Hackney

The London Borough of Hackney was formed in 1965, during a reform which saw the Metropolitan London boroughs of Hackney, Shoreditch and Stoke Newington combine to form the bigger and – ideally – better London Borough of Hackney.

Hackney borough is in north east London, and spans a geographical area of around seven square miles. However, despite Hackney’s proximity to inner London and the main tourist areas of the capital city of England, it is extremely poorly served by transport links. At present, only one London Underground station is within the borough – Manor House. This situation is due to be rectified by the governing body for transport within the London boroughs, Transport for London, with an expansion to both the underground and overground links in development.

Hackney is primarily a residential borough, with few landmarks and notable buildings of historic significance within its boundaries. The current population of the borough as a whole is – according to the 2001 census – over 200,000. This population is particularly diverse, even by London standards, with only 44% of residents describing themselves as White British. While this still puts White Britons in the majority, this figure is significantly lower than in the surrounding London boroughs, where the White British population is usually over 60%. A large part of this diversity is down to a large Turkish Cypriot community. The borough is still predominantly Christian, and has a lower amount of Jewish and Muslim residents than nearby boroughs. For these reasons, Hackney is often described as diverse but strange!

The borough itself is host to two parliamentary constituencies: Hackney North and Stoke Newington and Hackney South Shoreditch. At the 2005 General Election, both of these seats were won by Labour candidates. Hackney residents are also able to elect a politician to the London Assembly, and at the last election this too was won by Labour. This trend is continued with the Borough Council of Hackney, which has 44 Labour councilors, with the opposition – the Conservatives – with only nine councilors. This is thought to be consistent with the fact that only 33% of Hackney residents are house owner-occupiers.

HackneyThe borough has earned a reputation as a ‘green’ borough, as some 62 parks and public gardens fall within its boundary. The total area covered by parks and open spaces is over three kilometers, nearly half of the total area of the borough itself. For the 2012 Olympic, Hackney Marshes – an area of grassland which was once a true marsh – will host some of the events.

Unlike much of London, Hackney has little areas or sites of historical significance and is therefore rarely visited by tourists. Its hay-day perhaps came and went with the Tudor period, when Henry VIII built a small (and now demolished) palace in the area. This made Hackney intriguing for nobles and it for awhile gained a reputation as a fashionable nobles retreat, but this soon passed and Hackney’s status as a primarily residential borough was formed.

One area of interest to tourists may be Sutton House, a Grade II listed mansion which was built during the aforementioned trend set by the Tudors. It was built by Henry VIII Secretary of State, Sir Ralph Sadleir, and is the oldest residential building in this most residential of boroughs.