Category Archives: London streets

Forgotten pubs around the Hornsey Road

Gourmet coffee stoke station
Coffee from Gourmet Cafe Stoke Station

Back to the London sketchbook. All trips to London start with a tea from Gourmet on Platform1, Stoke Station.  Here are a few sketches which I made around the Hornsey Road which runs parallel to Holloway Road, drawn over several visits.

On some of these trips, I enjoy making tiny thumbnail sketches in less than two minutes, then adding a bit of colour at home.

London bus no 253 Holloway road
253 to Nags Head, Holloway Road

It’s surprising what you can catch when you know you only have seconds when the bus stops. 

sketches from the bus stop
A few bus stop sketches

On my way to the Hornsey Road, I walked past Royal Northern Gardens, a park created in 2002 on Manor Gardens. The Royal Northern Hospital opened in 1888 and once stood on this site.  A new Casualty Department was opened in 1923 following WW1 as a memorial to the people of Islington and these rainwater hopper heads caught my eye, having been salvaged from the subsequent demolitions in the mid 1990s. They are now part of the memorial wall and used as planters.

sketch of rainwater hopper Manor Road Holloway
Rainwater hopper head from the former Royal Northern Hospital

Heading down Bavaria Road, I stopped to draw the ghost sign from the former Alexander Coffee Tavern. it turns out that this was once home of The Blenheim Arms, 395 Hornsey Road. Following closure this became a temperance pub called The Alexandra Coffee Tavern.

Blenheim Road
Look above the road sign and you can just make out the former Blenheim Road name
Sketch of the Alexandra Coffee tavern Bavaria Road
Alexandra Coffee Tavern on the Hornsey Road

Another old sign caught my attention – ‘Plough Stables’. I was joined while I sketched by Martin and his dog Barney and I discovered it too was once a pub, a favourite of Martin’s dad.

sketch of Plough Stables Hornsey Rd London N7
Plough Stables, Hornsey Rd
Mosque which was once a pub
Mosque on Hornsey Road which was once a pub – there’s a green man over the door!

Then sketching this ornate entrance to the Mosque, it too was once a pub – I smiled when I learned it was called the Hanley Arms.

I usually have to go inside to warm up at some point and since a kind person brought me out a green tea from the Rusty Bike Cafe, I went in for a bite to eat.


sketch inside Rusty Bike Cafe, Hornsey Road
Warming up inside the Rusty Bike Cafe, Hornsey Road

I will sign off with this sketch of an old red phone box, not so many around these days.

George Gilbert Scott design telephone box Hornsey Road
One of the original George Gilbert Scott design telephone boxes

Thanks for reading,



Ready, Unsteady, Draw!

sketches from a london bus
Unsteady thumbnail sketches from the 253 bus

Been thinking ahead to drawing another stretch of the Great North Road later this year. I like to sketch from the street first to get a good look at some of the details so pitched my perch opposite the Fig and Olive on Upper Steet, Islington.

pen and ink and wash in sketchbook of Upper St Islington
Looking up at gables on Upper Street, Islington

I use a handy portable camping stool – it’s lightweight and fits easily into a bag and I tucked myself into a corner, well clear of the fire station.

Stating the obvious, it was pretty cold and so on the fist day of the Chinese New Year (Rooster), I chickened out after one sketch and went for an indoor brew nearby. Couldn’t see a Shirker’s Cafe, but this place, the Workers Cafe looked like I could sketch from the empty seat in the front window.

workers cafe Upper st
The Workers Cafe for a mug of tea
Sketch book view of Islington Town Hall
View from inside the Workers Cafe on Upper Street
thumbnail sketches
43 bus to London Bridge

Back home again next day via a catch-up with a dear old pal, meeting up in Milton Keynes.

Thanks for reading, Ronnie

sketches Milton Keynes
Back home the next day via Milton Keynes, 50 years old

Piebury Corner to London Coffee Club


Holloway Road Ronnie Cruwys terrace
Fine old red brick Victorian terrace on Holloway Road from George’s St to Zee Zee’s

Back on the Holloway Road – a short post to share the last drawing of 2015.

