11 years ago when I lived near Hackney Wick it was a no go area. The odd occasion that I’d need to get the train to Highbury and Islington, I’d crap my pants as I ran into the unknown. I remember pelting it over the flyover past screaming cars and dodging burnt out cars in the numerous, what seemed to be, disused garages, when I got to the other side. I’d make it to the train and sit there amongst wrong uns whilst trying to slow down my heart rate. I remember sitting on the train all the way to the end of the line once, to Richmond, and how the clientele changed. I think the thing that made my hate using my nearest station at the time, Hackney Wick, was the fact that it seemed completely derelict. You’d never spot a soul there. Back then it was the perfect place for a horror film.
These days it’s a completely different place. The train has been revamped into the air-conditioned Ginger Line that’s spacious and the only tube line that I don’t actually mind taking. The disused buildings are now trendy warehouses which are accessorised by folk enjoying a quiet drink after hours. There are numerous new apartments there creating affordable living, a cool vibe and with the canal weaving through it and surrounding parks, it almost doesn’t feel like you’re really in London making a it a desirable to place to live now. Obviously money was pumped into the area to regenerate it as the Olympic Park is on it’s doorstep. There is still a sense of local business around the area too as it retains a slightly industrial feel, so the hipsters haven’t taken over yet.
What has now replaced graffiti and burnt out cars is a 100 metre long mural all about the area. The beautiful hand painted vintage style typography reference the rich industrial past that Hackney Wick once was. This imagery was once seen on old factories and canal boats.
The Bread Collective were the producers of the artwork which was a six month project where they integrated with the local community, organising workshops, interviews, using social media and a blog style website as their inspiration and source of research. Their aim was to make the mural slightly ambiguous but to also make people passing by reflect on what the words might actually mean and to use them as a starting point to want to delve in the history of the area. I think the results are brilliant and it’s a really clever way to revamp an area but retain the past at the same time.
If you plan on a visit to Hackney Wick then make sure you check out the Craft Brewery and pizzeria. A delicious selection of ale is brewed on site which you can dink while sitting by the canal or enjoying the huge open space. What I love about it is that it’s a local business owned and implemented by the local community and the beer is cheap.