St Matthias Halls, Wordsworth Road, London, N16 8DD
020 7923 2726

The 10th Stokey History talks

Delighted to be hosting the 10th Stoke Newington History Talks – a chance to immerse yourself in three different aspects of old Stokey organised by local history enthusiast Amir Dotan.

Monday May 20 2019, St Matthias Hall.

Doors and cash bar 6:30pm, talks 7.30pm. Talks 25 minutes followed by a 10-minute break, Q&A panel at the end.

Tickets £5 here Door profits to Hackney Food Bank 

In the spirit of keeping it local, our cash bar featuring beers and ales from Redchurch Brewery in Bethnal Green, including the famous Shoreditch Blonde pale ale and popular Redchurch lager. Wine and soft drinks also on sale throughout the evening (recommendations for local, good quality, reasonably-priced wines gratefully received).

Talks line-up

Stoke Newington history treasure troves – Amir Dotan

Stumbling upon a treasure trove of old photos, documents or maps is one of the most thrilling experiences when perusing local history. Sometimes it’s a personal collection kept in a shoebox in an attic waiting to be discovered after many years, and in other cases it’s a collection in an archive that becomes available online. Amir shares the content and stories behind some of the exciting treasure troves he has come across so far.

Amir Dotan ( has been researching and sharing the history of this area as a hobby since 2011. His  findings are on Twitter and Facebook . He started quarterly event ‘Stoke Newington History Talks‘ in 2016.

The Willows estate: rural to industrial to gated development – Ruth Swirsky

The last piece of rural land in Stoke Newington (where Carysfort Road is now) was developed in the 1890s to become a purpose-built industrial estate throughout 20th century. In 21st century it became a gated housing development. This patch of land is a microcosm of economic and social change from the nineteenth century to the present in London. The view from her house has changed from an industrial estate providing working class jobs to middle class housing, which echoes the changes in Stoke Newington as a whole.

Ruth Swirsky has lived in Stokey since 1985, most of it in Carysfort Road in what was once the Willows estate. Like many, she is bemused by the change in Stoke Newington since she moved here. Since she retired as a teacher, she has become more interested in local history and does tours of Stoke Newington for London Greeters, as well as volunteering in Abney Park, which has led her to investigate the history of her road.

This Plashy Stream: Memories of the Hackney Brook – Laurie Elks

From the dawn of time, Hackney Brook meandered through Stoke Newington and Hackney, from its source on the slopes of Highgate to its confluence with the River Lea in Hackney Wick. Once described as a ‘clear and purling stream’ it degenerated into a foul sewer as Victorian London encroached, and was eventually subsumed within Bazalgette’s great sewage scheme for London. Today not one inch survives above ground. Laurie Elks evokes the brook as it curled around Abney Park, afforded a sylvan prospect to travellers descending Samford Hill on their way to London, and provided a backdrop to much naughtiness in Hackney’s Mermaid Pleasure Gardens.

Laurie Elks has lived in various parts of Hackney Borough since 1972. He is a trustee of Hackney Society and Hackney Historic Buildings Trust and looks after St Augustine’s Tower, the Borough’s oldest building. He commissioned and edited Hackney: Portrait of a Community, an anthology of essays about the main events and changes in Hackney and Stoke Newington over the last 50 years.

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