Hackney (Borough of)

Wednesday : A Zeppelin Raid Walk with Des, the Dolphin Tavern and Norwich Once Again


I had been staying in the delights of the Ibis Budget Heathrow and it was entirely fine, with no noise issues or air conditioning fails. The challenge that I had was that I needed to be at a walk led by Des at 11:00 and that was going to take me two hours to get to via public transport, I needed a bus, an Underground train, another Underground train and then the Overground to get to the sunny uplands of Stoke Newington. But all journeys have to start somewhere, and this started at the bus stop opposite the Ibis Budget. I’m not sure that the BBC would commission a series based on this journey, it’s not something Michael Palin would do.


Here comes the 222 TFL bus to Hounslow, where I got a seat, but it was at near capacity and soon entirely filled up. It didn’t get any better when it had to pick up passengers who were on a bus that had just broken down. Fortunately, it isn’t a long journey into Hounslow.


Hounslow West underground station to catch the Piccadilly Line to Finsbury Park. I like taking photos like this as it gives me the opportunity to look back at adverts from the period. I’m not sure how interesting these will be to look back on, but who knows?


Then the Victoria Line from Finsbury Park to Seven Sisters.


Then waiting for the Overground to take me from Seven Sisters to Stoke Newington. I hope Des was grateful for this trek that I was on….


And at my final destination of Stoke Newington. This means “new town in the woods” in old English, there’s the fun fact for the day.


The walk started over the road at Abney Park, although Des hadn’t anticipated all of this hoarding. I liked the history that had been presented, this is something that should happen at more construction sites.


And it then started to rain. I excitedly put my coat and bag cover on, but then it stopped about ten minutes later. This global warming is doing me no good, I’m sure that it used to rain more in the halcyon days of the 1980s.


Des took us to our first stop and the walk’s theme was the Zeppelin raids of London. The walk is based on one written by David Fathers in his Bloody London book, with David coming on some of Des’s walks. I had a look at the book during the walk, it’s got some fascinating stories and walks in it, although some are quite morbid, but that won’t surprise anyone with a book title like that.


This sign is referring to the first Zeppelin raid in London, as Norfolk had already been hit in January 1915. We traced some of the route that lone airship took on 31 May 1915, where bombs were chucked over the side. It would have filled residents below with terror, as war wasn’t expected to come to London and indeed many had thought it would all be over by the end of 1914. There was no system in place to warn people of raids and no real idea how to repel them. It was no less scary for the Zeppelin pilots though, their airship could burst into flames at any time and would be destroyed within minutes. This building was badly damaged, but no-one was injured and the small fire that started was soon put out by the neighbours.


I like ghost signs on walls.


Kynaston Gardens which as the sign notes is a small park which was formed just after the Second World War after a row of cottages was demolished as part of slum clearance in the area.


The former Nevill public house and this was part of the tour, as a bomb hit it from the Zeppelin, but it landed in the pub’s garden and didn’t explode. There was a plaque here which noted that it was the location of the first bomb in the city from a Zeppelin, but it was then realised that it wasn’t, and the plaque in my earlier photo was installed.


An interesting electricity sub-station building. Well, interesting if you like that sort of thing.


We didn’t go in the Railway Tavern, I just liked the shape of the pub.


Very pretty, although I’m not sure that this can do the building much good.


A contrast from the low-rise Hoxton High Street with the City of London skyscrapers in the background.


Khadija’s Garden which commemorates Khadija Saye, who was killed in the Grenfell Tower fire disaster.


Interesting street art.


This was something that I hadn’t known about, the connections that Shakespeare had with the part of the city just north of the city boundary at Shoreditch. You’re guaranteed to learn something on a Des walk. There’s some interesting history about this at https://www.thestageshoreditch.com/history-heritage, with numerous buildings now being named after Shakespeare, in this case The Bard office block.


The Horse and Groom, it looks like an architecturally interesting pub in more modern surroundings, although it’s operated by Greene King.


Des kindly pointed out to everyone that my favourite London bar, Goose Island, was nearby.


Some public sculpture outside of Principal Place, a decadent 175 metre residential building which Hackney council have allowed to be built in their area, right on the edge of the City of London. It was completed in 2020 and a quick look on Zoopla shows that properties here cost over £3 million. I don’t think I’ll be getting one.


There’s plenty of bikes here which I felt the need to take a photo of.


The Dolphin Tavern, nearby Holborn, was an extra hour to walk to, but I couldn’t leave before the pub. It’s relevant as it was hit during a Zeppelin raid, although on a different date to the one that we had been following. It was bombed on 9 September 1917 and three men were killed during the attack.


I had half a pint of the well-kept Timothy Taylor’s Landlord.


The clock still tells the time of 10:40, which is when the pub was hit during the Zeppelin raid. The pub was repaired after the bombing, with the clock being salvaged and it’s now on display.


It was a quirky little pub, the sort of place that it’s not clear how it survives. It doesn’t do food, it has only a few tables and it wasn’t that busy when were there. Well, it was busy when we got there, but not before. The service was friendly and engaging though, it’s a proper London pub and I’m pleased Des found somewhere that I hadn’t been before. There were a couple of real ales, which were well-kept, so that’s good, although the male toilets downstairs are down some steep steps, which must be exciting for anyone who has had a few drinks. It was all a lovely walk though, I think it came in at just under 10 miles, showing me another side to London’s history.


After a chat and a gossip about things, everyone dispersed in different directions. I was fortunate, I arrived at the bus stop just as the bus to Hackney was leaving.


A quick drink in Wetherspoons in Hackney and they mispoured this as it was the wrong beer, but they gave it to me anyway before serving the one I had ordered. Really engaging staff here, this is one of the better Wetherspoon outlets.


I’ve never been to the Hackney Church Brew Co, so this seemed a good opportunity since it was around the corner from Baxter’s Court, the JD Wetherspoon pub.


A slightly wonky photo of the interior.


They brew beers on-site and this is part of their set-up. It’s hard to think of a much more on-trend set-up than a craft beer place in Hackney, but it’s got a welcoming and grounded vibe to the whole arrangement.


The bar, all clean and organised, a mix between the industrial interior and the organised decor.


I had a couple of different beers, the Last DIPA and the Heaven Help Me Imperial Stout. They were both decent and reasonably priced, although I only had one third of each. I didn’t order food, but it’s quite decadent, with the head chef being Aaron Thomas who was on Masterchef the Professionals a couple of years ago. The food options are more expensive than I’d usually expect from a craft beer bar, but of course, they’ve gone for high quality and it all seems well reviewed.


It was getting busier as I left, it’s a venue that I’d recommend. I then decided to walk the 3 miles back into Shoreditch, inspired by Des’s love of urban walking. It would have been easier to get the bus, but where’s the fun in that….


The sun setting over the Regent’s Canal, which I’ve walked along a couple of times over the last year.


After picking up some nearly free sandwiches in Sainsbury’s (I love a little bargain), it was time for the Greater Anglia train back to Norwich. I’m pleased to report this was a train that had tables, there was no Stansted Express debacle that evening.


And back to Norwich after my few weeks away. I wasn’t meant to be coming back to Norwich until the Saturday evening for the LDWA boat trip the following day, but a Greater Anglia strike led me to changing my plans, which was a delight no doubt for all my friends in Norwich who got to see me at short notice.