Hundreds delve into Hackney’s history at online event

PUBLISHED: 15:50 04 November 2020 | UPDATED: 17:16 04 November 2020

Clissold Park. Picture: Amir Dotan/Hackney Archives

Clissold Park. Picture: Amir Dotan/Hackney Archives


Hundreds of history-lovers got to enjoy Hackney’s heritage at an online archive event.

Church Street in 1997. Picture: Amir Dotan/Hackney ArchivesChurch Street in 1997. Picture: Amir Dotan/Hackney Archives

Just over 300 people attended Stoke Newington Amir Dotan’s free online event organised by The Hackney Society and Friends of the Hackney Archives, called A Glimpse into Hackney Archives, on October 20.

Amir has 6,500 followers on Twitter and says he is known as “the history guy” around Stoke Newington, where his work resonates with the community.

READ MORE: Hackney history: How a £20m government compensation pot went to slave owners - and not slaves

A local resident who saw the event advertised, Richard Beer, said: “When you’ve lived somewhere a long time, you kind of take it for granted that it’s always been the way it is now.

“Change is so gradual that it goes unnoticed. But seeing these photos side by side is a testament to how much the area has changed.

109-111 Stoke Newington Church Street. Picture: Amir Dotan/Hackney Archives109-111 Stoke Newington Church Street. Picture: Amir Dotan/Hackney Archives

“There’s also something quite poignant about seeing places that were destroyed in the war and rebuilt completely differently.”

Amir’s collection of photographs and drawings is almost 7,000 strong.

You may also want to watch:

He said: “It’s great to know that a little sketch that I uncovered in a box gets disseminated across the globe with a click of a button.”

Amir is always looking for more photos to add to his collection: “I’ve got no doubt that there’s still a lot of shoe boxes with photos that people will one day uncover and get in touch and say, ‘look, my dad took all these photos in the 40s. Are you interested?’ I will probably start jumping in my seat and say, ‘yes please.’”

Eseoghene Okonedo, who has lived in Hackney since the early 90s, said the pictures “fascinate” her: “It’s like touching the past. I find myself wondering what life was like as I look at the clothes and people.”

The photographs make Eseoghene “nostalgic and long for the old Hackney edgy community vibe”.

Hackney’s Cllr Sophie Cameron (Clissold, Lab) said she feels “heartened” by how popular the history of Stoke Newington is: “One of the things that is so amazing about the local area is that there are so many people invested in the history…and it really affirms their identity.

“It gives people a connection to the past that sometimes they feel is missing in modern life.”

The Hackney Archives image database has been online since January, but it has not been widely advertised.

Any Hackney resident can search the database by inputting a key term, date or place, here.

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Hackney Gazette. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Hackney Gazette