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A brief history of Hackney: How the architectural landscape has changed

Haggerston Park, Hackney with the Grade II Listed Seabright School in the background. An architecturally distinguished example of an early London board school built in the Queen Anne Style.

From humble farming beginnings to one of the most sought after areas to live in the capital, Hackney has seen some monumental changes over the years. From Tudor manors to the high rises we see today and a colourful array of residents from the 18th century Highwayman Dick Turpin to modern day writers, singers and actors amongst many others. Diversity is part of Hackney's make up, it is a borough bursting with vibrancy and culture and we are proud to call it our home too.

Hackney proper, as it was once known (to distinguish it from Hackney Village – now Hackney Central) encompassed the areas of Dalston, De Beauvoir, Clapton, London Fields, Homerton, Stamford Hill, Hackney Central, Hackney Wick, South Hackney and West Hackney and later merged with Shoreditch and Stoke Newington to form the London Borough of Hackney.

Hackney Village, or Central as we know it today, became hugely popular with wealthy Londoners as early as the Tudor period; almost like a commuter town, they enjoyed large houses with rural surroundings with the ease of getting back into central London.

Hackney’s popularity continued into the Georgian era but it began to fall out of fashion by the Victorian period, the wealthy moved further afield and new and often poorer residents moved in. Properties were poorly maintained by rogue landlords and older buildings were torn down to make room for transport links and more economical terraced rows of houses. The second World War also took it toll on the area and destroyed a large amount of the housing.

Post war, the area has seen a huge amount of redevelopment. Public housing schemes saw the introduction of tenement blocks from large red brick blocks in the 30’s, to low rise two and three storey blocks in the 50’s to the more modern high rises of today.

The 90’s bought a wave of new, more creative residents to Hackney, with warehouses being converted into live and work units for artists and designers. The 2012 Olympics then kick started a huge regeneration project across Hackney, particularly around Hackney Wick, transforming the many disused factories and warehouses into flats and apartments.  

Today Hackney is more culturally diverse and vibrant than ever. Everyone from Boomers to Gen Z plus a whole host of independent businesses are proud to call Hackney their home. Surrounded by lots of parks and green space, spoilt for choice for great places to eat and drink and with easy access to the rest of the capital and beyond, it’s no surprise that Hackney remains a London hotspot to live and work.

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*Our research is taken from:

Hackney Council website

British History Online

The Hackney Society

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