A new title for the same tour. Why? Hackney Wick and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park continues to be the most interesting part of a capital which never stands still. If street art is a barometer of hipness, then having the likes of Thierry Noir and Martin Ron appear here is an indicator that the area’s profile is rising. Its future is much debated: the ‘New Shoreditch’, say some.
The economic downturn protected the old Hackney Wick but things are starting to step up a gear as redevelopment kicks in. There’ll be more craft ale bars, more street food – but potentially less art and creativity. There’ll be winners, but there will also be losers. How much of the fantastic social history and industrial heritage will survive? It’s going to be an interesting ride.
“I see it with new eyes now,” said one local resident after a tour we led recently to connect local businesses with the area. This is the hard part selling walks and tours to locals: people say “I’ve lived here for 20 years, I know it really well.” Yet there are always surprises – layers of pyschogeography and historical quirks – particularly in Hackney Wick where you need to know which door to knock on.
And that’s where having a guide who’s spent 6 years living East London warehouse culture and exploring these urban nooks and East London crannies comes in. At the centre of a new London quarter and at the heart of plans for the capital’s Olympic legacy, Hackney Wick will always be an interesting place because so many different sides of London collide here.
But it’s changing, and fast. Some elements that made this hidden art colony a centre of alternative living and DIY culture will be lost forever. Priced out, as in Berlin, San Francisco, Barcelona, etc. So come and see Hackney Wick as it is now and decide for yourself if it is the new Shoreditch – and what that means. There’s still a ton of really interesting things to explore, so come and discover this once-hidden corner of London.