History / 7 November, 2010

Victoria Park: a history

The Citizen takes a look back at this South Hackney neighbourhood before during and after the reign of its royal namesake

Lauriston Road 1905 view north from Victoria Park Road. Photo courtesy of Hackney Archives

Pre-Victorian Victoria Park… Whatever could that have been like? Well, for starters, obviously the park hadn’t been thought of yet. But north-west of the land where the park is now lay a hamlet whose development would eventually bring us to the South Hackney we know today.

The settlement was situated around the junction where Grove Street, which would later be renamed Lauriston Road, met the ‘footpath’ that is now Victoria Park Road.

Records show that in 1672 there were just sixteen properties on Grove Street with the official status of having been assessed for hearth tax. The largest, with eighteen hearths, was that of a Mr Henry Monger, who along with the Norris family owned much of the land.

A hundred years later there were only a few more buildings around Grove Street, one of which was the Three Colts inn just beyond the hamlet’s southern boundary.

If you’d found yourself in the area back in 1788, you might have seen the Jewish burial ground being built on what was then Grove Street. And by 1821 there were a few more cottages around, bringing the total number of households in the hamlet to 38.

The creation of Victoria Park in 1845 led to the construction of Victoria Park Road, and it was from then the area began to take substantial shape. So, what would your life have been like if you’d lived in the area under Queen Victoria? You’d probably have been quite affluent, and possibly Jewish. And you would have doubtless taken a morning stroll in the new park that had opened to the public fifteen years earlier.

In 1865, you may have been one of the many who admired the fashionable, Gothic-style French hospital on Grove Street, built to replace the 1718 building in St Luke’s parish in Finsbury. It could be that you knew some of its residents, for they were encouraged to make themselves useful in the community. The facility continued to provide care for “poor French Protestants” – the Huguenots – until 1934, and later became a school.

Did you ever visit the tabernacle just east of the Jewish burial ground on Wetherell Road? If you’d been there in August 1876 you might have seen Josiah Henson address a bursting congregation of 2,000 – or perhaps you were one of the unlucky punters who couldn’t get in. Maryland-born Henson had been born into the slave trade and sold three times before he was eighteen, but then escaped and become an author and abolitionist. No wonder so many folk wanted to hear what he had to say.

Or you may have caught the moving talk by MP Henry Fawcett, who gave his eighth consecutive annual address to 150 of London’s blind poor at the tabernacle on 6 May 1884. Mr Fawcett had lost his sight in a shooting accident aged 25, but he spoke with great optimism on that day and was cheered at several intervals. “We who are blind have many advantages,” he said. “To no class who require friendly and generous aid is that aid more cheerfully and generously given.”

And did you hear about the ‘serious disturbance’ caused by an anti-Catholic lecturer of dubious character in the tabernacle in 1884? It prompted Labour politician Sir James Sexton to ask in the House of Commons whether anything could be done to stop it happening again. “What the honourable gentleman asks me to do is rather beyond my power,” replied the MP. “I have no power to prevent persons in this country from lecturing either for or against Protestantism.”

As Victoria’s Jubilee approached in 1887, you may have heard that twelve weaveresses from the French hospital were busy making a black silk dress, which they would later present to the Queen to mark her 50 years as our monarch.

At the turn of the century, evidence suggests the area was quite well-to-do and smart, with a piano shop and a home where women went to give birth.

Victoria Park Lido opened on the edge of Grove Road in 1932, at around the same time as its cousin in London Fields. It had space for over a thousand bathers and symmetrical wings of changing rooms, and was designed so that no shadow was ever cast onto the water. What’s more, you could get in for free three days a week!

The lido, badly damaged during the Second World War, reopened in 1952 after extensive repairs. On one occasion during the scorching summer of 1976, the doors were closed due to overcrowding but the queuing crowd simply smashed their way in – causing so much damage that the pool was closed for two days for repairs.

Linden Monck, who moved to the area in 1977 and runs the Sublime boutique and gift clothes shop on Victoria Park Road, remembers the lido being an important part of her life when she was bringing up her children, and was sad when it closed in 1986: “Everyone was a bit fed up about it.”

