

It is once month this week that Lights, Camera…Islington! was thrown into the spotlight.

To celebrate this, here is a slightly different post. Not one about a movie location in the borough, but one about the Islington Film Locations Map I have started.

A link to the map will be available below each post in the ‘How to Get There?’ section, and via the ‘Categories Column’ on the right-hand side menu.

Click on the link to get an overall map with icons spread around the borough.

Islington Film Locations Map 01

On the left, you’ll see a menu with the different film titles. Click on the one of your choice to go straight there or, alternatively, get closer to the icon or area of your choice, and a box will appear. Inside such box you’ll find a still of the scene, a picture of the location today, and the link to the relevant post…Et voila!

Islington Film Locations Map 02

Considering that Lights, Camera…Islington! is only celebrating its first month, there are understandably only a few locations at present. However, I am delighted to say that after spending many weekends going back and forth, up and down the borough, I have now gathered enough materials to publish a post a week for the next year or so.

A BIG THANK YOU to all the Islington organisations, residents and other movie fanatics that have already got in touch with me willing to share their knowledge and open their doors. Glad to see that I am not the only one keen on the subject…When you think that a few weeks ago, I thought I would run out of materials after 3 months!

Hope you get to make the most of the map as it expands and I look forward to seeing many of you with your smartphones, tablets and cameras discovering and enjoying Islington.

 Islington Film Locations Map

 

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

Chapel Market: The London Nobody Knows

31 Oct

Located in the heart of Angel, between Penton Street and Liverpool Road is Chapel Market. Known as Chapel Street until 1936, it changed its name after the busy market that had established itself well in the second part of the nineteenth century.

Chapel market 1906

Chapel Market in 1906

Chapel Market survived the twentieth century without any major changes. It is therefore probably unsurprising that it has appeared time and time again on our screens as we will have the opportunity to see in future posts.

Based on an earlier book of the same name, the documentary The London Nobody Knows (1967) follows British actor James Mason around non-touristy areas of 1960s London. The film encapsulates the real life of those years and is definitely worth seeing for anyone interested in the history of the capital.

It is in this context that Mason introduces the spectators to “Chapel Market, Islington” and its array of stalls in a rather psychedelic visit! 

London Nobody Knows - Chapel Market - FILM

Chapel Market MRX v

As mentioned above, I will come back to Chapel Market in the future. In fact, no later than Monday, only non-trading day of the week, a crew had invaded the street. Watch out for something (an advert?) involving a Christmas market, snow and a world famous fast food restaurant chain…To be continued

Chapel Market Advert 2013

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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

Chapel Market N1 1UP

Angle Tube Station (Zone 1)

Many buses to Angel

Highbury Terrace: Hugh Grant Lived Here

23 Oct

It’s nearly 20 years since British comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) took the world by storm and propelled Hugh Grant to international stardom. I was far to imagine back then that, years later, I would be living in the UK, let alone within walking distance of Hugh Grant’s house.

Yes, Ladies & Gentlemen, Islington can proudly say “Hugh Grant Lived Here’. Or maybe we should say ‘Charles’.

4 Weddings & Funeral - Highbury Terrace - House - FILM

The first time you can see the Highbury Terrace house in the film is when Charles (Grant) and his housemate Scarlett (the late Charlotte Coleman) wake up late for the second wedding and rush to get a cab.

4 Weddings & Funeral - Highbury Place House MRX

The second and last time we get to see the house is for the final scene. Charles and his friends are discussing the outcome of his wedding ceremony when Carrie (Andie MacDowell) knocks on the door.

4 Weddings & Funeral - Highbury Terrace - Andy - FILM

“ (…) There, totally oblivious of the torrential rain pouring down upon them, the two fall happily and tenderly into each other’s arms. The two enormous and highly paid heads come together for that ultimate and inevitable moment. The final, earth-moving, studio-rent-paying, theatre-filling, popcorn-selling… kiss”*

In that scene, not only you can spot the footpath behind Carrie (between the sport courts and the lawn), but also the house number when Charles closes the door behind him. Seconds later, after Charles kind of–perhaps-maybe-or-maybe not-sort-of-but-not-really-popped-the question, the two kissed passionately under the pouring rain, you can see the row of houses on Highbury Terrace.

4 Weddings & Funeral - Highbury Terrace - Final Kiss - FILM

4 Weddings and a Funeral - Final kiss MRX

One could argue that the Highbury Terrace property might well be Islington’s equivalent to Notting Hill’s blue door.

Of course by 1999, and thanks in no small part to Four Weddings and a Funeral, Grant had become a global star and his partner in the movie needed no introduction either.

Nevertheless, in 1994, in parallel to a successful modelling career, Andie MacDowell had already 2 Golden Globe nominations under her belt. Besides, from a box office point of view, the 1994 comedy proved more profitable: yes Notting Hill did generate bigger figures – approx. 363 millions vs. 245 – but it did also cost significantly more to produce – approx. 43 millions vs. 4.5!

Ultimately I guess, neither Islington nor Highbury Fields featured in the title of the movie, the trailers and posters across the world. But you can’t say anymore that you don’t know where Hugh Grant did not propose to Andie MacDowell. You may even want to pop up the question there yourself!

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, advert or have been involved in the process, drop me a line at TheUnbelievableMrX (at) gmail.com or via Twitter

*FREE coffee to the first person to tell me from which Audrey Hepburn movie this quote is

How to get to there?

Islington Film Locations Map

Highbury Terrace N5 1UP

Highbury & Islington Station (Zone 2)

Drayton Park Train station (Zone 2)

Many buses to Highbury Corner and Highbury and Islington Station

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