Inventory Site Record

Market Road Gardens (Islington)

Brief Description

Market Road Gardens were laid out c.1895 over the tunnel of the Great Northern Railway, constructed in the 1850s to take the railway to its London terminus at King's Cross. The road's name refers to the Metropolitan Cattle Market, which was built on Copenhagen Fields in 1852. Market Road Gardens, together with Market Road Playground, was acquired by Islington Borough Council in 1900. The garden, which originally had serpentine paths, perimeter trees, drinking fountains and a central feature, was re-landscaped c.1990 but retains many of the C19th London plane trees.

Practical Information
Site location:
Market Road
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am - dusk
Special conditions:
adjacent: Hayward and Lumpy Hill Adventure Playgrounds
Public transport:
Rail: Caledonian Road & Barnsbury. Tube: Caledonian Road (Piccadilly). Bus: 17, 91, 259, 274, 390
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.islington.gov.uk/services/parks-environment/parks/your_parks/greenspace_az

Full Site Description

The Metropolitan Cattle Market was built on Copenhagen Fields in 1852 by the City of London Corporation, which had acquired 75 acres for their new cattle market site. This replaced Smithfield Market as the live meat market, which was by then regarded as a health hazard. Caledonian Park (q.v.) now covers part of the former market north of Market Road.

Prior to the site being landscaped as public gardens, it is marked on the OS 25 inch 2nd edition map (revised 1894) as Plastic Decoration Works. In 1900 Market Road Gardens, together with Market Road Playground (q.v.), was acquired by Islington Borough Council, the cost of acquisition of £8000 paid by the LCC. Both sites were listed in the Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares and are protected under the London Squares Preservation Act 1931. The OS 25 inch 3rd edition map (revised 1913) shows the garden laid out with serpentine paths, perimeter trees, two drinking fountains and a central feature. In c.1990 the hard landscaping in Market Road Gardens was restructured with brick paths and a rose pergola with metal arches in a circular configuration with seating; an area to the south has a circular lawn, in the centre of which is a column surmounted by cut-out shapes of 4 cows, the cow motif reappearing on the gates, referring to the past history of the site. There are many notable C19th London plane trees within the garden, and it is surrounded on all sides by shrubbery.

Immediately adjacent to Market Road Gardens are Hayward and Lumpy Hill Adventure Playgrounds, established here in 1974 and 1975 respectively, on land that was once part of the Cattle Market, at one time used for Bullock Lairs; the playground gates on Market Road are the former gates of the Market.

Sources consulted:

Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Michael Waite, John Archer, 'Nature Conservation in Islington', Ecology Handbook 19 (London Ecology Unit), 1992; 'London Parks and Open Spaces' (LCC, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 1924).

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ304847 (530463,184713)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Islington
Site management:
Listed structures:
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Yes - Borough Importance II
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:
Strategic/Local View corridor

Please note the Inventory and its content are provided for your general information only and are subject to change. It is your responsibility to check the accuracy.