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Readers' Letters

Editor’s comment: Local history lessons are bittersweet

PUBLISHED: 15:05 01 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:18 02 November 2017

Staff at Goddard & Gibbs produced works for countries from New Zealand to Nigeria. Picture: GINGER FERRELL

Staff at Goddard & Gibbs produced works for countries from New Zealand to Nigeria. Picture: GINGER FERRELL

Archant

I’m still relatively new to Hackney, so I love reading the Gazette’s weekly history features.

I’ve walked past the GreatArt building in Kingsland Road dozens if not hundreds of times and never known it spent nearly a century making stained glass that was shipped across the world: Westminster Abbey, Utah, even the Middle East.

Goddard & Gibbs left a few years before the company dissolved, and today it’s an art supplies shop – run by nice people, I’m sure, but probably a bit less exciting than the craft that once took place there.

And while it’s fun to find out what this or that building used to be, it’s also sad to learn about another industry Hackney has lost, and another local community that no longer exists around it.

That’s why I think it’s important, through our business page, to champion the industry we do have: firms like Freed of London, hidden away in Well Street for 40 years making internationally renowned dance shoes, or start-ups like Benjamin Venus’s record shop, run from his Graham Road flat after starting life in Broadway Market. It’s why we let you know about schemes to help you make the most of the area’s shops and traders like the East London Pound and the Local Buyers’ Club.

You and I may not routinely buy stained glass or ballet shoes, but the livelihoods of the people we profile each week depend on us – and some of them will be right up your street. The Gazette is part of our local economy, too, and long may it remain that way.

Our borough is changing all the time, and not always in ways we would choose. Too often it feels like we are powerless to stop things happening.

But Hackney’s history is one not just of loss but of struggle and creativity – and those things never go out of fashion.

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