Open House Festival salutes two Hackney institutions for their loyal participation

Inside Hackney’s art deco Town Hall. Photograph: Hackney Council

The building where some of the key decisions are made in Hackney’s political life has been given a seal of approval by a London architecture and heritage group.

Hackney Town Hall was one of ten London landmarks recently given a ceramic green plaque to commemorate its long-standing participation in the annual Open House Festival, which gives people a peek behind the scenes.

The Grade II-listed building opened in 1937 and was restored in 2017. This year, because of the pandemic, it offered online tours.

St John at Hackney also took part this year, and people could also take a guided tour of Hackney Marshes or do a self-guided walk through Black history in the borough.

The Town Hall houses an archive of portraits of local mayors, including Herbert Morrison, who took the role in 1920/21 and eventually became Home Secretary.

The borough’s political hub was built by architects Lanchester & Lodge and has decorations and furnishings in art deco style.

The Council Chamber, Mayor’s Parlour and Members’ Room are panelled with original furnishings and there are bronze art deco lanterns outside the building.

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden was also given a green plaque. It has welcomed visitors to London Open House since it was created in 2011.

The green oasis was part of the ‘Making Space in Dalston’ project which was commissioned by Design for London, and brought Hackney Council and local residents and groups together to work with architects.

Phineas Harper, director of the Open House Festival, said: “Every year hundreds of residents, architects and Londoners open up their buildings and homes to allow ordinary people to visit entirely for free as part of the annual Open House Festival.

“This important act of civic generosity can be life-changing; helping to expand minds and make London’s urban landscape more accessible and equitable.

“The ten Open House plaques have been presented to buildings which have made an invaluable contribution to London becoming a truly Open City.”