A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 10, Hackney. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1995.
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SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
A tradition that the oldest inn was the Three Cranes in Church Street (later no. 359 Mare Street) apparently arose from association with the arms of the Heron family. (fn. 1) Seven alehouse keepers were licensed in 1552. (fn. 2) John Taylor, the 'water poet', in 1636 noted the King's or Prince's Arms at Kingsland and the Mermaid and the Rose, both in Hackney village. (fn. 3) A victualler's licence was suppressed in 1639 because of his wife's bad character. (fn. 4) Tokens record the Chequers at Kingsland (1663), the Flower de Luce at Clapton, and at least seven taverns in Hackney village: the Cock (1651), the Magpie (1656), the Green Man (1667), the Ferry and the White Hart (1668), the Mermaid, and the Lamb. (fn. 5) In 1660 another White Hart was at Kingsland and the Seven Stars, presumably an inn, was in Mare Street. (fn. 6) A victualler at Temple Mills in 1686 had lost his licence after a quarrel with Henry Rowe. (fn. 7) The Red Lion at Kingsland existed by 1682 and the Sun in Church Street by 1698. (fn. 8) A coffee house, in 1700 called Field's, was used for meetings to audit the parish accounts, (fn. 9) as in 1708 was the Flying Horse and in 1710 the Mermaid. (fn. 10) Church Street in 1719 had two coffee houses; one may have been a forerunner of Sir John Silvester's Hackney coffee house, which survived, with another at Shacklewell in 1785, until c. 1800. (fn. 11)
The number of licensed victuallers varied little in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Fifty-five licences were granted in 1723, 52 in 1750, 53 in 1785, and 58 in 1825. (fn. 12) Some 85 inns and taverns were listed in 1849 and more than 250, including 6 called hotels, in 1872. (fn. 13) There were 155 public houses and 68 beerhouses in 1906 and 148 public houses and 48 beerhouses, besides one licensed hotel, for a slightly smaller population in 1935. (fn. 14) Hackney village had the densest concentration in 1750, with 10 licensed victuallers in Church Street. A further 8 were strung along Mare Street, with 2 in Well Street, 1 at London Fields, and 1 at Cambridge Heath. At least 11 inns or taverns were on the high road through Kingsland, Newington, and Stamford Hill. Clapton had 7, Homerton 5 with 2 more at Marsh gate, and Dalston 2; the remaining 3 were at Shacklewell, a ferry, and Temple Mills. (fn. 15) The distribution showed wide social disparity in 1906, when Homerton and Kingsland wards had c. 700 persons for every licensed house and Clapton Park had 3,630. (fn. 16)
Pleasure grounds were attached to the better known taverns: the Sun on the west side of Church Street had a bowling green by 1698, (fn. 17) and the Plough at Homerton had a skittle ground in 1785. (fn. 18) Tea gardens, as at the Red Cow in Dalston Lane, (fn. 19) were popular in the early 19th century. While many gardens were taken for building, some survived in the more spacious districts: the Crooked Billet in Upper Clapton Road was rebuilt with a tea garden and covered bowling alley after 1840 and the Three Compasses in Dalston Lane was licensed with its gardens from 1858 to 1863. (fn. 20) The gardens of riverside inns, including the Horse and Groom at Lea bridge in 1821 (fn. 21) and the Mount Pleasant at High Hill ferry in 1838, (fn. 22) remained an attraction, along with fishing and boating. (fn. 23)
The best known gardens, behind the Mermaid on the west side of Church Street, (fn. 24) included upper and lower bowling greens, presumably where Dudley Ryder in 1716 was amused by the earnestness of the players, (fn. 25) and a trap ball ground in 1810. They extended in 1766 beyond Hackney brook to a lime walk and in 1831 to a larger kitchen garden; (fn. 26) one green was used for archery in 1842. They witnessed successful balloon trips, notably by James Sadler in 1811, when the number of sightseers 'exceeded calculation', (fn. 27) and by Mrs. Graham and two other women in 1836. An ascent was advertised in conjunction with a fireworks display in 1822. (fn. 28) The Mermaid made way c. 1840 for J. R. Daniel-Tyssen's Manor House, which by the 1890s had been divided into shops, nos. 378 and 378A Mare Street. The gardens, 'much curtailed', survived in 1870 but had been bisected by Brett Road by 1877. (fn. 29) Another Mermaid, almost opposite and in the 19th century called the Old Mermaid, (fn. 30) was probably the 17th-century Mermaid and the tavern by the church where Pepys was refreshed in 1666; Pepys had eaten cherries and played shuffleboard at Hackney in 1664. (fn. 31) The Old Mermaid's entrance way was called Mermaid Yard in 1870; (fn. 32) a public house was kept until c. 1966 at no. 364 Mare Street, which building survived in 1993.
