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Nag's Head

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A bustling commercial zone situated around the junction of Seven Sisters Road with Holloway Road, regarded by Islington council as one of the borough’s two most important ‘town centres’. The locality is named after a public house that has stood here for around 200 years. The poet and painter Edward Lear, best known for his nonsense verse, was born at Bowman’s Lodge in 1812 and lived here until the age of sixteen. The lodge was named after an Elizabethan archery house and its site is now occupied by Bowman’s Mews. For much of the 19th century, the Nag’s Head marked the edge of Islington’s northward spread and was the terminus for its first tramway in 1871. The vicinity became a focus for retailers serving the expanding middle-class community of Holloway, while the pub was rebuilt in Italianate style. Despite the neighbourhood’s demographic transformation during the 20th century the Nag’s Head remained the borough’s largest shopping area until the 1990s, when it was overtaken by the Angel, which was more successful in attracting new investment and drawing visitors from outside its immediate hinterland. The small Nag’s Head shopping mall opened in 1992, anchored by a (then) Safeway supermarket. The Nag’s Head street market on Seven Sisters Road is open every day. It specialises in second-hand items on Wednesdays and has a flea market on Sunday mornings. The west side of Holloway Road has a hall of residence for London Metropolitan University students and a lavish art deco cinema, opened as the Gaumont in 1938, but now an Odeon. The Nag’s Head itself spent its latter years as an Irish theme pub and has since converted to downmarket retail use. In 2006 the council and police launched a crackdown on the sale of contraband cigarettes on the streets of Nag’s Head, where the trade had become so popular that some customers came from miles away to make purchases.

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The uninspiring entrance to the Nag's Head covered market

Postal district: N7

Brewer's London Phrase & Fable

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