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London Borough of Hackney facts for kids

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Coat of arms of Hackney
Coat of arms
Official logo of Hackney
Council logo
Hackney shown within Greater London
Hackney shown within Greater London
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Constituent country England
Region London
Ceremonial county Greater London
Created 1 April 1965
Admin HQ Mare Street, Hackney
 • Type London borough council
 • Body Hackney London Borough Council
 • Total 7.36 sq mi (19.06 km2)
Area rank 321st (of 326)
 • Total 281,120
 • Rank 51st (of 326)
 • Density 38,200/sq mi (14,749/km2)
 • Ethnicity
36.2% White British
2.1% White Irish
0.2% White Gypsy or Irish Traveller
16.2% Other White
2% White & Black Caribbean
1.2% White & Black African
1.2% White & Asian
2% Other Mixed
3.1% Indian
0.8% Pakistani
2.5% Bangladeshi
1.4% Chinese
2.7% Other Asian
11.4% Black African
7.8% Black Caribbean
3.9% Other Black
0.7% Arab
4.6% Other
Time zone UTC (GMT)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+1 (BST)
E, EC, N
ONS code 00AM
GSS code E09000012
Police Metropolitan Police

The London Borough of Hackney ( HAK-nee) is a London borough in Inner London. The historical and administrative heart of Hackney is Mare Street, which lies 5 miles (8 km) north-east of Charing Cross. The borough is named after Hackney, its principal district. Southern and eastern parts of the borough are popularly regarded as being part of east London, with the northwest belonging to north London. Its population is 281,120 inhabitants.

The London Plan issued by the Greater London Authority assigns whole boroughs to sub-regions for statutory monitoring, engagement and resource allocation purposes. The most recent (2011) iteration of this plan assigns Hackney to the ‘East’ sub-region, while the 2008 and 2004 versions assigned the borough to "North" and "East" sub-regions respectively. The modern borough was formed in 1965 by the merger of the Metropolitan Borough of Hackney with the much smaller Metropolitan Boroughs of Stoke Newington and Shoreditch.

Hackney is bounded by Islington to the west, Haringey to the north, Waltham Forest to the north-east, Newham to the east, Tower Hamlets to the south-east and the City of London to the south-west. Hackney was one of the host boroughs of the London Olympics in 2012, with several of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park venues falling within its boundaries.


Administrative background and heritage

St augustines tower
St Augustine's Tower. A former property of the Knights of St John dating from the 13th century, St Augustine's Tower is Hackney's oldest building. The tower is all that remains of the medieval parish church, which was demolished in 1798. (September 2005)

The borough was formed in 1965 from the area of the earlier metropolitan boroughs of Hackney, Shoreditch and Stoke Newington. The new council included representative symbols of the predecessor boroughs in its new combined coat of arms: Shoreditch by three bells from Shoreditch Church; Stoke Newington by two trees bearing fruit; and Hackney by the Maltese Cross of the principal landowners of the parish in the Middle Ages. The shield is surmounted by a representation of St. Augustine's Tower.

The old metropolitan borough of Hackney was closely based on the unusually large ancient parish of the same name.

The council displays, in Hackney Town Hall, a portrait of the Queen wearing the robes of the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem, of which she is Patron.

Place name origin

In the 13th century the name appears as Hackenaye or Hacquenye, but no certain derivation is advanced. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Place Names (fourth edition) discusses the origin of the name. The first surviving records of the place name are as Hakney (1231) and Hakeneye (1242 and 1294). The ‘ey’ suffix almost certainly refers to an island; the dictionary favours the interpretation that Hackney means ‘Haka’s island,’ with Haka being a notable local person and the island (or inaccessible place surrounded by marshes) lying close to the River Lea. This was once a much wilder place than today.

The Dictionary suggests that the ‘Hack’ element may also derive from:

  • The Old English ‘Haecc’ meaning a hatch – an entrance to a woodland or common.
  • Or alternatively from ‘Haca’ meaning a hook, and in this context, a bend of the river.

Given the island context, the ‘hatch’ option is unlikely to be correct, so the favoured 'Haka's Island' or the 'Island on the bend' seem more likely.

The place name will have originally referred to just the island or possibly both the island and the manor of the same name based around it. Subsequently, the name Hackney was applied to the whole ancient parish of Hackney.