An assembly room adjoining the western Mermaid was said to have been kept by a Mr. Holmes (d. 1744). (fn. 33) Presumably it had been opened after 1716, when there had been 'no sociableness or familiarity kept up between families'. (fn. 34) Anthony Brunn, lessee of the Mermaid from 1766, advertised seasonal balls at his new assembly house in 1778 and 1780; (fn. 35) Thomas Rowlandson depicted the company in 1812. (fn. 36) The Mermaid's licences for music and dancing were granted from 1849 to J. R. Daniel-Tyssen for the assembly rooms, (fn. 37) which survived north of the gardens and behind Tyssen's Manor House and which came to be called the Manor rooms. Approached by a covered way from Mare Street, they continued to be licensed after Tyssen's departure in 1858 and were used by Hackney Literary and Scientific institution c. 1870. (fn. 38) As the Old Manor assembly rooms, they were for sale in 1877, when they included a large concert hall and overlooked a skating rink on most of the remaining land to the south. (fn. 39) They had been demolished by 1894 and were partly replaced by the Manor theatre (later the Manor feature film theatre). (fn. 40)
Another assembly room was said to have been built at the 'Templars' house' when it was the Blue Posts inn, kept in 1760 and 1785 by Thomas Wright. (fn. 41) Music and dancing licences were also granted in 1849 for the Tyssen Arms in Dalston Lane, the Dolphin in Mare Street, and the Cat and Shoulder of Mutton at London Fields. (fn. 42) More than 40 inns were similarly licensed over the next 40 years, most of them briefly. (fn. 43) In 1905 music was licensed at only two inns but also at Hackney public baths, Morley hall, and the halls of the Eton mission, St. James's, and St. Mark's. (fn. 44)
Theatres mentioned in the 18th century were apparently all connected with private schools. (fn. 45) Three waits were licensed by Francis Tyssen in 1704 to play within the manor of Hackney, in an attempt to control revelry which had become a cloak for crime. (fn. 46) The parish, governed largely by Low Churchmen or those who had links with Dissent, opposed public performances: in 1768 strolling players at the Old Mermaid were banned, as were all puppet showmen and the like; (fn. 47) in 1778 a formal request for actors from Covent Garden to perform for two nights at the Blue Posts in Church Street was curtly dismissed; in 1824 the magistrates were asked not to license any theatre. (fn. 48)
Music at inns and the use of public halls by local societies prepared the way for purposebuilt theatres. The Three Colts in Grove Street was licensed from 1863 until its failure to keep legal hours in 1875 and was known in 1867, after the licensee J. W. Scott, as Scott's music hall. (fn. 49) Amateur dramatic clubs included the Blackstone, at Luxembourg hall in 1869, and the Dalston, at Albion hall in 1860 and 1870. (fn. 50) Orion dramatic club, in 1869 the only group registered in the Theatrical Journal, won professional praise for its entertainments on behalf of local charities at the Manor rooms. (fn. 51)
Clapton Park theatre, designed by J. T. Robinson for nearly 600, was built for Thomas Turner behind nos. 79 and 81 Glenarm Road. It had begun a precarious existence by 1875, was renamed the Hackney theatre in 1876, later known as the Theatre Royal, and licensed until 1884. After the theatre had served briefly as a forerunner of Clapton Park tabernacle, nos. 79 and 81 were partly rebuilt in 1894. (fn. 52) Dalston theatre in Roseberry Place, holding 1,030, was opened in 1886 and used for a circus until 1890 as the North London Colosseum or with similar names. A new building, designed by Wylson & Long for 3,516 and originally to be called Dalston Palace of Varieties, was opened in 1898 (fn. 53) and had become Dalston Picture theatre by 1912. (fn. 54) Manor theatre, replacing the assembly rooms, was licensed from 1891 until 1903. (fn. 55)
The Hackney Empire theatre, nos. 381-91 Mare Street, was opened in 1901. Designed by Frank Matcham to seat 3,000, its ornate front had twin terracotta domes and a central pediment bearing a statue of Euterpe. The theatre, which belonged to Sir Oswald Stoll's Hackney & Shepherd's Bush Empire (later Empire Palaces) until his death in 1942, was used by many famous performers. (fn. 56) It served additionally as a cinema by 1910 (fn. 57) and closed in 1956, reopening as a television studio before its purchase by Mecca Ltd. as a bingo hall. Removal of the domes and pediment in 1979 caused controversy which led to the building's external restoration, completed in 1988 at Mecca's expense. The theatre was reopened in 1986 by Hackney Empire preservation trust and was managed in 1989 by Hackney New Variety Management Co. (fn. 58)
