The Anonymous Widower

A Statue Without Explanation In Islington

Every time I go between my house and the Angel, I pass this statue on Islington Green.

It is of Sir Hugh Myddelton, who was very much a hero to generations of North Londoners prior to the Second World War.

Wikipedia introduces him like this.

Sir Hugh Myddelton (or Middleton), 1st Baronet (1560 – 10 December 1631) was a Welsh clothmaker, entrepreneur, mine-owner, goldsmith, banker and self-taught engineer. The spelling of his name is inconsistently reproduced, but Myddelton appears to be the earliest, and most consistently used in place names associated with him.

So why did my parents and others, born in the early years of the twentieth century, hold Myddelton in such high esteem?

Both my parents were born close to his most famous creation; the New River. Wikipedia explains his part in the project.

Myddelton is, however, best remembered as the driving force behind the construction of the New River, an ambitious engineering project to bring clean water from the River Lea, near Ware, in Hertfordshire to New River Head in Clerkenwell, London. After the initial project encountered financial difficulties, Myddelton helped fund the project through to completion, obtaining the assistance of King James I.

I do wonder, if the generation of my parents felt affectionately about the New River because in their first few decades, it was probably the source of most of the water they drunk and used for cooking and washing.

Wikipedia doesn’t give any clue to the character of Myddelton, but I’m sure that in today’s climate, some would find him not worthy of having a statue in such a prominent place.

I do feel though, that the statue needs a display to fill out the story of a man, who did so much for London over four hundred years ago and is still benefiting from his creation.

June 15, 2020 - Posted by | World | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. He also had a nearby secondary school named after him whIch I went to known as Sir Hugh Myddelton Secondary Modern when I attended although the school closed in 1970 through diminishing pupils. the year after I left .

    The School also proved that Victorians had a sense of humour given the school was built on the site of The Clerkenwell House of Detention something that was often given to the schoolchildren!. It was a mixed school with both boys and girls and had teachers like George Forward who made train whistle noises but also had a very good aim with the blackboard rubber !

    Beneath the school lie real dungeons which still had toys from being used as a wartime air raid shelter during WWII and endless corridors leading to cells with a few prison doors in situ.

    While the New River ended at Pentonville Road and for many years the Metropolitan Water Board was situated in Rosebery Avenue next to Sadlers Wells Theatre.

    Comment by Melvyn | June 15, 2020 | Reply

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