Great Eastern Railway to Chingford. Hackney Central

Great Eastern Railway to Chingford
From London Fields Station the line swings north westwards and divides with a single line diverging north westwards to join the North London line running westwards and the line to Chingford continuing northwards.

Post to the south London Fields
Post to the north Hackney

This posting covers only the north west portion of this square

Amhurst Road
Hackney Central Station.  Opened in 1850 it now lies between Homerton and Dalston Kingsland Stations on the North London Line. The first station opened with the line in 1850, with a substantial building against the viaduct on the east side of Mare Street. There was also a goods and coal depot from 1851. This was replaced on the opposite side of Mare Street in 1870 by a building by the Company’ architect, Edwin Henry Home, whose buildings were distinctive. The street level was built to impress, with the company’s name shown in a frieze below the roofline. From 1885, footways linked the west end of the platforms with the Great Eastern station at Hackney Downs and this interchange remained although it was closed 1917- 1923. Passenger services east of Dalston Junction were withdrawn in 1944 and the station was closed. Little visible damage appears to have happened during the Second World War itself but dereliction soon set in.  The platform buildings were demolished and by 1964, little remained although the main building survived but Humps indicated the site of the platforms. The cement plaques which once displayed 'North London Railway - Hackney Station’ were rendered over. When the Camden Road - North Woolwich passenger service opened in 1979, work began on a new station.  On the site, and it opened in 1980as 'Hackney Central'. BR built a ticket office on the Woolwich-bound platform with access from the street, two new platforms were connected by a footbridge, and small brick shelters were built. All terraces of the old covered way leading to Hackney Downs with a stairway and the booking office have gone. The old street level building was used by a firm of greengrocers. The structure remains intact, and is one of only three examples of North London Railway station architecture to survive. However the main building is no longer in use by the railway and is now a bar and music venue called Oslo.
Hackney signal box stood to the south of the viaduct, immediately east of Mare Street,
Coal depot. This closed in 1965.
1-5 Gibbons. This was an old established family business which sold furniture toys, prams and cots, etc on the south side of the road with a row of shops. The business was founded in 1831 and moved to this site in 1890 closing in 2002. They were the largest cash-only furniture store and a sign for this was displayed latterly.  Thomas Gibbons originally dealt in china and glassware in Morning Lane. His daughter Elizabeth took over the business and she acquired a row of nine shops in Amhurst Road in 1890.   In 2003 the furniture shop went up for auction, but didn’t reach the reserve price. Some of The shops were burnt down a month later.  Despite attempts to list the remaining shops they were found to be structurally unsafe and were demolished.

Eleanor Road
Wayman Court. 17 storey tower block
46 Prince Alfred Pub. There is now modern housing on this corner site.

Graham Road
Graham Mansions. Two parallel four storey blocks of flats separated by a closed off internal passageway.
Boscobel House. 12 storey block of flats dating from 1959.
Entrance to rail site
Graham Road curve. This rail line between the line from London Fields Station and the North London line was built in 1986 as part of the redevelopment of Liverpool Street station and the closure and demolition of Broad Street.   It was to allow Liverpool Street trains to access the North London line, but is apparently rarely used.

Hackney Grove
This passageway runs along part of the west side of Mare Street and is the remains of an old back lane.
Hackney Grove Gardens.  This was a community garden by Freeform Artworks, set up in 1982. It is said to have been on the site of a burnt out toy factory
23 Boxing Academy. Educational centre for excluded pupils with a sporting focus.
25 A few pre-mid 19th houses survive here. There is an early 18th brick wall with a square pier at the end and contemporary wrought iron railings
40 Shelley and Shelley. Shirt and pyjama manufacturers. On site 1930s.
45 Woolpack Hosiery Manufacturing Co. all clothing items made of wool. On site late 1920s
55-57 Litholite Insulators, Ltd.  The company dated from 1906 and was on site in the late 1930s.
69 Samuel Coleby & Son, boot maker 1919
Gunpost used as a bollard

