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1 Inside Hackney

Inside Hackney 2015 Free guide to the borough

Credits Writing + photography: Helena Smith Design: Matthew Smith Editing: Samantha Cook Maps: Lucie Galand With sincere thanks to the sponsors of this guide: Loughborough University in London, Hackney Council and Here East.

Contents Inside Hackney

07 Introduction 09 Hackney Central 13 Dalston + Haggerston 19 Hoxton + Shoreditch 25 Clapton + Hackney Wick 31 Stoke Newington + Stamford Hill 34 Events 37 Eating 47 Drinking 53 Music + clubs 59 Film + theatre 63 Art 69 Shops + markets 75 Kids 79 Health + wellbeing 83 Our Hackney

Hackney Venues is a collection of some of the most sought-after spaces in east London. Featuring two beautifully restored art-deco town halls, an eighteenth-century mansion house, a former water pumping station and a brand new, RIBA award-winning sporting centre, Hackney Venues has a space to suit any event from weddings and other family celebrations to corporate receptions and dinners.

0208 356 5505



LONDON’S NEW PARK Find us on bus routes 388, 308, 339 and D8, or a short walk from Stratford or Hackney Wick stations




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Inside Hackney

Inside Hackney

From its genesis as a one-street village, Hackney has been a place of refuge for nonconformists, migrants, actors, artists and rebels. Home to many communities – Hasidic, Afro-Caribbean, Turkish, Kurdish and Vietnamese among them – the borough has a wider sense of community that derives from its generous and welcoming spirit. Read more about this, and how to get involved, in ‘Our Hackney’ on p83. In addition, Hackney has always been a centre of green spaces and growing, from Hoxton’s eighteenth-century market gardens to Loddiges Nursery, known around the world in Georgian and early Victorian times for its tropical hothouses. The map opposite shows just how many parks still flourish in the borough, alongside gardens nurtured by projects such as Growing Communities. This guide offers a selective taster of Hackney’s sights, food, shops, music, art, theatre and kids’ attractions, focusing on the independent vibe that makes this borough so special. Whether you’re a visitor or a resident, enjoy your trip inside Hackney.




Sights 1 Hackney Empire 2 Hackney Museum 3 St Augustine’s Tower 4 Sutton House

Eating 5 Dreyfus Café 6 E5 Bakehouse 7 El Ganso 8 F. Cooke

9 The Laundry 10 Morningside Café 11 Namô

Hackney Central


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Inside Hackney

This is the historic heart of the borough, though it takes a powerful imagination to envisage hectic Mare Street back when it was the only thoroughfare of the medieval village of Hackney. Tudor Sutton House is an imposing remnant of the time when the area was a rural retreat for noblemen, and the Hackney Museum explores the borough’s social evolution from this point onwards. Next door to the glass-fronted museum and library is the Art Deco town hall, which sits next to the fabulous Edwardian Hackney Empire theatre. From here it’s a short stroll to London Fields with its restored lido and revitalised Saturday food market, while further east is the distinctly villagey Victoria Park neighbourhood.


Hackney Central

10 Hackney Central

Hackney Museum The best place to get a handle on the borough is the Hackney Museum, where the showpiece is the blackened curve of a thousand-year-old Saxon log boat, discovered in Springfield Park (p26) in 1987. Other exhibits vividly evoke Hackney’s story, from the notoriously harsh Hoxton asylums of the 1600s and 1700s to the life of Stoke Newington writer, spy and rebel Daniel Defoe and the music, clothes and customs of Hackney’s immigrant communities. 1 Reading Lane E8 1GQ, 020 8356 3500; Tues, Wed & Fri 9.30am–5.30pm, Thurs 9.30am–8pm, Sat 10am–5pm; free

Visit during Open House for a backstage tour (p35) or – better still – book a ticket for a show (p62). 291 Mare Street E8 1EJ, 020 8985 2424,

Hackney Town Hall and Loddiges Hackney’s 1930s town hall has retained its Art Deco features, including angular chandeliers and a sprung dance floor. Opposite the town hall and beyond the Picturehouse cinema is Paragon Road, around where, between 1785 and 1852, Loddiges Nursery grew 1600 varieties of tropical orchids in world-famous hothouses that inspired those at Kew Gardens. Though the nursery itself has long gone, Abney Park (p32) still has descendants of trees and plants sold at Loddiges.

St Augustine’s Tower North up Mare Street is thirteenth-century St Augustine’s Tower, the oldest building in Hackney, probably built by the Knights Templar. Climb the narrow staircase, passing a rare sixteenth-century turret clock on the second floor, for a panorama of Mare Street and the City. Mare Street E5 0PD,; last Sun of the month (except Dec) 2–4.30pm; free

Hackney Empire Just beyond the town hall, the Hackney Empire is the borough’s most glamorous building, a lavish variety theatre designed in 1901 by prolific theatrical architect Frank Matcham. The exterior is made of red brick with stone cupolas and a swirling wrought-iron canopy, while the lush interior is a riot of blazing scarlet and gilded wreaths. Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields and Stan Laurel all performed here. The theatre became a TV studio in the 50s and then a bingo hall in the 60s, before returning to its roots in 1984 as a thriving venue for comedy, music and theatre.

Sutton House Sutton House is a key sight in the area: an atmospheric Tudor country mansion now incongruously surrounded by concrete and tarmac. Built in 1535 for Sir Ralph Sadleir, a statesman who served Cromwell and Henry VIII, this ‘Bryk Palace’ has been through many changes that reflect the ebb and flow of the borough as a whole; from its incarnation as a nobleman’s rustic retreat it became a home for Huguenot wool and silk merchants, a boarding school, a church institute, a trade union HQ and a 1980s squat (an angry mural of a red eye at the top of the house symbolises this period). The long history of the house is recounted through the displays: there’s a

Hackney top five: best buildings De Beauvoir Square Looking more like Bruges than downtown Dalston, the square is lined on three sides with gabled Tudor/Jacobean-style villas built by a nineteenth-century developer. p14

Victoria Park and Vyner Street The village atmosphere of Victoria Park provides a contrast to the urban vibe of the rest of the area: here you’ll find gastropubs and quality food shops. The spacious park itself is in the borough of Tower Hamlets. South of Regent’s Canal and also just outside Hackney is Vyner Street, home to independent galleries and arts centre Lime Wharf (p88); these are open late on the first Thursday of the month.

Velodrome and London Aquatics Centre The cedar-clad Velodrome, where Chris Hoy whizzed to British gold, combines elegant aerodynamic design with energysaving ingenuity, while the fluid lines of Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre (p80) were inspired by the movement of water. Village Underground Alternative Hackney office space, with reclaimed tube trains and shipping containers perched above the glitz and graffiti of Shoreditch. A roof garden soundproofs the venue and solar panels fire the lights and laptops. p58

Walk Hackney Local history expert Sean Gubbins runs monthly two-hour Hackney walking tours, including a Heart of Hackney walk focusing on the roots of the borough, a tour describing Dalston’s evolution from rural hamlet to industrial suburb, and a circuit of Lower Clapton that concentrates on local literati and revolutionaries. 07710 414 240,; £8

Hackney top five

Hackney Empire A mini Moorish palace on Mare Street, Frank Matcham’s 1901 theatre was crammed with practical innovations: electric lights, central heating and an in-built projection box. p10 Haggerston School This uncompromising Brutalist secondary school was designed by Erno Goldfinger in 1964. You can get inside and see its coffered ceilings and bush-hammered concrete during the twice-yearly Midcentury Modern furniture sales.

London Fields London Fields was from the middle ages a grazing spot for cattle being driven south from Hackney Marsh (p26) to slaughter at Smithfield Market. It’s now a very popular park, featuring a beautifully restored lido (p81), a summer flower meadow and tennis courts. At the south end is Broadway Market, where on Saturday the excellent food market (p74) draws thousands of locals and visitors.


Tudor kitchen, a Georgian parlour and a Victorian study, as well as the oldest loo in east London. Best of all, though, is the Linenfold Parlour from the 1530s, where oak panelling beautifully mimics fabric drapes: the wood was once painted corn yellow, emerald green and red. 2–4 Homerton High Street E9 6JQ, 020 8986 2264, sutton-house; Wed–Fri 10.30am–5pm, Sat & Sun noon–5pm; £3.90, National Trust

12 Dalston + Haggerston

Sights 1 Clown Museum 2 De Beauvoir Square 3 Hackney City Farm 4 Ridley Road Market 5 Gillett Square Eating 6 Andu’s Internet Café 7 Arthur’s

8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Better Health Bakery Brilliant Corners Frizzante Gujarati Rasoi Huong Viet Latto’s Mama Vic’s Merci Marie Mussel Men

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17 People’s Kitchen 18 Pond Dalston 19 Save the Date 20 Shanghai 21 Voodoo Ray’s 22 White Rabbit Accommodation 23 Avo Hotel 24 Luxury Inn

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Inside Hackney

Short on formal sights but high on dynamism, Dalston is the place for a night out in Hackney, from highly regarded music venues Café OTO and the Vortex to the powerhouse Arcola Theatre and an incredible number of bars, clubs and independent restaurants. The sensory overload of Ridley Road Market makes it an essential stop, and a vivid contrast with the early Victorian residential De Beauvoir enclave to the west of Kingsland Road. At the southern boundary of the area is a stretch of the Regent’s Canal dubbed – somewhat ironically – the Haggerston Riviera, with a cluster of galleries, artists’ studios and waterside cafés.


Dalston + Haggerston

14 Dalston + Haggerston

Ridley Road Market and Gillett Square Clamorous, colourful Ridley Road Market has been here since the 1880s. At the eastern end of the strip of stalls, look out for the Turkish supermarket TFC whose facade features prominent stone Ts enclosed in a star. This was originally Taverners sweet factory, where Hackney’s Alan Sugar went on to run his Amstrad business in the 1970s. The market is one of the best places around to buy unusual ingredients (p74), as well as Indian and African fabrics. Across Kingsland High Street is Gillett Square, with its lean-to-style barbers and money transfer stalls; you can get punchy Ethiopian coffee, and eat injera and wat at Kaffa Coffee. You’ll also find the Vortex jazz club (p58) here, and summer sees music and dance events. Café OTO, the Arcola and Bootstrap Quintessential Hackney venue Café OTO (p54) sits immediately northeast of Dalston Junction in an attractive arts complex housed in the four-storey former Reeves paint factory on Ashwin Street. Adjoining Café OTO is the clean-energy Arcola Theatre (p62) and Bootstrap (, a long-running training and enterprise organisation. It comprises workspace for social enterprises, start-ups and individuals; a gallery; the Merci Marie café (p41); and the Dalston Roof Park (p50). Round the back of the building is a World War Two bunker, open sporadically for events, and a bee garden featuring the Save the Date café (p39). Peace Mural and Dalston Curve Garden The restored 1985 Peace Mural has come to symbolise the borough’s multicultural mix; in bold bright colours, it depicts protestors from the 1983 Hackney Peace Carnival passing Navarino Mansions on Dalston Lane, brandishing their instruments and banners.

The mural is at the entrance of the much-loved Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, where you can have a drink and eat sourdough pizza at Latto’s (p41) among the herb and vegetable beds. The garden, nurtured by volunteers, hosts craft workshops, acoustic gigs and kids’ events such as Halloween pumpkincarving sessions (p76), and helps Hackney gardeners with a free compost giveaway each spring. Their café sells teas made with fresh garden herbs, plus locally produced beers, cakes and lollies; the café’s income keeps the garden open. 13 Dalston Lane E8 3DF, dalstongarden. org; daily 11am–dusk (11pm in summer) Clown Museum The engaging Clown Museum is in Holy Trinity, where the clown community used to hold its annual church service; this now takes place at nearby All Saints (first Sun in Feb). Among the exhibits are Coco the Clown’s last costume and the fascinating Clowns International Egg Register, a form of clown-face patenting whereby a look is painted onto a carefully stored egg. Holy Trinity Church, Beechwood Road E8 3DY; first Fri month noon–4pm; free

De Beauvoir West of Kingsland Road lies the tranquil De Beauvoir area, begun in the 1820s by developer William Rhodes – grandfather of Cecil Rhodes who founded Rhodesia.

Ace Hotel High-concept hip hotel, with a ‘cultural engineer’ who chooses books and vinyl for each impeccably cool yet homey room. 100 Shoreditch High Street E1 6JQ, 020 7613 9800,; map p18. Double from £223 Avo Hotel A self-styled boutique hotel in Dalston, set up by super-friendly Nar, who used to run the post office here. 82 Dalston Lane E8 3AH, 020 3490 5061,; map p12. Double from £79 Dictionary Hostel One for the young, this hostel is bang in the heart of Shoreditch and perfect if you’re here to party. 10–14 Kingsland Road E2 8DA, 020 7613 2784,; map p12. Dorm from £15, double from £88 Luxury Inn Urban B&B with self-service breakfast and a backstreet yet central location on the Dalston/De Beauvoir border. The brick interior was refashioned from a former factory. 156 Tottenham Road N1 4DY, 020 7683 3056,; map p12. Double from £80 Rose & Crown Wood-panelled Stokey boozer with upmarket boutique rooms upstairs and a roof terrace for sunny days. 199 Stoke Newington Church Street N16 9ES, 020 7923 3337, roseandcrownn16.; map p30. Double from £110 Russell’s Stylish B&B in a Victorian house in Clapton: rooms feature Welsh blankets and clean white walls, and breakfast is made from local ingredients. 123 Chatsworth Road E5 0LA,, 0797 666 9906; map p24. Double from £98

Hackney top six

Haggerston Park and Hackney City Farm South of the canal, Haggerston Park features football pitches, a BMX track, a small community orchard and veg garden. Neighbouring Hackney City Farm is an unexpectedly bucolic attraction for kids (p76): as well as checking out pigs, goats, donkeys and chickens you can eat at the Frizzante café (p41). 1a Goldsmith’s Row E2 8QA, hackneycity; Tues–Sat 10am–4.30pm

Hackney top six: places to stay


The plans of Rhodes senior for five large squares were never carried out, but De Beauvoir Square was completed, with unusual gabled Tudor/Jacobean-style houses enclosing a rose garden. De Beauvoir was the location for one of Hackney’s weirder happenings, exposed when a 2.5m hole appeared in Stamford Road in 2001. It turned out that electrical engineer William Lyttle, aka the Mole Man, had spent forty years excavating tunnels and caverns under his twenty-room home, some up to 18m long and 8m deep. An unrepentant Lyttle was evicted, and after his death in 2010 the derelict house was sold. The new artist owners are restoring it, keeping some of the caverns in situ. At the canal end of De Beauvoir, arts venue the Proud Archivist (p64), the CANAL gallery and a cluster of artists’ studios and bars are part of an informal collective nicknamed the Haggerston Riviera, which organises events and open studios.

‘The concept behind De Beauvoir Studios was to create a community of creatives, and it was very important to me that it should be people who are engaged in a craft, making things – not people who are at a computer all day. The studios are on the first floor of a De Beauvoir warehouse, which had been shared office space – I rented the space, and then it all had to be stripped down to bare bones. I built the individual spaces to different bespoke sizes, using the windows to define each one. The build took about five months – I worked with a small team but did a lot of it myself because my budget was really tight. While I was building I was reaching out to find the right balance of tenants.

The studios have been occupied for a year and a half now; it’s harmonious. The ceramicist Kate Malone has a space at the back of the building (see photo opposite), which gets flooded with light in the morning. Kate makes and fires pieces at the kiln in her studio with a team of assistants – they are also working artists. Next door, Claudio Passavanti runs Sunlight Square Records, a soul, Latin and jazz label. There are two fashion houses: Michael van der Ham creates outstanding womenswear, and Robert Wun is a young conceptual designer whose work is really sculptural. At the front of the building there’s a big studio where Madeline Hale runs a hairdressers – Studio 90 (p82). Madeline cuts hair for pretty much everyone who rents a desk in the building, including the people in De Beauvoir Studios. And Ujin Lin, who was the creative director of Prada, has a small space where he and a team make promo videos and short films. Now De Beauvoir Studios are up and running, I’d like to work on a similar project again. Most of my family have moved further east, but I like the familiarity of staying in the area I grew up in. I’m dedicated to Hackney. It’s a privilege to be part of the transformation of the borough.’

Inside Hackney

Byron Pritchard is an artist and craftsman who lives and works in Hackney. He grew up on the Colville Estate in Hoxton and the Trowbridge Estate in Hackney Wick, and studied furniture design at Kingston University. He now has an art studio at Southgate Studios and is a prolific builder of local bars and restaurants – among them Voodoo Ray’s, The Alibi, Birthdays, Jones & Sons, Mussel Men and Fontaine’s Bar – making him the recipient of free drinks across the borough. Here Byron talks about De Beauvoir Studios, which he conceived and built in 2013.


Inside Hackney: Byron Pritchard


Sights 1 Geffrye Museum 2 Hoxton Square 3 Shoreditch Church 4 Shoreditch Town Hall

Eating 5 Andina 6 The Bridge 7 F. Cooke 8 Rivington Bar & Grill 9 Shades Jerk Chicken

Accommodation 10 Ace Hotel 11 Dictionary Hostel

Hoxton + Shoreditch 7 1 9

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Inside Hackney

The point where Hackney Road meets Kingsland Road, outside eighteenth-century Shoreditch Church, may be London’s oldest junction: from here the Romans marched north out of town up Ermine Street (now Kingsland Road) to York. As early as Shakespearian times, Hoxton and Shoreditch were renowned for theatre and bawdy nightlife, which lives on today in the area’s pubs, clubs, bars and music venues. A key sight is the Geffrye Museum, once an almshouse and now a compelling showcase of domestic interiors. Southwest of here, homegrown tech start-ups are flourishing around the noisy traffic circle that is Old Street’s ‘Silicon Roundabout.’


