Revisiting the penal colony

In yesterday’s post, I recounted my visit to the Holloway Road area and to the Freightliner Farm. Before returning home, I walked up Holloway Road to take a look at a group of buildings that now belong to an entity called the London Metropolitan University, a rather pretentious name that designates an institution formed by a series of amalgamations of pre-existent academic units. If you are interested in all the details, you can find a potted history here.

Why am I telling you this? Because, dear readers, London Met’s Holloway Road site, or the “North London Campus” (as they rather grandly call it), is where I used to work as a lecturer.

In those days, it was called the Polytechnic of North London which was already itself the result of a merger between the Northern Polytechnic (in Holloway Road) and the North-Western Polytechnic (in Kentish Town). The latter building, where I started as a polytechnic lecturer, is now a block of flats with a Pizza Express occupying what used to be offices and the boardroom, where I attended many a boring meeting and the occasional interesting one.

As a result of a career change, I moved to the Holloway Road precinct and stayed there for the rest of my time at the polytechnic. After I left, the erstwhile polytechnic became one of the new universities under the name of the University of North London.

In my day, however, it was a poly and generally referred to as “PNL”. If you pronounce “PNL” as a word, it sounds rather like “penal” and, indeed, some of the staff did refer to it as “the Penal Colony”, especially in its latter years when it had been taken over by a new breed of managers, none of whom had ever set foot in a classroom as teachers and therefore tended to run the place as a business corporation rather than as an educational institution.

London frontage of LMU
London frontage of LMU

Now I have explained all that, we can have a few photos. The one on the left shows the buildings on the Holloway Road, the red brick old building and the more modern tower block.

Do you imagine that I have a lump in my throat from visiting my old stamping ground? Not really. It was a relief to leave. Not that there were no good times, of course. There were, and these were owing to the colleagues with whom I shared the daily grind. There were some interesting characters among them one of whom I used to meet from time to time afterwards but, alas, he died.

He was a brilliant man. He had two doctorates, one each in mathematics and computer science, but was knowledgeable in many fields, being what we still today call a Renaissance Man. I still remember him with fondness and regret his untimely passing.

No comment

This strange structure, looking more like the result of an earthquake than something designed on purpose, dates from after my time so I have no idea what it is or what it is used for.

I did all my teaching in Eden Grove in what was a rather bland-looking building, so I haven’t bothered to include a photo of it.

The George
The George

Rather more interesting is this place. Wherever there are academics, there will be a pub or, indeed, several. I have spent many lunchtimes and some evenings in this one, The George. It is handily sited almost opposite the building where we worked and was often referred to with a wink as “the common room”.

When I took this photograph yesterday, I accidentally dropped my camera’s lens cap in the gutter. This presented me with rather a problem because at the moment I cannot bend down to pick things up, because of my bad back. I would have had to brace myself against one the parked cars and get down on my knees, something I didn’t fancy doing – especially opposite a pub.

Fortunately, I saw a lady traffic warden approaching and explained my predicament, asking if she would be kind enough to pick it up for me. The traffic warden gave me a very severe look through narrowed eyes but complied with my request, so I thanked her profusely. I ought to attach the damn thing with a string, I suppose.

What was this? Detail

Just along from the University is this interesting building, partially obscured by tatty modern shop fronts. It is quite a pretty design, as you can see from the detail on the right.

I would like to be able to tell you what it is or was, but I have no idea. If anyone knows about it and its history, I would be glad to hear from you.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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