Hillman Street
Previously called Hackney Grove
It has been suggested that this is named after flat-earther Ellis Hillman, Greater London Council member for Hackney –or it could be Baptist Minister Alderman John Hillman, given the freedom of the Borough in 1928.
Bunker.  There is a concrete entrance to a blockhouse in a comer of the Town Hall car park.  It has a locked gate and inside a flight of steps goes now with a 90-degree turn near the bottom where there was once an airlock. Once through door the bunker lies eastwards for 23 metres. It has four rooms, elsan style toilet cubicles, ventilation and filtration plant room with filters made by Sutcliffe & Speakman. If the power failed the pumps could be operated by pedal power via bicycle frames mounted on concrete plinths. The largest room was the control room and there is a wooden table along the wall labelled 'Medical Officer of Surface Health' .  A short iron ladder fixed to the wall gives access to an escape 'tube' half way up the wall leading to a hatch to the car park but which can only be opened from the inside.  It was built in 1939 as an ARP control centre and was probably part of a network of regional war rooms.
49 Drill Hall and TA Centre. The 10th (Hackney) Battalion of the County of London Regiment had its headquarters here before the Great War.  When the current town hall was built a new headquarters was provided here used by the 5th (Hackney) Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1937 and its successors as a Territorial Army centre in 1953. The site is now council offices