Hoxton + Shoreditch

20 Hoxton + Shoreditch

Shoreditch Church and Shoreditch Town Hall There has been a place of worship on the site of Shoreditch Church since at least the twelfth century. The current Classical building with its wide galleries was constructed in 1817, but there’s plenty to reveal the building’s earlier history: wheeled wooden Tudor stocks sit in the entrance hall, and in the churchyard are the tombs of James Burbage, founder of The Theatre (see opposite), and his son Thomas, the first actor to play Romeo. It’s now the key location in BBC sitcom Rev. At the time of construction this was considered a daringly light and modern building; it was the first gaslit church, and in 1896 was an early adopter of electricity. The electricity came via the Shoreditch Electric Light Station on nearby Coronet Street, now home to the improbable National Centre for Circus Arts (, which runs a BA honours degree and recreational courses. The motto of the Light Station – ‘More Light More Power’ – is carved in stone on the pediment of the grand 1865 Shoreditch Town Hall. Independently run as an arts centre, the building houses a spectacular italianate Assembly Hall; these and adjoining halls and rooms host theatre, cabaret, dance music and comedy events as well as the Clove Club (, Hackney’s most ambitious restaurant. Church: Shoreditch High Street E1 6JN,; Town Hall: 380 Old Street EC1V 9LT, Geffrye Museum Hackney’s world-class museum is the Geffrye. When it was built in 1716, this long row of almshouses provided spare but respectable housing for 56 pensioners in need. It was originally surrounded by market gardens, but London’s railway boom and the local growth of the furniture and rag trades transformed this into a densely populated, unsanitary and impoverished district, and the almshouses were relocated to leafier suburbs in 1910. Reinvented as a museum of the home in 1914, the Geffrye now houses a chronological sequence of middle-class domestic interiors, from a 1630s oak-panelled hall via a highly patterned Victorian drawing room to a now quaintly dated 1990s loft apartment. The effect is doll’s house meets time travel: it’s a hugely enjoyable experience enhanced by a great café, a shop full of design books, and a reading gallery. Period townhouse gardens are located out back, in an echo of the area’s horticultural past. In addition, a few times a month two restored almshouse rooms are open to the public: one has an austere 1780s interior and the other is decked out in cluttered, gaslit 1880s style. The museum also features kids’ events (p78), an annual ceramics show and a riot of Christmas activity (p35). 136 Kingsland Road E2 8EA,; Tues–Sun 10am–5pm

Take a trip to Village Underground (p58) on Holywell Lane, and you are standing on sacred soil – literally a holy well. The spring where the River Walbroke rose to run along what is now Curtain Road is thought to have been the site of a Roman shrine, and was later the location of a medieval Augustinian priory. Over time, this patch of land took on a distinctly less spiritual aspect. In 1572 the Lord Mayor outlawed the performance of plays within the City, ostensibly to prevent the spread of the plague, but also because theatre was seen as seditious. In the district of Holywell, playhouses sprang up among the brothels, slaughterhouses, bear-baiting pits and tanneries along the open sewer that the Walbroke had become. The Curtain Theatre, built in 1577, was where Shakespeare’s Henry V and Romeo and Juliet were first performed. Alongside was The Theatre, a slightly earlier building whose timbers were used to create the original Globe; both sites were discovered and excavated in 2008. Incidentally, the street art for which Shoreditch is famous is nothing new: the theatres would have been abundantly scratched with drawings and slogans. In the Victorian and Edwardian eras the area was crammed with theatres and music halls – the National Standard Theatre, where Village Underground now stands, could hold 3400 punters and a horse ring. The theatre became a cinema in the 1920s, which was rebuilt and then flattened in the Blitz; in the latter half of the twentieth century many other theatres were adapted to house London’s densest concentration of strip clubs. Shoreditch has since shed much of its seedy image, but is still a big draw for a wild night out.

Hoxton + Shoreditch

Shoreditch Park Stroll north up Pitfield Street (perhaps pausing at gorgeous interiors store and café Pitfield London, at nos 31–35; and you come to Shoreditch Park. One of several green spaces in Hackney carved out by Blitz bombing, the park features Romanstyle mosaics that depict contemporary Hackney, created in 2012 in a collaboration between artist Tessa Hunkin and people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

Old Shoreditch: sacred springs, Shakespeare and strip clubs


Hoxton Square Laid out with gardens in 1683, Hoxton Square is one of the oldest squares in London. By the middle of the nineteenth century it was a centre for furniture making, a trade which went into decline and then was finished by the social upheaval of World War Two. In the early 1990s, restoration began on the decrepit former industrial buildings, and the square became a hub of the Shoreditch art and media scene; the erstwhile White Cube gallery, which moved from this site in 2012, famously showcased the work of Young British Artists including Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin. For a list of current Hackney galleries see p65.

‘The digital start-up scene is booming in east London. In 2010 there were around two hundred tech start-ups in this area: now there are more than three thousand. How did it happen so quickly? Initially, low rents attracted an influx of talented people; designers, programmers, entrepreneurs and developers. Then a range of government incentives helped push it all forward. There’s a new hunger for autonomy and for managing your own destiny. Many people don’t want to climb the old corporate ladder any more. There’s an appetite for collective workspaces, where you can ditch the suit and just be yourself. Digital industry feeds into all of this. Tech allows you to set up a company in a very short space of time, and to start doing business globally very fast. It can be challenging but it’s immensely liberating. East London has set the pace with tech start-ups. There are some big names; many of them homegrown, like Transferwise, Unruly, Busuu and

OneFineStay. Google has an innovation campus here and lots of young entrepreneurs have flocked to it. What’s exciting is seeing the ripples spread from east London across the UK. The first wave of digital entrepreneurs were largely self-taught. But now we’re skilling-up as a country. We set up the Digital Business Academy to help people from any background start their own digital business. It’s free, and thousands have signed up over the past six months alone. I love Hackney’s spirit; it’s pioneering and ambitious, but it’s generous too. There’s a sense in the tech space that it’s important to give back, and connect with the larger community. There are regular ‘hackathons’, where talented developers give everything they’ve got to cracking specific problems, such as improving flood warnings in Britain. Then there’s the TechCity Stars apprenticeship scheme for young people, and Apps for Good, which encourages kids to use technology to problem-solve. Hackney’s digital industry has many beating hearts. Internet of Things start-ups have opened in Haggerston, and there’s a thriving tech hub in the Olympic Village, at the Here East project. Lots of fabulous coworking spaces too, like the Trampery on Mare Street. The landscape is constantly changing. In Old Street I see construction sites and cranes everywhere. But I think Hackney’s underlying ethos will endure. It’s maverick and adventurous. Who knows what it will produce next?’

Inside Hackney

Gerard Grech is the CEO of Tech City UK, based in Shoreditch; he lives and works in Hackney. After working in digital media in London, Paris and New York, Gerard made the switch to Tech City to help ensure the right skills and infrastructure were in place to support the growth of the UK tech sector. Here he talks about new industries in Shoreditch, and how the ‘Silicon Roundabout’ phenomenon, focused on the Old Street roundabout, is having an impact on the wider Hackney community.


Inside Hackney: Gerard Grech


Sights 1 Georgian Orthodox Cathedral Church 2 Here East 3 Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park 4 Round Chapel

Clapton + Hackney Wick


Eating 5 Cooper & Wolf 6 Dom’s Place 7 Hackney Pearl 8 J Grodzinski & Daughters 9 Latto’s, Palm 2

Accommodation 10 Russell’s


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Inside Hackney

Cut through by the River Lee, Clapton and Hackney Wick feature some wonderfully varied green spaces. To the north is slender Clapton Common, and Springfield Park, edging the river’s navigation channel. Spacious Millfields Park fringes the otherwise unlovely Lea Bridge Road; Mabley Green is a generous square of Homerton parkland; and to the east lies the wide open grassland of Hackney Marsh. To the southeast, the graffitied and shabbily gorgeous warehouses of formerly industrial Hackney Wick are now home to artists’ studios. Across the River Lee, a different character takes over in the monumental structures and parkland of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, site of London’s 2012 Games.


Clapton + Hackney Wick

26 Clapton + Hackney Wick

Clapton Pond and Chatsworth Road Clapton Pond, with its rustic bridge and fountain, is bordered by some great little independent restaurants as well as Hackney’s favourite cornershop, Palm 2 (p73). Visit Clapton on a Sunday for the Chatsworth Road Market, which focuses on food: L’Epicerie, the bustling Frenchrun deli at no 56, is another top foodie destination. Round Chapel The area’s most distinguished building is the Clapton Park United Reformed Church, better known as the Round Chapel. It was completed in 1891 by nonconformist Congregationalists, whose desire to escape the strictures of the Church of England is evident in the circular temple-like design. Inside, slim iron columns rise from the gleaming wooden gallery to support graceful latticed arches. Beautifully restored by the Hackney Historic Buildings Trust (, the church welcomes all for worship, and hosts community arts and food events: on the last Thursday of the month (7pm) they serve a community meal for just £2. Powerscroft Road E5 0PU, webtheround

Georgian Orthodox Cathedral Church North of Clapton Common, the Georgian Orthodox Cathedral Church was built by the Somerset-based nineteenth-century

Agapemonite sect and funded by their wealthy female recruits, with whom the founder and his successor enthusiastically practised free love. The interior, restored by the Georgian Orthodox Church, is dazzling, with a wide hammer-beam roof and Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts stained glass, some of it inspired by William Blake’s fiery images of the apocalypse. Nearby Clapton Common was the scene of a 1902 drama, when six thousand locals gathered to throw the vicar of the church into the pond, to test his claim that he could walk on water. Rookwood Road Springfield Park and Mabley Green Springfield Park was established in 1905 with the intention of keeping the locals out of the pubs; Georgian Springfield House is now a café with lovely floor-to-ceiling windows and garden tables where you can enjoy home-cooked food. Near the café you’ll find a kitchen garden run by Growing Communities (p88) – visit on a Tuesday (10am–4pm) to meet the volunteers and wander the veg beds and greenhouses. Another growing project is planned at Mabley Green, south of Homerton High Street, where a community group aims to create an ‘edible park’ with fruit and nut trees, herbs and shrubs. Hackney Marsh Hackney Marsh is no longer a marsh but a huge grassy expanse – it was drained from the medieval period onwards. Still one of London’s largest common lands, the Marsh was for centuries protected by the system of lammas, whereby locals had the right to graze cattle from Lammas Day, following the summer harvest, until Lady Day (March 25). Used as a dump for rubble created by Blitz bombings, the area is now home to 82 rugby, cricket and football pitches (p80) – David Beckham trained here as a lad.



Clapton + Hackney Wick Hackney Wick From the eighteenth century onwards, Hackney Wick was a powerhouse of industry, from silk mills to dyestuff works to confectioners. This was a place of innovation: the world’s first synthetic plastic was produced here in the 1860s, and here too dry cleaning was introduced to the UK in the 1870s and loo paper was pioneered in the 1880s. And it was a Hackney Wick oil distiller who introduced the term ‘petrol’ in the 1890s. Industrial changes brought decline to the area: one of the few surviving manufacturers is the 1932 Algha Works factory on Fish Island, whose handmade ‘round eye’ specs, as worn by Mahatma Gandhi and John Lennon, also feature in the Harry Potter and Indiana Jones films. Meanwhile, over the last fifteen years the empty brick warehouses have been colonised by artists, a cultural regeneration that has continued with the opening of the Yard Theatre (p62) and community art venues Crea8, housed in Art Deco former public baths (The Old Baths, 80 Eastway;, and 90 Main Yard (p50). Finish a wander round the artfully converted warehouses with a meal at the Hackney Pearl (p44) or a beer at the Crate Brewery (p49). Here East and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Across the Lea from Hackney Wick, the former Olympic Press and Broadcast Centre now houses the Here East development (p93), including Loughborough University in London (see overleaf) and Hackney Community College. The neighbouring Copper Box is just that, and is home to indoor sports venues and a gym. Beyond this point the extensive Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park stretches east out of the borough of Hackney. Don’t miss the chance to hop over the borough border to Newham for a swim in the glorious London Aquatics Centre (p80). There’s also an excellent kids’ playground here (p77), along with a BMX track – and you can even cycle in the Olympic velodrome.



29 Advertorial

Opening in September 2015, Loughborough University in London will be a dynamic new centre of postgraduate learning located at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, bordering the artistic hub of Hackney Wick. Contemporary postgraduate full and part-time degree programmes focus on design innovation, digital technologies, enterprise and entrepreneurship, sport business, media and creativity. Loughborough University in London builds upon the excellent reputation of our home campus in Leicestershire. Loughborough’s heritage dates back to 1909, and it has become a truly exceptional internationally renowned university. It is now ranked in the top fifteen in all three national university rankings (Times, Guardian, Complete).

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Sights 1 Abney Park Cemetery 2 Aziziye Mosque 3 Castle Climbing 4 The Old Church 5 Rio 6 Simpson’s Building

Eating 7 Castle Café 8 J Grodzinski & Daughters 9 Jones & Sons 10 Mangal 1 11 Mangal 2 12 Rasa N16

13 Somine 14 Spence Bakery 15 Sutton & Sons 16 Tatreez 17 Tugra Baclava Accommodation 18 Rose & Crown

Stoke Newington + Stamford Hill


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Inside Hackney

Kingsland High Street continues its northern march through Hackney, becoming Stoke Newington High Street then Stamford Hill, with predominately Turkish businesses giving way to kosher places. Stamford Hill is the heartland of Hackney’s Haredi Orthodox Jewish community, the largest in Europe: many Jewish people came here in the 1880s to escape poverty in the East End. West of Stamford Hill, Stoke Newington is one of Hackney’s most attractive neighbourhoods. Don’t miss the historic pubs, independent shops and Georgian mansions of Church Street, beautifully landscaped Clissold Park, or the maze-like tangle of Abney Park Cemetery, where many nonconformist Stokey rebels lie buried.


Stoke Newington + Stamford Hill

32 Stoke Newington + Stamford Hill

Church Street The best introduction to Stoke Newington is a wander down Church Street, perhaps taking in some of its fine pubs. Try the Three Crowns gastropub (on the corner of Stoke Newington High Street); the Auld Shillelagh, a shard-thin traditional Irish boozer where you can hear rollicking acoustic music (no 105); the red-brick gabled Lion which hosts life drawing classes (Tues 8–10pm; £5; no 132); or the oak-panelled Rose & Crown (no 199), a dog-friendly local with a fiercely contested weekly quiz. Beyond the Rose & Crown, two churches – the Old Church and St Mary’s – sit opposite each other. The former, a sixteenth-century beauty in a venerable, ivy-strewn graveyard, hosts concerts and art shows; the latter, designed by George Gilbert Scott in the 1850s, defines the Church Street skyscape with its lofty spire. Clissold Park At the west end of Church Street is Clissold Park, complete with aviary, deer and goats, a paddling pool, large playground and skate park, and a café in a 1790s Quakerbuilt mansion with a pretty landscaped garden. Growing Communities (p88) run a small market garden here, open to the public on Tuesdays (10am–4pm). The reservoirs Northern Stoke Newington is characterised by two large reservoirs. The west is a watersports centre (p76), while the east reservoir is a wetlands reserve (, home to reed buntings, song thrushes and kingfishers. Managed by the London Wildlife Trust, the reserve welcomes volunteers. The nearby Scots Baronial ‘castle’, built as a water-pumping station in 1852, is now a climbing centre (p80) with an appealing café (p39).

Abney Park Cemetery Labyrinthine, Gothic and dishevelled, Abney Park, at the eastern edge of Church Street, is Hackney’s answer to Highgate Cemetery. It has fewer big-name graves, other than Charles Booth, who founded the Salvation Army, but the historical interest is that this was a burial ground for dissenters: those outside the established church. Entering via Stoke Newington High Street or Church Street, you can follow a tangle of paths to the heart of the cemetery and a ruined 1840 funerary chapel – the oldest non-denominational chapel in Europe – whose tall portal was built to accommodate horse-drawn funeral carriages. Near the prominent statue of nonconformist hymn writer Isaac Watts (whose parkland formed the cemetery) you’ll find a memorial to Stoke Newington civilians who died in the Blitz, many during a single incident at Coronation Avenue in 1940, when a German bomb hit a shelter and killed 160 people. Abney Park was laid out in 1840 as an arboretum with 2500 species and varieties of trees and shrubs; these now support a surprisingly rustic population of tawny owls, sparrow hawks, great spotted woodpeckers, bats, wood mice and bank voles. Abney Park N16 0LH,; daily 8am–dusk. Free guided tours first Sun of the month 2pm; London Green Wood (p89) run woodcraft workshops

East Cast Show In-depth arts coverage: their archive of interviews and well-crafted audio documentaries covers all aspects of cultural life in east London. Resonance 104.4 FM, monthly at varying time slots; East London Radio A 24hr online mix of chat, arts news and music; they’re based at the Cre8 arts centre (p27). Field Day Radio Music from the Field Day summer festival line-up (p34), plus interviews and exclusive mixes. Hackney Podcast Outstanding audio journeys around the borough. The ‘Night’ podcast, for example, uses fragments of speech, music and ambient sound to take listeners from a messy night out on Kingsland Road to dawn with Hackney’s bin men. London Interview, Shoreditch Radio Hourlong interviews with a strong social/political slant, plus some music in the mix. Mon noon,; Newton Dunbar, Haggerston Radio Archive of programmes by legend Newton Dunbar, who founded Dalston’s Four Aces Club (1966–99) and plays oldskool reggae.

