Another of our postcode round-ups: E5 is in Hackney, specifically Clapton, both Lower and Upper. Pubology has no interest in dwelling on the media fascination of the early part of this century that saw Lower Clapton Road dubbed “Murder Mile” and refuses to perpetuate this journalistic nonsense (strong words, there): it has scant relevance to the E5 of today.
As with many areas on the outskirts of central London, Hackney grew up as a country retreat for the harried professional classes. Clapton and Homerton were dominated by large homes and a handful of estates, most of which have long since disappeared and replaced by the more modern form of estate.
From what remains of what was once many more establishments in E5, there are still a good variety, both local pubs as you’d expect, but also rather more genteel establishments catering to a growing influx of middle-class residents, pushed further east by the rapid gentrification of Islington in the late-20th century.
Lower Clapton (Lower Clapton Road and eastwards)
As Lower Clapton moves away from the top of Mare Street and curves around past the lovely Round Chapel, we move swiftly from more basic premises (such as Fitzgerald’s) to some rather more characterful settings. Moving east from the Round Chapel, we find Chatsworth Road, a lively shopping street within sight of the Canary Wharf tower, and near there Lower Clapton’s friendliest pub, The Elderfield (Lower Clapton E5, fig. 27), with its Art Deco-inspired panelling and unfussy service. Biddle Bros. Builders Ltd serves a similar demographic, in a more modern bar style, the wonky tables and artsy decor reminiscent of the Shoreditch establishments to the south-east of the Borough.
Of course, we can still find pubs for the estate-bound community, such as The Glyn Arms east of Chatsworth Road towards Hackney Marshes — where Landmark Point dominates the landscape — or The Windsor Castle on Lower Clapton Road itself. However, a lot of these are currently unused, whether boarded or squatted, or just turned to residential use (see thumbnails).
There’s not much in the way of drinking for the residents of Upper Clapton. To a certain extent, as the area shades over to the ultra-orthodox denizens of Stamford Hill, this is a matter of religious change in the area. What establishments remain in this area, such as The Swan (Stamford Hill E5) are under threat, leaving the most prominent establishments being those down by the River Lea (or Lee).
Outstanding even amongst such a small sub-group is The Anchor and Hope (fig. 28), a tiny Fuller’s pub overlooking this underrated stretch of water. Young’s has its own outpost nearby, The Princess of Wales, while standing alongside it, catering more to the black community, is The Ship Aground.
Shacklewell and Hackney Downs (west of Upper/Lower Clapton Road)
Moving west from the strong boundary formed by Lower and Upper Clapton Roads is the area of Clapton north of Hackney Downs, buffering Stoke Newington and Dalston, the former a traditional stronghold of gentrification in the Borough and the latter moving in that direction as well. Historically, the area is known as Shacklewell, though nowadays it’s more likely to just be called Stoke Newington or Clapton.
Nevertheless, the pubs which exist here retain a rough feel. Probably most highly considered of the bunch is The Royal Sovereign, though here as in all cases pictured below, the paintwork could use some retouching.