Kingsland, Hackney

A historically poor and densely populated locality situated immediately west of Dalston, of which it is nowadays considered a part

Hidden London: Kingsland shopping centre

Kings­land’s name derives from the for­mer roy­al own­er­ship of parts of Hack­ney. Samuel Pepys wrote in 1667 that he had board­ed here as a boy, “and used to shoot with my bow and arrows in these fields. A very pret­ty place it is.”

At that time the ham­let was slight­ly more pop­u­lous than Dal­ston and it grew more rapid­ly in the 18th cen­tu­ry, with inns strung out along what became Kings­land High Street and farm­hous­es behind. Dur­ing the first quar­ter of the 19th cen­tu­ry some ter­races of very cramped hous­es were built, cre­at­ing an increas­ing­ly sharp con­trast with the ear­ly stages of respectable sub­ur­ban­i­sa­tion in Dal­ston.

In 1822 the con­struc­tion of Kings­land basin on the Regen­t’s Canal began to bring indus­try and ware­hous­ing to the south­ern end of the dis­trict. In the north, Kings­land sta­tion opened in 1850 but closed when Dal­ston Junc­tion opened in 1865.

With­out a sta­tion to its name Kingsland’s iden­ti­ty with­ered; some late Vic­to­ri­an maps do not label it sep­a­rate­ly, already treat­ing the area as part of Dalston’s sprawl. In the 1880s Kings­land Green was built on, despite local protests.

Through­out the 20th cen­tu­ry Kings­land’s name con­tin­ued to fade from view. For exam­ple, the Kings­land Empire cin­e­ma, which had opened in 1915, was rebuilt in 1937 as the Dal­ston Clas­sic, which is now the excel­lent Rio.

The old sta­tion reopened as Dal­ston Kings­land with the cre­ation in 1985 of the North Lon­don line, which is now part of the Lon­don Over­ground net­work.

Hidden London: Vortex jazz club and Rio cinema signage
Some of Dalston’s finest cul­tur­al venues are real­ly in Kings­land

Kings­land High Street has a hotch-potch of inex­pen­sive shops and oth­er com­mer­cial premis­es. Kings­land Waste, the stretch of Kings­land Road between For­est Road and Mid­dle­ton Road, hosts a long-estab­lished Sat­ur­day mar­ket sell­ing all kinds of goods – hav­ing orig­i­nal­ly spe­cialised in tools.

With the recent appear­ance of upmar­ket apart­ment blocks, the local­i­ty now exhibits what is becom­ing the typ­i­cal inner-east Lon­don pro­file: a cheek-by-jowl social mix. But, what­ev­er its char­ac­ter, every­one calls it Dal­ston now, not Kings­land – except at Kings­land shop­ping cen­tre.

Postal districts: E8 and N1
Station: London Overground (Dalston Kingsland, zone 2)
* The picture of Kingsland shopping centre at the top of this page is adapted from an original photograph at Flickr, copyright David Holt, made available under the Attribution 2.0 Generic licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence.