As its name suggests, Old Street has been a highly transited road for centuries. The first records date from the thirteenth century, when Old Street was part of a Roman road that linked the settlements of Silchester, near Basingstoke, and Colchester. As London evolved into an important metropolis, Old Street became one of the capital’s main thoroughfares. The western side of the street was widened towards the end of the nineteenth century in order to accommodate the increasing amount of traffic and the shops that began to appear in the area.
Old Street’s Silicon Roundabout
Until very recently, the roundabout that marks the intersection of Old Street and City Road had mostly been known for being the location of the St Agnes Well shopping centre. From the beginning of the 2000s onwards, there has been a drastic change in the type of businesses that can be found in the area. In fact, the Old Street roundabout is now known as the Silicon Roundabout, in allusion to the California-based technology centre. This part of Old Street is now a first class technological hub that started with 15 companies in 2008 and has grown to be the base of more than 200 firms by 2011. This is the result of a government initiative that has invested several millions of pounds in transforming this East London area into a premier business address.
The Silicon Roundabout is part of the East London Tech City, which comprises the area between Old Street and Stratford and that is home to blue chip companies like Google, Cisco, Intel, Facebook, Vodafone, Amazon UK, Last.fm radio, Moo, Livemusic, Techlightenment, Poke London, Tech Hub, and Glue Isobar. There is also a large number of advertising and media agencies in the area.
A quick tour of Old Street
Old Street begins at the crossroads of Clerkenwell Road and Goswell Road, not far from Queen Mary University. Proceeding east, the visitor will come across St Luke’s church, which is currently a venue for the London Symphony Orchestra. Further east we will find the Silicon Roundabout and Old Street station. The section between the roundabout and Hackney Road is home to several restaurants, bars, and to Shoreditch town hall.
Old Street is served by an underground station that carries the same name and that is located at the intersection of Old Street and City Road. The station is part of London underground’s northern line, which connects Old Street with Wimbledon, Clapham, London Bridge, Camden, Finchley, Hampstead, and Edgware. This underground line is also convenient for visitors who need to reach Old Street from the train stations at Euston, King’s Cross St Pancras, and Waterloo.
Old Street is also served by a National Rail line mostly used by commuters who need to travel between Moorgate, Welwyn Garden City, and Hertford North. The street can also be reached by bus, as there are 15 lines that stop along Old Street, including four 24-hour and three night bus lines. As Old Street is part of the congestion charge zone, the buses provide an alternative way of reaching the main areas of interest in London.
More about Old Street:
News and updates from London’s Silicon Roundabout – presented by Wired.co.uk, with the focus on East London’s hub of innovative start-ups.
Who’s Who on the Silicon Roundabout – Media Week looks at the area and maps out top 30 media and technology businesses.
Thai Thai Restaurant – Situated just a short walk from Old Street Tube station, Thai Thai seats 130 people and serves scrumptious Thai dishes.