Early cinemas included Henry Mason's cinematograph exhibition at no. 329 Mare Street in 1909, (fn. 59) the Premier Rink (later Clapton Rink), licensed for dancing in 1909 and as a cinema in 1910 at nos. 137-47 Lower Clapton Road, and Kingsland Palace of Animated Pictures, opened in Mrs. Clara Ludski's auction rooms at no. 105 Kingsland High Street in 1909. (fn. 60) Seven cinemas were listed for 1910-11: Gale's Electric Picture Palace at no. 329 Mare Street, Edgar Mason's Picture theatre (later Hackney Electric or Picture Palace) at no. 331, (fn. 61) the Manor theatre in Kenmure Road, Moss Empire's Stoke Newington Palace with a capacity of 3,000, F. W. Purcell's Amhurst hall for 1,000 at no. 42A Kingsland High Street, the Electric theatre or Kingsland Palace at no. 105, and the small Star Picture Palace at no. no Kingsland Road. Two more were about to be built and films were also shown at the Hackney Empire and at Morley hall. (fn. 62) By 1912 seventeen premises were listed: all the cinemas and halls of 1910-11 except the Kingsland Palace, besides Clapton cinematograph theatre (later Kenning Hall) at no. 229 Lower Clapton Road, Dalston Picture theatre at nos. 17-19 Dalston Lane, the Electric Palace (later Majestic) at nos. 30-36 Stoke Newington High Street, the Electric theatre at no. 134 Homerton High Street, Hackney Electric theatre in Clarence Road, and Kingsland Imperial picture theatre at no. 538 Kingsland Road. (fn. 63) The former St. Thomas's Square Congregational church was licensed as the Empress electric theatre in 1912 (fn. 64) and extended under a lease of 1920. (fn. 65) South Hackney Picture Palace was opened in Well Street in 1913, followed by the Castle electric theatre in Chatsworth Road, and the 'New', perhaps the Majestic, in Stoke Newington High Street. (fn. 66) Among London's grandest early cinemas was the Hackney Pavilion, no. 290 Mare Street, designed by George Billings and opened in 1914, seating 1,162 in an ornate auditorium 'the equal of any Edwardian theatre'. (fn. 67) The Renaissance style Kingsland Empire, designed by George Coles to seat over 1,000, replaced the Kingsland Palace at nos. 103-7 Kingsland High Street in 1915. Dalston Picture House, replacing the old theatre, was opened as 'Europe's first super cinema' in 1920. (fn. 68)
Sixteen cinemas, including the Hackney Empire, existed in 1934. (fn. 69) The earliest ones, at nos. 329 and 331 Mare Street, had closed, as had Morley hall and the Manor theatre. (fn. 70) The Stamford Hill Super, nos. 152-8 Clapton Common, designed by Coles, had opened in 1925 and the Regent, at the corner of Stamford Hill and Amhurst Park, designed for 2,182 by W.E. and W.S. Trent, in 1929. The Kingsland Imperial was renamed the Plaza in 1933, the Regal, at the corner of Mare and Well streets, was opened in 1936, and the Kingsland Empire was rebuilt as the smaller Classic in 1937. (fn. 71) The Odeon, designed by Andrew Mather at no. 505A Kingsland Road, and the Ritz, by W.R. Glen next to the Kenning Hall, were opened in 1939. (fn. 72) Thirteen cinemas, apart from the Hackney Empire, survived in 1947, when the Majestic had been renamed the Vogue. Amhurst hall, empty in 1942, was a theatrical store in 1951. (fn. 73)
Twelve cinemas remained in 1958, (fn. 74) when Dalston Picture House and the Empress had become Dalston Gaumont and the Essoldo, but only seven in 1964, after the successive closures of the Castle, Plaza, Stamford Hill Super, Dalston Gaumont, and Kingsland Odeon; the Regent had become the Stamford Hill Gaumont and then the Odeon. The Regal and the Ritz had both been renamed the ABC by 1970, when the Classic became the Tatler film club. There remained only the Kenning Hall, the Mare Street ABC, and the revived Classic in 1975; (fn. 75) the first closed in 1979 and the second, renamed the Mayfair, in 1981. The Classic was renamed the Rio in 1976 and ceased to be commercial in 1979, when a residents' group managed it as the Rio Centre. From 1982 it was a 'community cinema', offering films for minorities and live entertainments, financed by the G.L.C., which bought the lease in 1983, and Hackney L.B. (fn. 76)
Sports included horse racing, on Hackney Downs in 1733 and on the marsh, with an ox-roasting, in 1735. Less usual events included a swimming race between two horses in 1737 (fn. 77) and women running for a linen shift from Tyler's ferry to Temple Mills in 1749. (fn. 78) Bird-shooting on the marsh was mentioned in 1754, a nearly lethal private boxing match in 1790, and bullbaiting, interspersed with prize fighting, before 3,000 people in 1791; (fn. 79) Sunday shooting was banned in 1809. (fn. 80) Pigeon-shooting was offered at High Hill ferry in 1838. (fn. 81) John Baum, landlord of the White Lion at Hackney Wick by 1825, provided a ring for more orderly boxing in the 1860s (fn. 82) but as late as 1875 a prize fighter was killed on Hackney marsh. (fn. 83) Part on the Leyton side of the mill stream at Temple Mills was used for recreation by Hackney Wick's Eton mission, founded in 1880, and later became Eton Manor sports ground. (fn. 84) The L.C.C.'s purchase of the marsh was prompted mainly by the need for games pitches; there were c. 100 by 1920 (fn. 85) and in 1980. (fn. 86)