Mare Street
231 Original Bioscopic Theatre was operating here before prior 1909 and after the 1910 Cinematograph Act came into force.
271 Job Centre. This building has replaced others on the site, including an illegal car showroom, erected since the demolition of Ivy House.
271 Hackney Service Station. A garage appears to have opened on this site in 1923 and closed in the 1970s. It appears originally to have been car sales but later sold petrol for Esso.
271 Ivy House  Mothers’ Hospital and Training Institution  (Salvation Army Maternity Hospital). In 1889 the Salvation Army needed to expand their maternity services and rent the Ivy House for a rescue and maternity home.  Ivy House was a 4-storey building with an annexe used as a lodging house.  The maternity home included a Training School for Midwives and there was a lecture room and other facilities. In 1894 the rescue services moved and it became a dedicated maternity hospital for unmarried mothers.   In 1906 there were six wards but mo bathrooms moveable baths were provided. There was an isolation ward detached from the main buildings, Staff and trainees now had accommodation in adjacent buildings.  A District Midwife service was provided and the nurses combined this with evangelising the patients.  By 1912 the hospital included 2 private wards for married women but  Ivy House closed in 1913 by which time some 4,500 babies were delivered there.  The building was demolished shortly after the maternity hospital closed. The site is now a Job Centre
273-275 Council offices - current use as a parking shop and for the youth offending team
273-275 shoe factory for Eleazer Phillips, who, in 1948 , claimed to be Hackney's oldest shoemakers
273-275 YMCA. Hackney Y.M.C.A. was founded at a meeting in 1883. The organisation it leased premises until 1886 and then moved to 275 Mare Street, The building also included the Y.W.C.A. It closed in the Second World War
273 Barnardo home The Beehive. In 1889, Barnardo's opened a 'rescue and training home for older girls' here known as 'The Beehive'. It closed in 1927.
270-276 Hackney Picturehouse. This was the Methodist Central Mission between known as the Methodist Central Hall. Between 1997 and 2001 the building together with the old Central Library became the Ocean Music Venue which continued until c. 2005. In 2011 it reopened as the Hackney Picturehouse.
276-280 Central Hall.  Methodist Central Mission.  Built for the Methodist Central Mission in 1926-7 by Gunton & Gunton. It has a classical front and a copper-clad dome.
Central Library.  This was originally built on land acquired from the London County Council when Mare Street was widened. It dates from 1907by H.A. Crouch. It has since been replaced and the building was included in the Ocean Music Venue along with the Methodist Central Hall where it is the corner building.
277 Gas Light and Coke Company Offices.  Built 1931 by Walter Tapper and H. Austen Hall.  The showrooms fronted the street. The site is now Hackney Business Centre in a set of modern offices and shops
280 This was built in 1910 as the Women’s Social Work Headquarters for the Salvation Army. It is now used as council offices. A plaque says: ‘THIS STONE WAS LAID FOR THE GLORY OF GOD BY THE MAYOR OF HACKNEY T.E. YOUNG ESQ. B.A..F.R.A.S. OCTOBER 11TH 1910.' 'THIS STONE WAS LAID FOR THE GLORY OF GOD BY MRS BRAMWELL BOOTH OF THE SALVATION ARMY OCTOBER 11TH 1910
282 Baxter’s Court. This Wetherspoon's pub stands, more-or-less, on the site of an old alleyway, known as Baxter's Court, which dates from at least 1700.
289 Samuel Pepys Pub. This has been demolished.
290 The Hackney Pavilion cinema. It was designed by George Billings and Company and ran parallel to Mare Street with a decorated facade with a high-arched entrance. Inside was in an Edwardian Baroque style. It opened in 1914 and it was taken over by Provincial Cinematograph Theatres in 1928 and in February 1929 by Gaumont British Theatres and eventually Rank. Rank closed it in 1972 and it was demolished almost immediately. A Barclays Bank replaced it.
Town Hall. The original site of the earlier town hall was at the Junction with Amherst Road   This had been the old vestry hall and was itself on the site of the Church House dating from 1520, which had been the vicarage and used for church, parochial and educational purposes over the years. It was also on the site of the Mermaid Tavern which was demolished in 1844 although its Assembly Room was kept.   It was designed by Hammack and Lambert  replacing the engine house and watch house. It used the Dennett system of fire proofing. It was extended in 1895 but demolished in 1937.  Its site is now the forecourt of the current Town Hall.
Town Hall. This was built behind the existing Town Hall in an area called The Grove which appears to have been a paddock. It was designed by H. V Lanchester & T. A Lodge in 1934-7. It is Clad in Portland stone with a steps up to the centre and set back behind a formal garden with integral pillar lights.  The rear range houses an assembly hall. Inside are original Art Deco furnishings including an upper stair hall with pillar lights and a wood-panelled council chamber fitted out by Waring & Gillow. The foundation stone was laid by Tyssen Amhurst, Lord of the Manor. 
291 Hackney Empire Theatre of Varieties.  Designed by Frank Matcham and opened in 1901. An Edwardian suburban variety theatre it s in buff terracotta, with twin domes – now replicas of the originals installed in 1988.   Inside the foyer has marbled walls and much plasterwork: a curved circle and two tiers of cantilevered balconies. When it was built its electric lights, central heating and in-built projection box were state of the art. It was owned by Oswald Stoll attracted acts from all over the world including Chaplin and Stan Laurel - and Marie Lloyd, lived nearby. Later Louis Armstrong appeared and then household names from the radio and recording - Charlie Chester, Issy Bonn, Tony Hancock and Liberace. In 1956 it was sold to ATV and became the first commercial television studios in the country - Take Your Pick and Oh Boy! and Emergency Ward 10 were filmed here.  In 1963 it was bought by Mecca and converted it into a bingo hall with a wire system to send winning sheets to the stage. C.A.S.T. were a political theatre company led by Roland Muldoon which set up  the New Variety project and took over the Empire as a permanent base They Established the Hackney Empire Preservation Trust. The building was re-opened on its 85th birthday in 1986. By 2001 the Empire had raised £15m to fund renovation and work was completed in 2004. This included a new orchestra pit, backstage area and much else. The Marie Lloyd annexe houses a bar Stage 3 and the Harold Pinter space
293-295 Empire Mansions. Flats built as part of Hackney Empire.
300 Hackney Citizens Advice Centre. This is in an old Barclays Bank building.
315 Cock Tavern. This includes the Howling Hops Micro Brewery. There was a pub here in called the Cock as early as 1561.  The current pub is listed in Church Street in 1826, 1861 & 1866. It has clearly been rebuilt.
329 The Electric Picture Palace opened in 1909 in shop premises. It was still open in 1914 and operated by A.J. Gale. It was demolished when Graham Road was widened. A new building was built here in 2001.
331 Hackney Picture Palace, The Picture Palace was opened in 1910, and next to the Electric Picture Palace. It was closed during the Great War in 1917.  It is now shops.
339 betting shop. This was the Railway Tavern and retains a picture of a locomotive above the corner door. It was originally the Eight Bells in 1665 and was demolished in 1880 when the road junction and railway crossing was redeveloped and a replacement pub was built here called the Railway Tavern. It was rebuilt gain in 1955 to repair Second World War bomb damage. It closed in 2009.

