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Islington Tribune - by PETER GRUNER
Published: 25 September 2009
The interior of the former butcher’s on Hornsey Road retains features including Art Nouveau tiles and a Victorian mosaic floor
The interior of the former butcher’s on Hornsey Road retains features including Art Nouveau tiles and a Victorian mosaic floor
Have a butchers at this renovation!

Shop with Victorian fittings is huge hit at Open House weekend as owner ponders its future

MORE than 650 people visited a lovingly restored butcher’s shop in Upper Holloway at the weekend.
From the outside nothing could look more unimposing than the Plumb shop at 493 Hornsey Road. With its opaque glass window it is next door to a Costcutter shop and opposite a pound store.
But inside the shop, close to Elthorne Park, you are transported back to the early years of the 20th century with all the fixtures and fittings, including original Victorian and Art Nouveau artefacts, restored.
Conservationist Richard Travers, 45, purchased the property, which had been empty for 10 years, in 2006 for £200,000 and is currently turning it into a home for himself and his partner, and possibly a small café business.
He decided to open it to the public for the first time on Saturday and Sunday as part of London’s Open House Festival, during which properties and homes of architectural interest not normally open to the public go on show. “I was astonished at the interest in the old butcher’s shop,” said Richard. “We had a neverending stream of people over the weekend, all wanting to know about the history of the shop and what I intend to do with it.”
In fact, Richard asked visitors to suggest ideas for the shop in a book.
“Some said it should become a butcher’s again, but I just don’t think it’s financially viable these days,” he said. “A small community café, which was also suggested, seems to make more sense.”
The shop was converted to a butcher’s around 1900, purchased by William Plumb and managed by the Hall family.
An American antique dealer was planning to purchase many of the artefacts and ship them to the States after the shop closed in 1996. That was when Islington Council’s then conservation officer promptly stepped in and had the premises Grade II-listed and designated “a rare survival” by English Heritage.
There are several architectural styles present, including Art Nouveau tiles in two wall friezes, a Victorian mosaic floor, and a Queen Anne revival cashier’s booth.
Richard said: “According to lore passed down from previous owners, the hand-painted tiles of grazing animals on the wall are supposedly taken from scenes on Hampstead Heath.”
In the mid-1950s one of the etched glass panes was broken, and Mr Plumb had to order a replacement from Italy at a cost of £30 – a huge sum at the time.
The Perspex in the windows will be removed when the shop is reopened in a new capacity.
The mosaic floor was missing about 15 per cent of its tiles, and Richard has spent much time scouring architectural salvage yards around the country for matching tiles over the past three years. He finally found enough to patch the missing areas this year.
Richard is currently researching previous owners and historical records to document the history and missing parts of the shop.
“It’s a wonderful example of a bygone age, when shops were fitted out like mini palaces,” he said.
“But it belongs to the community and to Islington. I want to share it with the public.”

• The shop is available for photoshoots, meetings, etc. Contact Richard Travers at

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