Hackney

The London Borough of Hackney was created in 1965 through the merger of the Metropolitan Boroughs of Shoreditch, Stoke Newington and Hackney. It is situated to the north east of the City of London.

Population change
1966: 251,310 people
1998: 191,700 people

Hackney and Stoke Newington both originated as rural villages independent of London. Shoreditch was more attached to the City of London, and grew up as a settlement outside the city walls. The land between the three areas was built up from the 17th century onwards. By the 19th century Shoreditch had become one of London's most overcrowded areas, but Hackney and Stoke Newington remained relatively self-contained until the coming of railways turned both into commuter suburbs.

In the 19th and 20th centuries Hackney's location near the river Lea also made it a site for industry. Timber yards were built here as the wood could be transported easily on barges. A well known firm in Homerton, part of Hackney, was 'Lesneys' which produced Matchbox toys - small toy cars and trucks that could be fitted inside a matchbox. The factory was started by Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith in 1952 to produce die cast toy cars and airplanes. In 1990 the company relocated to the West Midlands.

Hackney has several green and open spaces, the largest of which is Hackney Marshes. This area was reclaimed from marsh land after the Second World War and has been used for recreational purposes ever since. Sports of all kinds such as hockey and rugby are played here, but it is for football that the Marshes are known. There are 87 football pitches in Hackney Marshes and this is the largest concentration of football pitches in Europe.

Hackney was an enthusisastic builder of tower block estates during the 1960s and 1970s. In the 1990s it was equally enthusiastic about blowing them up and holds the European record for the local authority borough which has demolished the most tower blocks. Its housing stock has been much affected by gentrification and many of its council estates, for example the Holly Street Estate, have been refurbished to create a mixture of private and social housing.

Shoreditch saw rapid gentrification in the 1990s as its warehouses and light industrial premises became colonised by artists, followed by cultural and creative firms. Hackney now claims to house more artists per square mile than any other district in England

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