Yoke Close, N7

Place name

A yoke is a wooden beam normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals to enable them to pull together on a load when working in pairs. This is one of a cluster of streets recalling the Metropolitan Cattle Market, later called the Caledonian cattle market, that once stood here. This had originally been a stopping off point for livestock before heading to the City’s main meat market at Smithfield. In the 1820s, two local farmers Richard Laycock and Samuel Rhodes, who held land and farmstock in Islington, built an extensive network of covered cattle lairs (pens) to hold several thousand bullocks and sheep. It became a popular place to overnight before the final stop – certainly it was well-known to the farmers having been one of the main routes since Medieval times when wool, as well as meat, was a highly prized commodity. In June 1855, the Metropolitan Cattle Market was built by the City of London Corporation supplementary to the meat market at Smithfield. The market closed in 1939.  This is part of the Shearing Estate built in 1979. Nearby are Drovers Way, Ewe Close, Fleece Walk, Lairs Close, Manger Road, Market Road, and Shearling Way.

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