Here's a view you don't often get to see. This is the top of Maiden Lane reservoir, the covered reservoir on Dartmouth Park Hill (as this stretch of what was Maiden Lane is now called).
The crown of the reservoir is strictly off-limits - I've lived here more than twenty years and never got more than a glimpse of the turf on the top. The slopes are a local park, however: Dartmouth Park. This is not how the Dartmouth Park locality got its name but rather seems to have been a case of grasping a name that was appropriate and unused. Until this space surrounding the reservoir was christened Dartmouth Park (perhaps when the area was opened to public use in the early 1970s) there was no park in Dartmouth Park.
The photo is taken from the top floor of our friends' house on Dartmouth Park Hill and shows the view east over the reservoir. It also shows a feature that you can't otherwise see - what looks like an inspection pit or access point adjoining the top of the reservoir.
To help you get your bearings, here's another photo from the same vantage point.
And once upon a time, I did a panorama video of the vista from the far bank of the reservoir - one of the most marvellous views of the city. And since you ask (you did ask, didn't you?) - here's that video!
But back to the reservoir ... it was built in the 1850s when the surrounding area was largely green fields. The reservoir is still in use and was renovated back in 2012. The company that did that work - and if you believe their website, they completed the project five months before they started - said this:
'Maiden Lane Reservoir is situated on Dartmouth Park Hill in the London Borough of Islington in Central London. The reservoir is a brick-built covered service reservoir which was completed in 1855. It is composed of two separate structures, known as the north (Cell A) and south (Cell B) compartments, which together have a capacity of 68,200 m³. The depth when full is about 6.7m.'
But let's take a look at the history of the reservoir and surrounding area through maps - some of which I have been introduced to on the warmly recommended 'Archway Revisited' Facebook page, and by people I have been in touch with through that group or as a result of earlier blogs.
This map was surveyed in the mid-1860s. Dartmouth Park is largely undeveloped - St Mary's Brookfield had not been built (it opened in 1875) - nor had Dartmouth Park Road nor Laurier Road nor York Rise.
The grounds of the reservoir extended as far as Junction Road. here's a blow-up:
This map below is thirty years later - an Ordnance Survey map of 1895. The area has become much more extensively developed ... though much of Cathcart Hill had still to be built and there are a few gaps in the housing along Dartmouth Park Avenue.
As you can see, the reservoir had relinquished a lot of surrounding land for a tram depot and I imagine stabling for the horses. And on Dartmouth Park Hill, diagonally opposite St Mary's, there's a building - Reservoir Cottage. I hope to return to that in a future blog.
And then a leap of another sixty years or so to the Second World War - and a map of local war damage prepared by London County Council
You can see from the colour code of the map that the reservoir suffered a narrow miss - the brunt of a V1 attack being borne by buildings on the other side of Dartmouth Park Hill where blocks of post-war flats now stand.
The tram depot is still there - but disused. And the reservoir cottage is still shown.
And this is what the area looks like today, courtesy of Google Maps
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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