Landscape history

At one time most of the area was covered with open oak and hazel woodlands, with marshland around the rivers and brooks that crossed the area. In Roman times and for a long time after, the River Lea was an estuary, tidal as far as Hackney Wick. Here is where the Hackney Brook met the Lea; the confluence was very wide when flooded.

Iron Age to Anglo-Saxon period

In the Iron Age and probably until after the Roman period (as the Romans used tribal territories as administrative sub-divisions), the River Lea was considered to separate the territories of the Catuvellauni to the west of the river from the Trinovantes to the east.

The Romans built the Roman road, Ermine Street, which runs through the modern borough under the names Shoreditch High Street and Kingsland Road amongst others.

In the Anglo-Saxon period, the River Lea separated the core territories of the East Saxons (on the east side) from the Middle Saxons (on the western, Hackney side) they often controlled. This continuity of this natural boundary from pre-Roman period may be a result of the differing Saxon groups taking control of pre-defined territories.

After both areas were brought under the control of Alfred the Great, the river became the boundary between the historic counties of Middlesex (Hackney) and Essex (modern Newham and Waltham Forest).

Later history

Sutton house hackney 2
Sutton House was built in 1535.

In the Tudor period, the lands of religious orders were seized by the Crown and put up for sale. Thus Hackney became a retreat for the nobility around Hackney Central and Homerton. Henry VIII's Palace was by Lea Bridge roundabout, where BSix Sixth Form College stands today. Sutton House, on Homerton High Street, is the oldest surviving dwelling in Hackney, originally built in 1535 as Bryck Place for Sir Ralph Sadleir, a diplomat. The village of Hackney flourished from the Tudor to late Georgian periods as a rural retreat.

The first documented "hackney coach"—the forerunner of the more generic "hackney carriage"—operated in London in 1621. Current opinion is that the name "hackney," to refer to a London taxi, is derived from the village name. (Hackney, associated with high-stepping horses and horse-drawn carriages, is the root of the French word haquenée, a term used for a small breed of horse, and the Sardinian achetta horse.) Construction of the railway in the 1850s ended Hackney's rural reputation by connecting it to other parts of the city and stimulating development.

Curtain Theatre
Curtain Theatre circa 1600 print. Note: some authorities believe this to be a depiction of the Theatre – the other Elizabethan theatre in Shoreditch.

London's first Tudor theatres were built at Shoreditch. The Gunpowder Plot was first exposed nearby in Hoxton.

Notable residents from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries included Robert Aske, William Cecil, Samuel Courtauld, Samuel Hoare, Joseph Priestley and Thomas Sutton.

Many grand houses stood in Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill; the latter neighbourhood became a center of Hackney's many Orthodox Jewish residents from the 1930s. Alfred Hitchcock made many of his first films in Hoxton at the Gainsborough Studios in Poole Street.

Following extensive post-war development and immigration since the late 20th century, population pressure has increased and the area's many Georgian and Victorian terraces are being gentrified, warehouses are being converted to housing, and new flats are being built. It was ranked as inner London's 'greenest borough' and London Transport's 'best bike borough 2006', with 62 parks and open spaces, covering 815 acres (3.3 km2). Seven Hackney parks have now achieved Green Flag status. One, Abney Park, became scheduled in 2009 as one of Britain's historic parks and garden at risk from neglect and decay. Hackney Marshes play host to the largest collection of football pitches in Europe. Part of it was used as a site for events of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Listed buildings and conservation areas

There are 1,300 listed buildings in Hackney, including the Hackney Empire, Tudor Sutton House, and the Grade I medieval St Augustine's Tower. The borough contains 25 conservation areas including Clapton Square and urban open-spaces including Clapton Common and Clissold Park. Conservation areas also protect large areas of Georgian and Victorian housing, and areas of industrial heritage.



The London Borough of Hackney is an Inner London Borough within Greater London. It is to the north-east of the City of London; and neighboured by the London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, to the south; Islington to the west at Southgate Road; Haringey to the north. On the east, the River Lea forms the boundary with Waltham Forest; and to the south-east is Newham. Historically, the River Lea formed the boundary between the predecessor counties of Middlesex and Essex.

Hackney Town Hall is approximately 5 miles (8 km) north-east of Charing Cross, St Pauls Cathedral being situated in between; and 3.8 miles (6.1 km) from the GLA City Hall near Tower Bridge.

