Caledonian Park and Community Orchard is located on the site of the 19th-century Metropolitan Cattle Market and retains at its heart the market’s imposing listed Victorian clock tower and railings. The architect responsible for the market, the clock tower and four nearby public houses at each corner of the market - three of which remain today - was James Bunstone Bunning, who worked mainly in Italianate style.
The clock tower was constructed on the site of a demolished 17th-century manor house, Copenhagen House, in an extensive area of open fields, known as Copenhagen Fields. A notable event there was the huge demonstration in April 1834 to support the Tolpuddle Martyrs, agricultural labourers deported to Australia for attempting to form a union.
The Metropolitan Cattle Market was opened by Prince Albert in 1855 and operated as a market until its abatoirs closed in 1963. The associated Cally ‘flea’ market closed in 1939.
Islington Council bought the market site and in 1970 created Caledonian Park on 18 acres. Extensive tree and shrub planting gives the park its tranquillity and provides habitats for many nesting and visiting birds. The park is a borough grade 1 nature conservation area, mainly for its woodlands, and offers contoured woodland walks. It is currently undergoing improvements and a new ‘natural play area’ opened in 2010. A new section of the park with formal garden spaces and extensive tree, shrub and herbaceous planting will open in spring 2013
In 2010 the Caledonian Park Users' Group (the friends' group founded in 2000) planted a small community orchard of apple, plum and pear trees, both modern and heritage varieties, to add to the biodiversity. The group is responsible for the watering, pruning and general maintenance of the trees. In spring 2013, the group will take over one of the new garden spaces in the park and develop it as a wildlife garden, introducing plants and other features attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.
Capital Growth garden: