Hackney central’s little cousin, Haggerston, had been a forgotten area for years. Unloved by people outside, but greatly loved and fiercely protected by residents, it is just feeling the sharp end of London’s eastwards surge of money and upward mobility.
Except, in being an overspill for people who can’t afford but aspire to Hackney, it has become a vibrant community of down-to-earth people, albeit trainee baristas and games programmers.
It is in fact an ancient site, dating back as a village in the Domesday Book as Hergotestane, a short horse and cart ride to the slightly larger village of ye olde Shoreditch.
When industrialisation came, factories and housing gathered around the canals and, the appalling twentieth century habit of building large depressing estates took hold. Yet even when the bulldozers arrived a few years ago, the local artistic community – always attracted by low rents – put up one hell of a fight.
But, to no avail, so in come the funky restaurants (good!) (see Berber and Q story) and the can’t-afford-Hackneys, and up go the rents (not good!). And in another strange development, tech companies who couldn’t afford Old Street’s ‘Silicon Roundabout’ started locating there (‘Hackerston’, they came up with: not bad, but still ….).
Now, the sense of ethnic and cultural diversity, and the big old factory building, and that ever creatuve artistic community have built a really interesting place, modded up by various Mayor’s initiatives and trainlines. As no one ever said, “look east, young man”.