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.

The grade II* list­ed church of St Barn­abas was built on Shack­lewell Row in 1909-11. Its neo-Byzan­tine archi­tec­ture (and lat­er inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tion) 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.