How has Stoke Newington changed over the last 50 years?
The culture of Stoke Newington has been shaped by its multiculturalism. The area has long attracted the likes of artists, writers, non-conformists, and political radicals. To this day, ‘Stokey’, as the locals lovingly call it, entertains a reputation for bohemianism.
Although Stoke Newington didn’t suffer as badly as other parts of East London during World War II, the postwar years saw the construction of large estates to replace much of the bomb-damaged residential housing to the east of the centre of Stoke Newington.
Stoke Newington in the 1960s
If we look at Stoke Newington over the last 50 years, we are looking at how the area has evolved since the mid-1960s. Before 1965, Shoreditch, Hackney, and Stoke Newington were three separate metropolitian boroughs. But in 1965, Stoke Newington (along with Shoreditch and Hackney) merged to form the London Borough of Hackney.
Around this time, a growing Hasidic Jewish community settled in the north of Stoke Newington towards Stamford Hill, while Turks, West Indians, and Greek Cypriots also settled in Stoke Newington, enriching its local culture and establishing a vibrant neighbourhood. In more recent years, Stoke Newington has become one of London’s most multicultural areas, with substantial Asian and Afro-Caribbean populations, and a smaller contingent of Poles and Somalis.
Stoke Newington in the 1970s
Building on its reputation as a home for political radicals, Stoke Newington was associated with The Angry Brigade, a left-wing political group active in the early 1970s. The group launched a small bombing campaign, which resulted in property damage but no loss of life. Members of the group from north-east London became known as the ‘Stoke Newington Eight’. The Stoke Newington Eight were brought to trial in 1972. The trial lasted many months and became the longest trial in English history. Some of the defendants in the trial were imprisoned, while others were found not guilty.
Stoke Newington in the 1980s and 1990s
During the 1980s, the traditionally working-class area of Stoke Newington experienced an influx of the middle-classes. Often these people were young, politically-engaged, and employed in the arts and creative industries. This injection of young blood led to the opening of new cafes, wine bars, restaurants and shops, and the area became more cosmopolitan in feel.
Year 2000 to the present day…
In the last ten years or so, Stoke Newington has undergone significant gentrification, as have many of the neighbouring areas. Most of the gentrification has taken place on Stoke Newington Church Street, which skirts Clissold Park and is Stoke Newington’s main high street. Stoke Newington Church Street now has many independent cafes and delis, while its long-loved pubs and live music and comedy scene remain intact.
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