Hackney Downs Rolling Hackney Downs features tennis and basketball courts, a football pitch and a playground where the Hackney Mosaic Project has covered an old shelter with vivid depictions of animals and plants. At the edge of the park is the communityfocused Russet café and venue (p89).

NTS First stop for progressive music in the borough, live-streamed from Gillett Square in Dalston. Open, eclectic and experimental, NTS is a brilliant platform for music lovers to share their passions.

Listening to Hackney

Stoke Newington High Street Turn right down the High Street for a blast of Turkish and Kurdish Hackney at the bakeries, kebab joints and baklava stores. Significant buildings on this strip include the gorgeously tiled Aziziye Mosque, built as the Apollo Picture House in 1913; a surviving Deco cinema, the Rio (p60); and, on the east side of the road, the classic Deco Simpsons building with its doubleheight windows. Originally a clothing factory, it now houses vintage clothes megastore and café Beyond Retro.

Listening to Hackney


Stamford Hill Eastern Church Street intersects with Stoke Newington High Street: turn left for Stamford Hill and a flavour of Hackney’s Yiddish-speaking community. Grodzinski’s is a long-established bakery (p40), while Fuchs at 12 Manor Road is where ultraOrthodox men buy their wide-brimmed hats; the outfits are derived from those of eighteenth-century Polish nobles. A great time to visit is during Purim (p34), when kids ditch sombre clothes for eye-popping fancy dress and families fill the streets.


Hackney events This is a small selection of favourite events from Hackney’s music, art and religious calendar. You’ll find tons to do year round: go to Twitter feeds @LoveHackney and @dalstonist for more ideas. See p60 for a list of film festivals.


Spring Purim This important festival in the Jewish calendar marks the delivery of Persian Jews from massacre through the brave actions of Esther. The story of Esther is read in synagogues, with a lot of partying on the side. Orthodox men are allowed to drink, and families flood the streets to visit each other, deliver gifts and parade. Kids’ costumes are colourful and inventive – as well as characters from the Book of Esther, you’ll see troops of small policemen, shepherdesses, snowmen and clowns. March 23–24, 2016

Hackney Half Marathon Take a speedy tour of the borough and raise charity money at the same time. The route takes in Hackney Marsh, Hackney Empire, Broadway Market, London Fields and Hackney Wick, ending in Olympicstyle glory as you run into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. May 10, 2015;

Land of Kings Dalston’s cultural fiesta, with basement parties, live music, spoken word, label showcases and more. Venues range from a Turkish restaurant to a bomb shelter. May 13, 2015; Midcentury Show East Haggerston School (p11) hosts this biannual midcentury furniture fair. You’ll find everything from richly coloured ceramics to Scandi furniture classics. May 17 & Oct 11, 2015; modern

Summer Field Day Two great female talents are included in the 2015 line-up of this envelope-pushing Victoria Park festival: punk poet laureate Patti Smith, and eerie experimentalist FKA Twigs. June 6–7, 2015;

Stoke Newington Literary Festival Now in its sixth year, this lively event is going from strength to strength with big names, discussions, workshops and readings at venues across the neighbourhood: past speakers have ranged from John Cooper Clarke to Stewart Lee to China Miéville. June 5–7, 2015; stokenewingtonliterary

Stoke Newington Early Music Festival Held in the lovely Elizabethan Old Church on Church Street, this is a celebration of Renaissance and Baroque music. July; Hackney WickED Hackney Wick’s artistic open house: this is a fine opportunity to delve into crumbly warehouses, wander the graffitied backstreets and buy some local art. There are also workshops, performance pieces and site-specific creations: 2014 saw the creation of the biggest ever cyanotype. August; Grimeborn Brilliantly named Grimeborn is an emphatically un-elitist two-week festival of opera at the Arcola Theatre, showcasing new and experimental pieces. Two weeks in August; about/grimeborn

Autumn Hackney One Carnival A costumed parade through the centre of the borough with sound systems blasting


Lovebox Founded in 2002 by electronic music wizards Groove Armada, mighty Lovebox takes over Victoria Park for a weekend of music from M.I.A., Soul II Soul, Annie Mac, Norman Jay and lots more. July 17–18, 2015;

out soca and reggae, plus street food and live music. Sept 13, 2015;


Day-Mer Culture and Arts Festival Clissold Park hosts the final afternoon and evening event of the three-week Day-Mer festival, organised for North London’s Turkish and Kurdish communities and with an emphasis on using art and culture to support the struggle of working people. The park celebration includes folk dances, music, political speeches and food stalls. July 5, 2015;

Open House Across the capital, buildings of all kinds open to the public: local treasures include the backstage of the Hackney Empire (p10), Goldfinger’s Haggerston School (p11) and the Village Underground (p58), as well as intriguing private homes. Sept 19–20, 2015; openhouselondon.

Winter Christmas Past, Geffrye Museum Dive into Christmas past, where the rooms are decorated in period festive style and you can listen to candelit concerts, crochet a snowflake decoration or create a Christmas garland. The season ends on January 6 with mulled wine, carol singing and a dramatic Epiphany bonfire. Nov–early Jan; Panto, Hackney Empire There are no D-list celebs on stage at the riotous Hackney Empire panto – it’s all about real singing talent, smutty wisecracks, belting tunes, fantastic sets, fabulous costumes and lots of audience participation. And all in the setting of one of London’s most beautiful surviving music halls. Late Nov–early Jan;

White Rabbit

Inside Hackney

Hackney’s eating scene is in a state of fabulous flux, with imaginative independent restaurants opening all the time. We’ve included some of the best new eating options, from fresh takes on classic British food via vibrant African and Japanese pop-ups to Peruvian, Palestinian and Gujarati places. We’ve also listed our favourite Turkish and Vietnamese restaurants, some of which remain unchanged and some of which have adopted a pared-down hipster aesthetic to draw in new punters. If you want to delve further back into Hackney’s past, find out about eating East End-style at F. Cooke’s eel, pie and mash shops, and check out venerable Arthur’s café.




All restaurants listed are inexpensive to moderately priced. For something more high end, try the Clove Club in Shoreditch Town Hall (p20). For more food reviews, see

African + Caribbean Eating

Andu’s Internet Café Take an Ethiopian mini-break at this friendly bare-bones veggie café. Simple, filling and very cheap eats: mildly spicy lentil and pea stews are served communally with injera (spongy flatbread). 528 Kingsland Road E8 4AH, 020 7254 1780; Mon–Thurs 10.30am–7pm, Fri 10.30am–11pm, Sat 11am–7pm, Sun noon–7pm; map p12 Mama Vic’s This plantain parlour looks like a fast-food joint, but the chicken is gently grilled and stews are prepared to Mama’s recipes – Nigerian with a Caribbean twist. Try goat curry, oxtail stew and yam porridge. 10 Bradbury Street N16 8JN, 07931 372151,; Mon–Sat noon–9pm; map p12 Shades Jerk Chicken Van Jerk chicken, plus ackee and saltfish, soups and stews, served from a red van. Hoxton Street N1,; Wed–Sat 9.30am–4pm; map p18

The Americas Andina A corner restaurant featuring vivid fabric artworks plus a slick juice bar. They do great ceviche, and nutritious Peruvian ingredients are key: quinoa, amaranth, maca root and purple maize. 1 Redchurch Street E2 7DJ, 020 7920 6499,; Mon–Fri 8am–11pm, Sat & Sun 10am–11pm; map p18

Pond Dalston An unlikely but brilliant arrival, serving New Hawaiian cuisine in an artfully converted warehouse. Taro root, ceviche and seaweed feature (as do Spam fries); cocktails and desserts are sensational. Unit G2, Stamford Works, 3 Gillett Street N16 8JH, 020 3772 6727, pond-dalston. com; Mon–Sat 5pm–midnight; map p12

Asian Brilliant Corners One of the more glamorous places on a scruffy strip, with paper lanterns glowing against dark walls. It’s in the Japanese izakaya tradition: eat sushi, sashimi and tempura, drink natural wine or craft beer and listen to soulful tunes live or on vinyl. 470 Kingsland Road E8 4AE, 020 7812 9511,; Wed & Thurs 6.30pm–midnight, Fri & Sat 6.30pm–1am, Sun 6.30pm–11pm; map p12 Namô Elegant Vietnamese resturant serving home cooking with a twist. It’s the sister restaurant to Hackney pioneer Huong Viet, currently closed. Other Vietnamese options can be found at the southern end of Kingsland Road: Sông Quê (no 134) does great noodle soups. 178 Victoria Park Road E9 7HD, 020 8533 0639,; daily noon–10.30pm; map p8

Arthur’s This traditional British caff, established in 1935, is still run by Arthur – who has been serving here since 1948 – and his grandson. It’s a great stop for an unfussy full English breakfast, and they also do sandwiches and hot lunches. 495 Kingsland Road E8 4AU, 020 7254 3391; daily 7am–3pm; map p12 Jones & Sons Located in the former Arcola Theatre (p62), this handsome British restaurant has a pitch-roofed kitchen tucked in the far corner and a long marble cocktail bar. They serve game and meat, including chargrilled steak, as well as London craft beers and trad puddings such as Cambridge Cream (a British version of crème brûlée). There’s a second branch at TripSpace on the canal (p82).

Better Health Bakery A great little bakery which provides placements for people recovering from mental health issues. They produce sourdough bread and tasty pastries – Friday is pizza day. 13 Stean Street E8 4ED, 020 7254 9103,; Tues–Sat 8am–4pm; map p12 Castle Café This sustainable café is in the unlikely but dramatic surrounds of the Castle Climbing Centre (p80). Much of the food comes from the kitchen garden, and it’s all delicious and affordable: just £3 for soup and bread. Green Lanes N4 2HA, 020 8211 7000,; Mon–Fri noon– 9.30pm, Sat & Sun 9am–6.30pm; map p30 Morningside Café Located on the Morningside Estate, this is a pay-what-youcan café; customers with funds can put a coffee/food on tab for others. Refugee chefs cook from food donations. 1 Cresset Road E9 6SJ, 0758 7083131,; Thurs & Fri 8am–1pm; map p8 People’s Kitchen A Sunday project where volunteers collect food from local shops that would otherwise be thrown away, and transform it into a pay-as-you-like veggie banquet, served at 6pm with a film screening. Passing Clouds, 1 Richmond Road E8 4AA, thepeopleskitchendalston.blogspot.; map p12 Save the Date Another pay-what-you-can café using surplus food; they’re based in a Dalston bee garden,behind the Arcola. Abbot Street E8 3DL,; Wed–Fri 3–10pm; map p12

Hackney top five


Hackney top five: ethical eats


Shanghai Now housing a Chinese restaurant that serves outstanding dim sum, the building was once part of the F. Cooke empire (p46). The fantastic decor survives from the days when live eels were kept in the back: there’s an eel mosaic on the floor at the entrance and entwined metal eels beneath the mirrors. 41 Kingsland High Street E8 2JS, 020 7254 2878,; daily noon–11pm; map p12


23–27 Arcola Street E8 2DJ, 0207 241 1211,; Mon– Thurs 5.30–11pm, Fri & Sat 11am– midnight, Sun 11am–11pm; map p30


Rivington Bar & Grill The classic Rivington with its plain crockery and white linen is very easy on the eye. Their daily changing seasonal menu features UK meat, game, oysters and cheeses. 28–30 Rivington Street EC2A 3DZ, 020 7729 7053,; Mon–Fri 8am–11pm, Sat 10am–11pm, Sun 10am–10pm; map p18 Sutton and Sons A classy fish’n’chip shop/restaurant serving sustainable fresh fish, paired with drinks from Borough Wines and the Hackney Brewery. They also dish up oysters, tuna burgers, saveloys, pickles and homemade tartare sauce, plus puddings and cakes. 90 Stoke Newington High Street N16 7NY, 020 7249 6444, suttonandsons.; Mon–Thurs noon–10pm, Fri & Sat noon–10.30pm, Sun 12.30–9.30pm; map p30

Brunch, bakeries + coffee houses The Bridge Brace yourself for the fantastical decor here, with acres of brocade, phoney Old Masters, ornate mirrors and lamps and

throne-like gilded seats: the effect is gypsy caravan meets shabby stately home. Feast on Turkish pastries and baklava, great coffee and cakes – and booze. 15 Kingsland Road E2 8AE, 07833 393272; Mon–Wed noon–12.30pm, Thurs–Sat noon–1.30am, Sun noon– midnight; map p18 Dreyfus Café A bistro/café featuring solid northern European decor: red leather benches, vintage bistro chairs and sage-green tiles. Mix and match Eggs Florentine, Benedict, Royal and Leopold, and on Sunday sample homemade Finnish cinnamon buns. 19 Lower Clapton Road E5 0NS, 020 8985 4311,; Mon–Fri 8am–6pm, Sat & Sun 9am–5pm; map p8 E5 Bakehouse Tucked under a brick railway arch near London Fields, the Bakehouse café serves sourdough sandwiches, cakes and coffee, plus hot dishes at lunch and pizza on Sundays. You can watch dough being pummelled and kneaded in the bakery at the back, where they run excellent breadmaking courses. Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace E8 3PH, 020 8525 2890,; daily 7am–7pm; map p8 J Grodzinski & Daughters The founders of this famous Stamford Hill bakery left Tsarist Lithuania in the 1880s for the East End, settling in Spitalfields; by the 1960s the business had become the largest kosher bakery in Europe, despite the destruction of the original Fieldgate Street shop during the Blitz. Today Grodz is still successfully turning out borekas (stuffed pastries), bagels, challa rolls and cakes to a mixed local crowd. 170 Clapton Common E5 9AG, 020 8802 4166; Sun–Thurs 7am–1am, Fri 7am till 30min before Shabbat;

European Cooper & Wolf Clapton café with picture windows looking onto Lee Valley Park, a cosy quirky interior flooded with light, and homemade Swedish specials on the menu: try pytt i panna (‘bits in a pan’, akin to a full English breakfast), råraka (crispy potato cake) and kanelbullar (their fabulous trademark cinnamon buns). 145 Chatsworth Road E5 0LA, cooperand; Mon–Thurs 9am–5.30pm, Fri 9am–6pm, Sat & Sun 10am–6pm; map p24

Frizzante Colourful decor, a lovely farmyard setting and a serious attitude to food; on Thursdays there is ‘agriturismo’, with a menu of seasonal Italian food plus live music, and Friday is BBQ night. Hackney City Farm, 1 Goldsmith’s Row E2 8QA, 020 7739 2266,; Tues–Sun 10am–4.30pm; 7–11pm Thurs (April–Nov) + Fri (June–Sept); map p12 Latto’s A pizza pop-up in the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden (p14) and upstairs at Palm 2 (p73). Slow-rising sourdough makes for a deliciously crunchy base, and toppings change with the seasons; roasted aubergine is a favourite. The garden, with scents from the wood-fired oven and lanterns strung from the trees, makes a magical setting. Palm 2, 152–156 Lower Clapton Road E5 0QJ, Fri 6–9.30pm; Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, 13 Dalston Lane E8 3DF, Sat 3–9pm;; map p24 & 12 Merci Marie This little white-painted canteen in a former shoe factory is a great find in the heart of Dalston. Expect a modern spin on French classics, partly inspired by Hackney’s multicultural fusion and exotic produce from Ridley Road Market. Fitzroy House, Abbot Street E8 3DP, 07790 530703,; Mon–Fri 9am–3pm & Fri 7pm–late; map p12


Spence Bakery Independent Stokey bakery/coffee shop: they mature their dough overnight and loaves are made fresh each morning, along with superb pastries. More unusual items include marbled brioche and sticky chorizo bread, and the pains au chocolat are superb. The limited counter seats and outside tables are always much in demand. 161 Stoke Newington Church Street N16 0UH, 020 7249 4927,; Mon–Sat 8am–6pm, Sun 9am–6pm; map p30

El Ganso A lively newcomer on Broadway Market, El Ganso (The Goose) is a great venue for communal tapas nibbling: don’t overorder though, as portions are large. Their jamón Ibérico is carved fresh at the bar. 59 Broadway Market E8 4PH, 020 7241 1793,; Mon–Thurs & Sun 8.30am–11pm, Fri & Sat 8.30am– 11.30pm; map p8


91 Dunsmure Road N16 5HT, 020 8802 4165; Sun 8am–2pm, Mon–Thurs 7.30am–9pm, Fri 7am till 30min before Shabbat;; map p24 & p30

‘The night before each class, my co-director Lisa Neidich, the volunteers and I bag up the food so that each student has all the ingredients to replicate the recipes at home. In the classroom, I demonstrate how to make the dishes, and then the students cook in threes at work stations, assisted by volunteers. At the end of the class, students buy the bags of food – veg, meat and sachets of oils and spices – for £3. From this they can make two healthy meals for two people. Buying the food encourages students to use it, and it reinforces their cooking skills. They are not put off by a big ingredient outlay – everything is on a small, financially manageable scale. And I give sourcing advice so students can buy ingredients cheaply on their own. I’m very against the school of cooking which dictates that fancy ingredients are essential. But I like my dishes to be packed with flavour. And the students are really responding: one has already taught cooking classes to the group herself, and they all say that they are really saving money as well as cooking and eating much more healthily.’