Linden recalled the shops that have come and gone on Victoria Park Road – the “tall blonde twins” ran the greengrocers and Marinos, the 1930s-style cafe with its tiled and chrome interior and polished fascia. The little old-fashioned grocers where the gallery is, and the bakery on the corner, Shepherds – now Loafing cake shop.

According to Linden, Victoria Park has always kept its village feel. “That’s what’s unique about this area. It’s very unusual in London,” she said. “That’s the reason a lot of people are attracted to this area. They call it the Village. It never used to be the village. It used to be called the roundabout.”

Caroline Bousfield Gregory also moved to the area in the 1970s and remembers sending her two daughters on their first lone shopping trips to AH Davis, the hardware store on the corner of Victoria Park Road where Sovereign Estates is today. “It was only ten yards away so they could go by themselves. It was a lovely shop,” said Caroline, who lives on Lauriston Road. “Everything got dusted as it was taken off the shelf, and he had a huge trapdoor down to the cellar,” she remembered.

“There didn’t seem to be any proper stairs to the cellar. He’d lift up the trap door and go down the steps and bring up dusty things with 1/6 written on them, things like the seals for old storage jars,” she said, remembering its owner, the last Davis, who ran the shop until the 1980s when he finally retired. “He had everything in stock.”

Today, the interior of Davis’s as it was in the 1930s can be seen at the Age Exchange in Blackheath, where it was transported to be used to assist reminiscence workshops.

Caroline remembers the curiosity – and at times disapproval – of her new neighbours when she converted one of the four stables around the old tram turn into a pottery workshop. “One chap stopped Gordon and said he thought it would be much better as a fishing tackle shop,” she laughed.

Caroline’s pottery had been an electrical repair shop since the 1920s, run by a man who was in his 80s when he handed it over. “He only really worked on valve radios and the odd light bulb. He was a delightful chap,” she said. “He lived round on Guinness Estate. He’d left me his till from 1920 with an old silver sixpence nailed to the inside of the drawer to bring me luck – and I still use it.”

But, unsurprisingly for an inner-city hub, Victoria Park also saw some less rosy times. Linden remembers the area was something of an overspill from the Kray brothers’ organised crime network, which brought turf wars to the streets of South Hackney. She remembers hearing about a gang shooting in one of the pubs, and that The Alex was a “drug pub” for a time.

And where now sits the more upmarket restaurant Empress of India there was at one point “a real dodgy dive”, remembers Linden. “There were all sorts of goings-on in there,” she said. “You wouldn’t have wanted to go on there on your own as a woman, I tell you.”

During these less savoury times, many families – if they had the money – moved further east to areas such as Romford and Harold Hill with the hope of getting their children into better schools. One by one, the regular food shops began to close.

Early this century residents took matters into their own hands and formed the Victoria Park Traders Association which helped bring back the full range of shops, including a greengrocer and a deli. Many of today’s businesses are owner-run, with their owners living above their shops or close by, which contributes to the community atmosphere. Developments at the nearby Canary Wharf and improved bus routes have meant the area has attracted more prosperous new residents once again.

Linden describes the Victoria Park of 2010 as ‘chichi’, and seems happy with the way things have panned out for the hamlet at the junction of Grove Street and the Hackney Wick footpath – the only downfall being that her offspring cannot afford to buy property there themselves.

Roundabout 1950, beaing the sign,'this is a road safety device'. Photo courtesy of Hackney Archives

Caroline Bousfield Gregory won second prize for Best Community Project, Hackney in Bloom 2010. Photo: Gary Manhine

/ 7 November, 2010
  • Fascinating. So that’s why the cross-roads by the pottery is so wide – it used to be a tram turning.

    Fab article!

  • Eloise Horsfield

    Thank you! I very much enjoyed researching it.

