I lived in Hackney for a few good years and really enjoyed my time there so I was pretty pleased to re visit the borough to paint one of the typical terraced houses that still remain in the borough.
In my lifetime, Hackney has spent many years being viewed as a bit run down and more than a little bit lawless. In my years of living in London, I recall a good few riots in Hackney.
The first riot I remember was in 1990 when Margaret Thatcher introduced the Poll Tax. In a politically suicidal move, Maggie saw it fit to charge £499 per adult resident in Hackney which was very poor in those days. Adding salt to the wound, it was also a few hundred pounds higher than the Prime Minister had to pay herself. Riots ensued, and Margaret was finished, never to return.
Over the years, Hackney has, however, become slowly gentrified, although there was time to squeeze in another riot in 2011.
I lived in the borough at the time, and I got caught in it all during my journey on my fold up bike, wearing socks and sandals whilst shopping for frozen peas for my evening meal. The oddest anarchist to be sure. That said, riots in the borough are certainly against the trend these days.
Hackney is known as a hot spot for artists as places in transition always are, so you don’t have to go far to find a gallery or a studio space.
This particular house is in London Fields and just a street or two away from Fassett Square which was used as the original model for Albert Square where the TV series Eastenders is situated.
I can only assume that in the 80’s when the series began, the residents of Fasset Square were typical East End families similar to those in the series when it started. A few Beals, a few Fowlers and the odd Den Watts.
Although Albert Square and its populace are frozen in TV Cockney amber, the residents of Fassett Square must be pretty different these days. I say this, as a terraced house will now cost you 1.4 million pounds, that’s a lot of ‘spuds from the barrah’ or ‘cuppas in the caff’.
All that said, there is still a vibrant mix around the borough and Hackney has still retained that essential feel that those who live there come to love.