Districts and postcodes

Hackney districts
Some locations in the London Borough of Hackney.

The most southerly district in the borough is Shoreditch, adjacent to the City of London. To the north-west, bordering Islington, the City, and north of Old Street is Hoxton. To the north of Shoreditch is Haggerston, north of the Regents Canal. Bethnal Green and Cambridge Heath also forms of the southern parts of the borough, also this is formally and majoritised within neighbouring Tower Hamlets.

Settlements to the west of the borough followed the line of the former Ermine Street, with De Beauvoir Town — a Victorian estate to the west of the (now) Kingsland Road. Further north, lie Dalston, Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill — where the borough abuts Haringey.

A further group of settlements follow another north-south radial road, with South Hackney to the east of Cambridge Heath Road — north of Victoria Park; and Hackney Central commencing at Mare Street. London Fields was formerly common land to the west of this place, but now forms a district in its own right. To the north, Homerton lies immediately east of the centre of Hackney. The River Lea forms the borough's eastern boundary. Hackney Wick, the Hackney Marshes, Lower and Upper Clapton all lie along this eastern boundary.

Postal districts were assigned to the former parts of the borough in 1857/8. Most of the borough would originally have been covered by a planned 'NE' postal district, but this was abolished in 1866. Most of the borough is covered by the eastern postal district, but Shoreditch constitutes five separate postcodes. Areas to the west of Kingsland Road and in the north of the borough are predominantly covered by the northern postal district.

Traditionally, much of the borough was and remains considered as a part of East London, with Hoxton and Shoreditch being part of the East End of London. In the 2008 revision of the London Plan, the borough was officially reassigned to the north London sub-region for administrative purposes.


The London Borough of Hackney covers an area of 19.06 square kilometres (7.4 sq mi). Its primary geographic feature is the course of the River Lea; and the associated River Lee Navigation, which passes through Hackney Cut — an artificial channel of the Lea built in 1770 across the Hackney Marshes to straighten a meander of the natural river. A tributary of the Lea, Hackney Brook was fully culverted in 1860 by the Metropolitan Board of Works.

The New River passes through the borough close to Finsbury Park and flows towards Islington. The Regents Canal also crosses the borough to the south of De Beauvoir Town in the west, joining the Hertford Union Canal below Victoria Park.

Within the Borough, the land rises westward from the Lea reaching 30 metres (98 ft) above sea level at Clapton Common and Stamford Hill. The area around Victoria Park, in the south of the borough lies about 15 metres (49 ft) above sea level. At Spring Hill, in Upper Clapton the road descends sharply from 25 metres (82 ft) to only 10 metres (33 ft) at High Hill Ferry, on the Lee Navigation.


The Lea and Hackney Marshes are underlain by alluvium soils; and the higher ground between Homerton and Stamford Hill is formed on a widening bed of London Clay. Brickearth deposits are within tongues of clay extending beneath Clapton Common, Stamford Hill and Stoke Newington High Street. The centre and south western districts lie on river terrace deposits of Taplow Gravel. Victoria Park and Well Street Common lie on flood plain gravel.


This data was taken between 1971 and 2000 at the nearest national weather station in Greenwich; around 7 miles (11.3 km) south of Hackney Town Hall:

Climate data for London (Greenwich)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 14.0
Average high °C (°F) 8.3
Average low °C (°F) 2.6
Record low °C (°F) −10.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 51.6
Average rainy days (≥ 1.0 mm) 10.8 8.5 9.6 9.4 9.0 8.3 8.0 7.6 8.5 10.7 10.1 9.9 110.4
Average snowy days 4 4 3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 16
Average relative humidity (%) 81.0 76.0 69.0 64.0 62.0 60.0 60.0 62.0 67.0 73.0 78.0 82.0 69.5
Mean monthly sunshine hours 49.9 71.4 107.1 159.8 181.2 181.0 192.1 195.1 138.9 108.1 58.5 37.4 1,480.5
Source 1: Record highs and lows from BBC Weather, except August and February maximum from Met Office
Source 2: All other data from Met Office, except for humidity and snow data which are from NOAA


