Andover Estate

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Roth Walk on Andover Estate

The Andover Estate, in Holloway, North London, is a large sprawling Islington London Borough Council housing estate which is flanked by Hornsey Road (west), Seven Sisters Road (south), Durham Road (east) and Birnam Road (north). It falls into the N7 postcode district of London.

The older part of the estate along Andover Road was built in the 1950s and is known among residents as "the old flats". The newer buildings, which make up the majority of the estate, were built in the late 1960s until the late 1970s.

Three large uniquely designed triangular buildings rise into the sky on the estate, named Didbin, Noll and Docura Houses respectively, after local architects.

Graffiti, crime and drug problems from the mid-1980s[edit]

In recent years negative reports suggested that the estate had fallen into disrepair, with petty crime, muggings and general lawlesness amongst the local hoodie population being the worst problems, despite the presence of Holloway Police Station on Hornsey Road, nearby.

But local police have reported a downturn in these crimes and Holloway Police Station are even considering a downsizing of their operations from their Hornsey Road station.

Complete security of the estate was first considered in the mid-1980s, when the three main blocks received an intercom system that could activate the doors to open at ground level. This project fell apart after just a couple of years due to vandalism and disrepair, and many established residents blame the removal of the estate's caretakers for this large waste of resources.

Graffiti was a large problem on the estate and on the neighbouring Six Acres Estate from the mid-1980s, as the tagging craze that had been popular in places like New York, Bristol, and Wolverhampton, became a craze amongst 'artistic' youths wishing to write or spray their 'tags' on any prominent space available. Andover had a lot of this space available at that time.

Local youth were restless and wanted to be noticed. A number of 'prominent' London graffiti artists were regular visitors to Andover Estate after the mid-1980s, with its large spaces and secluded spots to spray tags and do 'pieces' (a large full sized mural using spray paint) undetected.

A huge budget for the removal of graffiti on the estate was put up regularly by Islington London Borough Council and despite the regular clean ups, graffiti re-appeared faster than it could be removed. Holloway Police Station even assigned one particular constable to look out for and 'befriend' some of these groups, but with only slight success.

"Maze of alleyways" a haven for escaping criminals[edit]

The initial layout of the estate when completed in the late 1970s proved a huge headache for local police operations, as many interconnecting back alleys, paths and thoroughfares provided several options for those evading police or otherwise to escape.

There were many 'routes' that could be used to double back or simply confuse pursuers who were unfamiliar with the estate's layout. Many of these routes have since been built over, exposed, or eradicated by having certain garden plots or other land extended into them.

Crack cocaine in the early 1990s[edit]

Drug problems on the estate started in the early 1990s, when crack cocaine use escalated hugely, with related muggings, robberies and associated crime all documented by the local press and police force.

Ambitious plans were put into place to combat these problems, including the demolition of several established residential buildings which would enable the construction of easier, direct road access for police and emergency vehicles from Durham, Hornsey and Seven Sisters Roads. These proposals never went further than the initial discussion process.

Michelle Golding and the film "Beyond the hoodie"[edit]

The estate was subject to a recent ITV documentary whereby a local MP, Ann Widdecombe, spent a night in one of the flats to highlight the supposed problem of youths causing trouble at all hours.

The youth of Andover Estate recently got together with a London film maker Michelle Golding [1] to produce a film [2] rebutting the Ann Widdecombe programme.

Young residents put across their side of the story to demonstrate that they are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators.

The film highlights the actual reduction in crime on the estate over the last couple of years and the problem of much of the crime being committed by non-residents. It also discusses the negative impact created by the sloppy journalism of the Ann Widdecombe film. This was brought into sharp focus by the murder of a 14 year old boy in July 2007; in June 2011 a 21-year-old man was stabbed to death by a large gang. This last killing came less than a week after another man was stabbed in nearaby Tollingdon Place which leads to the estate.[1][2]

Islington Gazette and Ann Widdecombe's stubborn stance on Golding's short film[edit]

This article was reported in the local paper, the Islington Gazette:

Rebuilding Holloway in the 1950s and 1960s[edit]

When the estate was built it was seen as a model housing estate, with many similar estates being built at the same time. Nearby Elthorne Estate was designed quite similarly in the mid-1970s but unlike Andover's three big blocks didn't have any high rise development.

This area of Holloway was rebuilt after streets of old housing were knocked down in the 1960s. Other nearby housing estates, Six Acres Estate, Harvist Estate, and Elthorne Estate were built when it was considered more viable to modernise rather than rebuild after the area suffered bomb damage some twenty five years earlier in World War II.

Overview / Trivia[edit]

The estate has various well known residents in former EastEnders TV actor Marc Bannerman, Cornwall's DJ Pat Mckay grew up on Andover Estate, and world renowned close-up magician and artiste Fay Presto also lived there for over 25 years.

One of the Uk's top rappers Skinnyman grew up on the nearby Six Acres Estate and also spent many of his younger years hanging around on Andover Estate. His highly acclaimed album Council Estate of Mind is believed to be about his upbringing in this area. One half of popular house / garage music duo Truesteppers, Andy Lysandrou grew up on Andover Estate as well.

Johnny Rotten also grew up on the nearby Six Acres Estate.

On the edge of the estate on Sonderburg Road by Seven Sisters Road is Harmsworth hospital, (named and built after Sir Harold Harmsworth) an animal hospital run by the RSPCA, which was the focal point of the television reality TV series Animal Hospital, and was presented by the now disgraced TV personality Rolf Harris. The informative and educational series ran for nine years on the BBC.

A segment on The Catherine Tate Show was filmed on Selden Walk, Andover Estate.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Murder Map
  2. ^ The Islington gazzette, 30 June 2011

Coordinates: 51°33′47″N 0°06′52″W / 51.56293°N 0.11432°W / 51.56293; -0.11432