Inventory Site Record

Market Road Pitches (Islington)

Brief Description

Market Road Pitches originated as a playground provided for public recreation in 1900, one of two sites acquired by Islington Borough Council with funding from the LCC. At that time the 2.7 acre site was bounded by Market Road on the north, on the south by the rear of premises on Brewery Road, on the east by the Horse Repository Market Road and on the west by York Road. In 1938 funding was awarded from King George V Fields Trust and the site, laid out with football pitches, is now named Market Road Pitches. The gate piers on Market Road are adorned with the requisite stone plaques acknowledging this funding. The area is part of the wider sports facilities built over the Metropolitan Cattle Market land south of Market Road, including Islington Tennis Centre and Gym.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Market Road Playground; King George's Field; Market Road Football Pitches
Site location:
Market Road
N7 9NT
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Open Land
Open to public?
By appointment only
Opening times:
Mon-Fri 10am - 10pm; Sat/Sun 10am - 6pm
Special conditions:
Prices for members and non-members
Football pitches, multi use games area, floodlit
Public transport:
Rail: Caledonian Road & Barnsbury. Tube: Caledonian Road (Piccadilly). Bus: 17, 91, 259, 274, 390

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.better.org.uk

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.

In 1900 Market Road Playground, together with Market Road Gardens (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 playground marked.

The King George’s Fields Foundation was established on 3 November 1936 in order to promote the establishment of playing fields in memory of the late King George. It was considered that the King would have approved of such a living memorial, which would benefit the 'individual well-being and the general welfare of the nation', and young people in particular, by providing them with the environment and opportunity for open air exercise. The Trust Deed of the Foundation defined a playing field as 'any open space used for the purpose of outdoor games, sports and pastimes.' Local authorities were able to apply to the Foundation, whose trustee was the National Playing Fields Association, for a grant to provide these new facilities for public recreation. Each new playing field was to be known as King George's Field and was generally provided with heraldic panels that would distinguish it as such. It was a condition of the grant that the tenure of the site was sufficiently secure so that it would provide a meaningful legacy to the king's memory; the land must have been acquired only for the purpose of public recreation. The design of the entrance and the ground's layout had to be approved by the Foundation, which was to receive an annual report for the first five years from the acceptance of the offer. 471 playing fields across the UK were funded and following the demise of the scheme in 1965, their protection has been undertaken by Fields in Trust. The largest King George's Field is Enfield Playing Fields (q.v.), some 128 acres, and the smallest is in the City of London, King George's Field in Portsoken Street (q.v.).

Market Road Pitches now provide high-quality floodlit synthetic-turf pitches available for regular seasonal or casual one-off bookings, Pitches for 5-a-side and 7-a-side are available as well as one 11-a-side pitch. Floodlighting means it is available for team sport into the evening.

Sources consulted:

Report of the Royal Commission on London Squares, 1928; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); 'London Parks and Open Spaces' (LCC, Hodder & Stoughton Ltd, 1924); www.fieldsintrust.org/FieldSite/Islington-Market-Road

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ301846 (530156,184600)
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:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

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.