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History

The Old Street district is an area steeped in history and throughout the ages has been home to many key literary and social figures.

None more famous than the bard himself – William Shakespeare. He performed at Britain’s first permanent playhouse in 1576 on Curtain Road and over the years several of his plays had their debut in the area. Fast forward to the modern day, a new exhibition centre will shortly open on the actual site of his first play which will showcase artefacts excavated during recent construction.

The leading cleric John Wesley set up London’s first Methodist church in 1739 on Dereham Street. It was a marked departure from it’s previous use as a foundry which made cannons for the Royal Arsenal and nearby Honourable Artillery Company. The Church later moved to City Road in 1778 where it still remains.

Goswell Road was the site of the first recorded 4 minute mile, a feat claimed by James Parrot on 9 May 1770, It’s always been a controversial claim, but whatever the truth the plucky barrow boy won his 15 guineas: nearly four months’ income!! Over 180 years later Sir Roger Bannister more famously broke the record in 1954.

Old Street underground station was opened in 1901. The station and it’s surroundings were modified in the late 1960’s to include the current sub surface structure. More recently, the area has played a significant role in the UK’s cultural history, linked with influential artists including Banksy whose work Balloon girl is among many first seen in the area. The area has become a thriving commercial hub attracting businesses from the media, advertising, financial services and entertainment sectors.

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