The river Lea's attractions were advertised by innkeepers: angling, rowing, and pleasure boating. A fishery was attached to the White House at Tyler's ferry in 1810 as a subscription water. (fn. 87) Annual charges were made by the Beresford family in 1848 both there and at the Horse and Groom on the Essex bank at Lea bridge, whereas above Lea bridge access was largely free. (fn. 88) Angling, also offered by the Mount Pleasant in 1838, (fn. 89) may have been restricted to reaches farther north by 1869 (fn. 90) and was destroyed by the pollution which made necessary the Lee Purification Act, 1886. (fn. 91) Rowing was at its most popular in the 1860s, when Spring Hill was 'the Henley of the Lea'; (fn. 92) at the August regatta in 1869 tradesmen raced from Willow point for money prizes and amateurs, including Hackney rowing club, for trophies. (fn. 93) Processions of boats marked the opening and close of the season. (fn. 94) Many clubs were short-lived: at least 22 with boathouses in Hackney were defunct in 1899, although a few had changed names and were among the 39 active clubs, 20 of them amateur and 19 of them tradesmen's. Most were affiliated to the Amateur Rowing Association of 1879 or the Tradesmen's Rowing Club Association of 1882, or to branches which had been formed for the Lea. Nine clubs used V. Radley's boatyard in Waterworks Road at Lea bridge, 22, including Clapton ladies' boating club, were nearby at Middlesex wharf, 13 of them using C. Meggs's yard, and 8 used Verdon's at Spring Hill. Amateur races were held from May to July and tradesmen's, over a slightly shorter course, on three days in July or August. (fn. 95) Ladies and gentlemen raced in double skiffs in 1914. (fn. 96) High Hill ferry depended heavily on the seasonal income from river users: (fn. 97) pleasure boats and punts could be hired there and at the Jolly Anglers, Middlesex wharf, an area cleared in the 1930s. (fn. 98) The North London Amateur Rowing Association used Tyrrell's boathouse at Spring Hill, as did at least 7 of the 16 other clubs listed, in 1953. (fn. 99) Lee Valley regional park authority, established in 1967, redeveloped Radley's yard as Springfield marina in 1969. (fn. 100)
A Hackney cricket club dined at the Mermaid in 1778 (fn. 101) and challenged a private school in 1789. (fn. 102) Matches for 500 guineas were played by Clapton gentlemen on London Fields and at Homerton by a local team against one from Hackney, Clapton, and Stoke Newington in 1802. (fn. 103) A women's match at Ball's Pond, perhaps Kingsland green, was caricatured by Rowlandson in 1811. (fn. 104) West Hackney cricket club, founded in 1840, played on a ground owned by J. Daly, landlord of the Green Man in Shacklewell Lane, and survived in 1855. Victoria Park club, of 1840, was not listed in 1855; neither was Stamford Hill club, of 1853 and also based on the Green Man, in 1856. (fn. 105) The Aurora club played at Pond Lane, adjoining South Mill field, before the formation in 1855 of its successor Homerton and Clapton club, which played on Norris's park opposite South Hackney church until 1857, when it was renamed Hackney. It then moved to a field near the end of Hackney Terrace which had been used until 1853 by an earlier Hackney club, perhaps a descendant of the 18th-century one. (fn. 106) Hackney cricket club played mainly at Clapton in 1875, (fn. 107) presumably on the ground by South Mill field which after 1894 was covered by the east end of Mildenhall Road. (fn. 108) Other clubs included in 1867 Norris Park, for employees of the builder William Turner, (fn. 109) and Colvestone, (fn. 110) in 1868 Albert, playing at Victoria Park, (fn. 111) and in 1869 Amhurst, which survived with Colvestone in 1890. (fn. 112) Clapton and the larger 'old established' Hope (Clapton) club were among the chief metropolitan clubs in 1872. (fn. 113) Most matches in 1869 took place in Victoria Park or on Hackney Downs, where Cricketfield Road was so called from 1864, or at Pond Lane (Millfields Road). (fn. 114) By 1890 c. 60 clubs, not all from Hackney, played in Victoria Park and at least 10 at Clapton, on North Mill and South Mill fields. Several represented churches or groups of workers. Wandering clubs included Colvestone, Dalston Albert, and Hackney Tradesmen; Clapton Wanderers used a private ground near Spring Hill. (fn. 115) Cricket continued on the large municipal open spaces of Hackney Downs and marsh, London Fields, the Mill fields, and Springfield park. A new cricket centre was opened on Arena fields, west of Hackney Wick stadium, in 1989. (fn. 116)
Football was played on Hackney Downs between the Sky Rockets and Oakfield clubs in 1872 (fn. 117) and at Victoria Park, Hackney Downs, and Clapton in 1875-6. Association football clubs included Gresham, the Pilgrims, and the Ramblers in 1875 and Clapton and the Pilgrims in 1886. (fn. 118) Clapton, founded in 1877 as the Downs and renamed in 1878, moved in 1880 from Hackney Downs to North Mill field and in 1888 to a permanent home in West Ham (Essex). It became a leading amateur club, producing international players, and in 1954 was officially recognized as the first English club to have played on the continent, at Antwerp in 1890. (fn. 119) The best known association football club was an offshoot of Glyn cricket club, which had been started in 1881 at Homerton College, and first played as Glyn football club on waste ground near Glyn Road in 1884. Renamed Eagle in 1886 and Orient in 1888, it headed the Clapton and District league in 1894, entered the London league, moved to its own Whittle's athletic ground, and in 1899 became Clapton Orient, playing at Millfields Road. The club turned professional in 1903, joined the 2nd division of the Southern league in 1905, and was reconstituted in 1906. After its ground had been taken for Clapton stadium, it played at Lea Bridge Road and then at Wembley before moving to Leyton in 1937 and acquiring the name Leyton Orient. (fn. 120)
