Stink house alley

Hackney Wick in London’s East End was one of the poorer parts of London. It was made up of very small back-to-back terrace houses with large families. It was very working class with many small factories employing local people. Businesses like Clarnico (sweet manufacturing), Lesney’s (matchbox) (miniature toy manufacturing took a large part of Lea Conservancy Road. The river Lea was just behind this factory and the river barges carried goods i.e. namely timber and grain also coal. The river Lea met the Regent Canal where lots of factories disposed of their effluents into the rivers – chemical works, soap makers, dyers, and leather workers, also furniture makers, scrap merchants and printers. Awful smells used to pollute the air in fact it was known as ‘stink house alley’. They also used to cook animal bones to make glue. Eton Manor was a very large sports complex especially for the poor children given to them by Arthur Villiers (an Old Etonian). (Look at ) Eton Manor produced athletes including boxers. Eton Mission, the large church in Hackney Wick connected to Eton Manor and still stands today. The L.N.E.R. rail line ran through Hackney Wick. The bus terminus was just by the Mission the start/finish of the Red Routemaster Buses No. 6 and No. 30. You may recall a No. 30 bus was blown up by terrorists in London in the summer of 2007 (?) This bus came out of Hackney Wick. All the small houses were damaged in one way or another during the 1939-45 war and were replaced by prefabs. They were pulled down to make way for high rise concrete flats. These have now been pulled down. There were a few local shops in Hackney Wick and many pubs. Some now long gone. The then L.C.C. (London County Council) built blocks of flats adjacent to Mabley Green, a green area in Hackney Wick and these flats housed people from around London. You had bathrooms and separate toilets which you never had before. You either shared a toilet along a terrace or you had one outside in the garden. We thought it was grand but they turned into slums. You got away from them as soon as was possible. Hackney Wick bordered onto a beautiful park, the oldest public park in Britain, called Victoria Park, given to the people of London by Queen Victoria formerly the Queens hunting grounds. Roads ran through the park and it had an enormous amount of facilities. Swimming pool, boating lakes, beautiful gardens and a band stand. It was a haven for us poor children of Hackney. You could spend all day there with your cold tea and jam sandwiches and not worry about trouble as the park keepers kept an eye on everything. Also adjacent to Hackney Wick was Hackney marshes, another great green area. This linked Hackney Wick to Leyton in Essex. (At one time it had the largest number of football pitches (144) in one place) . There were several industries situated there like Lesneys the toy car manufacturer and Brook Bond Oxo in Waterden Road. Also in Waterden Road was the greyhound and speedway track that was home to Hackney Hawks.All the industrial sites are now being used for the 2012 Olympics.

Eileen, lived in Hackney Wick for 40 years.


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