Hackney Wick Station, Hepscott Road, London, E9 5ER
The last time this guided walk ran Frank Da Silva kindly took this stylish photo for me. It’s a picture of a delightfully crazy place – Hackney Wick!
Franks’s photo sums up the area. In the foreground is a building site denoting change, but I’d rather not call it gentrification, let’s call it greater prosperity. For almost 100 years from 1860 up to 6,000 people were living in tiny cheap houses without bathrooms on Hackney Wick. They were surrounded by, and worked in, “noxious industries”.
There’s greater prosperity in the top right – the new confident developments at Stratford. Twelve years ago nobody would have predicted development on this scale. In front of them, is the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park – an area bigger than Hyde Park. We’ll take a peek at it on the walk. The various tall dark brick buildings were built about 100 years ago for a huge confectionery company and Britain’s first dry-cleaners. Arts based businesses occupy some of these, and there’s a new brewery, and a selection of modern bars. This is an absolutely fascinating area to walk around. It’s even more fascinating if you know the back history.
This circular guided walk uncovers hundreds of years of constant change. Some of the buildings are still visible, and some have gone. I’ll bring old maps and photos out with me to show you how much has changed. I’ll tell you the history of the factories, and the stories of the people who worked in them.
I’ve spent a long while reading Victorian newspapers in the British Library, compared 100-year-old Post Office Directories to the modern day streets, and had fun researching all kinds of sources to try to get a handle on the fascinating story of Hackney Wick. Do join me if you can for a two-hour history tour on Hackney Wick.
Hackney Wick station is closed this weekend, but this bus map is very helpful.