Cllr Rupert Perry, Angela Inglis and Camden councillor Paul Braithwaite. Inset: Lisa Pontecorvo
Published: 6 July, 2012
by PETER GRUNER
A CALL to name a street in King’s Cross after one of Islington’s most celebrated campaigners, Lisa Pontecorvo, descended into a row when her friends could not agree on whether it was what she would have wanted.
It is four years since Ms Pontecorvo, 64, died under the wheels of a lorry in Holloway Road, Highbury, but her name still conjures up a mixture of awe and admiration.
Her life story has been turned into a local musical and her face inscribed on a wall mural at the scene of one of her successful campaigns, the community garden at Edward Square, Barnsbury.
Now a Lib Dem councillor from Camden, Paul Braithwaite, has come up with the idea of naming a street in the new King’s Cross development Lisa Pontecorvo Avenue.
However, in Islington, where Ms Pontecorvo lived, Labour councillor Rupert Perry opposes the idea.
He said Ms Pontecorvo did not like the development and would not have wanted her name associated with it.
Writer Angela Inglis, whose new book King’s Cross: A Sense of Place is out next week, is also against the idea.
“I knew Lisa well and I’m sure she wouldn’t have wanted a street named after her in a development she did not like,” she said.
“I’m sure her name could be used in a street elsewhere.”
But Cllr Braithwaite is sticking to his guns.
“People who are against the naming are being overly sensitive,” he said.
“How can you second guess what Lisa might or might not have wanted?
“It is a fitting way to remember a really feisty activist who was knocked down in her prime.
"She may have been at odds with some of the development but there’s no reason not to preserve her name.”
Ms Pontecorvo, from Thornhill Square, Barnsbury, was wheeling her bicycle across busy Holloway Road, at the junction with Fieldway Crescent, when she was killed.
The accident prompted improvements to the junction.
One of her great achievements was her full-time battle to save semi-derelict Edward Square, off Copenhagen Street, from falling into the hands of developers in the 1990s.
Two years ago former Royal Shakespeare Company actor Rob Inglis – husband of Angela – produced the musical Lisa, performed locally to rave reviews.
A freelance BBC TV history researcher, Ms Pontecorvo was the daughter of an eminent Italian scientist, Professor Guido Pontecorvo, known as the “godfather of genetics”.
Her uncles were film director Gillo Pontecorvo, best known for the classic Battle of Algiers, and renowned physicist Bruno Pontecorvo.