Sunday, 20 October 2013

Geography Sundays - Pentonville

My geographical knowledge is shocking. I really struggle with knowing where things are in the world. I just about know where the major countries are (UK, US, Aus) but that's the most of my knowledge.

Every week I discover that a place isn't anywhere near where I thought it was so I thought I'd create a regular theme for one of my posts each week - a geography lesson! For me but also for you lovely readers too!

I'll find out as much as I can about each featured place and [try to] make it interesting. I love a random fact so you'll likely find a couple of those in there too!

So this week, I discovered that Pentonville is NOT in the dirty South of the States, as I previously thought. Evidence (the groans of annoyance from my colleagues and a quick Google) would show that it's actually a place in London and is also the name of a prison! Who'd have thought.

HMP Pentonville (commonly known as The Ville) isn't actually in the Pentonville area but on Caledonian Road in the Borough of Islington, a little further north of Angel. It was created not just for the detention of convicts but also as a holding place for those who had been sentenced to penal transportation to Australia.

From 1902, prisoners under sentence of death were housed at The Ville until the final execution there. Edwin Bush was the last condemned man to be hung at Pentonville in 1961 after he had stabbed to death a shop assistant with an antique dagger. There would only be 11 more criminals executed after Bush before it capital punishment was outlawed in the United Kingdom.

Pentonville (the place) has been part the Borough of Islington since 1965. In 1902, Vladimir Lenin - the Russian communist - and his wife lived just off Pentonville Road. Some 20 years on, he would become the Premier of the Soviet Union until his death 2 years later.

It would appear there is little of note in the Pentonville area. A google search lead to no mysterious bars or cute local restaurants but apparently there is a well-renowned shop called Pentonville Rubber who provide foam & rubber to a wide variety of industries, as well as to the home consumer.

So there it is. Most of what there is to know about Pentonville. If I'm honest, I'm a little disappointed that it's not as exotic as I had created in my mind but I love learning things about all these little pockets of London and its fascinating and lengthy history!

 An isometric drawing of Pentonville prison, from an 1844 report by Joshua Jebb, Royal Engineers.

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