Twenty years ago Clerkenwell was a dead zone, a largely forgotten area between Islington and the City. Now it is one of London’s coolest areas: a creative quarter particularly popular with architects and design companies who have created civilised offices – bare floorboards, opening windows, dogs welcome – in its old warehouse buildings and factories.
It is also a carnivore-focused culinary destination, with restaurants clustered around Smithfield meat market and along Exmouth market. The epicentre for the gastro pub phenomena, The Eagle on Clerkenwell Road, provided the template that has nearly buried Britain’s reputation for mediocre food.
A history of watch making is also evident in the number of watch repair shops on Goswell Road but light industry has now mostly departed. And while the area might be devoid of green spaces Clerkenwell’s old warehouses and factories, set amongst Georgian townhouses and Dickensian cobbles, make for a unique architectural mix.
And for those who prefer to build things with words, Clerkenwell’s long history as a centre for printing means it is still a favoured watering zone for hacks old (though The Guardian has since departed for King’s Cross) and new (City University’s Journalism school is on St. John Street).
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Housed in two vast Victorian halls, it is the largest meat market in the UK. A third hall, especially for poultry, is a fine example of 1960s English modernism.
Fagin and the Artful Dodger recruited Oliver here, while Lenin and Stalin allegedly plotted revolution over a few pints at the Crown Tavern.
It is a carnivore-focused culinary destination, with restaurants clustered around Smithfield meat market and along Exmouth market.