  • John Greenwood

    Marysia and Eloise, WIll echo that, a very interesting piece. Caroline’s little pottery shop is in fact one of four identical stables (maybe there are three now) built at points around the wide perimeter of the turn which provided stabling for the horses, the teams would be changed there to give the animals, which had pulled the buses up from Mile End and beyond, a well deserved rest – John Greenwood.

  • John Finn

    And then, following the trams, notice the overhead wires for the trolleybuses in the 1950 picture. The 677 trolleybus used to travel a similar route to today’s 277. Electric vehicles, they were phased out in the 1950s. Now, a half-century later, we’re looking at trams and electric vehicles for public transport again.

    Good to see local history stories, before we completely forget it all!

  • Greg Leigh

    Very nice article.
    My mother, (b.1923) moved with her parents from
    Buxton St. Brick Lane to a grocery shop on the corner of Lauriston Rd.and King Edwards Rd. and lived above.
    The shop was bombed in 1940 and they were relocated to another shop on the corner of Lauriston Rd./Wells St. The shop was closed when Tesco opened opposite.
    Without permission my mum,aged 9, went to the
    opening of the Victoria Park Lido and her mum only found out when a picture appeared the next week in the local paper. At the time they lived at 125
    King Edwards Rd. (which I remember well).
    My great uncle lived in Meynell Gardens.

  • if you live in this area you might enjoy my book
    long road from hackney. available free at hackney
    library and tower hamlets and on the elan catalogue
    covering my childhood from the 1950s to 1973.

  • I was born in a Nursing home in Victoria Park Road in 1950. By any chance – does anyone please know the name of it ?

  • Susan Devlin

    My sister was also born at the private nursing home opposite the old French Hospital in 1941 – I too would be interested in finding out its name and history. My mum paid in 2 shillings a week to cover her confinement.

  • My Nana was born at 76 Well Street Hackney (or at least that’s the address on her birth certificate) in 1885. Her father James (mother Sarah Goodwin)was a Master boot maker. Would they have rented? had the whole house? I think they were reasonably comfortably off. When I look on Google Earth, the house looks as if its been rebuilt. Is this because of bombing damage. Does anyone know? Would be so glad of any info. Thank you P

  • dorothyDeadman nee Langwith

    I really enjoyed reading this page .I come from Shafton road Victoria Park Road .And I remember a lot of the area when I was growing as a child ,it was always a nice place to live with the park so near spent most of my time over there. the shops was very good and I remember Davies and the Convent School as well as the Nursing Home and lots more Wish I could go back

  • Sarah Jones

    I lived in Connor street, 1966 to 1972. I have lovely memories of playing in the park with my sister Julie and lots of friends and the sweet shop on the corner before the entrance which I think was run by two elderly sisters. The house we lived in, we rented the top and another family lived downstairs, no bathroom and only an outside toilet, has now been demolished and a new primary school was built on some of the land. We went to chisenhale school near Roman rd, remember being put to bed in the afternoon in the nursery with itchy blankets, Mrs Reynolds and Mrs Johnson were the teachers I think, we moved away when I was six and my sister was eight, fond memories of playing in the horse troughs, going to Sunday school and the library.

  • Sarah Jones

    I lived in Connor street, 1966 to 1972. I have lovely memories of playing in the park with my sister Julie and lots of friends and the sweet shop on the corner before the entrance which I think was run by two elderly sisters. The house we lived in, we rented the top and another family lived downstairs, no bathroom and only an outside toilet, has now been demolished and a new primary school was built on some of the land. We went to chisenhale school near Roman rd, remember being put to bed in the afternoon in the nursery with itchy blankets, Mrs Reynolds and Mrs Johnson were the teachers I think, we moved away when I was six and my sister was eight, fond memories of playing in the horse troughs, going to Sunday school and the library..

  • Diane

    As a relative newcomer to Victoria Park, I found this article fascinating. Thank you to all who contributed.

