This is a curving narrow lane that runs behind rows of houses and offices just to the north of the Barbican estate.
It’s origins lay in the formerly much wider road junction that used to be here which dates from Tudor times, and as was not uncommon, a row of houses was erected right in the middle of the road. These over time enlarged to the point were the junction was as it is today, and there remained a small alley running to the south of the houses.
Shows up on John Rocque’s map of 1746 as Baooed Row, which is probably a mistake, as earlier and later maps show it up as Rotten Row and was a small curving diversion around an increasingly busy corner.
By the late Victorian times, it had changed its name to Middle Row, but was badly damaged during WW2.
It seems that the renaming as Crescent Row took place shortly after WW2 and before rebuilding took place as much of the land shows as ruins in the 1960s, when the alley had been renamed.
It was at this time that this lingering legacy of the Old Street road junction was rebuilt as a much narrower alley style passage.
The north side is the back of shops that front onto Old Street, and while the back is naturally rather bland industrial looking, the shop frontages on the other side are worth a wander around to look at – especially 12 Old Street, which is a former pub and has an extraordinary bust of Admiral Rodney on the roof.
Back to the alley, and the south side is old warehouse buildings erected in the 1960s, and now achingly fashionable loft flat conversions.
One notable recent addition is the block at the eastern end that used to be a 1960s office block and rebuilt in 2016, and while it is just a general block with shop and flats, what makes it more interesting is the detail that’s gone into the brick facade. That’s been done really well, and there’s hints of former heritage in the use of exposed steel beams in the dividers.
Aptly, for such a distinctive piece of brickwork, the ground floor is currently occupied by an interior design company.
Location map and local interesting places
- 1] Crescent Row
- 2] Hat and Mitre Court
- 3] Passing Alley
- 4] Hayward's Place
- 5] Bartholomew Passage
- 6] London's Alleys: Bartholomew Place, EC1
- 7] Greenhill Rents
- 8] White Horse Alley
- 14] Museum of the Order of St John
- 15] Barbican Centre
- 16] Museum of London
- 17] Islington Museum
- 18] St Bartholomew's Hospital Museum