Angel Central, Islington


Above: The large ‘angel’ design located beside Liverpool Road, Islington.

Although Islington has an almost endless row of shops along Islington High Street and Upper Street, not to mention the very busy market held daily in the street bearing the name Chapel Market, what the local council seems to feel these days is that they have to claim to have a shopping centre – in order to have ‘street cred’ as the phrase goes. In recent years some really vast centre have been constructed in Inner London – dedicated to the religion of retail therapy. In the case of Islington it is a very modest affair.

Lifting statements from their Website, there are two sentences which seem to sum it up: ‘Located off the ever-hip Upper Street, Angel Central Shopping Centre (formerly known at The N1 Centre) has a vibrant and stylish collection of shops, cafes, restaurants, cinemas and music venues under its roof. Whether you want to watch the latest movies and share a family-sized popcorn snack, or dine out for two on something more extravagant, Angel Central offers you that choice.’

Of course they don’t point out the reality of the situation. Because it is ‘located off the ever-hip Upper Street’, the rents for the shops and restaurants are ‘sky-high’ and so the shopping public will be visiting stores offering some of the worst value for money in the locality. The other shops around – and indeed Chapel Market, lined with humble stalls – will be able to sell most items far cheaper because of much lower overheads. All that does not really impress the trendy shopper. There is a price to be paid for keeping up with the times and ‘hanging out’ in areas that are ‘cool’.

What is ‘really cool’ about Angel Central is the ‘emblem’ or ‘logo’ that represents the precinct. Another blog (on 15 April 2016) has already explained that the local area came to adopt the name ‘Angel’ after the once famous nearby pub. So that no passer-by, walking along Liverpool Road – where the main entrance is located – or along Upper Street – where the second entrance is to be found – misses the venue, there are enormous stainless steel representations of an angel’s wings which are definitely made to impress.

The ‘Angel Wings’ metal sculpture was commissioned by the borough to provide a fascinating talking point in the main shopping area. They were made in 2003 by a group of designers led by Wolfgang Buttress and Fiona Heron. The larger one, seen above, is thought to be the largest public artwork in the whole of London.

However, the ‘Angel Wings’ may soon be a thing of the past because there is a move afoot to replace the wings with a large statue of the pop group Spandau Ballet who were local to Islington. In the words of one fan ‘It means so much to us to have a tribute to our beloved band here and encourage everybody to celebrate our local heroes. There are so many celebrities, writers, musicians that come from Islington, it’s good to remind people of them and of what they gave to the world.’ It would seem that nothing is ‘for ever’ – not even angels!


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