  • Alan Thomas

    Really enjoyed this article. Have lived on Gore Road at three different numbers since 1969 but in my childhood I lived in Queen Anne Road (off Cassland Road) and after that in Grove Road, South of the park so I have a long familiarity with this area.
    I remember most of the establishments since the ’50s mentioned in the article and by respondents but nobody mentioned the great old Jewish grocer shop cum deli probably where ‘Machete’ is now who sold delicious cheesecake. David’s was definitely a fascinating old shop with bundles of firewood for starting coal fires stacked up in front of the counter and filling the shop with a distinctive aroma. Of course, there was a United Dairies depot in Wetherell Road later Parker Dairies who though out of the area now still provide our daily delivery of milk. On shootings in local pubs, I am not sure of the link to the Krays but there have been fatal shootings in both “The Royal” and “The Royal Standard” in probably the 80s.
    More articles on similar lines would be great and other people’s comments and memories very interesting.

  • Lazyfrau

    Groombridge Road 1954-1962
    Penshurst Road 1962-1972 & 1976-1977
    Victoria Park Road 1975-1976 & 1983-1996
    Yup, seen some changes

  • hazel isaacs

    My aunt owned Debbies Tuck Shop at 150 Victoria Park Road

  • June Gregory

    My sister worked in Victoria Park in the 1950’s. During this time the zoo was vandalised and photos of my sister tending the animals was published in the national press.
    Does anyone have recollections/knowledge of this occurrence which could be used in an eulogy of her life following her recent death.

  • Mary Mackay

    My grandmother, Sarah Marie Dean, born 1876, was raised in the home of her great grandfather, George Catling at 251 Victoria Park Road. When he died in 1893, his son James Catling inherited his “effects”, valued at 738 pounds and his house. James lived there until his death in 1908. While George Catling started out as a carpenter, by age 73, 1881, he was listed in the census as “retired builder”. My grandmother was widowed in her twenties and immigrated to Canada. The way she told it, she came from a well to do family living in Belgravia; apparently she reinvented herself as our research shows her first husband, Fred Howell, was a “boot clicker” in Hackney, and she worked as a drapers assistant at the age of 15. We have several volumes of Charles Dickens with their inscriptions in them, so we know they were literate. Where would my grandma have gone to school in this Victoria Park neighbourhood? I’ve read Mayhew’s accounts of Hackney and surrounding areas in the mid to late 1800s and the most terrible working conditions and resulting poverty were wide spread.
    I’m curious to know more about the neighbourhood of Victoria Park Road where my grandmother grew up in the late 1800s. As home owners were they part of the new middle class with heads barely above water, or were they too living in a slum struggling to put food on the table? Any pieces of the puzzle of their lives that anyone can help me fill in would be greatly appreciated.

  • Julian Love

    Thanks for a very interesting article. I live in the flat above the old AH Davis hardware shop mentioned above. My guess is the houses around the roundabout were built from the start as commercial premises with the families who ran them living above. What kind of shops would they have been back in 1864 when the houses were built? And great to learn about the tram turning next door – that explains a lot!

  • Ros

    I was born in Hockley House, Morningside Estate which is between Morning Lane and Well Street in 1947. Loved Hackney which will always be my home no matter where I live and I have moved around. My dad helped to build the Victoria Park Lido, he was born in 1906.

  • Alan Toombs

    I moved into Banbury House, Victoria Park Road, aged 4/5 in 1935/6. I went to Lauriston Road School, opposite Marino’s and joined 8th Hackney Cubs and Scouts groups. I lived there until 1962, being evacuated from the school in 1939.Close to the Roundabout, bear the Hardware shop, A H. Davis was an electrical repair shop named Koopmans, where I would take our radio battery for recharging! For a time,when aged 14/16 I delivered c leaning on a bike for Achille Serre dry cleaners. This was situated next to the Jewish Cemetry.

  • George Knight

    I too went to Lauriston Road School but not for long. Born 1948 in Hackney. Lived in Warneford St until the family moved to Essex in 1954/5. Remember the Great Smog of 1952 when mum set out to walk with me to my aunt’s house in Wetheral Rd but gave up at the end of our street as visibility was no more than a few feet!

