Each month we find out a little more about the area through the people who live, work and play here. This month we spoke with Joyce Lorigan who is the outgoing Chair of Urban Partners and Vice President of Communications at Springer Nature, to hear her thoughts on the area.
1. When did you start working in the area?
I’ve been working next to King’s Cross station for about five years but I used to live around the corner in Islington more than 25 years ago.
2. How has it changed since then?
The changes around the station, in particular, have been transformational. I remember it to be dark, dirty and downright unsafe. Somewhere you wanted to rush through, not hang out in. Having said all that, I do still have fond memories of the crazy nightlife at the back of the station in the 90s. Anyone who was at The Cross or Bagleys will know what I mean!
3. What’s your favourite place in the area?
The fountains at Granary Square. Why? Because of the mix of local families, local workers and local students. It has a sense of community. The Skip Garden is also a firm favourite.
4. What do you love about our neighbourhood?
Seeing people setting off on their trips or meeting up with loved ones at the stations. Nice feel-good way to start the day.
5. What’s your favourite story about the area?
I have really fond memories of living in the area. I lived above a launderette just off the Caledonian road with a flatmate who was the sole Spurs supporter in an area bathed in Arsenal red. Recently, I hopped in a black cab one night and it turned out that I used to live near the cabbie all those years ago. He even remembered my friend and I. We talked about old times and he refused to take a tip. Felt very nostalgic. Memories of the area in tact!
6. What’s the best community initiative you have seen in the local area?
Can I have two?! Both are great examples of a creative use of space which we know is at a premium in our city. The Skip Garden is just so innovative, bringing skips to life and helping young people along the way. I also love the Civitas Saturday schools which run in offices across the area. We host 30 Islington kids to give them extra help with maths and English every Saturday and the results have been fantastic.
7. What challenges will the area face in the future?
I asked this question to a bunch of young people from Maria Fidelis and they talked about homelessness, the impact of HS2 on the community to the east of St Pancras and making sure that there are still affordable activities for local people. All very good points.
8. Where do you see our neighbourhood in the next ten years and what kind of image it will have?
The restaurant and hotel openings are putting the area on the map as a cool destination. The opening of the concept stores at the back of the station and the forthcoming hotel in the old Camden Town Hall building will further cement this. We’ve also seen ‘New Tech Hub’ headlines thank to Google moving in and others. This is all good news and will bring investment into the area and employment. I hope however that the area doesn’t become too cool for school. I hope that it manages to retain a sense of community – connecting local people, local staff and visitors in way that shows other cities just how it can be done well. And I hope that local kids are still playing in those fountains 10 years on!
9. If our neighbourhood had a theme song, what would it be and why?
So many people live, work or pass through our area on their way across London, across the country or across the continent via Eurostar. It’s one giant melting pot of different culture and different stories. So I think it’s just got to be “The World’s a Great Big Onion” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. In essence, they’re singing that there may be many different layers and cultures, rich and poor, but we’ve got to get on with it, make the best of it and work together to make things better for all. Oh yes, and it’s great to sing along to!