Shacklewell, Hackney

A multi-ethnic neighbourhood with some light industry, almost squeezed out of acknowledged existence by Hackney, Dalston and Stoke Newington, which surround it

Shacklewell - April Street

Shacklewell’s name may refer to a well-spring in a sunken place or where animals could be shackled (tethered) and was not recorded until 1490, despite its probable Old English origin.

In the early 16th century Sir John Heron, reputedly the richest man in Hackney, owned a large estate centred on a manor house here – its site now covered by shops. Several villas for gentlemen were built during the course of the 18th century, inter­spersed with lesser properties for tradesmen, two pubs and a dairy on the south side of the village green.

Side roads subsequently prolif­erated, many lined with cramped terraces, but Shacklewell remained an isolated settlement until Hackney expanded outwards to meet it in the mid-19th century. Perch, Seal and April Streets (the latter shown above) were laid out in the early 1880s with good quality terraces for working people, and Shacklewell Green was taken into public ownership.

By the early 20th century Shacklewell had gained a synagogue and some indus­trial premises, while a number of larger houses were being knocked down and replaced by more terraces.

St Barnabas, Shacklewell Row
St Barnabas, Shacklewell Row*

The grade II* listed church of St Barnabas was built on Shacklewell Row in 1909–11. Its neo-Byzantine archi­tecture (and later interior decor­ation, shown in the photo­graph on the right*) was the work of Charles Reilly, who had attended the church’s precursor, the Merchant Taylors’ school mission.

Parts of Shacklewell became a slum and several streets were cleared in the 1930s to make way for municipal and philan­thropic housing projects. More flats followed after the Second World War.

The conversion of the synagogue to a Turkish mosque is an indic­ation of the shift in Shacklewell’s ethnic mix in recent decades. At Shacklewell primary school (which opened in 1951) over 80 per cent of children are from black, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Turkish or Chinese backgrounds.

The Petchey Academy was built on the site of the former Kingsland secondary school (originally Dalston county school) in 2006 and has a sixth form ‘university gateway’ that opened in September 2011.

Shacklewell’s church is now home to a ‘planted congreg­ation’ – consisting of ‘hipster Christians’, according to one source. No longer St Barnabas Shacklewell (perhaps not hip enough) it is now St Barnabas Dalston. Under the church’s aegis, the neigh­bouring mission hall hosts community events and activ­ities. With its adven­turous taste in live music, the Shacklewell Arms is almost as hip as the church – and also describes itself as being in Dalston.

Postal districts: N16 and E8
† The Shacklewell Lane mosque and community centre should not be confused with the more ostentatious cinema conversion on nearby Stoke Newington Road.
* The picture of St Barnabas, Shacklewell Row, on this page is adapted from an original photograph by John Salmon, at Geograph Britain and Ireland, made available under the Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Licence. Any subsequent reuse is freely permitted under the terms of that licence. The photograph of April Street is copyright Hidden London.