  • I am Alan Toombs sister, and I was 2 when we moved in to Banbury House. When I collected Bread from the bakers, I always eat the crust on the way home, and if I ever went to Davies’s for vinegar, I drank some on the way home!
    In 1954 I married from here. I really enjoyed living in Victoria Park Road.

  • Cat

    Sarah Jones, I think the house you lived in which was demolished must have backed onto ours which now backs onto the primary school. I’d love to hear more about how it was before. My little daughter loves living in the area and so do I but I don’t know much of the history… We are on Lauriston Road.

  • Lucie

    Thank you for your article, I enjoyed it very much.

  • Susan Greenwood

    I was born in Hackney Hospital. which I believe is no longer there?

    Also lived in Trederwyne Road, which I think has also changed a lot, down by the waiste and Hackney Marshes (might have this wrong…) was a long time ago.

  • Ralph Grenville

    I grew up in 75 Victoria Park Road and lived there from 1940 to 1964. Used to walk to Well Street to take the 557 bus to the Angel Islington where I went to Owens School and later to University College London. We had no hot running water!!

  • Sharon Ablett

    My great grandfather, Edmund Boost, lived on Well Street and at 29 Connor Street from about 1901 till he died in 1919. His second wife, Margaret lived there until 1940 when she was killed. I’m interested in my family history and found this article fascinating.

  • J Blyth

    St Margarets – opposite the French hospital. I was born there too.

  • Julia Pizarro

    could anyone tell me who Wetherell road was named after? That was my maiden name, and I had heard stories of my Grandfather, Joseph Wetherell having quite prosperous relatives. I now live in the US, but have a brother and sister who would like to find out information

  • Lorna Ellis

    My Mum moved into Banbury House when it was first built , you may remember them her surname was Whittard !!!

  • Does anyone remember a family who lived behind a sweet shop. Their. Name is Leiber..

  • Maralyn

    What a wonderful article – and a great walk down memory lane! I lived on Cawley Road (no longer there-think it’s now called Guinness Close?) directly across from Victoria Park. Our garden backed onto the gardens of the houses that faced Victoria Park Road. I also went to the old, and then the “new” Lauriston Primary School (early 1970’s) and then to South Hackney Secondary School before moving to Vancouver, Canada. I remember many wonderful times getting together with friends in Victoria Park and at the Lido in summers. I also remember Debbie’s Tuck Shop. I also remember having friends on Victoria Park Road near the library who even in the 1970’s still had an outside loo or had to share a loo with the flat below them!

  • Margaret Storer

    Only yesterday my mum (she’s 89) and I were looking on Zoopla at our old flat at 138 Victoria Park Road. We lived there from 1957 to 1971, at which point we moved to Meynell Crescent until the 1990s. Our flat was above a light engineering factory owned by Mr Stratford (on the ground floor and basement levels). No bathroom, no inside toilet. We had a bath in the kitchen and my dad built a wooden box surround for it, which, when closed, formed a kitchen worktop. Lots of people had these, but you had to be careful that the lid was well secured when you were actually in it! The toilet was out in the back yard and you had to go down to ground floor level, through the factory and basement out into the yard to get to it – it was pretty scary down in the basement and absolutely freezing in the winter. Behind our flat was a paint factory (between us and the primary school playground). I notice that our old flat now has two bathrooms and is worth in excess of £600,000! There were lots of different shops and small manufacturing firms round there. I used to go in Debbie’s sweetshop and as an adult have often wondered about her life and what happened to her. There were lots of Jewish shopkeepers around there – I particularly remember Alf’s greengrocers (next door to us), Jack’s (a delicatessen near the pedestrian crossing – fantastic cheese cake, beigels, and smoked salmon!) and Perchick’s (a grocer’s on the corner opposite the Alexandra pub – now the Lauriston) which was all wooden floors and shelves and big barrels of pickled everything. And does anyone remember Goldstein’s which was in the detached house next to Perchick’s? His son Henry used to be in my class at Lauriston Primary School. They seemed to deal in old clothes and old anything really. The alleyway opposite them (down the side of the Alexandra pub) led to a rag and bone yard. When I was a kid you would see the men and their horse and carts leave every morning and return later on. They used to plod leisurely through the streets shouting out “Any old Iron?”. There were always lots of dogs wandering around on their own in those days because we all used to let them out in the morning and they would come back later in the day for their dinner. The rag and bone yard was very popular among the canine population (including our dogs Rex and Lassie) who used to pop down there to freshen up in the horse manure. The Marinos family had three shops when I was a kid: greengrocer’s and sweet shop in Vic Pk Rd and Café in Lauriston Rd. Their sweet shop used to have the most amazing Easter eggs (from Italy I presume). They were decorated with coloured icing flowers and little bunnies, and there was always one huge one which I think was raffled. Many a time we had ice creams (lemon ice and vanilla ice mixed) from Mrs M’s café opposite the secondary school. We had a lovely Golden Retriever, who was well known locally and Mrs M always made up a mini ice cream for him too. My mum worked in Shepherd’s bakers on the roundabout and seemed to know everyone and about everything that was going on in the area. Shepherd’s bakery was owned by a family that originally came from Germany but like a lot of people with German sounding names, they changed theirs when the war broke out. German bakers and pork butchers were quite common in the East End in the past. In the 50s and 60s the pubs were marvellous round there. People always dressed up to go out for a drink and the pubs were well frequented every night of the week. The Alex was just along from us and the missus there was very particular. As a little girl, walking past in the summer when the door would be open, I always used to look in to admire the huge vase of cut flowers that used to take pride of place on a small, polished table. At the weekends the clientele were particularly well dressed. The men always wore sharp suits and ties, the women used to be dressed in their best dresses, often draped in fur stoles. All made up in their gold jewellery with their hair piled up in elaborate curls. There were quite a few characters and eccentrics in the area as well. It was a very colourful place to grow up. We all knew one another and we all looked out for one another. It was a stable, very safe, community and I could barely walk to the roundabout from our flat without greeting or talking to half a dozen people on the way. The park was fantastic in those days, three sets of exciting swings (you could really do yourself some damage in there – as I found out!), an enclosure for rabbits, guinea fowl and guinea pigs, two enclosures for deer (winter and summer grazing), a huge paddling pool, boating lakes and my favourite, The Lido. Me and my dad used to live and die over there. He used to go all year. There was a little group of blokes who went all through the winter, even breaking the ice for a dip. My aunt Doll leased all the cafes in the park (including the one in the Lido) and used to rope a lot of the family into working in them. So I spent hundreds of thousands of hours over there. The lido was Olympic sized (just like the one still at Parliament Hill Fields) and on a hot sunny day under a deep blue sky, with huge London plane trees rising up beyond the brick walls, it was heaven – and it was free up until 9.30 am). Not many people had cars in those days and to escape the asphalt streets and heat in the summer, people would go in their thousands over the park. My memories are of long queues for drinks and ice-creams, boat trips on the lake, thousands of excitable kids splashing about in the paddling pool and lido, Punch and Judy shows and concerts/dancing at the Bandstand (behind the Bandstand café in the Eastern half of the park). It was great and all on our doorstep. We were very lucky.

  • Margaret Storer

    Hazel I used to go in your aunt’s shop. It was very old fashioned, quite dark with wooden floors – mind you lots of shops and even our GP surgery in Stepney was like that. Invariably I used to have 6d to spend, which bought lots of four sweets for a 1d (black jacks, fruitellas, flying saucers, etc), barley sticks or chocolate sticks for 3d, 1d Cadbury’s little bars of chocolate and 3d Jubilee Bags (most mums, didn’t like you buying those because they “were a waste of money”) . Debbie had to be quite patient to put up with us kids because we used to dither quite a lot trying to think of the best use of our 3d or 6d and there were so many combinations. The sweets used to be in big sweet jars. The bars of chocolate were behind a glass – you couldn’t help yourself. Debbie used to weigh everything up and if you had any loose boiled sweets they were always put into little white paper bags. When you went in she used to be sitting behind the counter on an old chair, or would come out of the back room which was behind a door. She seemed quite elderly to me but at my age then, everyone over 25 looked old. I think most of the kids from Lauriston Road Primary School frequented the shop, because that was the first sweet shop you walked past down Victoria Park Road. The kids from St Victoire’s coming the other way used to stop off at Marino’s sweet shop and/or the bakers. I don’t suppose Debbie made her fortune out of what we had to spend but I bet loads of people remember her.

