Haggerston, Hackney

A historically poor but now gentrifying locality situated between Dalston and Shoreditch, to the east of Kingsland Road

Tin Cafe, Haggerston, © Jane Smith, click to learn more

Hag­ger­ston was first record­ed in Domes­day Book as Her­gotes­tane; the name prob­a­bly derives from a Sax­on farmer called Hær­god, who either had a ‘ton’ (farm­stead) here or a stone that marked the bound­ary of his land.

In 1685 Sir Robert Gef­frye, a for­mer Lord May­or of Lon­don, left land on Kings­land Road for pen­sion­ers’ almshous­es and these were built in 1715.

Hag­ger­ston was dense­ly built up dur­ing the 19th cen­tu­ry and became increas­ing­ly over­crowd­ed, espe­cial­ly after the open­ing of its sta­tion on the East Lon­don Rail­way in 1869. In an attempt to improve pub­lic health, Hag­ger­ston baths were built on Whis­ton Road in 1904.

In 1914 Sir Robert Geffrye’s almshous­es became a muse­um, which now has col­lec­tions of fur­ni­ture, tex­tiles, paint­ings and dec­o­ra­tive arts, dis­played in a series of peri­od rooms.

A slum clear­ance pro­gramme led to the two-stage con­struc­tion of 447 homes on the Hag­ger­ston estate. Hag­ger­ston West was built in the 1930s but Hag­ger­ston East had to be post­poned until after World War II.

Like most of east Lon­don, Hag­ger­ston was rav­aged in the Blitz. The locality’s mis­for­tunes are chron­i­cled in Her­bert Wilson’s vivid­ly named book, Death over Hag­ger­ston, sub­ti­tled ‘An Account of Adven­tures that Befell some East Lon­don­ers between the Sum­mers of 1940 and 1941’. Wil­son was vic­ar of Hag­ger­ston parish at the time. A con­tem­po­rary arti­cle in Hori­zon described the pri­vate­ly print­ed work as bad­ly writ­ten but the only book to show “any real crit­i­cal appre­ci­a­tion of the work­ing-class mind in these aston­ish­ing months.”

Hag­ger­ston sta­tion closed in 1940 but reopened in 2010 as part of the north­ern exten­sion of the East Lon­don line. The sta­tion has helped to revive aware­ness of Haggerston’s name, which had dropped out of com­mon usage, pos­si­bly because of its ugly sound. For exam­ple, when it opened in 2007 the Bridge Acad­e­my sim­ply described itself as being in ‘south Hack­ney’. The acad­e­my was built on the site of the for­mer Labur­num pri­ma­ry school.

Hag­ger­ston baths closed in 2000. Plans were announced in Novem­ber 2017 for a regen­er­a­tion scheme for the build­ing, which will incor­po­rate space for busi­ness­es, com­mu­ni­ty uses, shops and a café – but not a swim­ming pool.

The Hag­ger­ston ward takes in much of east Hox­ton and Shored­itch as well as Hag­ger­ston prop­er. Rough­ly equal num­bers of homes in the ward are rent­ed from the coun­cil and from pri­vate land­lords, while rel­a­tive­ly few (less than a sixth of the total) are own­er occu­pied. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, most peo­ple live in flats. Few­er than sev­en per cent of res­i­dences are whole hous­es.

54 per cent of res­i­dents were born in the UK and a fur­ther 17 per cent were born in oth­er Euro­peam coun­tries, 9 per cent in Africa, 7 per cent in the Amer­i­c­as and the Caribbean, and 7 per cent in the Mid­dle East and Asia. Hag­ger­ston has very few old peo­ple, espe­cial­ly aged over 75. Most work­ing res­i­dents are employed in pro­fes­sion­al or tech­ni­cal jobs.

Haggerston was the birthplace in 1656 of Edmond Halley, the son of a wealthy soap boiler. Halley became the second Astronomer Royal and accurately predicted the return of the comet that now bears his name.

Postal districts: E2 and E8
Station: London Overground (East London line, zone 2)
Population: 13,904 (2011 census; a 34% increase on 2001)