Market Estate is a public housing estate consisting of 271 flats and maisonettes situated to the north of Caledonian Park in the London Borough of Islington. It is named after the Metropolitan Cattle Market held in the area for many years up until the 1960s. Three of the six blocks that make up the estate are named after famous breeds of the animals that used to be traded in the market; Tamworth (pigs), Kerry (cows) and Southdown (sheep). The remaining three blocks are called the Clock tower blocks after the Clock tower in Caledonian Park, which contains a still working clock used as a prototype for Big Ben.
The estate was built by the Greater London Council (GLC) and completed in 1967 to a design by architects Farber & Bartholomew. Although flats are relatively large (having been built in accordance with the then new Parker Morris standards), the estate became run down, neglected and plagued by anti-social behaviour. The redevelopment of nearby Kings Cross probably contributed to a growing drugs and prostitution problem in and around the estate as activity was displaced from Kings Cross.
A multi-million pound UK Government and Islington London Borough Council investment in the 1990s failed to stop the decline. Walkways connecting the blocks were mainly removed, gardens created for most ground floor flats, and closed-circuit television cameras linked to a concierge in an onsite office installed. The concierge's office was burnt out and the CCTV system vandalised. It was not replaced.
Hyde Northside were given the management of the estate in 2001. Following the death of a young boy on the estate, Christopher Pullen, when a security door fell on him, residents set up the Market Estate Tenants and Residents Association (METRA), demanding that the estate's fundamental problems be resolved. Following several years of discussions, it was agreed that the estate needed complete redevelopment. Islington Council decided that the only way of bringing in the necessary funding to do this would be to invite a housing association to take the estate over in a stock transfer. Hyde Northside failed to be selected by the residents and Southern Housing Group was chosen from a short list by METRA representatives in 2003. After nearly 18 months of further discussions between residents, Islington Council, the office for the deputy prime minister (ODPM), Southern Housing Group and their masterplan architects, Watkins Gray International, over 80% of the secure tenants on the estate voted on whether to transfer the estate and their tenancies to Southern Housing Group, with over 85% voting in favour.
Under the agreement the whole estate has been demolished and replaced by a mixture of houses and small blocks of modern low rise flats, built on a traditional street pattern to Watkins Gray International's masterplan. The contractor on this project is Higgins Construction. Existing secure tenants were guaranteed a new home on the new development if they wanted it, and 90 additional homes for sale and shared ownership will also be built to help cross-subsidise the costs of building tenants' new homes.
Caledonian Park will also be improved as part of the scheme. Work on the new homes started in early 2005, significant improvements were made to Caledonian Park beginning in 2006 including planting new trees and redoing all the paths.
The Market Estate Project
The Market Estate Project marked an important moment in the regeneration of the Market Estate, Islington. With the last remaining residents moving out of the old estate blocks in February 2010, the Market Estate Project invited 75 artists, designers and the residents of the estate, to work together in flats left behind, corridors, staircases and building facades.
Work was developed over a number of months, culminating in a one-day event on 6 March 2010 which invited the public to explore the art works created on site, just before the demolition bulldozers move in.
An estimated 2500 people attended the day, which was considered to be a success - described by British artist Anthony Gormley as a "joy and Delight".
The project was developed as a partnership between Southern Housing Group and TallTales, a London based art practice which focuses on working with artists in areas undergoing development.