  • Margaret Storer

    Cat, a lot of houses were bombed round there in the war and prefabs were built to house people quickly. There was quite a large group of them in Rutland Road, opposite the school and between the remaining terraced houses. The prefabs covered an area that went back to Morpeth Road. Each prefab had a garden round it and they were laid out in a higgledy piggledy fashion with a little pathway that ran around them and between them. They had a bathroom and a toilet inside and a garden! They had a fairly large living room, a kitchen and two bedrooms. Walking down the path was like being out in the countryside, going past little cottages with gardens full of hollyhocks and dahlias and roses. I would have loved to have lived there. There were also prefabs at the corner of Wetherall Road and Lauriston Road and some on Well Street Common alongside Gascoigne Road. If you want an idea about what the prefabs were like inside and you’re ever over in Buckinghamshire, they have one, fully furnished at the Chiltern Open Air Museum.

  • Jeff Bone

    Hi Margaret
    Don’t know if you remember me,my name is Jeff Bone
    We used to swim for Lauriston Road School at Hackney Baths
    Do you remember Mr Buck who teach and run the sports at the school?
    Hope your well
    Kind regards

  • Jacqueline Hatcher (Davis)

    I’m currently doing some work on my family tree and my uncle Joe Davis passed away at 150 Victoria Park Road in 1920, I know his wife Florrie had a sweet shop, I wonder if anyone has any pictures or information about them or the area around that time. Thank you.

  • vivienne goorwitch

    Does anyone remember a small knitting factory in a basement with a printers upstairs. The factory was called Trendy Tots and they made childrens clothes as well as knitting fabric. It was owned by my husband Gordon inthe 1970s?

  • naz

    My mother Cynthia Bell was born in mentmore terrace in 1954 but moved to Groombridge road aged 7. Her mother was a Jewish woman called Rosemary Stewart. My mother had other siblings & many friends on both Groombridge road & Lauriston Road. Her siblings were Anthony, Lawrence, Garry (Kerry) Keith & Michelle. My mother lived at number 29 Groombridge road. Names she recalls are Lorna Munson, Garry Hoppe Bernadette & jaquline cloutin,June & irene pike. My mother also mentions a friend of hers talking about her house that was haunted at the end of Groom bridge road.
    I would like to try to put my mother in touch with some of her childhood friends.

  • Tracey

    I also lived in Cawley road from 1961. I lived in the upstairs flat at no 16 with mum, dad and brothers Perry and Lee. The downstairs flat was occupied by my aunt and uncle which was not really properly divided and we shared the middle floor. Spent happy days playing out in the street and remember clearly summer evenings when everyone congregated on the steps of the houses whilst we all played. Our house faced the bandstand and during the summer we had the windows open and watched the ‘old time dancing’ with the ladies in their finery gliding around. I remember my dad used to cut a hole in the park fence so we could get into the park without having to walk around the dump at the end if the road!! The lido was a must throughout the summer I remember that really hot year, 1976, where we had to queue for hours to get in. As naughty teenagers we would go there at night and climb the wall to get in and out!! I also went to Lauriston School but can’t remember teachers names except Mr Larter, it was a lovely school and apparently still has a good reputation. So nice to relive all these memories, it was a fabulous place to grow up despite having no bathroom and walking all the way to the public baths at Hackney Wick every Friday! The houses were demolished circa 1977 and we were rehoused in a new house in Homerton but despite having a brand new house with bathroom it was never the same sort of community. My mum still talks about the time we lived in South Hackney, probably some of her happiest years.