3 underpaining holloway rd
Underpainting in blue permanent ink – a change from the usual sepia
205 to 261 Holloway Road cargo Cruwys 1
Piebury Corner to Dorset House
dorset house
Dorset House drawn as a one-off during the summer
205 to 261 Holloway Road cargo Cruwys 2.jpg
George’s Road up to Paddy Power, Holloway Road


205 to 261 Holloway Road cargo Cruwys 3
Paddy Power to Zee Zee, Holloway Road
205 to 261 Holloway Road cargo Cruwys4
Zee Zee’s to London Coffee Club, Holloway Road

Drawing shown in full on

Thanks for reading,


Dorset House and Southwark Bridge

pen and ink on Khadi paper
Dorset House, Holloway Road

I have returned to drawing Holloway Road, the Great North Road – and paused to draw Dorset House in more detail. It caught my eye as it is quite small compared with its neighbours yet with a few faded classical details, it quietly holds its own.

Here it is in context with its neighbours:

photo of Dorset House
Dorset House on the Holloway Road

I have tried to find out a little bit of the history of the building but not got very far until today perhaps…

We have been down to London to join today’s walk in support of Crohns and Colitis UK. The walk takes place every June, and around a thousand supporters walk through the City as a fundraiser and to raise awareness of this disease.

crohns and Colitis
South Bank -Walking for Crohns and Colitis in London 2015

Walking has a lot in common with drawing as it allows you the time and space to enjoy details in the landscape and architecture you might otherwise miss. In this picture, we are walking along South Bank towards Southwark Bridge and you can just make out its trident lamposts above a band of green; here’s part of the bridge in detail:

balustrading details
Southwark Bridge details of balustrading

Having only just finished drawing Dorset House, I immediately recognised the balustrade detailing and couldn’t help but wonder if it is by the the same architect. looking at the plaque, I see that Sir Ernest George designed this bridge.

ernest george RA Architect
Sir Ernest George, RA Architect, opened 6th June 1921

I love finding little details like this. If you know anything about this architect, or Dorset House, I would be delighted to hear from you.

dorset house
Finished drawing of Dorset House

Thanks for reading.



Holloway Road: drawing a section of the Great North Road

Pen and ink drawing of Albermaarle Mansions Holloway Road
The fantastic windows of Albermarle Mansions, Holloway Road, London.

This post is dedicated to my new Twitter Buddies: @The Hornsey Road @Holloway Life @RuthRobinsonLon and AmySmith@Art_Press – a lively bunch!

Walking out of our son’s home on Windsor Road one day last year, I turned right to nip to the corner shop. It wasn’t until I stood at the crossing on my return, that I looked up to take in the sight of Albermarle Mansions. These buildings stand on what is the Great North Road, an old coaching route from London to York and up to Edinburgh. Follow this road into York and you will go past my old school on Blossom Street, through Micklegate Bar and down Micklegate, another York street which I have begun to sketch. I went on to University in Edinburgh so I am curious to know the exact route of the Great North Road. I have sent off for a book on this subject by Frank Morley – so more on this another time.

Photo of Holloway Road Albermarle Mansions
Looking along Holloway Road towards Albermarle Mansions

Back to Holloway Road. I began with a few sketches of the windows which I shared on social media. Much to my delight I had some more feedback from @TheHornseyRoad with a glimpse into life here over a century ago. There must be more insights into the former life of these buildings – if you know anything, I would love to hear from you.

pen and Ink drawing of Holloway Road
Drawing out Holloway Road in pen and sepia ink

One of the reasons that I like to draw full length street scenes is to show buildings in context to illustrate what happens when good but ordinary buildings disappear and they are replaced with buildings of a completely different scale and proportion.

Much as I love old buildings, I do love well designed new buildings too, but know only too well how hard it is for architects to see their great ideas watered down to meet budgets. It is interesting to see how the oldest buildings (Kale Food Centre) have been dwarfed over the course of the century by the most recent bookend ‘Bloomfield Court’.

Pen and ink drawing with egg tempera colour
Applying the first wash of colour to Holloway Road
Fun part last - adding colour!
Fun part last – adding colour!
drawing of Manor Gardens Bus stop P
Manor Gardens, Bus Stop ‘P’ on a rainy busy morning late Autumn.
pen and ink architectural drawing of Holoway road
Terraced buildings on Holloway Road, pre-1894 on the corner of Windsor Road.
Bus stop P Manor Gardens Drawing of Holloway Road
Bus Stop P, Manor gardens, Holloway Road

I will be scanning the drawing and adding it in full to my website next week and will also be running off a limited edition set of fine art prints. Watch this space and thanks for reading!

Ronnie Cruwys

For anyone on social media, I post more photos of work in progress on Instagram ‘ronniecruwys’ and on twitter @RonnieCruwys.