During the 17th and 18th centuries Caledonian Park was known as Copenhagen Fields, an area known as an assembly point for anti-government demonstrations. By the 19th century, insanitary conditions at Smithfield market became a threat to public health and the Fields were converted to a new Metropolitan Cattle Market for London. It was handsomely designed with tall iron railings, gates strong enough to withstand a stampede of bulls and piers decorated with cast iron animal heads.


The market was opened ceremonially by Prince Albert in 1854 and thrived, with 15,000 animals traded on market days. The market closed in 1961, and the area became a public park. Taken over by Islington Council in 1986 it went into serious decline, with anti-social behaviour and vandalism. The iron piers and gates corroded and all the animal heads were stolen or removed. A Council-led project to restore the clock tower was completed in 2015, but the railings and gates have remained on the Heritage at Risk register for the past six years, with no progress.


In July 2020 HOLT offered Islington Council a grant to restore the gates, piers and animal heads and reinstate the Victorian lanterns, as well as a list of conservation firms who can do the work. The Council’s parks team is committed to progressing the project and HOLT will be working closely alongside.