Turkish guvech ½ medium onion or 1 small one ½ large red pepper, about 80g 1 small carrot (60g) 1 large potato or 2 medium ¼ tsp salt ½ can chopped tinned tomatoes 2 large cloves garlic ½ veg stock cube 1 tsp tomato purée 2 tsp paprika 1 cup/250ml water (approx) Other mixed veg: 100g green beans (flat or thin) 100g courgette 100g aubergines Optional herbs: chopped parsley/coriander, or ½ tsp dried oregano or basil Chop your onion and red pepper into chunks and fry in 1–2 tbsp oil. Peel and grate the carrot, and add to the pan. While it is frying, peel your potato and cut into 2cm chunks. Toss this into the pan and stir. Add the salt, and tomatoes, garlic, veg stock cube, tomato purée, paprika and any herbs, and the water. Bring to the boil. While this is boiling, add any other chopped veg, the toughest first. When they are all in the liquid (which should almost cover the veg), bring it to the boil and cover the pan. Put the pan on to simmer and cook the stew on a low heat for 45 mins (or bake in the oven), stirring occasionally. If it gets dry, add more water. Open the lid after 45 mins and if it is too liquid, turn up the heat to evaporate it. Serve with rice, bread or pasta.

Inside Hackney

Alicia Weston lives in Dalston, where she runs the Parkholme Supper Club, which has raised more than £50,000 for Médecins Sans Frontières. With her new project, Bags of Taste, Alicia and her volunteers have set themselves the challenge of showing people on low incomes how to cook tasty and nutritious meals that cost less than £1. Here she explains how Bags of Taste works, and shares a healthy budget recipe.


Inside Hackney: Alicia Weston

44 Eating

Mussel Men Cute Dalston restaurant offering a seafood BBQ at weekends and the chance to win a T-shirt in a thumb war with the owner. Eat chowder, mussels or scallops washed down with prosecco, Brewdog beer or an inventive cocktail: try Sea Sir, made with mussel broth. 584 Kingsland Road E8 4AH, 020 3490 9040,; Mon–Fri 6pm–midnight, Sat 1pm–midnight, Sun 1–11.30pm; map p12

Late night eats Somine This Turkish joint is open all hours at weekends, so if you fancy lentil soup in the middle of night you know where to come. It’s basic and cheerful, serving stews with pickles and Turkish bread on the side. 131 Kingsland High Street E8 2PB, 020 7254 7384; Mon–Thurs & Sun 7am–2am, Fri & Sat 24hr; map p30 Voodoo Ray’s Serving generous triangles of pizza till the wee hours at weekends, Voodoo Ray’s in Dalston is well placed for post-club munchies. Underneath is Dance Tunnel, an intimate club with an eclectic clientele and renowned DJs. 95 Kingsland High Street E8 2PB, 020 7249 7865,; Mon–Thurs & Sun 5pm–midnight, Fri 5pm–3am, Sat noon–3am; map p12

Seasonal + local Hackney Pearl Aussie-run restaurant with a cool Continental vibe and local art on the walls. Everything on the seasonal menu is prepared with care, from homemade lemonade to Campari spritzes and from creamy breakfast scrambled eggs to slowroast pork for Sunday lunch. 11 Prince Edward Road E9 5LX, 020 8510 3605,; Mon & Sun 10am–6pm, Tues–Sat 10am–11pm; map p24 The Laundry An elegantly converted former Laundry, where the concrete pillars and industrial ceilings have been retained but glamourised with a long bar and canteen tables. It’s a fabulous option for a communal meal, with shared plates of exceptionally good seasonal food. 2–18 Warburton Road E8 3FN, 020 8986 0738,; Mon– Thurs 10am–5pm, Fri & Sat 10am– 12.30am, Sun 10am–6pm; map p8 White Rabbit This modern seasonal restaurant marries esoteric cooking with a down-to-earth approach: the friendly staff can expound on such unusual delights as octopus with nduja bread pudding and, for afters, cep mushroom ganache with smoked amaranth. The chefs make their own pâté, kimchi and dashi stock, plus there’s an in-house smokery and regular visits from a forager, who brings in wild ingredients. The decor is a cut above the Hackney average, with a parquet floor and an imposing concrete bar. 15–16 Bradbury Street N16 8JN, 020 7682 0163,; Mon–Fri 6pm–midnight, Sat 11am–4pm & 6pm–midnight, Sun noon–5pm & 6–11pm; map p12

Mazí Mas A community interest company that supports refugee women, Mazí Mas has recruited chefs from Senegal, the Philippines, Iran, Brazil, Peru and Ethiopia. They serve excellent international home cooking at venues across the borough.

Dom’s Place Kebabs are the order of the day, plus beer from Kernel brewery and vino from Borough Wines. This family-run place has been here since 1974, but they’ve reinvented themselves with stylish decor. 199 Lower Clapton Road E5 8EG, 020 8985 5454,; Mon– Thurs & Sun noon–midnight, Fri & Sat noon–3am; map p24

Parkholme Supper Club Run by Alicia Weston and a team of volunteers (p00), this is a brilliantly successful home supper club. Not only is the food amazing – bountiful, impeccably cooked and varied (try the Syrian, Malay or Georgian nights) – but all the profits go to Médecins Sans Frontières. Tacochu Erica Dorn has hosted supper clubs at venues across the borough, sharing Japanese katei-ryori, or family cooking, which is healthy and comforting as well as beautifully presented. Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen Zoe Adjonyoh is making it her mission to introduce gorgeous Ghanaian dishes such as peanut butter stew, red red and kenkey to east London. Supper clubs and cooking classes in Hackney and Berlin.

Mangal 2 A Dalston institution, where you can follow hot and cold meze starters with charcoalgrilled kebabs (there is also a veggie menu). Besuited artists Gilbert & George are regulars. Mangal 1 (10 Arcola Street; daily noon–midnight, Fri & Sat till 1am) is a no-frills meat grill joint further up the road. 4 Stoke Newington High Street N16 8BH, 020 7254 7888,; daily noon–midnight; map p30 Tugra Baclava The counters are crammed with homemade baklava, dripping with syrup and sprinkled with pistachio nuts. You can mix and match varieties and eat in or take away: a box of Tugra baklava makes a great gift. A headscarfed cook sits in the window rolling and dry-frying gözleme (Turkish flatbread), which is also sold here. 30–32 Stoke Newington High Street N16 7XJ, 020 7241 1514; daily 9am–9pm; map p30

Vegetarian Gujarati Rasoi One of the first foodie destinations on Bradbury Street, low-key but stylish Gujarati Rasoi was established by mother and son Lalita and Urvesh, who also have a stall on Broadway Market. This is Gujarati home cooking at its best, made




Supper clubs + pop-ups


from family recipes: try the paneer – milk curd cooked in cumin, chilli and ginger. 10C Bradbury Street N16 8JN, 020 8616 7914,; Wed–Sat 6.30–10.30pm; map p12

Eating Rasa N16 The original restaurant in the Rasa chain, startlingly pink Rasa N16 focuses on south Indian veggie food, spiced to perfection but not hot; don’t miss their chilli onion rava dosa or the beet cheera pachadi curry, fragrant with beetroot. Across the road, Rasa Travancore adds Keralan meat and fish dishes to a similar menu. 55 Stoke Newington Church Street N16 0AR, 020 7249 0344, rasarestaurants. com; Mon–Thurs 6–10.45pm, Fri 6–11.30pm, Sat noon–3pm & 6–11.30pm, Sun noon–2.45pm & 6–10.45pm; map p30 Tatreez Palestinian street food with a home-cooked feel. The heart of the restaurant is the stone oven, where flatbread is baked to order; ingredients such as tahini, pickled baby aubergines, fava beans and labneh (strained sour yoghurt) make this a great option for veggies. Drinks include date syrup and fresh lemonade, plus Lebanese and Palestinian wines, and there’s sometimes a side order of live music. 188 Stoke Newington High Street N16 7JD, 020 8616 5434; Mon 5–11pm, Tues–Sun 11am–11pm; map p30

Eel, pie and mash The fast food of the East End lives on at the beautiful F. Cooke eel, pie and mash shops, established in the nineteeth century and still owned and run by the Cooke family. You’ll find branches at 9 Broadway Market and 150 Hoxton Street; an older branch, on Kingsland Road, was sold by the Cookes in 1997 and now houses the Shanghai Chinese restaurant (p39). F. Cooke purveys the same food it always has done: pies and mash drenched in parsley sauce (known as liquor), stewed or jellied eels – and fruit pies with custard. Both the menu and the gleaming shops themselves, fitted out with ceramic tiles and marble-topped counters and tables, are a blast from the past. At the end of World War Two there were over a hundred eel, pie and mash houses in London, providing cheap and nutritious fodder for the poor – and the Thames was wriggling with eels. Eel numbers in the Thames have crashed in recent years, and nowadays most of the eels the Cooke family buy from Billingsgate are farmed in Holland – but otherwise the businesses, with their sawdust-scattered floors, low prices and bantering welcome, remain pretty much unchanged. In case you’re wondering, eel tastes a bit like pickled herring, with a soft texture and a bone running through it. Those who haven’t the stomach for eel can try a traditional minced beef pie.

Inside Hackney

The borough has a long, if not illustrious, history of drinking: Samuel Pepys came to Hackney to drink at the famous Mermaid Tavern (opposite what is now Mermaid Fabrics on Mare Street), where he played shuffleboard, ate cherries and ogled the local girls; and Shoreditch, having always been a place of entertainment, has a long boozy past. It still has an awesome density of bars – as does Dalston – and Church Street in Stoke Newington is great for an old-style pub crawl (p32). Today it’s also possible to spend an evening drinking Hackney-made artisan beers and spirits (p49).




For more on boozing in the borough, see and @drinkhackney.



Adam & Eve A handsome tile-fronted Edwardian pub, with plenty of original features, including latticed stained glass, plus an L-shaped pool table. Food is by The Cornwall Project, with fresh farm produce and seafood arriving daily from the southwest, and there are beers on cask and keg from the Five Points, Redemption and Tintangel breweries. 155 Homerton High Street E9 6AS,; Mon–Wed 4–11pm, Thurs 4pm–midnight, Fri & Sat noon–1am, Sun noon–11pm Bricklayer’s Arms This corner pub in the heart of Shoreditch is mostly remarkable for keeping its low-key charm and not shifting with the surrounding trends. Come for cask ales, ciders and the jukebox. 63 Charlotte Road EC2A 3PE, bricklayers; daily 11am–11pm Clapton Hart Shabby on the outside, chic on the inside, this spacious, good-looking pub was a coaching inn in the eighteenth century. There are cask hand-pumps and guest kegs, plus Sunday roasts, open fires, board games and a cider and ale festival.

231 Lower Clapton Road E5 8EG,; Mon–Wed 4–11pm, Thurs 4pm–midnight, Fri 4pm–1am, Sat noon–1am, Sun noon–11pm The Dove A CAMRA-beloved pub with a range of real ales plus Belgian beers. They serve decent Belgian and British food, and the gleaming wood-panelled interior makes it a snug stop on a winter evening. 24–28 Broadway Market E8 4QJ,; Mon–Sat noon–11pm, Sun 2–10pm The Elderfield Spruced-up pub on a Clapton backstreet which has retained its Art Deco wood panelling and fireplace. Board games and live music – folk on Monday, jazz on Sunday afternoon – provide entertainment. 57 Elderfield Road E5 0LF; Mon–Wed 4–11pm, Thurs & Fri 4pm–midnight, Sat 1pm–midnight, Sun 1–11pm The Empress With a villagey setting in Victoria Park, this gastropub – all white linen, mosaic tiled floors and leather benches – is posher than your average Hackney boozer. The seasonal food is excellent and prettily presented: brave diners can try bone marrow with snails, and you’ll also find guinea fowl and goat on the eclectic menu. 130 Lauriston Road E9 7LH, empresse9.; lunch Tues–Sat noon–3.30pm, dinner Mon–Sat 6–10.15pm, brunch Sat & Sun 10am–midnight, Sunday roast noon–9.30pm The Kenton Norwegian-run pub that scores for its immense Sunday lunches and lively events: a Monday film club, DJ nights and rock’n’roll bingo. In the cute beer garden they adopt the Scandi approach to a cool night, providing blankets to wrap up in.

Railway Tavern Attractively restored old-style boozer on a quiet backstreet off Gillett Square, with some artful railway memorabilia, local and regional cask ales, Thai food and a Tuesday pub quiz (8.30pm). 2 Saint Jude Street N16 8JT; Mon–Thurs 4–11pm, Fri & Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10.30pm The Scolt Head Popular neighbourhood pub with a cute triangular garden, vintage Penguin paperbacks on the shelves, an excellent wine list and classy food with seasonal ingredients. Plus Sunday lunch, jazz nights and a Monday-night quiz (8pm). 107A Culford Road N1 4HT, thescolthead.; daily noon–midnight

Butler’s Gin Lemongrass- and cardamom-infused gin, made with love in Hackney Wick: creator Ross Butler even designed the label and the bottle. Crate Brewery Crate like to keep things simple, labelling their brews ‘stout’, ‘golden’ and ‘best’. New World hops give the beers a fruity rich flavour, which you can enjoy with a stonebaked pizza at their stylish brewery bar. The White Building, Unit 7, Queen’s Yard E9 5EN,; Mon–Thurs & Sun noon–11pm, Fri & Sat noon–midnight; tours £15 Five Points Brewing Co Unfiltered, unpasteurized beer from a brewery that gives back to Hackney in the form of apprenticeships and charitable donations. Five Points Pale is their signature brew.; tours £12 Hackney Brewery Refreshing golden ale, rich malty American pale ale and a classic best bitter, brewed under a Hackney railway arch. Pressure Drop Winner of the craft beer wacky name award, Pressure Drop’s Wu Gang Chops the Tree has notes of clove, citrus and banana. Great beers, and lovely labels too. Truman’s The mother of London breweries, founded back in 1666 and relocated to Hackney Wick in 2013; the archive brews pay homage to their heritage.; tours £15/£30

Hackney top six

The Owl & The Pussycat Tasteful sea-green rather than peagreen, this Shoreditch pub occupies a listed seventeenth-century building, with stripped wood furnishings, Chesterfield sofas, a sunny courtyard and a restaurant upstairs serving trad British food. 34 Redchurch Street E2 7DP, owland; Mon noon– 11pm, Tues–Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10.30pm

Hackney top six: brewed in the borough

49 049

38 Kenton Road E9 7AB, kentonpub.; Mon–Wed 4–11.30pm, Thurs 4pm– midnight, Fri 4pm–1am, Sat noon–1am, Sun noon–11.30pm


Shakespeare Tiled and mosaic-ed backstreet Stokey boozer whose main distinguishing feature is a giant statue of a bare-breasted woman. They don’t do food, but they do offer craft lagers and a Monday pub quiz. 57 Allen Road N16 8RY; Mon–Fri 5–11pm, Sat noon–11pm, Sun noon–10.30pm


Bars 90 Main Yard Brilliantly upcycled warehouse bar/ restaurant/events space in Hackney Wick, featuring movie screenings, quizzes, bingo and soul and funk nights. 90 Wallis Road E9 5LN, 90mainyard.; Wed & Sun noon–11pm, Thurs–Sat noon–midnight

Ace Hotel bar Shoreditch at its most studiedly cool: there’s a DIY photo booth at reception and a 70s vibe to the chunky wooden furniture and artfully scattered pale wool rugs in the lobby bar. The hotel’s Hoi Polloi restaurant has more of a retro glam feel, with wood panelling and hexagonal floor tiles. Ace Hotel, 100 Shoreditch High Street E1 6JQ,; Mon–Wed & Sun 7am–midnight, Thurs–Sat 7am–1am Bardens Boudoir On a strip of scruffy basement bars, elegant Bardens stands out with its dark walls and exposed brick. They serve

cocktails, mocktails and American food. 36 Stoke Newington Road N16 7XJ,; Mon & Tues 3–11pm, Wed & Thurs 3pm–midnight, Fri 3pm–1am, Sat noon–1am, Sun noon–11pm Callooh Callay Cheeky, buzzy, speakeasy-style cocktail bar with psychedelia meets Victoriana decor. Among the more out-there offerings is a Marmageddon, which includes marmite. Cocktail courses cost £35. 65 Rivington Street EC2A 3AY,; daily 6pm–1am Dalston Roof Park Booze with a view: the summer roof garden at Bootstrap (p14) transforms downtown Dalston into Manhattan (especially if you’ve had a few). A £5 membership fee gives you access to a fantastic programme of music events, film screenings and parties. 18 Ashwin Street E8 3DL, bootstrap; summer only Happiness Forgets This appealing little Hoxton Square basement features blood-red brick walls and marble tables. Their signature drink is the Perfect Storm, a heady combo including dark rum and plum brandy. 8–9 Hoxton Square N1 6NU,; daily 5–11pm Ruby’s This basement cocktail bar is a fabulous retro retreat: cinema lettering hangs outside and ceramic ducks fly across the artistically peeling walls. Best of all are the drinks, from the kick of the chilli apple martini to the blackberry mojito, served in a 1940s milk bottle. 76 Stoke Newington Road N16 7XB,; Tues–Thurs 6.30pm– midnight, Fri & Sat 6.30pm–2am

See also the Scolt Head (p49) and the Elderfield (p48).

