Bombing During the Second World War, 1939-45

Many people are puzzled why Highbury Corner has this name, when it is in fact a huge traffic circus with no sign of a corner. We can see from the earlier 1914 map that there was a Corner.

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1914 Ordnance Survey map of Highbury Corner

The map shows Highbury and Islington Station before it was bombed

The reason for the change is easy to find. Railway junctions were prime targets during the Second World War and, as the lines were easy to see from the air, they were all attacked. The Bombing map shows widespread damage in nearby streets. Goldsmith Place , one of the cul-de-sacs off Compton Road , and the school itself; suffered blast damage. The end of St Paul 's Road was hit, but the greatest damage happened on the night of 27/28 June, 1944. A V2 rocket fell outside the Post Office, destroying the end of Compton Terrace and the Railway Station. 24 people were killed 116 seriously wounded. The station, was destroyed, leaving only a solitary pilaster which is still to be found in the wall out side the new booking Hall. The end houses in Compton Terrace were destroyed and nearby ones so badly damaged as to be beyond repair.

V2 rockets were almost random weapons, which could not be aimed at particular targets so, despite earlier attempts to destroy the station and disrupt traffic, it was probably just bad luck that this V2 struck just where it did.

The remaining end of Compton Terrace has been preserved and a plague erected on the end wall.


The plaque commemorating the flying bomb which
destroyed Highbury and Islington Station

The Bomb Damage Map of Highbury Corner

  My earlier black and white photocopy of
the Bombing Map, made about 1970.

1970 was long before either colour photocopies or the Internet were available. It shows the major bomb damage, but the different colours did not register on early photocopiers and much damage was not recorded.

The coloured version below shows the degree of damage to each building, from Total Destruction to Blast damage, minor in nature. The colours also show the centre of impact and the radiating circles of lesser damage around it.

Highbury Station and the end houses opposite were damaged beyond repair (Black, Purple and Dark Red) and the next ones were almost beyond any repair. Some buildings immediately to the north of Canonbury School were also beyond repair but the school itself survived.

There is no comparison between the information given by the Black and White photocopies I had to use earlier and the coloured ones.

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The Bombing Map of Highbury Corner

Coloured map detail by kind permission of London Metropolitan Archive.

Colour Key References
Black -Total destruction
Purple - Damaged beyond repair
Dark Red - Doubtful if repairable
Light Red - Seriously damaged, but repairable at cost
Orange - General blast damage, not structural
Yellow - Blast damage, minor in nature
O V1 flying bomb large circle
o V2 long range rocket. small circle

There will be slight variations in the colours because the original maps
are old and the colour balance on computer monitors will vary

Uses of the Bombing Map on this website

This map and other smaller sections reproduced elsewhere,
are taken with permission, from

The London County Council Bomb Damage Maps 1939-1945.

Copies of any particular area can be obtained, for private or school use, from London Metropolitan Archives who own the copyright.

Highbury and Islington Station in 2008.

The original station which was shown earlier was completely destroyed and the modern shec built in its place. All that remains of the original façade is the narrow pillar on the left.

The lower storey and the dressings are in limestone, but the rest is good quality brickwork, so the original engraving is not entirely in limestone and may not have been quite so impressive as Victoria Station. Whatever it was, it was a fine façade and a sad loss to the area.


(Move your mouse over the picture to
highlight the sole remaining pillar.)

Post War Changes

During the Second World War the school building suffered only minor blast damage, but its surroundings suffered badly. After 1945 it was decided to demolish the bombed houses at the end of Compton Terrace and to convert Highbury Corner into a traffic circus. The trams still ran at that period, so the tracks were re-laid in the new pattern.

The immediate area around Canonbury School had suffered. The houses were old. The fashion for tower blocks led to the demolition of the small cul-de-sacs between the school and St Paul 's Road and the building of Dixon Clark Court .


Dixon Court , built on the earlier small terraced houses

The Enlarged School Perimeter

A Child's Drawing Showing the Expansion of
Canonbury School Over the Years

In the process, the school grounds were extended. The terrace of houses in Canonbury Road, from the School-keeper's Cottage to St. Paul's Road, was demolished. The sole remaining houses are the School keeper's cottage and the house next door.

The latter has been restored and freshly painted, as a reminder of what had been there before. At one end of the house there are two chimney pots, from chimneys on the ground and first floors. At the other end of the house are four chimney pots and a protruding chimney breast, plastered over. When the builders demolished the terraced next door housethey had to leave the extra chimney breast as the two sets of chimneys had been built as one. They could not separate them, so the old chimneys are still in the wall as a reminder of the lost row of houses.

The School grounds were extended to cover the area of two cottages and a row of trees, now mature, was planted in their basements.

New trees and one remaining stucco house in Compton Road.

These trees were planted in the basements of the demolished houses and the remaining stucco house neatly restored at the end. The school grounds were extended to the road and over the site of the old Friends Cottages North. The drawing on the next page shows the enlargement of the site.


The Plan of the Enlarged School Site

Cannonbury School

The Booth Map of
London Poverty 1889-90

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