Posted by: martinworster | August 3, 2010


London’s Dalston; muggings, salad days, Wapping and memories…

It was interesting to spend some time in my old London hood Dalston. I used to live in Dalston in the late 90s, then – and perhaps still – a less than salubrious neighbourhood bordering posh Islington but with it’s heart in Hackney. Kingsland Road runs north to south, the City of London less than two miles away to the south. As an area, it is perhaps one of the most diverse in London. Jewish, Turkish, West African, West Indian, Somalian, Polish and other Eastern European communities rub shoulders with young professionals on it’s mixed up streets. The high street is packed with money transfer shops, mobile phone outlets, jerk chicken joints, pound shops – a reflection of it’s transient, urban population. In time, I am sure these will be replaced with Costa Coffees, Cafe Neros and a Sainsbury’s Express as the area undergoes gentrification. I notice there’s now a Nandos – not sure what direction that implies.

Dalston Junction – where Balls Pond Road cuts across Kingsland Road – always conjures up special memories as it was the location for Labyrinth, a genre defining proto-jungle rave I used to frequent in the early nineties. Located in the Four Aces Nightclub (now demolished to make way for a block of luxury flats) it was an E den of inquity. A ravers Eden. A venue for losing your marbles and submerging yourself in the bass. It was infamous. 

Almost ten years later, as a budding twenty-something journalist, I lived for a year on Buckingham Road in N1. They were fun days. My salad days? Drinking at the – now defunct – Trolley Stop pub. Messy nights out in Islington, trundling home on the Number 38. Shopping for fruit and veg at Ridley Road market. Cycling down Kingsland Road to Wapping, where I worked at News International, a scion in Robert Maxwells evil empire. Some of the memories are less than fruity. Getting mugged -including having a knife pulled on me – on the way to work at 9 AM on a Monday morning. Stepping out of my house another morning across ‘Police Crime Scene’ tape as a woman had been stabbed to death outside my house. Observing a swat team conducting a drugs raid with snipers on the roof tops pointing out a house opposite. Having my bike stolen from outside my house on another evening after returning from work. Perhaps normal experiences of living in an edgy urban locale.

Fast forward another few years and in 2001 I decided to invest in the area and bought a two bedroom garden flat on the Kingsland Estate – it was an ex-Council property but a nice one. Large rooms, garden front and back. I knew that there was to be a new tube line put in to complement the Dalston Junction train station on the North London line. The station opens in 2011 – it’s massive, to help cope with the 2012 Olympics just down the road in Stratford. It turns out the purchase was quite a shrewd one. Newspaper articles pronounce Dalston the new Shoreditch. Trendy bars and coffee shops are opening up, fashionistas and urban hipsters mince about. The area is definitely on the up – as it could have hardly sunk any lower there was only one way it could go.

I have just been renovating the flat on my last trip to England and I’ve enjoyed walking around the neighbourhood. Memories down Dalston Lane.



  1. Hackney hardcore x

  2. WOW!! I loved that club. I used to go nearly every weekend for a while before the drum n bass moved to Tottenham high rd. You might remember, just before it closed, on entering the club one night, on the doors and the little kiosk on the left, it said that channel 4 was filming that night. I wonder if there is any footage? Were you there?

    I went to the club in around 1995 – 1998 maybe? Driving from Hastings, up the A21 in a Renault 5 Turbo. Miss those days.

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