Poulton Road
Local authority housing on the site of the railway coal depot.

Reading Road
This previously called The Grove and Grove Lane.
3 Central Library and Museum. Called Hackney Technology and Learning Centre it was designed by Hodder and Partners.
3 Energie Fitness Centre. Commercial gym in new buildings
Maurice Bishop House. Council offices. Bishop was a Grenadan politician
Florfield Depot. Hackney Council depot on the site of what was Florfield Road.
Great Eastern buildings. This was a railway office transferred to the council in 1965 and used for housing. Now demolished.

Richmond Road
Skirts the side of London Fields and continues with quite large c. 1840 villas.  .
Chapel. This was built on a site leased from St. Thomas’s Hospital in 1846 and the foundation stone was laid by Thomas Farmer.  It was Wesleyan Methodist chapel to replace a chapel in Pleasant Place. It was a brick building with a pedimented street front with pillars flanking the door. It closed in 1925 and was leased to Central Hackney synagogue which closed about 1935. Post Second World War it is marked on maps as a ruin, and the site is now housing.

Sylvester Path
1-11 Spurstowe’s Almshouses.  In 1666, Rev. Dr. William Spurstowe, Vicar of Hackney, built six almshouses here for six ancient widows from the parish of Hackney. This was later augmented by a bequest from his brother of eight acres of land. In 1819 the almshouses were rebuilt on the same site. The Almshouses were demolished in 1966 and replaced by new ones in Navarino Road. They were replaced on site with a warehouse
2 Old Ship Pub. Brick public house. The entrance has a, including with the date 1877.  There is also a stone carving of a ship. There is also a narrow entrance in Mare Street through a classical arch and down corridor. It was refurbished in 1997 with a contemporary interior.
4 with late c18 front, older behind,
13 early 18th but altered.

Sylvester Road
Sylvester House.   Arts and crafts flats. Built 1910.

Wilton Way
76 White Horse Pub. Demolished
83 Royal Oak.  This was a Watney’s Brewery pub, established by 1872. It was acquired by Belhaven in 1990 and closed soon afterwards, being converted to flats
Christopher Addison House flats and housing office.  Built by the Borough Architect's Department, brick-faced, with a curved stainless-steel roof.
Public conveniences attached to Hackney Town Hall. Built in 1934 -7 by Lanchester & Lodge in Portland stone cladding. Inside the ladies has 4 cubicles with Original cisterns and a Cleaner’s store. The gents has with 12 1930s urinals and 5 cubicles with a Cleaner's store

British History online. Hackney. Web site
CAMRA . Real Beer in London
Cinema Treasures. Web site
Clarke. Glimpses of Ancient Hackney and Stoke Newington
Clunn. The Face of London
Connor. Liverpool Street to Chingford
Grace’s Guide. Web site

Osborne. Defending London
London Borough of Hackney. Web site
London Encyclopaedia
London Railway Record
Lost Hospitals of London. Web site
Lost Pubs Project. Web site
Pevsner and Cherry.  London North
Pub History. Web sire
Robinson.  Lost Hackney
Robins. North London Railway
Sinclair. Ghost Milk
Watson. Gentlemen in the Building Line
Watson. Hackney and Stoke Newington Past


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