Rugby union clubs included Clapton, Excelsior, Phoenix, and St. Vincent in 1875 and Upper Clapton in 1886. (fn. 121) The Saracens, established in 1876, played at South Mill field before moving to Walthamstow in 1885. (fn. 122) Upper Clapton had been founded as Orion in 1879 and had changed its name in 1882; it played at Spring Hill and after the First World War at Walthamstow and Enfield before moving in 1933 to Epping, where it retained three pitches in 1954. (fn. 123)
Athletics, long practised on the marsh, were organized by John Baum on a track at Hackney Wick immediately north-west of the White Lion. Races included several advertised as world championships and one by the American Indian Deerfoot, after whom Baum named a row of cottages. (fn. 124) The site was for sale in 1869, when W. Purnell was proprietor, although races continued until 1871; it was covered by Bartrip Street. (fn. 125)
Orion gymnastic club, founded in 1868 in Mile End and named after a rowing club, moved to St. Thomas's hall and in 1883 to a new building in Casterton Street. Debts led to the gymnasium's acquisition as a drill hall in 1912 but the club opened its Orion hall in East Bank in 1914; it claimed in 1948 to be the oldest of its kind under amateur control and it survived, after extension, in 1992. (fn. 126) A gymnasium was attached to the Havelock inn, Albion Road, in 1888 and a short-lived athletic club existed in Twemlow Terrace, London Fields, in 1890. (fn. 127) The Rhodes family supported a boys' institute in Woodland Road, including a gymnasium and rifle range, in 1914. (fn. 128) After extensive refurbishment, the Casterton Street hall was opened by Hackney L.B. in 1979 as George Sylvester sports centre, which included courts for ball games and a rifle range. (fn. 129) It closed in 1991, when a disused pool at the baths in Lower Clapton Road was converted into King's Hall leisure centre. (fn. 130) Lee Valley park authority's Eastway sports centre was opened in 1980, on the site of Eton Manor sports ground. (fn. 131)
Bicycling was pioneered in 1869 by the St. Katherine's velocipede club, which organized races and country rides. It often met at Dalston, (fn. 132) as did the Excelsior cycling club in 1890. (fn. 133) Stoke Newington cycling club met at the Swan, Clapton common, in the 1880s. (fn. 134) Ten clubs made regular rides in 1914. (fn. 135) Lee Valley regional park authority opened Eastway cycle circuit in Temple Mill Lane in 1975. (fn. 136)
Lawn tennis was offered by Clapton and Upper Clapton cricket clubs by 1890, when Atalanta and Springfield tennis clubs also served the northern end of the parish. (fn. 137) In Lea Bridge Road, Lee Valley park authority opened a riding school in 1973 and an ice centre in 1984. (fn. 138)
Greyhound racing, with a new type of electric hare, began at Clapton Orient's stadium in 1928. The stadium was converted to the design of Sir Owen Williams; improvements included a restaurant in 1930 and covered stands and a second restaurant in 1939. It was sold by the Greyhound Racing Association in 1969 and made way for Millfields estate. (fn. 139) Hackney Wick stadium, Waterden Road, was opened for both greyhound and motorcycle racing in 1932. The stands could hold 10,000 and terraces a further 15,000 in 1953. Greyhound racing was reintroduced after closure during the war, but motorcycling (speedway) not until 1963. The Kestrels, a speedway team among the founder members of the British league in 1965, raced weekly at Hackney Wick in 1989. (fn. 140)
The existence of a local volunteer corps, (fn. 141) formed in 1777 for the duration of the American war, was said to have deterred the Gordon rioters from entering Hackney in 1780. The first corps's red, white, and blue uniform was similar to that of the Loyal Hackney Volunteers, formed by the Hackney Association in 1794 with Mark Beaufoy as commander and containing two companies, one of them equipped by public subscription. They occasionally served in London and were recognized as the senior volunteer corps; in 1797 members who had paraded at Homerton were sued by a Channel Islander whom they had mistaken for a Frenchman. (fn. 142) Hackney in 1801 refused to join Whitechapel in opposing a continuance of the county's Tower Hamlets militia. (fn. 143) The volunteers were disbanded in 1802 and revived from 1803 until 1809 or later; (fn. 144) c. 40 members who had served before 1802, on being denied precedence, briefly formed a separate rifle corps.