Year Pop. ±%
1801 14,609 —    
1811 19,523 +33.6%
1821 25,342 +29.8%
1831 35,482 +40.0%
1841 68,246 +92.3%
1851 94,961 +39.1%
1861 172,385 +81.5%
1871 249,810 +44.9%
1881 327,234 +31.0%
1891 369,209 +12.8%
1901 374,132 +1.3%
1911 379,120 +1.3%
1921 368,469 −2.8%
1931 358,117 −2.8%
1941 305,501 −14.7%
1951 260,626 −14.7%
1961 240,521 −7.7%
1971 221,975 −7.7%
1981 179,536 −19.1%
1991 187,792 +4.6%
2001 202,819 +8.0%
2011 246,270 +21.4%
2019 (est) 281,120 +14.2%
Source: A Vision of Britain through time

In 1801, the civil parishes that form the modern borough had a total population of 14,609. This rose steadily throughout the 19th century, as the district became built up; reaching 95,000 in the middle of that century. When the railways arrived the rate of population growth increased — reaching nearly 374,000 by the turn of the century. This increase in population peaked before World War I, falling slowly in the aftermath until World War II began an exodus from London towards the new towns under the Abercrombie Plan for London (1944). The population is now rising again, and the 2001 census gives Hackney a population of 202,824.

The population is ethnically diverse. Of the resident population, 89,490 (44%) people describe themselves as White British. 24,861 (12%) are in other White ethnic groups, 50,009 (24%) are Black or Black British, 19,791 (9%) are Asian or Asian British, 8,501 (4%) describe themselves as 'Mixed', and 6,432 (3%) as Chinese or Other.

Stamford hill
Stamford Hill, along with neighbouring West Hackney, Clapton and Stoke Newington has a large Hasidic Jewish population.

There is also a large Turkish and Kurdish population resident in Hackney. Turkish and Kurdish communities are located in all parts of the borough, though there is a greater concentration in north and central Hackney.

132,931 (66%) of the resident population were British born. A further 10,095 (5%) were born in other parts of Europe, and the remaining 59,798 (29%) born elsewhere in the world.

2018 estimates are that Christianity is the biggest religion in Hackney, with 31% of residents identifying Christian; 13% identified as Muslim, 10% Jewish, and 7% belonged to other religions. A further 38% either have no religion, or did not submit a response. In numerical terms, Hackney has the second largest Jewish population of any local authority in the United Kingdom, after the London Borough of Barnet (and in percentage terms, third after Barnet and the Hertsmere borough of Hertfordshire).

32% of households are owner–occupied.

The largest rise of ethnic groups between 2001 and 2011 was "Other", which increased by 222%. This was followed by "Mixed", which rose by 84%.

According to the GLA Population Estimate for 2018, 36.4% of the borough's population are White British, 18.1% are "Other White", 10.3% are of Black African heritage, and 6.4% are of Black Caribbean heritage. Hackney is also home to several smaller Asian communities.


Ethnic Group 2001 2011
Number % Number %
White: British 89,490 44.1% 89,030 36.2%
White: Irish 6,117 3.0% 5,216 2.1%
White: Gypsy or Irish Traveller 474 0.2%
White: Other 24,861 12.3% 39,897 16.2%
White: Total 120,468 59.4% 134,617 54.7%
Black or Black British: African 24,290 12.0% 27,976 11.4%
Black or Black British: Caribbean 20,879 10.3% 19,168 7.8%
Black or Black British: Other Black 4,840 2.4% 9,714 3.9%
Black or Black British: Total 50,009 24.7% 56,858 23.1%
Asian or Asian British: Indian 7,624 3.8% 7,599 3.1%
Asian or Asian British: Pakistani 2,165 1.1% 1,905 0.8%
Asian or Asian British: Bangladeshi 5,970 2.9% 6,180 2.5%
Asian or Asian British: Chinese 2,377 1.2% 3,436 1.4%
Asian or Asian British: Other Asian 1,655 0.8% 6,747 2.7%
Asian or Asian British: Total 19,791 9.8% 25,867 10.5%
Mixed: White and Black Caribbean 3,075 1.5% 4,989 2.0%
Mixed: White and Black African 1,599 0.8% 2,866 1.2%
Mixed: White and Asian 1,576 0.8% 3,020 1.2%
Mixed: Other Mixed 2,251 1.1% 4,994 2.0%
Mixed: Total 8,501 4.2% 15,869 6.4%
Other: Arab 1,721 0.7%
Other: Any other ethnic group 4,055 2.0% 11,338 4.6%
Other: Total 4,055 2.0% 13,059 5.3%
Black, Asian, and minority ethnic: Total 82,356 40.7% 111,653 45.3%
Total 202,824 100.00% 246,270 100.00%

Every ward remains among the 10% most deprived in the country, with 47% of children living in low-income households.