The Haggerston Sunday ‘Jazz at the Hagg’ with guitarist Alan Weekes’ band is a long-running institution that has been bringing the house down weekly for years. Traditional blues-infused jazz and superb musicianship, with hot guitar, drum, sax and trumpet solos. 438 Kingsland Road E8 4AA; jazz Sun 11pm–3am; free

Mascara Bar Down-at-heel yet strangely appealing, the Mascara Bar hosts live jazz on Sunday nights, and a jazz jam every Tuesday: feel free to bring along your sax and join in. 72 Stamford Hill N16 6XS, mascarabar.; Sun jazz from 9pm, jazz jam Tues from 8pm; free

Shacklewell Arms Well-curated programme of indie gigs seven nights a week in a characterfully shabby boozer – and they’re nearly always free of charge. 71 Shacklewell Lane E8 2EB,; from 8pm; free


Auld Shillelagh Refreshingly, this is an authentic Irish boozer, rather than a pub given an Irish makeover. There are boisterous live folk nights every other Friday and Saturday; squeeze into the narrow space, grab a pint of well-pulled Guinness, and join in the fun. 105 Stoke Newington Church Street N16 0UD,; music 9.30pm–closing time; free

Old Blue Last This handsome Shoreditch pub has hosted Hot Chip, Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys – plus a surprise appearance by Kylie Minogue. There’s live music upstairs practically every night. 38 Great Eastern Street EC2A 3ES,; from 8pm; free/£5


Free music nights

Morning Glory at the Oval Space

Inside Hackney

Hackney’s nightlife is at its most eclectic around Dalston Junction, where there’s a dense cluster of clubs and bars. The borough excels at live music in intimate spaces, from experimentation at Café OTO via eclectic jazz at the Vortex to international stars at the inspiring Village Underground. These long-established places have been joined more recently by DIY venue Power Lunches and the still evolving Total Refreshment Centre. And, for those who just want to dance, there are plenty of options; we’ve listed our favourite dance floors here. To hone your skills in advance, see the list of dance classes on p82.


Music + clubs



Music + clubs

Birthdays There’s a good-looking panoramic tiled bar on the ground-floor level at Birthdays, while downstairs the basement music venue has hosted live sets by Bloc Party, events by Land of Kings and shows by All Tomorrow’s Parties. Food is provided by Stack Poutine, who serve the eponymous stomach-lining Canadian speciality: fries slathered in cheese curd and gravy. 33–35 Stoke Newington Road N16 8BJ,; Mon–Thurs & Sun noon–midnight, Fri & Sat noon–3am; bar free, basement entry from £5 Dalston Jazz Bar On the corner of Gillett Square, this long-established little bar has become an institution for its live jazz and uninhibited dance floor antics: they play a rich mix of motown, hip-hop, jazz, funk and soul. There’s live jazz early evening on Fridays and Saturdays. 4 Bradbury Street N16 8JN, dalstonjazz; Mon–Thurs & Sun 5pm–1am, Fri & Sat 5pm–2am, live music Fri & Sat 7.30pm; £5 after midnight Dalston Superstore LGBT-friendly Superstore is loud, colourful and a wee bit naughty. Their USP is serious music with silly names: the Battered Sausage, Disco Sódoma and Bender nights feature top DJs, as does twice-monthy lesbian Clam Jam. Foodwise, enjoy plantain on toast for brunch or a fiery Hot Rod or beetroot veggie burger later on; wash it all down with a Dalston Thing cocktail, proceeds from which go to local charities including Circle Sport. 117 Kingsland High Street E8 2PB,; Mon noon– 1.30am, Tues–Thurs & Sun noon–2.30am, Fri noon–3am, Sat 10am–3am; free/£5

Shapes Hackney Wick has a reputation for warehouse raves – start your night off at this canalside events space and social club, which supports local talent through its live music and house, techno and dub DJ nights: there’s also the odd roller-disco thrown in. 17 Wallis Road E9 5LN, shapeshackney. com; from £5 Visions Video Bar ‘Go hard or go home’ say Visions: this lowceilinged basement club plays old-school hip-hop, R’n’B, future house, grime and garage into the very wee hours, and is lined with VHS players in homage to its former incarnation. 588 Kingsland Road E8 4AH, visionsvideo; Thurs–Sun 10pm–6am; from £5

Live music Sutton House Music Society ( organises regular classical music recitals, and opera fans should look out for English Touring Opera dates at the Hackney Empire. See also live music pubs (p51), and the summer music festivals featured in Events (p34–35). Café OTO Ploughing its own musical furrow since 2008, Café OTO is Hackney’s most distinctive venue. The stress is on experimentation across genres – jazz, folk

The Alibi It sort of helps to be drunk on the basement dance floor here: if you are, you’ll probably have a great time. They play dubstep, 90s indie, hip-hop and grunge on a Void Acoustics sound system. 91 Kingsland High Street E8 2PB,; Mon–Wed & Sun 8pm–2am, Thurs–Sat 8pm–3am; free Chats Palace Chats wins the prize for best actual dance floor – shiny parquet with a glitterball overhead. There’s a folksy old-time feel, with barn dances, ceilidhs and swing. 42–44 Brooksby’s Walk E9 6DF, chats; ceilidhs around £8 Passing Clouds Amsterdam squat meets granny’s house is the feel upstairs at Passing Clouds live music venue and club, where you can collapse into a squashy sofa after a dance. 1 Richmond Road E8 4AA, passingclouds. org; Mon–Thurs 6pm–12.30am, Fri & Sat 6pm–2.30am, Sun 2pm–12.30am; free/£5

Oslo The beautiful old train station at Hackney Central has a new lease of life as this club/venue/fancy restaurant. It’s part of an entertainment company chain, so hasn’t the organic feel of other Hackney venues, but the upstairs room hosts new and established bands as well as club nights, and the L-Acoustics sound system is excellent. 1a Amhurst Road E8 1LL, oslohackney. com; from £5

Ridley Road Market Bar With bright rum-shack decor, low prices and a lively dance floor, this feels like a holiday in the heart of Hackney. Soul, funk and hip-hop, plus the odd guilty pleasure. 49 Ridley Road E8 2NP, Wed 6pm– midnight, Thurs–Sat 6pm–2am, Sun 3–11pm; free Vogue Fabrics Gay-friendly, self-confessedly sleazy bar where there’s no room for inhibitions and, in fact, not a lot of room to dance. Don’t let that keep you from disco and house nights hosted by Tranny Dad or Touch the Wood. 66 Stoke Newington Road N16 7XB,; Fri & Sat 10pm–3am; £5

Hackney top five

Hackney Attic Tucked away on the top floor of the Picturehouse, the Attic has a nice line in quirky and alternative events, from a film quiz to cabaret and soul nights. It’s a homely venue for live music, too: folk, jazz, reggae, Latin and African. Hackney Picturehouse, 270 Mare Street E8 1HE, @hackneyattic; from £5

Hackney top five: dance floors


and classical – and past performers have included Yoko Ono, percussionist Eddie Prévost and the dazzling Sun Ra Arkestra. The café serves excellent Persian food and baking, plus a range of beers and whiskies (including Japanese single malt). 18–22 Ashwin Street E8 3DL, cafeoto.; from £5

‘My family are Anatolian, of the Alevi culture, which is the biggest religious minority in Turkey. The culture has always been passed on in music, poetry and storytelling – there is no holy book, and it’s a liberal tradition. Everybody sang at home, and my brother played the baglama, a long-necked lute. We lived on the outskirts of Istanbul and we sang Anatolian folk music; when I studied English literature at Istanbul University I encountered a more urban musical tradition. I joined the university band and it was the beginning of a proper training, singing in Greek, Arabic, Kurdish, Armenian and Sephardic. When I moved to London I sang with Balkan band Dunav, which was founded fifty years ago: I began to sing in Bulgarian, Macedonian and Bosnian. I’ve been with She’Koyokh since 2008 – the klezmer tradition is instrumental, so it was a breakthrough to add a voice. When I joined She’Koyokh we were busking at Broadway Market and Chatsworth Road, but since then we’ve performed at the

Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Southbank Centre in London. We love to perform locally too, doing gigs for the Hackney Proms at Stoke Newington Town Hall, and benefit concerts for North London Action for the Homeless. I also sing rebetiko, which is outcast music, born out of the experience of the Greeks expelled from Turkey in the 1920s population exchange. They landed back in Greece and they weren’t welcome – they were an underground culture, living differently. The subjects of rebetiko songs are prison, drugs and prostitution, with stock shady characters and strong women – it has been called the Mediterranean blues, because of its themes and subcultural feel. I launched my solo rebetiko album, Mortissa, in 2013, with three sell-out nights at the Vortex in Hackney – my songs were interspersed with readings by the actor Philip Arditti. I also collaborated with the writer Louis de Bernières in 2014: he read from his novel Birds without Wings, and I sang. We were exploring the relationship between the Greeks, the Turks and Armenians that existed before the 1920s deportations. I love to perform here, and I love Stoke Newington – it is so alive. It reminds me of Istanbul – partly because I have relatives all around. My sister, my uncle, and cousins live here, running a café and an alteration service. But it’s also the spirit of the place: it’s free.’

Inside Hackney

Cigdem Aslan is a singer from Turkey who lives – and often performs – in Stoke Newington. She was brought up in Istanbul and is of a mixed Anatolian and Kurdish background. Cigdem’s voice is rich and reverberant; she sings in several languages with local klezmer band She’Koyokh, and solo as a rebetiko performer. Here she talks about bringing the Mediterranean blues to Hackney.


Inside Hackney: Cigdem Aslan

58 Music + clubs

Power Lunches Hackney’s foremost DIY venue: bands and DJs book it, sign a contract agreeing no racism, sexism or homophobia, and then… do what they like. By the nature of this place there’s no formal music policy, but it tends to host radical and experimental musicians, and is well worth a punt. 446 Kingsland Road E8 4AE, power; from £5 St John Sessions This capacious late eighteenth-century church also acts as an atmospheric music venue, with a focus on ambient, electronic and experimental sounds. m–3a St John at Hackney Church, Lower Clapton Road E5 0PD,; around £16.50 Total Refreshment Centre Still in its early stages, this is a place to watch: the recording studio nurtures new talent, and the backstreet Stokey venue provides a showcase. So far this collective of musicians, producers and filmmakers has featured a collaboration with Thurston Moore, sets by Gilles Peterson and exciting custom-made events such as a Blue Note night. Unit 2, 2A Foulden Road N16 7UR, total; from £5 Village Underground One of Hackney’s best live music venues, this 700-capacity former warehouse treads an interesting line between commercial and alternative music, styling itself as the Barbican Uncut. Tuareg musicians Tinariwen, singer songwriter Blood Orange and local soul star and guitarist Lianne La Havas have all played here – and partied in the tiled green room that once housed a brothel. 54 Holywell Lane EC2A 3PQ, villageunder; £11–20

Vortex The Vortex has been around for thirty years, moving from Stoke Newington Church Street to revamped Gillett Square in 2005. It is run mainly by volunteers, and programmes a staggering volume of excellent music: around four hundred gigs a year. Officially a jazz club, it has a wide musical remit – you’ll hear everything from Zimbabwean jit jive to Afro-Latin sounds. 11 Gillett Square N16 8AZ, vortexjazz.; around £10

Waiting Room Located below the Three Crowns pub, Waiting Room features diverse club nights and live music in a tiny wood- and tile-lined basement that’s a little smarter than its Dalston equivalents. Electronica, reggae, hip-hop, indie pop and alt-country all feature here. 175 Stoke Newington High Street N16 0LH,; free/from £5

Inside Hackney

Hackney was an enthusiastic adopter of cinema in the 1910s, and many historic picture palaces still exist in somewhat battered incarnations; the gorgeous Rio is the sole survivor as a functioning movie house. Cinema is very much alive here, though, in the vibrant film club scene and at festivals. Theatre in the borough was long synonymous with the inspiring Arcola Theatre, which moved from a textile factory on Arcola Street to the cultural enclave of Ashwin Street in 2011. Since then, the Yard in Hackney Wick and the Big House Theatre Company in Hackney Downs have appeared, further boosting Hackney’s theatrical credentials.


Film + theatre



Film + theatre

If you’re looking for a Hackney film to rent, make it Sally El Hosaini’s gang thriller My Brother the Devil (2012). Among many compelling scenes shot in the borough is a chase through Ridley Road Market. Festivals with screenings at the Rio and/or the Picturehouse include the Turkish Film Festival (; May 7–17, 2015), the East End Film Festival (eastendfilmfestival. com; July 1–12, 2015) and Doc + Roll (; Oct 1–4, 2015). Hackney Picturehouse From the ashes of the failed Ocean nightclub and live music venue, rose Hackney’s glamorous Picturehouse in 2011, with its four screens, canteen-style restaurant and bar. The programme is a pleasing mix of arthouse and popular, with a host of clubs and events. Over-60s get substantial discounts during Silver Screen showings, there’s a kids’ club on Saturdays, a free Slackers Club for impoverished students, Toddler Time for pre-school tots, Big Scream for parents and babies, autism-friendly screenings, a nostalgic Reminiscence strand, and occasional late-night movies. It’s also a venue for the BFI London Film Festival, among others, while the Hackney Attic upstairs (p55) is a lively alternative venue for music and events. 270 Mare St E8 1HE, cinema/Hackney_Picturehouse; £11.60, Mon £7

Rio Hackney’s historic cinema (opposite), the one-screen, two-storey Rio is a real gem, showing major releases, avant-garde movies and classics. Sunday matinee double bills are full of cinematic surprises, from the Marx Brothers to Polish art movies to leftfield documentaries. For families, there’s the Saturday Morning Picture Club and Tuesday afternoon Playcentre matinees, where you can watch such delights as The Jungle Book and Paddington. Monthly Wednesday matinees are just £2 for the over-60s. 107 Kingsland High Street E8 2PB, rio; £10, Mon £6

Film clubs + shops Alibi Ultra-varied screenings at a Dalston nightclub: Dr Strangelove via Zombie Flesh Eaters to Dirty Dancing. And, as per the Alibi’s commitment to offering free entry, it won’t cost you a thing. 91 Kingsland High Street E8 2PB, the; Mon 8pm; free Cinereal Not-for-profit 16mm film club, where film fans can share their love of the medium, and where cinephile Umit (see 62) is the projectionist. See the likes of Jaws, Cathy Come Home and Bicycle Thieves at the lovely Russet café (p89). 17 Amhurst Terrace E8 2BT, cine-real. com; monthly – see the-russet; £5 The Film Shop Old-school DVD store with a fantastic selection of world movies, classics, new releases, indies and cult movies, kids’ films and documentaries. 177 Stoke Newington Church Street N16 0UL,; Mon–Fri 4–9pm, Sat & Sun noon–9pm

A more intact survival is the nearby Azizye Mosque, built in 1913 as the Apollo Picture House. The imposing facade and twin towers topped with cupolas were pseudo-Moorish in conception, and the addition of umpteen Turkish tiles when the building was converted into a mosque in the 1980s made it an even more attractive adornment to the streetscape. To truly relive the glory days of cinema though, take in a movie at the Rio (see opposite). Built as the theatrical Kingsland Palace in 1915 in a lavish upgrade of the Palace of Animated Pictures, it was remodelled in the 30s, and the curvy two-floor auditorium with its Deco blue and pink colour scheme is a wonderful remnant of Hackney’s cinematic past.

Film + theatre

If you have tears Hackney, prepare to shed them now, as we visit some movie houses where the end credits rolled long ago. One of the earliest movie-viewing opportunities in the borough was provided by Mrs Clara Ludski’s Kingsland Palace of Animated Pictures, opened in 1909 in her auction rooms where the Rio cinema now stands. By 1912, Hackney was home to seventeen cinemas, some of which could hold as many as three thousand people. Many had grand exteriors designed to pull in the punters, and barrel-vaulted ceilings with ornate plasterwork. The screenings themselves – shorts, travelogues and newsreels – lasted around ninety minutes, until the arrival of longer features in 1914. Movies were projected onto a white plaster screen, with a pianist or small orchestra providing music and sound effects; a member of the audience often read the titles out loud for those unable to read. The cinema building boom continued into the 1920s and 30s, with film-going at its highest during and immediately after World War Two. Then cultural shifts – and the rise of TV – took their toll, and many picture palaces succumbed to the wrecker’s ball in the 1960s and 70s. Perhaps the greatest loss was the Hackney Pavilion, a ‘super-cinema’ opposite the Hackney Empire. This purpose-built beauty opened in 1914 and seated 1500 people; it was decorated in flamboyant Edwardian Baroque style, with a dramatic recessed arched entrance. The cinema was replaced in the 1970s by the feeble attempt at Brutalism that is Barclays bank. Many of these grand old buildings survive, though transformed long ago for other uses. Stand back from Efes Snooker Club at 17b Kingsland Road, and you can still see the bold lines of the Deco ABC cinema. Next time you stumble out

of the Clapton Hart (p48), look behind the hoardings next door and you’ll spot the little 1910 Clapton Cinematograph, which saw another incarnation as the notorious Palace Pavilion nightclub and is now owned by the St Mary of Zion Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Shoppers in the upmarket Spar at 64–66 Brooksby’s Walk are inside the former Deco Electric cinema: ‘Electric’ was a common name for movie houses at a time when the technology was still a novelty. The classic Vogue sign from the vanished Majestic cinema – built in 1919 and renamed Vogue in 1940 – survives above Testis Turkish restaurant at 38 Stoke Newington High Street.


