The independent London newspaper

Pillar talk: historic balls are returned to glory

‘It might seem like a small thing but its psychologically important’

08 November, 2019 — By Emily Finch

David Gibson, Suzanne Lamido, Cllr Satnam Gill and Cllr Tricia Clarke with the restored pillar

TWO old balls have been returned to their rightful place on top of two pillars after one rolled off its post and sat in a garden for decades.

Architect David Gibson and builders from Fullers Builders worked to restore the two pillars from 1872 which once marked the start of the land owned by the Tufnell family in the now aptly named Tufnell Park Road.

Suzanne Lamido, a local historian, pushed for the two-metre high pillars to be restored to their full glory.

She said: “We have lots of history but nothing to show for it. I was reading about Tufnell and his family and I saw these pillars and I thought, ‘why are they so wobbly and looking tatty?’”

She said she “tried to get it done up on my own” but was later supported by local councillors Tricia Clarke and Satnam Gill.

The two councillors were able to secure the £6,000 funding for the restoration from the Town Hall with works completed this week.

Cllr Clarke said: “I’ve lived here for 40 years myself and I wanted it done. We made sure it happened, driven it right along and it’s fantastic to see it. Lots of local people wanted it done and it might seem like a small thing but it’s psychologically important.”

Bricklayer Mark Smith at work

Mr Gibson, who was not only the lead architect behind the restoration but is the chairman of the Islington Society, said: “Lots of people knew about the boundary marker in someone’s garden. The lovely thing was when we were restoring it people stopped and said it was nice to get it back. People fought for a long time to get it back.”

He explained how the Tufnell family had once planned a park “as grand as Regent’s Park” in the area but quickly realised that they would make far more money by building houses. “It didn’t go well for them. But that’s where the ‘park’ in Tufnell Park’s name comes from,” he said.

Bricklayer Mark Smith, a worker at building firm Fullers Brothers, restored the pillars while contractor William Fuller was in charge of inserting a stainless steel rod into the large stone ball and fixing it into the pillar.

Mr Smith said: “The challenge was not to take too much brick out and keep as much of the original bricks in as possible. We took the worst ones out. We’ve taken out the cement around the bricks and replaced it with lime which gives a more stable structure and will last much longer.”

Mr Fuller, whose family has run the building firm for five generations, commented that it was a “weird coincidence” that his family firm was started in 1872 – the same year the pillars were built.

“There is small chance that my family was involved in building the pillars, that would be amazing. But that chance is about a one in a million, I guess,” he said.


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