  • Maralyn Wild

    Tracey – I remember your family very well. I used to walk to school with all of you. I was in Perry’s class at Lauriston – he was always kicking his football in the street – we thought he might play for England one day. I believe some of our teachers were Mrs. Norris, Miss Dunn who became Mrs. Evans, and Mrs. Griffiths. Your mum (Maureen) used to take me along to the lido with you in summer, as my mum (Claire) didn’t swim. My dad (David) used to take me to the lido early on weekend mornings – as the pool wasn’t heated, it felt absolutely icy before the sun got on it – they used to chalk up the temperature on a board outside the changing rooms. I remember your dad (Les) cutting the hole in the fence too – and his lovely blue Rover 2000 – we all really admired that car. I imagine you remember “Auntie Flossie” and “Uncle Harry” who lived just the other side of us (downstairs at # 23). It was a wonderfully close community, where everyone was in and out of each others houses – it was like a big extended family living on one street. I agree with your mum, it was some of our happiest years. Your mum probably remembers that we left for Vancouver, Canada in 1977 (and I’m still here), just before the houses were pulled down. I managed to get some photos from Hackney Archives of the houses as they were beginning to pull down the first few (beside the nursery school – our houses are still in the photo). Looking at them now, the houses looked so grand from the outside. Although we were lucky enough to have a full bathroom, there was no central heating in those houses, and in winter it was freezing. We used to run from the kitchen (that was heated by the gas stove), down the hall to the lounge which had a coal fire. I remember the coalman came every week and threw a sack of coal down a manhole cover outside the house, and it found its way into the cellar below the house. Originally in our house, the upstairs flat was not separated from our own downstairs flat, and our bedrooms shared a landing with the upstairs flat’s front door! When the flat was vacated in about 1973, my mum asked the Crown (who owned the property, prior to Guinness Trust), if they would build a partition wall – which they did. Although, when my “Auntie Heather” and “Uncle Len” moved in, we were in and out so much, I’m surprised my mum didn’t ask to have the partition removed! It’s wonderful to hear about everyone’s memories and experiences – it’s triggered so many things that I had forgotten about. It would be nice to keep in touch via FB.

  • Ken Halle. I lived at 26 Gore Rd, as a baby-in the war-till end of the ”fifties”-then moved around the corner to 74 Victoria Park Rd. I firstly went to Lauriston Rd infants school, then The Orchard Primary, and back to Lauriston Rd school till I was 15. Great times , great schools, and living right opposite the park, just couldnt have been better! Spent many a summer’s day at the park lido, and remember many of the local characters and shops-like Debbie’s Tuck Shop, Davies hardware on the roundabout, Harris the greengrocer, the deer and rabbit area-near the swings and sandpit in the park, the crazy guys who used to dive off the bridge into the canal-Butlers Fish Shop-near the school in Lauriston Rd, The Regal cinema, corner of Well St and Mare St, The Empress and Pavilion cinemas in Mare St, The Hackney Empire still going strong, Barry’ club Upstairs Burton’s the tailors-a favourite hangout of the Krays, the great teachers- the schools-particularly Mr Woods and Miss McDonald at the Orchard, and Mr Henderson, Miss Spitzel, Mr Jones, and the unforgettable-Miss Denton, the head. Oh great times, great Victoria Park area, great Hackney, great friends and school friends-where are you all now? I could go on and on reminicing.Hey! Anyone around from that time! Great to know if there is. I’m in Stanmore now, but I still go back to Hackney/Victoria Park from time to time

  • Tracey

    So nice to reminisce, passed this article to my mum and brothers who I think will enjoy reading it. I remember your family well. My mum remembers your family too, she said you may have had an older sister although I can’t remember her? She does say how lovely your mum and dad were and she remembers you all emigrating to Canada but heard from one of the neighbours that your mum had passed away though couldn’t be sure. My mum kept in touch with auntie Flossie and uncle Harry for many years, Think they were auntie and uncle to everyone in the street! Would love to see photos on Facebook.


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