- Keep to the 2 metre social distancing from people you pass by;
- Take care crossing roads – use controlled crossings where possible.
1/10 Start outside St Barnabas Church, E9 6DL, halfway down Homerton High Street. Homerton’s first church, it was built in 1847. In 1944 a VI rocket bomb landed behind and damaged the church interior and the churchyard. The eastern part of Homerton was called ‘Lower Homerton’. Walk past the vicarage, the former church hall and church school to the fire station.
2/10 The 1974 fire station replaced one built here in 1902. Opposite at Nos.172-174 Homerton High Street were the home, surgery and hospital of local character Dr Jelley. In Pre-NHS days he charged 3d (three pence) instead of the usual 2/6 (two shillings and six pence) to see a doctor. He was prepared to carry out illegal abortions. In 1916, despite a petition supporting him, he was sent to prison for the murder of a woman who had died in his hospital and for carrying out abortions on three others.
3/10 Take care crossing the High Street to go down Barnabas Road. You are going downhill into the valley of the Hackney Brook. On the right pass mid-1800s paired villas, few remnants of Homerton’s 19th century development. Homerton station, on the first railway line to cross Hackney in 1850, was originally built on the right before the bridge, opening in 1868.
4/10 Further on turn left into Oriel Road. The pastel painted houses up on the left were the first in the street, built in the 1850s with open views over the large garden of Sidney House and the brook beyond running along today’s Wick Road. In the first census for the street in 1861, residents included a police sergeant, teachers, a perfumer, clerks, a telegraph superintendent, an artist, a woollen trade commercial traveller, a laundress, a timber merchant and a warehouseman.
5/10 The houses lost their view in 1869 when Hassett Road was built in front. Turn right at the end of Oriel Road then left. On the right hemmed in between other buildings is what was Sidney House. Now flats, it was built as a private house by the owner of silk mills beside the nearby brook. In 1831 it was Mr Tuke’s lunatic asylum. By 1872 it was a convent and in 2010, anticipating the 2012 Olympics, it became the Silk Hotel.
6/10 Turn left and walk up Kenworthy Road. On the left from the bridge to end of the road was the site of Hackney’s Workhouse. Opened on Homerton High Street in 1732 for people in the parish unable to support themselves, over the next 200 years the workhouse expanded into larger premises with a hospital and nurses’ homes filling the whole area on your left.
7/10 On the left corner at the end of the road are two pavilion buildings put up for the workhouse in 1905. In 1885 the workhouse was certified for 1,090 inmates. The workhouse closed in 1930. On the right is Marsh Hill. Originally it was a narrow country lane about 6 metres wide leading down to a tollhouse at Marsh Gate. Walk up the High Street
8/10 Note on the left the Hackney Hospital sign above a filled-in entrance built in 1933. The buildings of the old workhouse infirmary behind continued as Hackney Hospital when the workhouse closed. In the 1970s the hospital was noted as a ‘neglected and failing institution’. Hackney Hospital continued to be used for geriatric and psychiatric patients until 1993.
9/10 Walk on passing The Adam and Eve pub, dating from 1735, to The Spread Eagle, a pub since 1752. Crozier and Nisbet were the only streets in Hackney to contain the lowest, ‘semi-criminal’ class according to Charles Booth’s 1890s poverty maps of London. Clearance of the houses considered as slums in Nisbet Street was ordered 1934 and Nisbet House was built, opening in 1938.
10/10 Cross the High Street to the 1970s Library. It succeeded the 1914 building further up Brooksby Walk, now Chat’s Palace. The road was named for Edward Brooksby who bought land to build on here in 1725. It followed the line of a footpath through fields to mills at Lea Bridge. Cross the road back to St Barnabas Church.