Lost cinemas


Hackney Film Club The club’s new year-long strand is TEA, launching May 2 in Dalston Square: they will show Turkish and east Asian releases. CLR James Library, Dalston Lane E8 3BQ; first Thurs of the month 5.30pm; free to library members

Film + theatre

Umit & Son An extraordinary and fantastically jumbled shop selling cinema collectibles, including rare Soviet cameras, Super 8 and Super 16 reels, VHS tapes, posters and toys. 35 Lower Clapton Road E5 0NS; Mon–Sat 10am–7pm

Theatre Arcola Theatre A brilliantly diverse programme, with an emphasis on experimentation and social relevance. Look out for shows by simple8, who employ the simplest of props and unaccompanied song to wonderful effect, and for the Grimeborn festival of new opera in August. In line with its boundarypushing artistic policy, the Arcola is also a pioneer environmentally: it’s the world’s first carbon-neutral theatre. 24 Ashwin Street E8 3DL, arcolatheatre. com; from £15, Tues ‘pay what you can’ Big House Theatre Big House works with care-leavers, using performance as a means of confidencebuilding and catharsis. Many productions are inspired by the actors’ life stories. Hackney Downs Studios, Amhurst Terrace E8 2BT,; £10 Courtyard Theatre Located in a former public library near where some of Shakespeare’s plays were first performed, the Courtyard has a 150seat house and an 80-seat studio theatre. It shows plays, live music and comedy. 40 Pitfield Street N1 6EU, thecourtyard.; from £7

Hackney Empire It’s hard to capture the breadth of what the Empire presents, from comedy nights to opera to dance spectaculars to the legend that is the annual Panto. A night out here shouldn’t be missed, not least to see the stunning scarlet and gold auditorium. 291 Mare Street E8 1EJ, hackneyempire.; from £11 Hoxton Hall Built in 1863 by a local philanthropist, this jewellery-box music hall is one of Hackney’s treasures. In its heyday the hall presented songs, sketches and turns featuring trapeze artists, jugglers, acrobats and performing dogs. It later became a mission hall and then a social club, and now specialises in youth arts and performance. The auditorium has had a major renovation, meaning this lovely little space is reclaiming its place in the artistic life of the borough. 130 Hoxton Street N1 6SH,

Yard Theatre The Hackney Wick Yard, built from reclaimed materials, is all about new ideas and new writing, and is a great forum for young writers to get started. There’s also a convivial restaurant and bar, which hosts regular live music, pop-ups and events. Unit 2a Queen’s Yard E9 5EN, theyard; from £12.50

Inside Hackney

Hackney’s wealth of warehouse studios has made the borough a magnet for artists: a key date in the art calendar is Hackney WickEd (, when Hackney Wick studios open their doors and you can buy work by local artists, take part in workshops and see site-specific pieces and performance art. Rivington Place in Shoreditch is the borough’s major public gallery, with a consistently interesting and challenging programme, and there is also a large number of independent and commercial spaces. Vyner Street, immediately south of Hackney (p11) hosts a cluster of galleries as well as the ambitious Lime Wharf arts centre (p88).



64 Art

Arts centres


The Proud Archivist Canalside multi-arts venue, with eclectic events ranging from wildlife drawing classes (paint a real iguana or donkey; see opposite) to creative writing workshops, Voga (80s yoga), comedy nights and acoustic folk. They also serve Britishfocused food including brunch (till 5pm) and evening meals, and there’s a long bar. 2–10 Hertford Road N1 5ET,; daily 8am–10.30pm

Life drawing Untutored artist-run life drawing, upstairs in the Star pub. They provide drawing boards and paper – and a model. The twofor-one cocktail offer from the bar may or may not aid the artistic process. The Star by Hackney Downs, 35 Queensdown Road E5 8NN, starby; Thurs 7.30–9pm; £7

Rivington Place Shoreditch visual arts centre that features the work of London’s black community, as well as exhibitions by international artists in the capital. The Black Chronicles archival project recently showcased studio portraits on glass-plate negatives, giving a fascinating window on the black and Asian presence in the UK in the nineteenth century. The design inspiration of the building itself, by David Adjaye, was a latticed Sowei mask from Sierra Leone. Rivington Place also houses the Stuart Hall Library, an education space and a café. Rivington Place EC2A 3BA, rivingtonplace. org; Tues, Wed & Fri 11am–6pm, Thurs 11am–9pm, Sat noon–6pm

Mosaic classes Drop-in mosaic classes for adults or kids. Apply your designs to ceramics, frames or furniture, or create your own sign or house number. Hackney City Farm, 1a Goldsmiths Row E2 8QA,; Thurs 7–9pm; £6.50 per session + small amount towards materials Print Club London Workshops run by professional printers, taking you from a history of screenprinting to art-working, exposing your screens and printing. There are also T-shirt printing courses, and cyanotype workshops, as well as advanced screenprinting sessions. Unit 3, Millers Ave E8 2DS, print; from £50 for a one-day beginner’s workshop Turning Earth Ceramics This inspired community art project makes potting affordable and accessible. Set under a couple of brick railway arches in Haggerston, Turning Earth run four- to twelve-week classes in throwing, firing and glazing. Pay a membership fee and you can drop in to use the facilities. Railway Arches 361–362, Whiston Road E2 8BW, Wild Life Drawing A brilliant idea, carried out with respect for the animals involved: each month you draw a different beast, from 4m-long

Banner Repeater Forget platform 9¾ – this is Hackney, where platform 1 of Hackney Downs Station is home to reading room and project space Banner Repeater. There’s a bookshop selling artists’ publications and an esoteric programme of talks. Hackney Downs Station, Dalston Lane E8 1JZ,; Tues–Thurs 8–11am, Fri 8am–6pm, Sat & Sun noon–6pm Cock’n’Bull The CNB gallery is downstairs from the Tramshed restaurant, which displays Damien Hirst’s Cock and Bull (2012) – the two animals floating in formaldehyde murk. They host monthly exhibitions, workshops, poetry nights and charity auctions. Tramshed, 32 Rivington Street EC2A 3LX,; daily 11am– 6.30pm Flowers The east London sister of the Cork Street Flowers gallery shows work in all media by established and ascending artists. 82 Kingsland Road E2 8DP, flowersgallery. com; Tues–Sat 10am–6pm

Residence Gallery An artist-run gallery in Victoria Park village, which styles itself a ‘commercial and conceptual contemporary fine art venue’. 229 Victoria Park Road E9 7HD,; Wed–Sat 11am–6pm, Sun noon–5pm Space Studios Gallery space at the HQ of visual arts organization Space, which for years has been providing affordable studios for local artists. Exhibitions reflect the charity’s commitment to promoting innovation. 129–131 Mare Street E8 3RH,; Mon–Fri 10am–5pm, Sat & Sun noon–6pm Stour Space An appealing exhibition space, not least because of its proximity to the canalside Counter Café. It’s a brilliant showcase for Hackney Wick’s artist community. 7 Roach Road E3 2PA,; daily 9am–5pm Tina We Salute You This small corner café employs local artists to imaginatively revamp the decor every six weeks, as well as the wall outside. The coffee and pastries are pretty good too. 47 King Henry’s Walk N1 4NH,; Mon–Fri 8am–6pm,



Print House Gallery It’s always worth popping into the downstairs gallery at Bootstrap (p14): recent exhibitions have explored the life of bees (with proceeds to Bootstrap’s own beehives), the traditional justice system in postwar Sierra Leone, and abandoned Bronx streetscapes. 18 Ashwin Street E8 3DL,; daily 10am–5pm


pythons to bats to lizards. Materials are provided, plus guidance if needed. The Proud Archivist (see opposite),

‘Hackney Flowers was an in-depth photographic study of Hackney Wick, an attempt to use photography not just as a descriptive tool, but as a way of recording the essence and feeling of the place. I had been obsessively collecting seeds and flowers from the area and pressing them. I took photos of Hackney Wick with a cheap plastic camera, and laid the seeds and petals on the prints, rephotographing them with a high-quality medical camera. It created a confusion of scale and photographic quality. I felt I had begun to undermine and question my ideas about the medium. (Image opposite.) A Series of Disappointments was born of necessity. I felt very strongly about the ever-growing number of betting shops in Hackney. Through a loophole in the law they are classed as ‘financial services’ – they are allowed to open unchecked. It’s tragic. I didn’t want to photograph people betting because it is a sensitive and private activity. I was looking for a way to articulate my feelings about the subject, and one evening I looked through a betting-shop

window and saw a littering of crumpled betting slips. They seemed to carry human emotions within them; I began to collect them. I approached each slip as a portrait of the person who had held it – I photographed them at night, with no added luminosity, to give them a strong, uniform feel. Afterwards I carefully unravelled each one – each felt like a little autopsy. The information on each slip – the name of the bet and the amount of money spent – provided the title for each image. The series Best Before End is an attempt to reflect and respond to the intensity of inner-city life by focusing on the phenomenal rise of energy drinks. These powerful and potentially dangerous stimulants are being sold and consumed in ever-increasing quantities as the demands of modern life and the growth of a 24-hour society almost forbid us to become tired. With Best Before End I decided to give the subject of the series a direct physical presence in the images. The colour negative films were part-processed and soaked in energy drinks, which caused image shifts and disruptions and softened the film emulsion. This softening allowed for manual stretching, moving, tearing and distortion of the layers of film emulsion to take place, and further manual shifts were added with a soft brush while the emulsion was still pliable. All the drinks were sourced in east London, which is also where the images were made.’

Inside Hackney

Stephen Gill is a photographer for whom Hackney has been an inspiration and an obsession for twenty years. Here he discusses three of his series: Hackney Flowers (2003–2007; pictured), A Series of Disappointments (2008) and Best Before End (2012–2013). Under his imprint Nobody, Stephen has published all three projects in the form of beautiful clothbound books, the most recent with a commentary by Will Self.


Inside Hackney: Stephen Gill

Wall & Jones

Inside Hackney

As you’d expect in a borough crammed with artists and fashion designers, Hackney has some beautiful and imaginative shops. You’ll find a particularly good choice when it comes to dressing ethically and on a budget. And if you’re after food from around the world, you’re definitely in the right borough: the markets are superb. In this section we also list the best stuff made locally, from bespoke underwear to furniture crafted from the borough’s own trees. Plus find out where to buy art supplies, fabrics, bikes, boards, books and booze.


Shops + markets


Art and crafts

Shops + markets

Cabbages + Kings An airy shop and gallery space selling fresh and fun gifts, crafts, funky jewels, books and stationery from young designers. They are also home to Knit with Attitude, which sells ethical and ecofriendly yarns. 127 Stoke Newington High Street N16 0PH,; Mon–Sat 10am–6pm, Sun noon–6pm Glory Fabrics One of several stalls on this strip selling bolts of wax-printed fabrics from Holland, in a fabulous array of prints and colours. Great for making clothes and upholstery. 48 Ridley Road E8 2LH; Mon–Thurs 6am–6pm, Fri & Sat 6am–7pm

Jackson’s Art Supplies Located on a Stokey backstreet, Jackson’s – run by artists for artists – sells pretty much every art material or piece of kit you could ever want, including a range of paints and papers. 1 Farleigh Place N16 7SX, jacksons; Mon–Fri 9am–5.30pm, Sat 10am–6pm Print Club London As well as running workshops (p64), the Print Club has a gallery where you can buy prints made on the premises; from £20. 10–28 Millers Avenue E8 2DS, printclub; Mon–Fri 9am–6pm

YCN Colourful and cleverly curated shop representing the artists’ collective YCN (You Can Now). They sell prints, ceramics, art books and intriguing gifts, including terrariums: glass containers holding mini plant ecosystems. 72 Rivington Street EC2A 3AY, ycn. org; Mon–Fri 10am–6pm, Sat & Sun 11am–4pm

Bikes + boards There’s no shortage of bike shops in the area, many of them serving flat whites on the side. Try Hackney Bike Workshop (p88) to learn bike-fixing skills. A & S Cycles This trusty Chatsworth Road shop has been around for thirty years, offering sales, servicing and repairs. 1 Chatsworth Road E5 0LH, aandscycles. com; Tues 10am–3pm, Wed–Fri 9am– 6pm, Sat 11am–6pm, Sun noon–4pm Toms Skate Shop Skater-owned store selling boards, classy clothes, accessories and footwear: the gallery downstairs shows urban art. 76 Stoke Newington High Street N16 7PA,; Mon noon –7pm,Tues–Sat 10am–7pm, Sun 10am–5pm

Books + vinyl Artwords Funky bookstore with a focus on visual art, photography, architecture, fashion and graphics. Plus uber-cool style mags and a few contemporary kids’ and cookery titles. 20–22 Broadway Market E8 4QJ, artwords.; Mon–Fri 10.30am–8pm, Sat & Sun 10am–6pm Broadway Bookshop Proudly independent store specialising in literary fiction, with a good kids’ section

Hackney top five: made in the borough

Kristina Records Carefully curated new and secondhand vinyl. Progressive music, from avant-garde Afro-funk to heavy soulful house, plus in-store DJ sets. 44 Stoke Newington Road N16 7XJ,; Mon–Sat noon–8pm, Sun noon–7pm

Buttress and Snatch Vintage-inspired swimwear and frilly, dotty or tasselled lingerie, carefully custom-made to your measurements in an old Turkish Delight factory in Stamford Hill.

Bellerby and Co Beautiful old-fashioned terrestrial and celestial globes, handcrafted in a Stokey warehouse and sold around the world.

The Fashion Hub around Morning Lane looks set to take the borough’s shopping upmarket – there’s already a longestablished Burberry Factory Shop in the area, as well as an Anya Hindmarch and other posh outlets. 69b This inviting Broadway Market boutique sells eco fashion with a cutting edge: labels include People Tree, Ancient Greek Sandals and Veja, who make trainers with sustainable wild-rubber soles. 69b Broadway Market E8 4PH,; Mon–Fri 10.30am– 6.30pm, Sat 10am–6pm, Sun 11am–6pm

Sugru Mouldable glue that turns into rubber! This clever stuff is made in Hackney and can, basically, fix anything. Check the website to explore its multiple uses, including for craft projects and ingenious life hacks.

Hackney top five

Dalston Cola Invented as a rum mixer at Passing Clouds (p55), and handmade with Nigerian cola nuts sourced from Ridley Road Market. They also produce Raw Fiyah ginger beer and Real Lemonade. Hackney spoons Carved in and from the woodland at Abney Park, these are lovely objects to own and use. Drinking cups and furniture are also available; learn to make your own pieces at their workshops (p89).



and an inspiring travel selection that mixes guidebooks with novels and poetry. There are monthly readings by local authors such as Iain Sinclair and novelist and filmmaker Xiaolu Guo. 6 Broadway Market E8 4QJ, broadway; Mon–Sat 10am–6pm, Sun 11am–5pm

72 Shops + markets

Branch on the Park Victoria Park jewellers with a nice line in rings combining precious metals with unusual gemstones; they can also upcycle your old, unwanted jewellery. The Unity collection – featuring entwined hands and arms – supports homeless women, and birthstone bracelets make a good, affordable gift. 227 Victoria Park Road E9 7HD,; Wed–Sat 10am–6pm, Sun 11am–5pm Circle Sports A great initiative featuring sports and streetwear from young Hackney designers – some of it showcased at in-store fashion shows. Their apprenticeship scheme helps young people into work, building skills and increasing confidence. 136 Kingsland High Street E8 2NS,; Mon–Sat 10am–6pm Paper Dress Vintage Handpicked, high-quality secondhand clothes from the Victorian era to the 1980s. They also have a cute bar selling local beers, and regular imaginative events, including a fashion illustration life drawing class, jive lessons, lectures (‘nerd nights’), parties and gigs. Until Aug 2015: 114–116 Curtain Place EC2A 3AH, after Aug check the website for the new location,; Mon 10am–9pm, Tues 10am–10.30pm, Wed–Sat 10am–11.30pm, Sun noon–6pm Pelicans & Parrots First stop for an Italian designer bargain in Hackney. There are two branches: no 40 features beautiful vintage clothes from the 1970s to 90s, handpicked in Italy and lovingly arrayed by colour, as well as jewellery and feathered carnival masks. No 81 displays new and vintage homeware, plus clothing, and there’s a rum bar downstairs for events and private parties.

