Friday, December 26th 2014
We stayed at home all yesterday (Christmas Day) and thought we ought to make an effort to go out today. We took a bus to Kingsland Road, Hackney, and went for a little stroll. There was a cafe we had in mind and hoped to find it open. Would it be? As it is Turkish-run, there was a good chance that it would be.
On the corner of Laburnum Street with Kingsland Road, my attention was caught by this postbox. It has no royal cipher. This makes it unusual though not exactly rare, as we have come across other examples. The maker’s name is embossed on the black base of the postbox and is “Handyside & Co Ltd Derby & London”.
Andrew Handyside (1805-87) was a Scot, either from Edinburgh (Wikipedia) or from Glasgow (BBC). He went to work for his uncle Charles Baird and took over the latter’s Britannia iron foundry in Derby in 1848. The company made high quality iron components and started making pillar boxes from 1853, continuing into the early 20th century. As this box (Number 214) lacks a royal cipher, it is difficult to give it even an approximate age though its shape suggests to me the 20th century rather than the 19th. The yellow notice stuck to it (see left) may indicate that its days are numbered.
A little further north, on the left, is Phillipp Street, where we found this large-scale street painting. The subject is not indicated, neither is the name of the artist. The size of the painting made it hard to photograph and I have done so by joining two photos together. You can see the join but it does give you an idea of the whole. (Click to see a larger version.)
Almost opposite, on Kingsland Road, is the old Haggerston branch library, which opened in 1893 and ceased operations as a library in 1975. I have discussed the building’s history before (see A stroll along Ermine Street) but that’s no reason not to photograph this fine structure again! Philanthropist John Passmore Edwards financed many libraries but this one is unusual in being built in classical style for reasons cited in my previous post. The building originated in 1880 as a dwelling and has now reverted to a residential role as an apartment block. It looks a little sad and could do with cleaning and brightening up. Little chance of that, I fear…
Looking south along Kingsland Road gives us a view of another notable feature of this area, the minaret of the Suleimaniye Mosque on the corner of Laburnum Street, built 1999 and funded by the local Turkish community.
Kingsland Road crosses the Regent’s Canal (or the Regent’s Canal crosses Kingsland Road, take your pick) by means of a bridge. Behind the buildings and not easily visible from the street lies the Kingsland Basin and many of the buildings extant today came into being to support the freight trade of the canal. One such building is now a cafe called, appropriately enough, By the Bridge.
One immediately notices the two large scale female figures decorating the cafe’s façade, one on ground level (above) and the other on the roof (below).
The artist is Zabou (see her Website here) and a stencilled annotation indicates that together the paintings constitute an ensemble called Hackney and that it is “inspired by Zed Nelson”.
Canals were once the nation’s major trade arteries and were only gradually replaced by rail and road transport. Today, they have grown quiet and, where they survive at all, carry pleasure craft rather than cargo-laden barges. Traces of their bygone importance remain though the warehouses have largely been converted to other purposes.
Where once was a bustle of horse-drawn barges, there is now quietness, disturbed only intermittently by the passing of a launch or house boat. Coots, recognizable by the white “medallion” on their foreheads, sail these waters, feeding and rearing young. In the bright water in the above photo, you can see the V-shape traced by a swimming coot. (There is another one dabbling in the shadowed area.)
We found our cafe at last and, happily, it was open. I was looking forward to a warm and a cup of tea. The cafe describes itself as “Mediterranean” but I think it is Turkish. It certainly sells Turkish tea. We had had breakfast earlier at Pret in St John Street but on seeing a vegetarian “Mediterranean Breakfast” on the menu, had another one here! Well, it is Christmas!
Before leaving to catch the bus home, I paid a visit to the toilet. The notice I saw on the toilet door was, if not a shock, at least a surprise and I have taken its text as the title of this post.