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Rheidol Mews N1

Rheidol Mews is a historic spot in Islington. Its been in the news this week because the family who manage the street have decided they can no longer do this job. Its up for auction and it is thought that developers will get their hands on the land.

The auctioneers’ blurb says ‘First time on the market in 78 years – held in the same family ownership.’ The properties are those in the north eastern half of the mews (eg properties 12 to 38) those in the other half are residential and gated and not part of the sale. The tall slender house is not part of the sale either. One of the risks of any sale of the properties is that they could be knocked down. The reason for this is very unfortunately the buildings are not listed and potentially gives buyers a free rein in deciding what to do with the properties.

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Feature in the Metro (4th May 2018) on the sale of Rheidol Mews

It might go to someone who likes these sort of properties and wishes to retain their character, or it might go to someone who sees a new development as a better investment. The mews are within a conservation area so any new development would have to take this into consideration and I think there would be considerable opposition if demolition was attempted. This is why the auctioneers say any plans are ‘subject to obtaining all necessary consents.’

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The entrance to the mews

I had never been really been aware of Rheidol Mews until this week despite living in nearby City Road for around 15 years! Yes I knew Packington Street, St Peter Street, and others locally but not Rheidol Terrace or its mews! Having read my second article of the week on the Mews in the Metro en route to an appointment in the locality spurred me to make a visit to the mews nearby – and I must say I was pretty well impressed by what I saw.

The name of the mews is of course unusual there are no other streets in this part of London with a Welsh name. Its curious how the name came about but a quick bit of research does show the name’s connected to the Rheidol Valley near Aberystwyth.

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Many Welsh people moved to London, Islington being a draw because of its long associations with Wales (for example Sir Hugh Myddleton who was from Denbighshire and became one of early London’s most famous politicians.) It is agreed this place-name in Islington can be attributed to Welsh people who moved here from Cardiganshire.

When was Rheidol Mews built? I’m not sure, maybe around 1850. Its a little bit of an oddity because its so different to the surrounding streets. London mews generally have a style that is quite distinct and usually matches a particular type of Victorian town houses or terrace of town houses. Rheidol Mews was clearly independent of these town houses yet it was originally built (as other mews were) to provide stables for the larger properties. Mews didnt have to be exact clones of each other and some did have quite independent characteristics even featuring public houses for the workers!

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Curious lean-to in the mews which happens to be a toilet block!

Rheidol Terrace was originally known as Essex Street. Interestingly nearby Essex Road was known as Lower Street and it seems that Essex Street became Rheidol Terrace and Lower Road became Essex Road about the same time! A clear name swap-round. About the same time Rheidol Mews came into existence. It seems the mews was squeezed into a vacant parcel of land and that may explain its rather slender footprint. The building over which the entrance stands may have been an early Victorian rebuild in order to accommodate the carriageway into the mews however any comparison is not much helped by the fact the adjacent properties are 20th century – the originals were bombed in WWII.

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The properties in the mews were numbered anti-clockwise with one being at the entrance and 43 the last on the circuit. The north eastern end of the mews is of a more modern construction than the remainder. I think the tall house in the middle is one of the original properties, the others being of later construction. By the 1940s changes were being made and clearly the more modern construction on the south east side is from about that time, when several of the properties were undoubtedly knocked down and larger units put in place.Those on the north side I think are later still however these were somewhat larger properties so the newer ones were built within the constraints of the older ones.

It would be good to know some more history on the mews however information is quite scarce.

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