Hackney has the highest rate of commuters travelling by bicycle in London as of the 2011 census.


Hackney has only one London Underground station, on the fringe of the borough. Manor House on the Piccadilly Line is located on its extreme north-western fringe on the boundary with Haringey.

However, three London Overground lines serve Hackney: the North London Line crosses from west to east while the East London Line runs from Highbury & Islington and passes through Dalston Junction and on south through Haggerston, Hoxton, Shoreditch towards destinations south of the River Thames, including Clapham Junction, Crystal Palace, Croydon, and New Cross. Local services on the Lea Valley Lines passed into London Overground on 31 May 2015. Trains originate at London Liverpool Street and head towards either Enfield Town (via Bush Hill Park), Cheshunt (via Turkey Street) or Chingford (via Clapton).

It is proposed that Crossrail 2 will provide Hackney with its first underground station at Dalston with the potential of the future ‘eastern branch’ with stops at Hackney Central and Hackney Wick.

London Overground

North London Line Travelling west to east — Dalston Kingsland, Hackney Central, Homerton and Hackney Wick

East London Line Travelling north to south — Dalston Junction, Haggerston, Hoxton and Shoreditch High Street

Lea Valley Lines Travelling south to north – London Fields, Hackney Downs, Rectory Road, Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill.

Travel to work

In March 2011, the main forms of transport that residents used to travel to work were: bus, minibus or coach, 16.9% of all residents aged 16–74; underground, metro, light rail, tram, 9.2%; bicycle, 9.2%; on foot, 7.5%; driving a car or van, 7.1%; train, 4.6%; work mainly at or from home, 3.5%.

65% of households in Hackney are car free.

Notable people

Attractions and institutions

Hackney One Carnival - Ridley road - 2016-09-11
Hackney One Carnival on Ridley road (2016)
Gainsborough Studios site
Flats built in the site of Gainsborough Studios in Hoxton
  • Abney Park Cemetery – overgrown Victorian cemetery and Nature Reserve
  • Arcola Theatre – studio theatre
  • National Centre of Circus Arts – circus school
  • Geffrye Museum – decorative arts museum
  • Hackney Empire – theatre
  • Hackney One Carnival - carnival street parade
  • Hoxton Hall – community centre and performance space
  • Newington Green Unitarian Church – London's oldest nonconformist place of worship
  • St John's HoxtonAnglican church (where "Amazing Grace" was written)
  • Shoreditch Town Hall
  • Sutton House – Heritage house and museum
  • The Towers of Hackney
  • Transition Gallery – contemporary art project space
  • Victoria Miro Gallery – contemporary art gallery
  • Vortex Jazz Club – live jazz venue

Twinned towns

The London Borough of Hackney has formal twinning arrangements with:

Hackney has an informal twinning with:

  • South Africa Alexandra, South Africa.

The borough also has informal links with South Africa, Turkey, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The Homerton University Hospital has its own twinning arrangements with the Rambam Medical Centre (Haifa, Israel) and St George's Hospital (Grenada). Schools are encouraged to pursue links with specific schools abroad – such as the arrangement between Our Lady's and a school in Hangzhou, South West China.

Greater LondonLondonCity of London


In 2002, the borough entered into a 10-year contract with the Learning Trust, an independent collaborative body that organises education for Hackney's 27,000 pupils in over 70 schools, nurseries and play centres. The trust was set up in response to an OFSTED report that identified failings in the then existing system. Two of London's most successful City Academies are in Hackney with another two in development and plans to rebuild or renovate every other Hackney school by 2016. LBH regained responsibility for education in 2012, absorbing the Learning Trust under the new name "Hackney Learning Trust".

Public libraries

The London Borough of Hackney has eight public libraries:

  • Clapton Library
  • Dalston CLR James Library
  • Hackney Central Library
  • Homerton Library
  • Shoreditch Library
  • Stamford Hill Library
  • Stoke Newington Library
  • Woodberry Down Library

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Hackney para niños

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