The 9th (later 4th) Essex Rifle Volunteers (fn. 145) had their headquarters in 1872 and 1890 at no. 51 Mare Street and in 1892 at no. 208, where the 7th Battalion of the Essex Regiment remained until c. 1913. The 10th (Hackney) Battalion of the County of London Regiment had its headquarters in Hackney Grove (later Hillman Street) c. 1913 and soon had its orderly room at no. 208 Mare Street and a drill hall in Casterton Street. On the building of the third town hall a new headquarters was provided in Hillman Street, used by the 5th (Hackney) Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment in 1937 and its successors as a Territorial Army centre in 1953. (fn. 146) The Tower Hamlets Artillery Volunteers were in Lansdowne Place and the Tower Hamlets Volunteer Rifles in Pembury Road in 1872.
Friendly societies registered in 1794 were a tradesmen's society at the Nag's Head, Mare Street, a women's society at the Ship, Church Street, (fn. 147) and societies at the White Hart, Clapton, and the Adam and Eve, Homerton. (fn. 148) Others at the Black Bull, Kingsland, and the Coach and Horses, Stoke Newington High Street, were registered in 1795 and at the Fountain, Clapton, and the Two Black Boys, Well Street, in 1796. (fn. 149) Five more societies met at inns by 1810. (fn. 150)
Hackney and Newington Auxiliary Bible society was established in 1812 to promote the aims of the British and Foreign Bible society. (fn. 151) Hackney savings bank, with the vicar as president, was opened at the vestry's committee room in 1818; it closed in 1894. (fn. 152) Hackney friendly institution, founded in 1829 with the vicar as patron, received contributions towards sickness and other benefits and also used the committee room. (fn. 153) Upper Clapton provident society loan fund was enrolled in 1836 as one of the first under the Act for the Establishment of Loan Societies. (fn. 154) Hackney Benevolent Pension society, founded in 1838, had Lord Amherst as president in 1898, when it supported 57 pensioners, and survived in 1962; a subsidiary body in 1843 collected funds for new almshouses. (fn. 155) Twenty or more friendly, loan, or building societies, some with members in neighbouring parishes, met at inns or schoolrooms by 1850. (fn. 156) The Hackney Association for Improving the Conditions of the Poor had existed for some years by 1869, when its office in the town hall first issued tickets for goods in an effort to suppress begging. (fn. 157) Many mid 19th-century benevolent societies were branches of such national organizations as the Ancient Order of Foresters (fn. 158) and, from 1861, the Freemasons. (fn. 159) Others served localities, among them De Beauvoir Town Philanthropic society by 1869 and Southgate Road Philanthropic society, which gave bread and coal in 1875. (fn. 160) Those attached to churches included Hackney juvenile (later Bruce Hall) mission and the Old Gravel Pit sick and provident society. (fn. 161) The Borough of Hackney Co-operative society was formed in 1886, replacing an organization for south Hackney, and in London was second only to the Tower Hamlets society by 1888. (fn. 162)
A Kingsland branch of the Y.M.C.A. began its 8th session in 1869 and used a schoolroom behind Kingsland Congregational church. (fn. 163) Hackney Y.M.C.A. was founded by a meeting at Bethnal Green in 1883; it leased premises next to the town hall until 1886 and thereafter no. 275 Mare Street, part of which had recently been let in 1911 to the Y.W.C.A., until the Second World War. A branch at nos. 65 and 67 Stamford Hill, for which funds were sought in 1911 and 1914, was replaced by the Regent garage c. 1929. (fn. 164)
Cultural organizations included Hackney Literary and Philosophical society, first meeting in 1811 and perhaps short lived, (fn. 165) Hackney institute and subscription library from 1815 until 1817, (fn. 166) and Hackney Reading society from 1815 until 1911. (fn. 167) A horticultural society for Stamford Hill, formed in 1833 and often exhibiting at Craven Lodge in 1849, was 'strictly confined to the gentry'. (fn. 168) Hackney Debating society and Hackney and Clapton Amateur Musical society existed in 1842. (fn. 169) Hackney Choral society, formed in 1837 with weekly meetings and intended mainly as a school of music, proved too ambitious and faced dissolution in 1842, (fn. 170) although a Borough of Hackney Choral association existed in 1875 and a Hackney Choral society c. 1890. (fn. 171) Kingsland, Dalston, and Clapton all had choral societies in the 1860s, (fn. 172) besides popular groups which performed in taverns. (fn. 173) De Beauvoir Town, which had attracted many good teachers, was described as a particularly musical district in 1869. (fn. 174)
