15 places in Islington to repair, spring clean, hack or get creative

25 Feb

EveryTHING has a story… In a moment of spring cleaning frenzy Nicola Baird takes a week off from interviewing people who live or work in Islington – see http://islingtonfacesblog.com – to pick out the best places to revitalise your possessions. Here’s where to clean and repair clothes & chairs, bind books (even comic & programme collections), cut keys, mend shoes, fix toasters, lights, bikes & cars, find a workshop, give away stuff and get free things – all in Islington. Read on and share with your Islington neighbours.

"When it comes to repairs you've got to know where to look to get an expert job," says Nicola Baird "Thanks to the interviews I do each week on http://islingtonfacesblog.com I've discovered that Islington offers a trillion things - from a hairdressers with a piano (off Stroud Green Road) to sewing machine mechanics. I love hearing people's stories but even better I find it's made the borough friendlier. It's hard to go out and not meet someone I know with a fabulous story to tell."

“When it comes to repairs you’ve got to know where to look to get an expert job,” says Nicola Baird who writes interviews each week on http://islingtonfacesblog.com “I’ve discovered that Islington offers a trillion useful places – from a hairdressers with a piano (off Stroud Green Road) toa  sewing machine mechanic on Fontwell Road. I love hearing people’s stories but even better I find it’s made the borough friendlier. It’s hard to go out and not meet someone I know with a fabulous story to tell.”

1 Bright Sparks mends all electrical items including toasters, sandwich makers, fans and vacuum cleaners. Intriguingly it’s a work and training programme set up by Islington Council. You can also donate broken and like new items to the shop for fixing or re-sale. A brilliant addition to your little black book of essential Islington info. It’s at 176 Seven Sisters Road, N7  midway between Holloway Road and Finsbury Park tube.

2 Get organised: you can have a set of keys cut or your shoes reheeled at Master Cobbler  on 183 Upper Street. It’s a family business, established in 1980, and the guys who work there are friendly and brilliant at getting a messed up shoe back into working order. They also sell shoe kit (stretchers and cleaning polishes) and can engrave your dog’s fob or pub quiz trophy.

From Twitter’s @shopgirl_london “Master cobbler – upper st is best cobbler in london he’s fixed many busted vintage shoes seamlessly”

3 Dry cleaning and shirt ironing make life easy. American Dry Cleaning, 199 Upper Street and also 38 Upper Street (so basically both ends of the road) is open seven days a week and does all sorts of repairs – zip moving, relining of coats plus some tailoring.

Stanley Smart - poet mechanic in the audience. Photo by Vicky Ryzhykh.

Stanley Smart – poet mechanic. Photo by Vicky Ryzhykh.

Nina Marcangelo

Nina Marcangelo – spills the secrets about Alfredo’s cafe, Essex Road.

NEVER MISS AN ISLINGTON FACES: if you enjoy reading about people who live or work in Islington please follow by email. Fresh interviews are published once a week. 

4 Since 1973 the family run Five Star Dry Cleaning at 339 Upper Street, just opposite the Oxfam book store (where you can donate those books you are never going to read again), will alter suede, leather (including hand bags) and general alterations – people often want trousers and jacket sleeves shortened says Yahya. Five Star is open seven days a week, and offers 24 hour pick up. Free collection and drop off for N1 households.

5 Drastic clothes alterations (eg, making a silk jacket fit) might be better done by a dressmaker. Yasin Kilnic at 20 Arlington Way, EC1 (just near Sadler’s Wells) is an alteration and repair specialist. Call 020 7837 7846.

6 Another great dressmaker: get the beautiful jacket at the back of your wardrobe, or your daughter’s prom dress to fit exactly at the wonderful Fonthill Road (19, 4 or Finsbury Park tube) for an old-fashioned fitting and fixing with the super-skilled seamstress Minerva who runs Image, 29 Fonthill Road, N4, tel: 020 7272 9122 also offers dry cleaning. See the interview with Minerva here.

From the blog comments DL: I think Image is the best tailor and designer ever. Excellent professional in her work plus the shop is amazing like entering into a different world. I can only recommend for anyone who needs to have alterations done, or a new suit, dress etc to go to Image. Plus her dry cleaning service is perfect. Always on time and always really clean. The shop is full of flowers and it smells lovely.

Pete Prodromou has run assemblies at Laycock, Canonbury and Highbury Quadrant primary schools.  “I always ask ‘how do you feel about this animal’ and tell the kids to ‘treat your friends as well as you are treating the animals’.”

Pete Prodromou is a crocodile hunter living in islington. He also runs school assemblies about wild animals.

