Shop looting, video shooting and a whole lot of postcode patriotism: reflecting on 2011 in Stoke Newington

Profile image for Sophie_RT

By Sophie_RT | Saturday, December 31, 2011, 17:01

Well, Stoke Newington was never one to be dull, and 2011 has

been no exception – plenty of shaking up's been a-happening over the year, so

we thought we'd take a moment to reflect on some of the changes or news to

affect our little pocket of Hackney.

Forget the Year of the Rabbit, it's been the year of the

park in N16. After countless months of demolition, redesigning, rebuilding,

replanting, replanting really badly, rescheduling replanting, deer picketing,

public meetings and loads of hard work from Council representatives and the

Clissold Park User Group, we now have our park back! 2011 saw the completion of

almost every element of the park, with the opening of the playground, the skate

and wheels park (albeit with teething problems), the vet-approved animal

enclosures and signs aplenty so you can actually find out where all these thing

are. All that's left for 2012 is the opening of Clissold House (there will be

guided tours in the New Year), some spring replanting, a bit of CCTV and

perhaps even a fund established to repair the big water fountain near the

Boggle Tree. But already our park's been considered so good after its new lease

of life that there are plans to use it as the final destination in Hackney's

Olympic parade next year. Watch this space for more on the procession route and


Then of course, there were the crazy riots in August, which

thankfully didn't reach Stoke Newington itself but did have a massive effect on

everyone across the Capital and within Hackney. Watching the Empire being

firebombed and businesses throughout the borough being forced to close as

looters took to the streets was pretty heart-breaking; but then, being out on

the streets of Dalston and seeing the local business owners defend their

community and their livelihoods so fiercely that night, you realise the

uniqueness of our neighbourhood. Hackney needed a flag that week, coz it was

bubbling over with postcode-patriotism. Instead we had Thank Turk it's Saturday,

a day in which locals pledged to spend their money in the independent shops

that had suffered from the riots and had defended our cherished stretch of the


It's true that Stokey would be nothing without its

independents, so when plans were announced earlier this year that Sainsburys

intended to swoop on N16, developing a site behind Church Street that would potentially

kill off many of the local traders, residents took to the streets (literally)

in protest. Plans are now set to take at least a couple of years before

reaching building stage, even if they are granted by Hackney Council. And it hasn't

put people off of setting up shop in the area, with 2011 being the rookie year

for a new butcher, grocer, deli and cake baker, as well as a homeware shop,

theatre company and sushi place. And it's not just newbies that got their teeth

into business in Stoke Newington this year: Atique Choudry, of Yumyum, Oishiii

and Mercado fame, has also taken on Punjab 56, ex-White-Hart owner Michael has

relaunched The Palatine Pub, the man behind the Shacklewell Arms in Dalston has

bought The Three Crowns from owners of The Lion, and The Baby Bath House has

been introduced onto the Stokey scene from the City. Recessions are no excuse

round here it seems.

And it's not just trade where N16 is making movements

either, as our second ever literary festival went down a storm thanks to

amazing organisers, speakers and hosts. We had the likes of Iain Sinclair and

David Walliams giving talks and getting laughs back in June, with much acclaim

from local and national press. But not all our celebrity hosting sessions have

gone so swimmingly this year, as Britney Spears hit the neighbourhood to shoot

a video about gangsters and robbers just after the riots and much to the dismay

of many locals and the Council. Rihanna also felt Stokey was the place to make

a pop video in 2011 though thankfully she mimicked something less tasteless in

her shoot (I say less tasteless, it was Dragon's Den, so only just…) And our

superstar exports have proved just as successful as our imports this year, with

ex-Stokey school boys Labrynth and Professor Green going head-to-head for the

UK number one spot in the singles charts back in October.

So, although 2011 has had its fair share of doom and gloom

across the globe, Stoke Newington's year has had a pretty happy ending: no

Sainsburys, unsuccessful looters, lots of new businesses and plenty of good

press for our Literary Festival and our musical talent. Let us know what your

highlight of the year has been in 2011 in the comments box below and help to

build up Stokey's force field of good vibes, ready for 2012.

Photo courtesy of mrlerone at Flickr



  • Profile image for poppydop

    I got married, but I don't s'pose that's coz of Stokey! Best thing that happened in Stoke Newington in 2011 is the excitement over the Olympics. I can't wait.

    By poppydop at 12:13 on 02/01/12

  • Profile image for White Rabbit

    Discovering Homa has to be one of mine! Happy 2012 Stokie!

    By White Rabbit at 20:06 on 01/01/12

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