At Dalston Lane
Can you believe that this partly-demolished late Georgian terrace is the outcome of a “conservation-led’ scheme? So it is in Hackney, where the bulldozers moved in last month only to be hastily withdrawn when it was pointed out to the council that their action was illegal, forcing Murphy (their developer partners) to seek permission at a planning meeting which takes place next week, on March 3rd.
However, this pitiful sequence of events does permit members of the public to submit objections in the hope that the rest of the terrace may be spared the wreckers’ ball. And, in the meantime, Spitalfields Life Contributing Photographer Simon Mooney went inside to take the pictures you see below, permitting us a glimpse of the historic interiors.
In 1800, Dalston Lane was – as its name suggests – merely a country track through agricultural land, but the pace of development up the Kingsland Rd, served by the brickyards that opened to produce building material from the London clay, delivered three symmetrical pairs of dignified Italianate villas constructed by Richard Sheldrick in 1807.
By 1830, terraces on either side filled up the remaining plots to create a handsome row of dwellings with front gardens facing onto the lane. In this era, Dalston was still rural and it was not until the end of the century that the front gardens were replaced by the run of shopfronts divided by Corinthian capitals which we see today.
This modest yet good quality terrace represents the essential fabric of the East End and its evolution manifests two centuries of social history in Dalston. Consequently, the terrace is enfolded by a Conservation Area that embraces other contemporary buildings which define the distinctive quality of this corner of Hackney and thus, when the council sought to regenerate the area in 2012, it was with a “conservation-led” scheme.
Yet when the council’s surveyors questioned the structural integrity of the terrace, if it were to stand up to being woven into the facade of a new development, nobody suggested reworking the development to suit the terrace – or simply repairing the buildings. Instead the council decided, without any consultation, to demolish the terrace and replace it with a replica that would permit higher density housing within the development.
In January, this destruction was halted when the council’s survey was called into question by the Society for Protection of Ancient Buildings and others, who called for an independent appraisal by a surveyor with experience of historic structures. So now we have until next week to object to this “conservation-led” scheme that entails the demolition of all the buildings. As one wag so eloquently put it, “Is that like a picnic without the sandwiches?”
In your objection, please point out the substantial harm this demolition will do to the Dalston Lane (West) Conservation Area and emphasise that it does not comply with national, regional or local heritage planning policies and guidance.
The shameful hole in the terrace
Paired villas of of 1807 to the left and terrace of 1830 to the right
Rear of 1830 terrace
Paired villas built by Richard Sheldrick in 1807
The villas built in symmetrical pairs, note detail of long stairwell window
The rendering is a late nineteenth century addition
Late Georgian shutters re-used as a partition
Original reeded arch in plaster
Late Georgian newel with stick banisters
One house is still inhabited
The presiding spirit of the terrace
Late nineteenth century shop interior panelled with tongue and groove, with original shelves and fittings
A century of use illustrates changing styles of fascia lettering
One of the paired villas of 1807 has been destroyed and another half-demolished
The terrace of 1830 on the right has an unusual single window detail on the first floor
The terrace with the graphic of its replica with which the developers hope to facade their structure
Run of nineteenth century shopfronts punctuated by Corinthian capitals
Dalston Lane 1900
Dalston Lane 1940
Kingsland Rd, c. 1800. Brickworks manufacture building materials for the rapid development that is spreading across the agricultural land. The buildings to the right still stand in the Kingsland Rd, just around the corner from Dalston Lane.
Photographs copyright © Simon Mooney
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