40 Stoke Newington Road N16 7XJ; daily 11.30am–7.30pm + 81 Stoke Newington Road N16 7XJ; daily 11am–7pm;

Traid Traid has Hackney’s best-dressed window, as well as a plethora of secondhand clothing bargains. They also stock Traidremade clothes, created from reclaimed textiles, including two upscale collections: well-crafted menswear by Percival including slim-fitting suits, and women’s clothes – including playsuits and wool coats – from Olivia Hegarty. 106–108 Kingsland High Street E8 2NS,; Mon–Sat 10am–6pm, Sun 11am–5pm Wall & Jones This glorious boutique excels at ‘vintage pimping’: revamping old brocade, tartans and patchwork. Their signature dresses feature a patterned panel framed by a panier. Reinventions of your old garments can be done in-house, and jewellers mix old and new pieces to glam effect. 340 Hackney Road E2 7AX, walland; Wed 1.30–6pm, Thurs–Sun 11am–6pm

Food + drink Bottle Apostle Try wine samples before you buy at this buzzy Victoria Park wine shop. They also

Deli Downstairs Fine food store in a beautifully restored Victoria Park grocers, with great baked goods such as venison pies, a British and French cheese counter and refill wine from wooden casks. Their whitewashed and tiled café, housed in an old stable, sells snacks, coffees and drinks. 211 Victoria Park Road E9 7JN,; Mon–Fri 9am– 7pm, Sat 9am–6pm, Sun 9am–4pm Food For All Established in 1976, this not-for-profit business was a pioneer for veggie wholefoods in the area – and it’s still going strong. The key selling point is the druidic array of dried herbs, tinctures and superfoods. They also run yoga classes upstairs. 3 Cazenove Road N16 6PA, foodforall.; Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Sat 10am– 6pm, Sun 11am–4pm Isle of Olive This lovely small shop focuses on a few Greek products: olive oil, olives (stored in handmade ceramic pots), honey, wild herbs and wine, plus a few natural beauty

London Star Night Supermarket A rambling Asian store with hard-to-find goods such as Thai basil, rambutan and dragon fruit. Plus a huge range of oils, varieties of tofu, spring-roll wrappers and gaudily pretty paper lanterns, plastic flowers, chopsticks and bowls – all to a banging Asian pop soundtrack. 203–213 Mare Street E8 3QE; daily 10.30am–midnight Palm 2 This airy wood-beamed shop has transformed a corner of Clapton into a community hub. There’s an excellent wine section as well as a deli, fruit and veg, fresh bread and tinned and packaged cornershop classics. 152–156 Lower Clapton Road E5 0QJ,; Mon–Thurs & Sun 6.30am– midnight, Fri & Sat 6.30am–1am

Home Paradise Works Pared-down mid-century Scandi furniture and elegant homewares, displayed in a Victorian carbonic acid factory. 142 Lea Bridge Road E5 9RB,; Mon–Fri by appt, Sat 10am–5pm, Sun 11am–4pm

Shops + markets

De Beauvoir Deli Half neighbourhood café, half upmarket food store, this is a great lunch stop – try their homemade salads or a sausage roll in flaky pastry. Foodie gifts include posh chocolates, chutneys, jams and honey. 98 Southgate Road N1 3JD,; Mon–Fri 8am– 8pm, Sat 8am–6pm, Sun 9am–4pm

products. You can enjoy a pastry and a Greek coffee as you browse. 6 Ada Street E8 4QU,; Tues–Sat 10am–7pm, Sun 11am–6pm


stock a great range of the borough’s artisan beers (p49), while the weekly Spiritual Wednesday event explores the delights of rye whiskies, brandies and gins. 95 Lauriston Road E9 7HJ, bottleapostle. com; Mon–Fri noon–9pm, Sat 10am–8pm, Sun 10am–6pm

74 Shops + markets

Search & Rescue There’s a rapid turnover in this cool, friendly store, which means there’s always something new to tempt you among the vintage homewares – mismatched crockery and glass jars, collectible ceramics and upcycled mirrors – as well as organic beauty products, swanky candles, funky pendant necklaces and exquisite stationery. Much is sourced from France, and French radio provides the soundtrack. 129 Stoke Newington Church Street N16 0UH, searchandrescuelondon.; Mon–Sat 10.30am–6.30pm, Sun 11am–6pm SPC Gorgeous Shoreditch store and furniture manufacturer. As well as their own pieces – they upholster in Norfolk, create wooden furniture in Slovenia, have textiles woven in Wales and ceramics made in Stoke-onTrent – SPC sells other covetable lighting and homewares. 135–139 Curtain Road EC2A 3BX, scp.; Mon–Sat 9.30am–6pm, Sun 11am–5pm

Ridley Road Bargain fruit and veg, some of it piled up on traditional old barrows, plus African, Caribbean and Asian ingredients and excellent tasty fast food from around the world – try the Turkish bread cooked as you wait at Ararat (no 132). On Saturday, seek out Chapie Trini’s Doubles stall at the eastern end of the market, where the delightful Chapie sells Trinidadian specials: doubles (flatbread encasing mild chickpea curry and relishes), pholourie (savoury fritters) and chicken pelau rice. Also at the eastern end, the Turkish Food Centre (no 89) is great for sweet and savoury pastries, olives, oils and fresh produce. Another market speciality is fabric, especially from Asia and Africa; try Glory Fabrics (p70) or Dalston Mill Fabrics at nos 69–73. Ridley Road E8 2LH; Mon–Thurs 6am–6pm, Fri & Sat 6am–7pm

Markets Broadway Market Supremely good and varied food market, with everything from stalls heaped with fruit and veg to Ghanaian hot meals, homemade Scotch eggs, multicoloured meringues and artisanal cheese, bread and salmon. Proceeds from the market go to local charities. Round the corner in the School Yard you’ll find crafts, bric-a-brac and still more food. Broadway Market E8 4QL, broadway; Sat 9am–5pm

Stoke Newington Farmers’ Market Buy direct from small producers in and around London at this weekly market run by Growing Communities (p88). You’ll find seasonal organic fruit, veg and herbs, plus raw milk and cheeses, sourdough bread, outlandish mushrooms, fantastic cakes, Turkish borek, seafood, meat and homemade pasta. St Paul’s West Hackney, cnr Stoke Newington Road & Amhurst Road N16 7UY,; Sat 10am–2.30pm

Inside Hackney

With a city farm, umpteen playgrounds and several brilliantly imaginative learning projects, Hackney has plenty to keep kids happy. We’ve listed some favourite classes, places and experiences both indoors and out, including swimming, dancing, music, playing board games, reading and watersports. For more inspiration on entertaining children in the borough, check out Hackney WOW! (, a local guide made by kids for kids, and the excellent Hackney Pirates Guide to Hackney.






Dalston Eastern Curve Garden This community garden is a great retreat during half-terms and holidays, running art and design workshops inspired by nature and serving pizza from the wood-fired oven. The pumpkin-carving workshops at Halloween are a highlight – the lighting ceremony at the end as night falls is truly magical, the garden glimmering with carefully crafted lanterns. 13 Dalston Lane E8 3DF, dalstongarden. org; daily from 11am, till 11pm most nights in summer; free

Haggerston Park The undulating BMX track at Haggerston Park will keep bike-obsessed kids happy for hours. Goldsmith’s Row E2 8QH; free, coaching sessions Sun 10am with Hackney BMX Club bikes £3 Laburnum Boat Club A youth club, open to young people aged 9 to 19, with canoeing and kayaking on Regent’s Canal as well as landlubber activities: arts and crafts, cooking, clambering on the climbing wall, table tennis and aeroball, a combination of basketball and trampolining. Families can try canoeing or narrowboating and spend quality time together in Family Club, and there are term-time classes for young people with disabilities. Laburnum Street E2 8BH, laburnumboat; during term time Tues & Wed 5–7pm, Sat 11–4pm; school holidays also Mon–Fri 10am–4pm; £2. Family Club Sun 10am–1pm; £2. Sports clubs for young people with disabilities during term time Mon & Thurs 4–7pm

Hackney City Farm Take a country break in the city at Haggerston’s Hackney City Farm, where kids can see and feed the animals and join an array of workshops, including baby music classes, pottery and meetings of the Woodcraft Folk. 1a Goldsmith’s Row E2 8QA, hackney; Tues–Sun 10am–4.30pm; from £5 for classes

Swimming and diving Clissold Leisure Centre (p81) has a dedicated toddler pool, and a training pool for classes and family sessions. The Tom Daley Diving Academy is based at the London Aquatics Centre (p80), with lessons for kids and adults.

Hackney Wild Walks Download colourful walking guides devised for families by social enterprise Outdoor People, taking you on a series of unexpectedly wild rambles through the borough. Seek out a hidden snake sculpture, kite-flying spots and a mysterious castle.; free

West Reservoir Centre Take to the water at this surprisingly huge Stoke Newington reservoir and enjoy an open-water swim, plus sailing and kayaking classes for both kids and adults. The neighbouring east reservoir is a wetlands nature reserve. Green Lanes N4 2HA, stoke-newington-west-reservoir-centre

Ballet and karate Karate classes and ballet lessons taught by professional dancers from the C-12 Dance Theatre are available at Clapton arts venue Chats Palace. 42–44 Brooksby’s Walk E9 6DF,; ballet taster lesson taster £6, karate £8 Draughts Café This Haggerston board games café, under the railway arches, has been a big hit with the grown-ups, and is crammed with families at weekends. Choose from literally hundreds of games on display at the far end, grab a drink and get playing – you can ask a friendly in-house ‘games guru’ for help if you’re stuck. 337 Acton Mews E8 4EA, www.draughts; Tues–Thurs 5–11pm, Fri 5pm–midnight, Sat 10am–midnight, Sun 11am–midnight; £5 adults, £3 children

Clapton Square Simple and leafy, this toddlers’ play area in the lovely setting of a Georgian Square has a tyre to swing on, seat swings, a wooden train and a hut with ladder and slide. Clissold Park Kid heaven, thanks to the animals: there’s an aviary, and an enclosure for deer, goats and chickens, as well as a summer butterfly dome, paddling pool, impressive playground, table-tennis tables and a skate park. Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park Outside the bounds of Hackney, but it’s well worth the trip to the outstanding Tumbling Bay playground (picture below), where you’ll find sand pits, treehouses, wobbly bridges, rock pools, slides and swings. Snake Park Round the back of Haggerston Station, this play area has a glittering mosaic snake winding through it, plus monkey bars, a sand pit, a three-person see-saw, hammocks and a trampoline. Victoria Park The BMX track and skate park is the main draw in this spacious park. You can cool off in the summer splash pool or pedalo, or row on the pond in summer.

Hackney top five

Adrenalin Dance and Hackney Children’s Theatre An array of dance classes at St John at Hackney: romp and roll for toddlers, breakdance, contemporary dance and street moves. Hackney Children’s Theatre puts on monthly shows geared to children, also at St John at Hackney. St John at Hackney Church, Lower Clapton Road E5 0PD,,

Hackney top five: best play areas


Rainy days


Geffrye Museum The Geffrye Museum (p20) offers free events for children throughout the year, from baking classes to magic lessons to craft workshops. 136 Kingsland Road E2 8EA,


Hackney Picturehouse A great spot on a rainy Saturday morning and a brilliant way to start the weekend: blockbusters and classic children’s films are screened every week at the Kids’ Club. 270 Mare Street E8 1HE, picturehouses.; children aged 3–12; membership £4 a year, tickets for members and accompanying adults £1.50 Hoxton Hall A excellent array of free workshops: 7–13 year olds can learn to make puppets, dance hip-hop and join a band, while 7–19s can take drama classes with professional actors, perform in open mic nights and learn to produce and record music. 130 Hoxton Street N1 6SH;; free Monster Supplies Shop Styled as an old-fashioned confectioners, Monster Supplies sells deliciously creepy treats: glass jars filled with eyeball sweets, guts and garlic chutney, and organ marmalade. All proceeds go the Ministry of Stories (p85). 159 Hoxton Street N1 6PJ, monster; Tues–Fri 1–5pm, Sat 11am–5pm Rhythm Studio Rock and Pop Academy A chance for parents to say ‘it wasn’t like this in my day’, as their kids spend a week forming a band, recording a CD and finally getting a gig at a local venue. In addition, they can join production classes learning

composition, video-making, remixing and DJing. Rhythm Studio East also runs regular classes, with one-to-one tuition or band sessions. Rhythm Studio East, Dalston Studios, Stamford Works, Gillett Square N16 8JH,; from £195; regular classes from £250 for a ten-week term

Ship of Adventures The ship-shaped shop of brilliant literacy charity Hackney Pirates (p84), supporting their work. Browse Hackney guides and audio projects created by local children, and buy jewellery handmade by HP volunteers, ethical gifts and kids’ books. There’s also a zero-waste café. 138 Kingsland High Street E8 2NS; Victoria Park Bookshop A great choice for kids, with a range of teen fiction as well as picture books. 174 Victoria Park Road E9 7HD, victoria; daily 10am–5.30pm

Inside Hackney

With more than its fair share of green spaces, Hackney is a great place to work out in the fresh air. There’s a good choice of leisure centres too, plus alternative options if you’d rather swing or climb your way to fitness. Whether you want to kick a ball, have a run, dance, swim or pump some weights, these listings should send you in the right direction. We’ve also included hairdressers, a holistic health centre and a Turkish hamam to help you look good and feel good.


Health + wellbeing


Work out Go to to book a tennis court in one of the borough’s beautiful parks. You’ll find skate parks at Clissold Park and Victoria Park and, in summer, the brilliant Frontside Gardens in Hackney Wick.

Health + wellbeing

British Military Fitness If your idea of fun is being shouted at outdoors as you’re put through some strenuous paces, this could be for you. Team games, circuits and strength exercises increase your fitness fast; classes are geared to varying abilities. Royal Gate East, Victoria Park E9 7HJ,; Mon 7pm, Wed 7.30pm, Sat 8.45am; from £38 monthly Castle Climbing Centre Based in a brilliantly eccentric castlelike folly (a Victorian pumping station redesigned in the 1990s by Nicholas Grimshaw, architect of the Eden Project), Castle Climbing features varied bouldering surfaces and more than 450 roped and led routes from 8 to 13m high. There’s also a beautiful garden and an excellent café (p39). Green Lanes N4 2HA, castle-climbing.; Mon–Fri noon–10pm, Sat & Sun 9am–7pm; £13

across the borough to carry out various community assignments – gardening at a primary school for example, or helping an estate to maintain its communal areas. Another option is to be assigned a ‘coach’ – an older person who motivates you to run: the idea is that you run to meet them, bringing groceries, and stay for a chat. Meet Tues 6.45pm Superfit Gym, 406 Mentmore Terrace E8 3PH, areas/hackney

Football Hackney Marsh The marsh has more than eighty pitches (football, rugby and cricket) and a great history of Sunday league football: Bobby Moore, Terry Venables and David Beckham have all played here. Book pitches through the weathered steel Hackney Marshes Centre, where there are changing rooms and a café. Homerton Road E9 5PF, leisure/hackney-marshes, hackneyand to join a team Powerleague Four railway arches in Shoreditch cleverly converted to house 4-a-side pitches. They’re used for kids’ parties and events, and are super-popular for post-work games. There are 5- and 7-a-side pitches at a branch on Braithwaite Street. 384 Old Street, Arches 456–460 EC1V 9LT,; Mon–Thurs 9am–10.30pm, Fri & Sat 9am–5pm; £35


Good Gym A running club with a mission – you meet up in London Fields and run with a group

London Aquatics Centre Just outside Hackney, but well worth the journey: swim like a champ in Zaha Hadid’s glorious wave-shaped Olympic creation. There’s a 50m competition pool, a training pool and a dive pool, plus a gym. Olympic Park E20 2ZQ, londonaquatics; daily 6am–10.30pm; £3.50

Light Yoga Space An attractive De Beauvoir warehouse space focusing on Sivananda: classical hatha yoga plus breathing exercises and relaxation. Drop-in all-ability classes and courses. 100 De Beauvoir Road N1 4EN,; £14 Pop yoga Saturday yoga at the Proud Archivist, with a pop soundtrack. There’s an emphasis on body confidence and a combination of kundalini and ashtanga moves. The Proud Archivist, 2–10 Hertford Road N1 5ET, @popyogalondon; Sat 10am; £10

Britannia Shoreditch centre with a gym, swimming pool, 5-a-side football, climbing wall and netball and squash courts. 40 Hyde Road N1 5JU, leisure/britannia-leisure-centre; Mon–Fri 7am–10pm, Sat & Sun 8am–8pm Clissold Impressive modern facility with two great pools plus gym, squash court, creche and a range of fitness classes. 63 Clissold Road N16 9EX, leisure/clissold-leisure-centre; Mon–Fri 6.30am–10pm, Sat 8am–7pm, Sun 8am–5pm Kings Hall Built of Portland stone in 1897, historic Kings Hall was once a public bathhouse. There’s a gym, sauna and steam room, sports hall and a once-grand swimming pool, now a bit down-at-heel, with a wrought-iron balcony. 39 Lower Clapton Road E5 0NU, better.; Mon–Fri 6.30am–10pm, Sat & Sun 8am–8pm Queensbridge Sport and Community Centre Small centre with a sports hall and dance studio; they run zumba, yoga and pilates classes. 30 Holly Street E8 3XW, leisure/queensbridge-sport-and-community-centre; Mon–Fri 9am–10pm, Sat 9am–6pm, Sun 10am–6pm

Yoga Home Long-established Stoke Newington yoga studios with special classes to help with labour and birth; they also offer pilates, meditation and dance for kids, plus shiatsu and acupuncture. 11 Allen Road N16 8SB,; £13, community yoga (Wed 1–2pm) £6

SPACe Good all-round sports facilities just off Kingsland Road: you’ll find basketball, 5-a-side football and badminton courts, plus a gym and yoga and dance classes. 31 Falkirk Street N1 6HQ,; Mon–Fri 7.30am–10pm, Sat & Sun 9am–7pm

Hackney top five


Hackney top five: leisure centres


London Fields Lido This immaculately restored 50m 1930s lido is a gorgeous spot for an open-air swim. It’s gently heated in winter, and open late for atmospheric evening dips. London Fields West Side E8 3EU, better.; daily 6.30am–9pm; £3.40



Health + wellbeing

Cakewalk Café Dancing, flirting and exercise combined: professionally run swing classes downstairs at the Passing Clouds live music venue (p55) are followed by dancefloor antics upstairs, accompanied by a live swing/ jazz band. Passing Clouds, 1 Richmond Road E8 4AA,; Wed 7pm–12.30am; classes £8, club £5 after 9pm, free with class Morning Glory Morning rave at the Oval Space (7– 10.30am) with hi-energy dancing, hot DJs, gorgeous scanty outifts, and no concession to the surreally early hour. Coffee, pastries and a juice bar keep you going, plus there are yoga classes and massage. 29–32 The Oval E2 9DT,; check website for dates; from £12

Tea dance, Shoreditch Town Hall Held in the ornate Victorian Assembly Hall, this event will have you tripping the light fantastic on the sprung maple floor. An optional dance class at noon gets you in the mood for the Latin, quickstep, swing and foxtrot to come, plus there’s tea and a slice of cake. All ages welcome. 380 Old Street EC1V 9LT,, monthly on a Mon, noon–4pm; £5, £2 for dance class

TripSpace Projects TripSpace is an innovative dance and yoga studio teaching expressive improvised dance, Afro-Brazilian moves, contemporary dance for kids, classes for professional dancers and yoga sessions. Arches 339–340, Acton Mews E8 4EA,; classes from £10

Hamam, health + haircuts Hamam Ignore the insalubrious-looking exterior – this is an authentic hamam in the heart of Dalston, complete with a marble steam room that transports you to Istanbul (well, almost). Full-body scrubs, foam treatments and highly recommended massages. 4A Crossway N16 8HX, 020 7249 5554,; women Mon, Wed & Sat 10am–10pm, men Tues, Thurs, Fri & Sun noon–3am; from £20 Holistic Health A great variety of treatments and therapies, from podiatry to hypnotherapy, massage to relationship and sex counselling, plus yoga, mat pilates and meditation classes. Their vouchers make a good local gift. 64 Broadway Market E8 4QJ, holistic; treatments from £50 Strop and Blade Get your hot hipster fuzz seen to at this cute mini-barber’s in the Hatch café. Unit g2, Mackintosh Lane E9 6AB, 0771 556 5991; cuts and hot towel shave £20, beard trims and buzz cuts £10 Studio 90 Sunlit hair salon in a handsome De Beauvoir warehouse, with a thoughtful approach to your haircutting desires. Appointment only; first floor, 90 De Beauvoir Road N1 4EN, 020 3714 2987 or 07584 354740,; women cut and finish £55, men £40

Inside Hackney

Hackney has always combined a warm heart with a rebel spirit. Diverse but largely harmonious, the borough has an inspiring sense of community. Whether your own interests lie in cooking, planting, languages, music or teaching, this section details some of the countless opportunities available to use your skills, hone them and get involved with the people around you. We also describe some community venues, projects and classes here; for art classes see p64, for dance classes go to p82 and for film clubs see p60.