Hackney Literary and Scientific institution was founded in 1848 under the Tyssen-Amhursts' patronage with gentleman and lady subscribers. In union with the Society of Arts, it used the Manor rooms, presumably until their demolition in or before 1894, and offered lectures and entertainments, a library, and classes in chess, French, book keeping, and a range of arts and sciences. (fn. 175) It produced its own magazine in 1858. (fn. 176) Albion hall, in Albion Square, was licensed from 1850 for Kingsland, Dalston and De Beauvoir Town Literary and Scientific institution. After several changes of tenant, (fn. 177) it was succeeded in 1869 by James Cox's Albion club, which resembled Hackney Literary and Scientific institution. Cox managed an adjacent swimming bath and conducted a school and evening classes which he called Dalston college. The hall was under separate management from both the baths and the college in 1888 and passed, with the baths, to the London school board in 1899; the L.C.C. bought the main lease in 1906. (fn. 178)
Public halls, in addition to the Manor rooms, Albion hall, and many church premises, included the town hall opened in 1866, (fn. 179) Luxembourg hall in Ashwin Street, and Morley hall at the Triangle from 1879. (fn. 180) The owner of Luxembourg hall was charged with staging an unlicensed play in 1869 and advertised dancing lessons to private schools in 1875; (fn. 181) the hall had gone by 1880 and was followed by Reeves's colour works. (fn. 182) Morley hall, begun as a 'masonic' hall and perhaps intended as a theatre, was completed by Cambridge Heath Congregational church, with help from Samuel Morley, and bought from the Tyssen estate in 1885. Designed to hold 1,500 and with rooms on three storeys in front, it was used for recreation in 1920 and by the clothiers Gerrish, Ames & Simpkins by 1924 until, after bomb damage, it made way for Hackney technical college's Triangle House. (fn. 183) Assembly rooms in Lyme Grove owned by William Youens in 1887 and the Misses Youens in 1890 and 1914 were probably a dancing school, called Hackney academy in 1936 and derelict by 1951. (fn. 184) Church halls were often used for public meetings, as was the People's hall of the Salvation Army, opened in Havelock Road by 1887. (fn. 185) All the denominations in Hackney provided for leisure activities. (fn. 186) One of many organizations to combine religious instruction with pleasure was the Grove Young Men's institute of 1876, in a schoolroom of the Old Gravel Pit chapel and later, until c. 1890, in Brooksby's Walk; it had a library and gave access to classes, debates, a band, and sports clubs. (fn. 187) The men's first-class swimming bath in Lower Clapton Road, opened in 1897, was boarded over in winter to form the King's hall and used for entertainments, many of them organized by the council. (fn. 188)
Specialist clubs abounded in the late 19th century. Some served only one district, such as Lea Bridge amateur horticultural society in 1869, others claimed a wider membership, including Hackney Scientific association in 1869, (fn. 189) Hackney Microscopical and Natural History society from 1878 to 1892 or later, (fn. 190) and Hackney Photographic society from 1889. (fn. 191) Clapton Naturalists' Field club, so called from 1886 to 1892, was a forerunner of the London Natural History society. (fn. 192)
Political meetings, (fn. 193) addressed by John Wilkes and other leading radicals and caricatured in 1796 by Gillray, took place at the Mermaid's assembly rooms; often they were concerned with parliamentary elections, which themselves took place at Brentford. (fn. 194) Hackney had a reputation for radicalism, partly because of the dissenters at New College, and in 1791 saw the earliest open-air demonstration by the London Corresponding society, probably on Hackney Downs. The Socratic union, which debated at the Mermaid, published its own periodical in 1808. (fn. 195) Local activity included the formation in 1792 of the Hackney Association, whose propaganda may have been subsidized by the government and which in 1793 met at the Mermaid. Revived agitation gave rise in 1835 to Hackney Conservative association and to Hackney Reform and Registration society, both of them apparently short lived. (fn. 196)
Radical institutions outside Hackney (fn. 197) included the Borough of Hackney club, a pioneer working men's club opened in 1863 in Shoreditch, the later Kingsland Progressive club, and Hackney 1 and Hackney 2 branches of the Reform League in Hackney Road, although the league's Homerton branch was at the Duke of Cornwall in the high street. A description of Hackney as the most heretical quarter of London was occasioned by the holding of three secularist meetings on a single Sunday in 1873; (fn. 198) two, including that of Hackney Secular association, were in Goldsmith's Row, Shoreditch. At Homerton a Social Democratic club, finally renamed Homerton Socialist club, met at the Lamb and Flag from 1881 until closed under threat in 1882. Hackney Radical club was at no. 5 the Grove by 1887, at no. 1A Brett Road in 1908, and later at no. 16 Kenmure Road, which served as Hackney Trades Council's headquarters during the general strike of 1926. Homerton Reform club was at no. 52 Well Street by 1888 and until 1931. (fn. 199) Homerton Progressive club may by 1892 have used no. 26 Brooksby's Walk, also used in the 1890s by Chatsworth social and athletic club, where it survived in 1935. A branch of the Fabian Society existed by 1893. Marxist meetings at Brotherhood church, Southgate Road, included the 5th London congress of the Russian Social Democrats in 1907. (fn. 200)