“My ex-partner used to have a van by the swimming pool. He felt trapped in the van – it’s a small space and it can be boring. But I love this job. You meet people and kids. I wouldn’t be in a boring job. “I don’t do much in the winter – I look after the house and be a 100 per cent mother. In summer I spend more time on Highbury Fields than in my house.” “The mini ice-cream van on the steering wheel is a present from a little boy who gave it to me for my big birthday on 25 April. I want to get another as there’s a shop on Upper Street selling vintage toys but it’s hard to get there.”

Tina de Freitas  Highbury Fields ice cream seller.

NEVER MISS AN ISLINGTON FACES: if you enjoy reading about people who live or work in Islington please follow by email. Fresh interviews are published once a week. 

7 If you can sew – either get your sewing machine serviced or repaired at Mono (though some say Mingo) at 1 Fonthill Road, N4. You can also buy new sewing machines at the showroom – there’s a lot of choice. Tel: 020 7561 1066.

8 Mend a broken spine favourite book so the pages no longer flutter to the floor. Are you ready to bind your comic collection or in urgent need of a bound university dissertation in the next hour? If so visit the aquamarine-painted offices of a long-established business Collis, Bird & Withey, 1 Drayton Park (nearest tube Holloway Road) who use traditional hand binding methods to create and repair. Open Monday-Friday, 8am-4pm.

9 Need a furniture repair specialist? If you’ve picked up an antique chair or have an heirloom that needs love and attention you could try furniture resoration specialist Matthew Crawford  who is in the basement of After Noah, 121 Upper Street, N1. Contact via e: estimates@crawfordrestoration.com.

Pearly King of Finsbury. Photo by Vicky Ryzhykh.

John Walters, Pearly King of Finsbury. Photo by Vicky Ryzhykh.

Miles Brown, whose dad and grandfather also ran Brownings Garage in Islington, with dog Olly.

Miles Brown, whose dad and grandfather also ran Brownings Garage off Amwell Street.

NEVER MISS AN ISLINGTON FACES: if you enjoy reading about people who live or work in Islington please follow by email. Fresh interviews are published once a week.

10 On the Hackney/Islington borderlands (just off the 19 and 4 bus routes) find Benet and Brown, 84 Mountgrove Road, N4 for specialist furniture repair including fixing wooden chairs and tables. The shop also sells eclectic items ranging from apothecary drawers to 1950s oak furniture.

11 Reupholstering is a genius way to keep a favourite sofa or chair the star item in your living room. David Scotcher provides traditional and up-to-the-minute materials for making loose covers, curtains and blinds and has a reupholstery service at 285 Upper Street, N1.

12 Bikes always need more care and attention than most of us give them. If you’re not adding air or a spot of oil regularly then one day you’re going to need a cycle shop. Places to go include Mosquito Bikes, 123 Essex Road, N1 and Cycle Surgery, 70 Holloway Road, N5. Mosquito Bikes has been around since 1988 and has a formidable reputation for selling and service.

NEVER MISS AN ISLINGTON FACES: if you enjoy reading about people who live or work in Islington please follow by email. Fresh interviews are published once a week.

13 Islington’s newest bike shop is Micycle, 47 Barnsbury Street, N1. It’s a fab concept – you can have a coffee while the technicians sort out (even wash) your bike, and if you take up Micycle membership you can use their workshop and tools. If your bike isn’t working there’s always the Boris/Barclays bike option with bikes all round the south of the borough, see the map here.

14 Need a workshop? Anyone without a garage (most of us!) have problems when what we want to repair requires specialist tools and a place that can cope with a bit of dust. Even if you can borrow a sewing machine at Ray Stitch’s sewing school on Essex Road or use Micycle’s bike workshop, Islington is crying out for a messy place to get creative. Over at The Good Life Centre near Waterloo you can use their fully equipped workshop (with drills, vices and hammers). It’s a trek, and needs to be pre-booked, but you can get there on the 4 bus.

15 Want to get rid of items without much hassle or get stuff for free? Try signing up to Freecycle and Streetlife. Both are great if you are decorating and have materials left over, but Streetlife is better if you want to ask a question that only someone local can answer.

Over to you

Which people and what shops in Islington help you keep your stuff fit? Which shops have I missed out and who do you know who runs a great shop that you would like Islington Faces to interview? Please let Nicola know via the contact form.

Sorry for pestering people to follow but I’d love a few more locals to read the new interviews I publish each week. About 1,000 people read each post – but there’s 200,000 living in Islington so it’d be good to have a few more!

Normal interview service resumes next week.

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