Our Hackney



Our Hackney

Bags of Taste Cooking classes for Hackney residents on a low budget. Alicia Weston of the Parkholme Supper Club and her team teach people how to create tasty and nutritious meals which cost less than £1 each (p43). Volunteer to help pack ingredients, or to assist with the classes. East London Food Access A brilliantly simple idea: ELFA staff head to New Spitalfields Market in Leyton to buy bargain fruit and vegetables, which they then sell at cost price on Hackney estates and at primary schools. Volunteer stallholders, delivery people and drivers are welcome.

Hackney Migrant Centre This small charity continues Hackney’s centuries-old tradition of welcoming people from around the world; they offer legal support, friendship and food to vulnerable migrants. Volunteers help prepare the weekly lunch, or are trained in advocacy and advisory skills. Speaking another language is a bonus but not essential. Hackney Pirates A truly imaginative literacy programme, with one-to-one lessons held in a

Kingsland Road building kitted out like a galleon. Volunteers – who receive a 3hr training session – read with kids and help with publishing projects; goals are to promote literacy, confidence and perseverance. You can also support the project by buying gifts from the shop. Hackney Winter Night Shelter From January to March, this wonderful project provides beds for the homeless, as church halls around the borough take it in turn to feed and host people for a night. Volunteers work in shifts, either cooking, setting up, welcoming guests and eating with them, staying overnight or clearing up in the morning. Headway East London A canalside day centre for people with acquired brain injuries. Service users come from fourteen boroughs to cook and eat, socialise, garden, receive physical therapy, make art and tell their stories with the help of a writer in residence. You can volunteer with no specific skills if you’d like to find out more about brain injury, or use your abilities to help with particular aspects of nurture and care. Hoxton Trust Established 33 years ago to help regenerate the bomb-damaged area, the Trust offers free legal advice (for everything except immigration) and horticultural courses, which qualify you for unsupervised gardening work. Volunteer laywers who can commit for two days a week are welcome. 8-week level 2 course £750, 8-month diploma £2000, free for long-term unemployed and people referred for addiction, mental health or learning issues;

Tree Musketeers Award winning grassroots network of volunteers who look after Hackney’s trees, planting, watering, mulching and propping them up. TMs also run guided tree walks, help manage the Hackney Community Tree Nursery on Hackney Marsh, and publish the Hackney Tree Calendar. Events are free and open to everyone.

Cordwainers Garden This strip of land at the fashion college has been turned into a great veg garden.They run plant and seed sales, workshops and digging days. London College of Fashion, 182 Mare Street E8 3RE, @CordwainersGrow; open for events only Dalston Eastern Curve Garden An inspiring slice of greenery in urban Dalston on the old Eastern Curve railway line. There’s a café, a pizza oven, abundant veg and herb beds and a fantastic programme of cultural and craft events. 13 Dalston Lane E8 3DF,; daily 11am–dusk (11pm in summer); volunteer Sat 2–6pm Hoxton Community Garden Streetside garden with a hollow caused by a World War Two bomb. It’s maintained by Hoxton Trust volunteers (p84) and has a butterfly farm under the clock tower, fruit trees and a wigloo (willow shelter) for kids. 156 Hoxton Street N1 6SH,; daily dawn–dusk St Mary’s Secret Garden With head-high veg, flowers and herbs and a row of busy beehives, this garden provides training and a nurturing environment for people with learning difficulties. It is dotted with beautifully produced mesostic poems created by local kids with the Ministry of Stories (p85). 50 Pearson Street E2 8EL,, Mon–Fri 9am–5pm West Hackney Rec Ground Restored and reinvented with a Lottery grant, this spacious garden features playgrounds, a stone labyrinth laid into the grass and a community kitchen garden. Evering Road N16 7PX,; daily dawn–dusk

Hackney top five

North London Action for the Homeless An excellent small charity that feeds the homeless and vulnerable twice a week – Monday lunch and Wednesday dinner – at St Paul’s West Hackney church hall. Food comes from donations and from the kitchen garden, which is tended by service users. Volunteers help to prepare food, serve meals, eat and talk with service users, and wash and clear up.

Hackney top five: community gardens


Ministry of Stories With founders including the writer Nick Hornby, the Ministry is a creative writing and literacy centre in Hoxton which brings together Hackney’s artistic professionals with local children (aged 8–18). Volunteerled workshops and writing projects aim to set imaginations free, and boost confidence and communication. A wacky monster-themed store (p78) helps fund the project.


Inside Hackney: Niall + Eusoof

Niall ‘I had been chaplain of the Hackney Police for about a week when the July bombings happened. Eusoof and I met at the police station at a gathering of community leaders. We decided that, rather than pay interfaith lip service, we’d do something practical. Eusoof and his colleague Musa Jabbar marshalled a team of volunteers for the Hackney Winter Night Shelter, and we’ve worked together ever since. And our friends at the Azizye Mosque across the road provide us with soup to start the meal at the shelter, always delivered bang on time at six o’clock and always delicious.

Hackney is unique in its faith integration. But you can’t leave it to chance – it can easily be disrupted. There will always be people on both sides who seek to divide, but we think that adversity can make us stronger and closer. Eusoof and I have observed each other’s faith practice, but now we’re more concerned with what unites us rather than our differences.’ Eusoof ‘After September 11 the police reached out to us. It had been our culture not to be too involved with authority. But we built our relationship with the police, and strengthened links with the Jewish community. We work together with local rabbis on our common interests, and we’re concerned with the rise in anti-Semitism and Islamophobic attacks. At first I was nervous about the Hackney Winter Night Shelter because I felt responsible for our volunteers. But when I saw how it worked I wanted to be involved and work with Niall. It is our practice to focus on giving and helping. Two simple things – we greet each other with salaam. It means so much more than peace – it is safety, security, goodness. And we have a tradition of giving (pronounced hadya), meaning presents, or gifts. There is no ‘us and them’. In the sight of the Almighty God we are all the same. We are all brothers, either in faith, or in mankind.’


Inside Hackney

Eusoof Amerat came to Britain from Rangoon in Burma in 1969, and is of Gujarati Indian descent. He has had many official roles, including trustee of the North London Mosque Trust (Masjid-e-Quba) on Cazenove Road in Stoke Newington. He is a member of the Muslim Jewish Forum, and is part of an independent advisory group working with the police and the local authority. Reverend Niall Weir is originally from Hillsborough in County Down, and has been rector of St Paul’s West Hackney since 2003; he is also the chaplain of Hackney Police. Brought together by tragedy – the July bombings in London in 2005 – Eusoof and Niall have developed a warm friendship. They work together on the Hackney Winter Night Shelter (p84), which houses and feeds the homeless in church halls throughout the coldest months.


Community groups

Our Hackney

Dalston Darlings Dalston’s branch of the WI, with inspiring talks on politics, literature, the arts and fashion, plus craft events, outings and a book club. 1st Wed of the month 7–9.30pm, Duke of Wellington, Balls Pond Road N1 4BL,; subscription charge Growing Communities Award-winning Growing Communities is an organic project in every sense. With deep roots in the Hackney community, they run a successful veg box scheme as well as nurturing three market gardens and the brilliant Patchwork Farm, where scraps of urban Hackney land are transformed into micro gardens. Volunteer, visit, or just buy their beautiful seasonal fruit and veg. They also run the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Stoke Newington (p74). Hackney Bike Workshop Volunteer-run workshops that show you how to fix your bike – rather than fix it for you. The drop-in workshops are free, but you need to bring your own parts. 7–9pm 1st & 3rd Tues of the month at Hackney City Farm, 1a Goldsmiths Row E2 8QA; 2nd Tues of the month at St Michael and All Angels Church, Northwold Road N16 7ED; Hackney Empire Community Choir From the London Olympics opening ceremony to appearances at the Royal Albert Hall, this is a dynamic, diverse and ambitious group, with a wide musical repertoire. There is a no-audition policy – everyone is welcome regardless of ability. Friday rehearsal; donation of £5 per session;

Hackney Singers A 150-member classical choir that rehearses at St Luke’s Church on Homerton Terrace. There is a no-audition policy and you don’t have to read music. Thurs evening during school term time 7.30pm; full fee £165 annually; Posh Club Hackney’s over-60s show the rest of the borough how to party at the brilliant Posh Club, with high tea and high jinks. Cabaret acts include Bollywood dancers, flappers, acrobats and black, Chinese and white Elvises. Advanced booking essential. St Paul’s West Hackney, cnr Stoke Newington Road & Amhurst Road N16 7UY,; Wed noon–4pm; £3

Venues Lime Wharf Located in the artsy enclave of Vyner Street near Victoria Park, Lime Wharf promotes urban regeneration through the arts. Centred around a light-filled café, it features a gallery and performance area as well as a maker space: you can use their laser and vinyl cutting and 3D printing machines for free. There’s an emphasis on experimental art, tech and film, and their music programming – classical and jazz – also breaks boundaries. Vyner Street E2 9DJ,

Chats Palace Learn to swing dance, play folk music or break into song with London’s first sea shanty choir: this large group produces a wonderfully rousing sound. 42–44 Brooksby’s Walk E9 6DF,; choir £6, swing classes £8, six-week singing class from £140 East London Piano Collective This collective of inspiring teachers hosts classes at St John at Hackney and Netil House. Classes are for adults or children; they also teach guitar, violin and singing. St John at Hackney, Lower Clapton Road E5 0PD/Netil House, 1–7 Westgate Street E8 3RL, 0787 6271909,; 30min £17, 1hr, £34

Made in Hackney Cooking classes with a strong emphasis on healthy, vegan and sustainable food, mostly held in Stoke Newington in the same building as Food For All (p73). Masterclasses, including ‘raw food dinner party’ and ‘wild food cookery’ help to fund community cooking projects.; masterclasses £75

Our Hackney


London Green Wood In the rustic setting of Abney Park Cemetery, this community-led group offers spoon-making and other woodcarving skills sessions, as well as an introduction to coppicing and woodland management. There’s a folksy, friendly atmosphere, and the products of this refreshingly low-tech activity are simple and beautiful. Wood is sourced either from windblown branches in the cemetery or from local tree surgeons. Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington High Street N16 0LH, londongreenwood.; day courses £60, four week introduction to green woodwork £160


The Russet Tucked away off Hackney Downs Park in a former printworks, the Russet is decorated in a rustic, upcycled style. They serve big breakfasts, healthy lunches, and tapas and mains at night; the events programme includes live music, cinema, cabaret, theatre, exhibitions and workshops, plus Afro jam nights, film screenings, vinyasa yoga classes, and kids’ movement and music events. 17 Amhurst Terrace E8 2BT

Eat Hackney Cookbook features �� great recipes from restaurants, cafés and community projects in Hackney. Proceeds go to the Hackney Migrant Centre and North London Action for the Homeless, who feed ��� vulnerable people each week in the borough.

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Credits Inside Hackney text and photographs © Helena Smith (except Carolina Faruolo p34, Hackney Today p35, Stephen Gill p66). Map artwork © Lucie Galand.

Thanks Thanks to my brother Matthew for devoting so much thought and creativity to this project; my friend Sam, who makes great editing fun and whose suggestions have improved Inside Hackney beyond measure; and compañera Lucie for a crowdfunder brainstorm as we ate pizza, and for sharing her beautiful maps and her favourite places. Plus Byron for the Hackney lowdown; Sally (Drink Hackney) for kind support; Dan D, Angela and Sarah for proofreading; Louise Foxcroft ( for sharing research on Shoreditch; Anna Amelia Becker for ace PS skills; and Sharmila Brown for backing Inside Hackney from the start. Info on lost cinemas came from,, and A BIG cheer for supporting our Indiegogo crowdfunder to: Adrian Smith, Alessandra, Alexander Tear, Alice MacGorain, Alicia Weston, Amy Mignosi, Amy Mason, Andrew Gray, Andrew Magurran, Andy Wash, Angela Smith, Anja Mury, Anne Dolamore, Ariadne Siotis, Belen, Belinda Yamagishi, Ben Taylor, Carly Attridge, Carolyn Marcus, Cath Prisk, Charles Hebbert, Charlie Beety, Claire Boobbyer, Claire Pepper, Clare Elson, Clare Reid, Cleo Loxaire, Conor Gibson, Dan Davies, Dan Slaughter, Dan Smith, Daniel Demmel, Daniel Vais, Darius Bazazi, David Ross, Debora Robertson, Diana Jackson, Diana Jarvis, Diana Pinkett, Donald Strachan, Ed Ellson, Ed Hewitt, Elizabeth Guest, Elizabeth Pisani, Ellen Sampson, Emma Barklamb, Emma

Hall, Ethan Schwartz, Farook Bhaba, Flora Alexander, Frances Booth, Freya Aitken-Turff, Georgios Piperidis, Gerard Grech, Giovanni Brighi, Graham Brooks, Greg Ward, Gustavo Montes De Oca, Hale Nuhoglu, Hana Sutton, Harry Davies, Heather Maree Taylor, Helen Hibberd, Helen Niven, I Tuncay, Isabelle Kosciusko, James Glass, James Miller, James Ramsden, Jan Fuscoe, Janet Chapman, Jessica, John C.G. Smyth, Julian Douglas, Julie Brown, Juliet Webster, Kari Stewart, Kate Davie, Kate de Syllas, Kate Flint, Kate Malone, Katherine Hall, Katie Hoare, Kerry Rankine, Kirsty Norman, L.H. Tucker, Laura Billings, Laura Donaldson, Leah Bevington, Lee Dibble, Lisa Neidich, Liz Vater, Lucy Serjeant, Marcin Ksiazka, Mario Fernandez, Marit Galand, Mark Curati, Matilde and Claudia of Ewemove, Matthew McCracken, Matthew Sellar, Matthew Smith and Emily Nance, Melissa Gates, Michael Davies, Michael Haddon, Michael Williams, Miriam North, Nancy Turnbull, Naomi Wynter-Vincent, Natasha Maw, Neil Ashman, Neil Mitchell, Niall Weir, Niklas Alvaeus Niul Dillon Hatcher, Pamela Mossman, Patrick Hennessey, Paul Harry Thomas, Paul Kenneth Bolding, Pete Brandon, Priscilla Chase, Rachel Grasby, Rayah Feldman, Rebecca Wells, Richard Brownsdon, Richard Newman, Richard Schwartz, Richard Springer, Richenda Wilson, Rita Dallas, Robbie de Santos, Robin Dunlop, Romy Miyashiro, Rosie Jones, S.R. Collinson, Sally Schafer, Sam Cook, Samantha Fothergill, Sara Ratcliffe, Sarah Collett, Sarah Dallas, Sarah Fraser Steele, Sarah Kay Garden Design, Sarah Pollock, Sarah Vaughan-Roberts, Sarah Warman, Sean Gubbins, Serena Mariani, Sophia Kahlenberg, Sophia Spring, Spence Bakery, Suzanne Cowling, Suzy Bennett, Tania Pasia, Taryn Holman, Thomas Woods, Tom Ebbutt and Upekha Bandaranayake.

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Inside Hackney  

Exploring the best borough in London

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