Hackney Conservative Union had offices at no. 33 Mortimer Road in 1872. (fn. 201) Hackney Advanced Liberal association, formed in 1874, had rooms at the Triangle in 1875, when a Liberal club was being prepared for use, (fn. 202) presumably in the Revd. H. F. Burden's former house at no. 206 Mare Street, which it occupied by 1880. (fn. 203) Local Liberals were among the first, in 1878, to remodel their party on the lines adopted in Birmingham. (fn. 204) Hackney Parliament or House of Commons was a new debating society in 1882 and was reported in the Hackney Hansard, the first publication of Horatio Bottomley. (fn. 205) Hackney Conservative club, formed c. 1882, (fn. 206) had moved to no. 206 Mare Street by 1886 and stayed until 1903 or later. Conservative associations had been formed for north, central, and south Hackney by 1886. (fn. 207) More localized were a Conservative group for Dalston and a Radical group for Hackney Wick in 1887 (fn. 208) and Conservative groups for De Beauvoir Town (fn. 209) and for Victoria Park and Liberal and Radical groups for London Fields in 1890. (fn. 210) De Beauvoir Town and Dalston ratepayers' association was active in the 1880s. (fn. 211) Both the Conservative and Labour parties had separate organizations for central and for south Hackney in the 1930s. (fn. 212)
Hackney Community Action (fn. 213) and Hackney Ethnic Minorities Alliance acted on behalf of community and ethnic groups in 1991. Hackney Cypriot association, in Ball's Pond Road, was founded in 1978 and had 200 paid-up members in 1991. (fn. 214) Other ethnic organizations included a Turkish community centre at nos. 92-100 Stoke Newington Road, a Muslim welfare association in Mildenhall Road, an African women's association, a Hackney Hindu council, Agudas Israel Community Services, and Hackney Chinese Community Services.
Modern amenity societies have included the Hackney society, formed in 1969, affiliated to the Civic Trust and responsible for several publications on local buildings. The Friends of Hackney Archives, formed in 1985, published their newsletter the Terrier from that year. (fn. 215) Residents' associations existed for Cassland Green, Leswin Area, Rectory [Road] Area, and Graham Road in 1991, (fn. 216) although no longer for De Beauvoir Town.
The Hackney Magazine and Parish Reformer appeared monthly from 1833 to 1837 and as the Hackney Magazine in 1838. It was published by Charles Green, a printer of Church Street, and strongly advocated a more open local government. (fn. 217)
Early newspapers (fn. 218) circulating in Hackney included the Shoreditch Observer of 1857, continued as the Shoreditch Observer and Borough of Hackney Express from 1867 to 1868 and thereafter, under slightly different titles, until 1915. The reformist Kingsland Times and General Advertiser of 1860 (fn. 219) was renamed the Hackney and Kingsland Times in 1862 and incorporated with the Eastern Times in 1863. Four short lived newspapers with more narrowly local circulation were the Hackney Journal, apparently published only in 1842, the Hackney Ratepayer, the Kingsland Chronicle, and the Family Companion. (fn. 220)
The most successful newspaper was launched in 1864 as the Hackney and Kingsland Gazette, (fn. 221) a vigilant local guardian which claimed to be the great Liberal organ of Hackney and the largest weekly newspaper, in London. (fn. 222) Compiled at first by volunteers, it soon passed to the printer Charles Potter, whose sons formed Potter Bros, as a limited company in 1920 and changed the title to Hackney Gazette and North London Advertiser in 1926. The family acquired publications in St. Pancras and Tottenham before merging its business in 1987 with North West London Press Group to form Capital Newspapers, which published the Hackney Gazette weekly in 1990. The offices, originally no. 440 Kingsland Road, (fn. 223) moved to Lenthall works on the west side of the road, in 1924 in part to no. 505A Kingsland Road, and in 1958 to no. 250.
Other newspapers included the Hackney Guardian from 1874 to 1876, the Hackney Mercury from 1885 under slightly varied titles until 1910, the North London Guardian from the 1880s, renamed the North London Guardian, Stoke Newington Chronicle, and Hackney Independent 1910-16, and the North London Chronicle of 1939, continued as the Stoke Newington and Hackney Chronicle from 1940 until 1971. The Hackney Echo was distributed free from 1984 (fn. 224) by Capital Newspapers, replacing a Tuesday edition of the Hackney Gazette. (fn. 225)