A short history of Fish Island and Hackney Wick

Hackney Wick and Fish Island have a rich industrial and residential heritage, all built around its beautiful network of canals

Originally known as Old Ford Marsh, from the mid 1800s the area now known as Fish Island was transformed from marshland into an industrial hub. 

This transformation was due to the creation of a canal network, which led to small and large industries springing up around the canal banks and inland. ​

The area became renowned for innovative industries such as plastic, confectionary, dyes and even the first dry cleaning company. These industries drove residents to the area. The streets on which they lived took the names of freshwater fish, and so Fish Island was born. 

These industries were incredibly prosperous up until the outbreak of World War II when the area suffered significant bomb damage. This resulted in many of the traditional industries disappearing. In the wake of the damage, residential housing was cleared and residents relocated elsewhere. Low cost warehouse and yard development took its place, destroying the historic residential streets. The construction of the A12 in the 1960s also cut off the area from the rest of the Hackney Borough, making it an undesirable residential location. 

In the 1980s, artists and other creatives adopted the area as their home, taking advantage of the large warehouse spaces and cheap rents. Renowned British artist Bridget Riley opened her Space Studios in Britannia Works and they are still there to this day, with many other studio spaces added since. 

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