Old Images of Hackney, London

Categorised as Greater London
Hackney 1840
Monograph of Hackney, looking towards the church, in 1840; from page 532 of "Old & New London. By W. Thornbury and Edward Walford. Illustrated", by George Walter Thornbury, published by Cassell in London in 1897, now in the British Library archives

Glimpse history through old images of Hackney, in London.

Queen Mary’s Visit 1915

You can barely see Queen Mary in this footage recorded during the Great War, later known as World War I.

Instead, admire the clothing of the adults and children crowding round to see their royal visitor, and later fascinated by the camera. The boy in his boater, laughing at the camera; behind and in front of him, serious children looking slightly unkempt in much poorer clothing.

There’s lots of bunting strewn high across the street, and the rows of houses seen across each side of the road. The royal cars are large, plush, and clearly fitted to a very high standard.

Queen Mary At Hackney AKA Festive Crowd For Queen Mary (1915)- British Pathé on YouTube


New Council Housing 1939

In 1939, a new council estate was built in Hackney Marsh.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (Queen Elizabeth II’s parents) attended the official opening on 3rd April 1939, which brought crowds of supporters onto the local streets.

Accompanied by the Mayor, the royals visited Nisbet House, saw the architect’s model of the estate, and visited a local family in their new home.

Their Majesties In Hackney (1939) – British Pathé on YouTube

The King and Queen, Hackney – British Pathé on YouTube


War Nursery 1943

With more women going out to work than ever before, war time London needed more childcare. And a newsreel like this one showed mothers that if they joined the labour market, their children would have a wonderful time.

The wartime nurseries cost a shilling a day, including three meals – a great attraction for families struggling with rationing and shortages.

This footage includes the large house that the nursery is based in, and a block of flats behind it.

Hackney Babies Issue Title – Much Ado (1943) – British Pathé on YouTube


Hackney Empire 1949

A clip from 1949 shows knife thrower Martin Collins performing on stage, along with his wife Elizabeth.

Knife Thrower (1949) – British Pathé on YouTube


Hackney Marshes 1953

In 1953, Hackney Marshes had 108 sports pitches, making it London’s biggest sports ground. Sunday football teams had to book their pitches 6-10 months in advance because it was so popular, drawing in teams from across London.

Tema members were aged 16-40. With only one set of changing rooms, most men were getting ready in the buses and vans which transported them there, or by the side of the pitch.

Sunday Football (1953) – British Pathé on YouTube


1980s Hackney

Just over four minutes footage around different locations in the area in the 1980s.

1980s London | Hackney | East London | Driving through Hackney | TN-SL-030-001 – Thames News on YouTube


Tower Block 1985

On the Trowbridge Estate was a 21 story tower block which leaned. So in 1985 it was scheduled for demolition. But even that didn’t go to plan, with the lower floors collapsing correctly, and the top 12 floors remaining intact. That meant demolition teams were being sent in to use traditional ball and chain demolition techniques.

That meant 11 families couldn’t return to a nearby set of flats until the work was finished, and the timescale was estimated at 11 weeks. So the council had moved them into bed and breakfast accommodation, with the hope a better solution was found until they could return home.

Demolition fail | Hackney Tower Block | Tower Block Demolition | Thames News |1985 – Thames News on YouTube


Hackney Town Hall 1986

On Monday, 14th July 1986, there was a sit-in at Hackney Town Hall. Protesters from NUPE were unhappy that Winston Brewster had been suspended from his job for two years.

SIT-IN – HACKNEY TOWN HALL. – Thames News on YouTube


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By Debbie Death

I love learning about history, and for the past 30 years have enjoyed books, films, and documentaries on the topic. On days off from work my favourite destination with friends and family are museums, historic buildings, and archaeological sites, or just walking around interesting streets with old buildings to admire.